I know not what others think, but for my own part I am ashamed of my stupidity, and
wonder at myself that I deal not with my own and others souls as one that looks for
the great day of the Lord; and that I can have room for almost any other thoughts
and words; and that such astonishing matters do not wholly absorb my mind. I marvel
how I can preach of them slightly and coldly; and how I can let men alone in their
sins; and that I do not go to them, and beseech them, for the Lord's sake, to repent,
however they may take it, and whatever pain and trouble it should cost me.
come out of the pulpit but my conscience smiteth me that I have been no more serious
and fervent. It accuseth me not so much for want of ornaments and elegancy, nor for
letting fall an unhandsome word; but it asketh me, 'How couldst thou speak of life
and death with such a heart? How couldst thou preach of heaven and hell in such a
careless, sleepy manner? Dost thou believe what thou sayest? Art thou in earnest,
or in jest? How canst thou tell people that sin is such a thing, and that so much
misery is upon them and before them, and be no more affected with it? Shouldst thou
not weep over such a people, and should not thy tears interrupt thy words? Shouldst
thou not cry aloud, and show them their transgressions; and entreat and beseech them
as for life and death?'
And for myself, as I am ashamed of my dull and careless heart,
and of my slow and unprofitable course of life, so, the Lord knows, I am ashamed
of every sermon I preach; when I think what I have been speaking of, and who sent
me, and that men's salvation or damnation is so much concerned in it, I am ready
to tremble lest God should judge me as a slighter of His truths and the souls of
men, and lest in the best sermon I should be guilty of their blood. Me thinks we
should not speak a word to men in matters of such consequence without tears, or the
greatest earnestness that possibly we can; were not we too much guilty of the sin
which we reprove, it would be so.
Truly this is the peal that conscience doth ring
in my ears, and yet my drowsy soul will not be awakened. Oh, what a thing is an insensible,
hardened heart! O Lord, save us from the plague of infidelity and hard-heartedness
ourselves, or else how shall we be fit instruments of saving others from it? Oh,
do that on our souls which thou wouldst use us to do on the souls of others.