Six Awakening Questions to the Unconverted. Joseph Alleine
For the unconverted, there are these six questions which I would advise them daily to put to their souls.
What estate did my soul come into the world in?
Was it not in a state of death, (And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins, Eph. 2. 1), an estate of wrath? (and were by nature the children of wrath ,Eph 2:3). Sirs, awake and think where you are, and where you are going. While you are in your natural unconverted unbelieving state, all your sins are unpardoned, and the wrath of God abides on you, (Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, Acts 3. 19, & He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him, John 3. 36). Suppose you saw a poor creature hanging over a burning fiery furnace by nothing but a thread like to break every moment, would not your hearts shake for such a one? Sirs, it is your very case, you hang over the infernal burnings by nothing but the small thread of your lives, which you know not but it may crack the next moment, and then where are you? Is this a case for you to go on merrily, and contentedly in?
What condition is my soul now in?
Am I changed and renewed by conversion, or am I not? Speak conscience, has this man, this woman been soundly and savingly changed both in heart and life? Where are your evidences? Can you show the marks of the Lord Jesus upon your souls? Let your conscience answer: where was the place? what was the means? when was the time, that thy soul was throughly renewed? At least if you cannot show the time, place, nor means, can you prove the thing? Can you say with him “one thing I know, that whereas I was blind I now see.” Sirs, be not deceived, I tell you whatever you be, and whatever you do, nothing will avail you to salvation except you be new creatures, Gal. 6. 15.
What if I should lose my soul? What fair work should I make of it then?
This is very possible, (For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?Matt. 16. 26). Yes it is the case of the most: There are but few, few of the children of men that do escape safe to heaven, (Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it, Matt. 7. 14). Sirs, be aware of your danger, and fear lest a promise being left of entering into rest, any of you should at last come short of it, Heb. 4. 1. Suppose a man were to travel through some perilous wood or wilderness, having but one jewel in all the world, in which his all was bound up, and should see some stand on one hand and some on the other, and hear one company in this place and another in that, crying out under the hands of some cruel robbers: Oh in what fear would this traveller go least he should lose this jewel, and be robbed of all at once? Why thou art the man. This traveller is thyself; This jewel is thy soul; This wilderness or wood is this world thou art to travel through. Swarms of sins, legions of devils, a whole world of temptations, these are the robbers that lie in wait for thy soul: and if all that these can do can keep thee out of heaven thou shalt never come there. Oh what if thy pride, or worldliness, thy delays, and triflings in religion, should at last betray thy soul into the robbers hands? Other losses may be repaired; but thy soul being once lost, God is lost, Christ is lost, heaven, all lost for evermore.
What do I do for my soul?
What have I a soul and immortal soul to care for, and look no better after it, nor bestow no more of my time, nor pains upon it, no more of my thoughts about it? When Augustus the Emperor saw the outlandish women carrying apes, and such kind of strange creatures in the streets in their arms, he asked what! have the women in these countries no children? So it may be said of many among us, that are early and late at their worldly business, but let the care of religion lie by neglected; what have these men no souls? why man hast thou a soul, and yet does so little in thy closet, so little in thy family, from day to day for it? What meanest thou O sleeper? Arise, call upon thy God, that thou perish not, Jonah 1. 6. What will become of thy soul, if you look to it only at this careless rate?
What if God should this night require thy soul? where would death land you?
There was one that promised himself many merry days, and years, as it is like you do, but that same night God called for his soul. Sirs are you in your postures? are you fit to die? oh dare not to live in such a case, nor in that course in which you would not dare to die?
And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? Luke 12. 19, 20.
What a happy case were I in if I had but secured my soul?
Oh if this were but once done, how sweetly mightest thou live! Then thou mightest eat thy bread, and drink thy wine with a merry heart, when assured that God accepts thee and thy work, Eccl. 9. 7. Then thou mightest lie down in peace, and rise up in peace; go out and come in in peace: then thou mightest look death in the face, thou mightest look dangers in the face, yea, look devils in the face, and never be afraid. Oh Sirs if there be any insurance office for souls in all the world, one would think you should be seeking to it. And thus much for the questions, which though of use to all, yet were intended chiefly for unconverted impenitent souls.
The above is a revised and edited version of the counsels for the converted taken from Divers Practical Cases of Conscience by Alleine, Joseph, 1634-1668