A SERIOUS TREATISE
BY REV. JOSEPH ALLEINE,
PUBLISHED BY THE
AMERICAN TRACT SOCIETY,
150 NASSAU. STREET, NEW YORK.
In the revision of this work numerous obsolete or defective
words or phrases have been altered, and some passages, in-
cluding a few referring to denominational peculiarities, have
An Earnest Invitation to Sinners to turn to God, ... 5
Showing what Conversion is not, and Correcting some
Mistakes about it, 9
Showing positively what Conversion is, 19
Of the Necessity of Conversion, 54
Showing the Marks of the Unconverted^ 80
Showing the Miseries of the Unconverted, 98
Containing Directions to the Unconverted, 127
Containing the Motives to Conversion, 1C3
Conclusion, ..... 179
An earnest Invitation to Sinners to turn to God.
DEARLY BELOVED, I gladly acknowledge myself a
debtor to you, and am concerned, as I would be
found a good steward of the household of God, to
give to every one his portion. But the physician
is most solicitous for those patients whose case is
most doubtful and hazardous ; and the father's pity
is especially turned towards his dying child. So
unconverted souls call for earnest compassion and
prompt diligence to pluck them as brands from the
burning, Jude 23 ; therefore to them I shall first
apply myself in these pages.
But whence shall I fetch my argument ? Where-
with shall I win them? that I could tell. I
would write to them in tears, I would weep out
every argument, I would empty my veins foink, I
6 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
would petition them on my knees. how thank-
ful should I be if they would be prevailed with to
repent and turn.
How long have I labored for you ! How often
would I have gathered you ! This is what I have
prayed for and studied for these many years, that I
might bring you to God. that I might now 4p
it. Will you yet be entreated ?
But, Lord, how insufficient am I for this work.
Alas, wherewith shall I pierce the scales of Levia-
than, or make the heart feel that it is hard as the
nether millstone? Shall I go and speak to the
grave, and expect the dead will obey me and come
forth ? Shall I make an oration to the rocks, or
declaim' to the mountains, and think to move them
with arguments ? Shall I give the blind to see ?
From the beginning of the world was it not heard
that a man opened the eyes of the blind ; but thou,
Lord, canst pierce the heart of the sinner ; I can
but draw the bow at a venture, but do thou direct
the arrow between the joints of the harness, slay the
sin, and save the soul of the sinner that casts his
eyes on these pages.
There is no entering into heaven but by the strait
passage of the second birth ; without holiness you
shall never see God. Now give yourselves unto the
Lord. Now set yourselves to seek him. Now set
up the Lord Jesus in your hearts, and set him up in
your lupuses. Kiss the Son, Psalm 2:12, and em-
brace the tenders of mercy ; touch his sceptre and
live ; for why will ye die ? I beg not for myself,
but would have you happy : this is the prize I run
for. My soul's desire and prayer for you is, that
you may be saved. Rom. 10:1. What greater joy
to a minister than to hear of souls born unto Christ?
I beseech you suffer friendly plainness and free-
dom with you in your deepest concern. I am not
playing the orator ; these lines are upon a weighty
errand indeed to convince, to convert, and to save
you. If I would quiet a crying infant, I might sing
to him in a pleasing mood, and rock him asleep ; but
when the child is fallen into the fire, the parent takes
another course ; he will not try to still him with a
song or a trifle. I know, if we speed not with you,
you are lost ; if we cannot get your consent to " arise
and come away," you perish forever: no conversion,
and no salvation: we must get your good-will, or
leave you miserable.
But here the difficulty of my work again recurs
upon me. Lord, choose my stones out of the brook.
1 Sam. 17 : 40, 45. I come in the name of the Lord
of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel. I come
forth, like the stripling David, to wrestle, not with
flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers,
and rulers of the darkness of this world. Eph, 6:12.
This day let the Lord smite the Philistines, spoil the
strong man of his armor, and give me the captives
out of his hand. Lord, choose my words/ choose
8 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
my weapons for me ; and when I put my hand into
the bag, and take thence a stone and sling it, do
thou carry it to the mark, and make it sink, not into
the forehead, but into the heart of the unconverted
sinner, and smite him to the ground like Saul of
Tarsus. Acts 9 : 4.
But I turn me unto you. Some of you do not
know what I mean by conversion, and in vain shall
I attempt to persuade you to that which yqu do not
understand ; therefore for your sakes I will show
what this conversion is.
Others cherish secret hopes of mercy, though they
continue as they are ; and for them I must show the
necessity of conversion.
Others are like to harden themselves with a vain
conceit that they are converted already ; to them I
must show the marks of the unconverted.
Others, because they feel no harm, fear none, and
so sleep as upon the top of a mast ; to them I shall
show the misery of the unconverted.
Others sit still, because they see not their way
of escape ; to them I shall show the means of con-
And finally, for the quickening of all, I shall close
with the motives to conversion.
MISTAKES ABOUT CONVERSION. 9
Showing what Conversion is not, and correcting some mis-
takes about it.
LET the blind Samaritans worship they know not
what. John 4 : 22. Let the heathen Athenians in-
scribe their altar "To the unknown God." Acts
IT : 22. Let Papists commend ignorance as the
mother of devotion. They that know man's consti-
tution, and the nature of the reasonable soul, cannot
but know that the understanding has such empire
in the soul, that he who will go rationally to work
must labor to let in light there. And therefore,
that you may not mistake me, I shall first show
what I mean by the conversion I persuade you to
Truly, my beloved, the devil hath made many
counterfeits of conversion, and cheats one with this,
and another with that ; and such craft and artifice
he hath in his mystery of deceits, that, if it were
possible, he would deceive the very elect. Now,
that I may cure the ruinous mistake of some who
think they are converted when they are not, as well
as remove the troubles and fears of others, who think
they are not converted when they are, I shall show
yOU THE NATURE OF CONVERSION, BOTH WHAT IT 13
NOT, AND WHAT IT IS.
We will begin with the negative.
10 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
It is not the taking upon us the profession of Chris-
tianity. Christianity is more than a name. If we
will hear Paul, it lies not in word, but in power. 1
Cor. 4 : 20. If to cease to be Jews and Pagans, and
to put on the Christian profession, had been true
conversion as this is all that some would have to
be understood by it who better Christians than
they of Sardis and Laodicea ? These were all Chris-
tians by profession, and had a name to live only : but
because they had a name, they are condemned by
Christ, and threatened to be rejected. Rev. 3:1,
16. Are there not many that name the name of the
Lord Jesus, that yet depart not from iniquity, 2 Tim.
2 : 19, and "profess they know God, but in works
deny him ?" Titus 1:16. And will God receive
these for true converts ? What, converts from sin,
when yet they live in sin ? It is a visible contradic-
tion. Surely, if the lamp of profession would have
served the turn, the foolish virgins had never been
shut out. Matt. 25 : 12. We find not only profes-
sors, but preachers of Christ, and wonder-workers,
rejected, because evil-workers. Matt. 7 : 22, 23.
It is not putting on the badge of Christ in bap-
tism. Ananias, and Sapphira, and Simon Magus
were baptized as well as the rest. How fondly do
many mistake here, deceiving and being deceived ;
dreaming that effectual grace is necessarily tied to
the external administration of baptism which, what
is it but to revive the popish tenet of the sacraments
MISTAKES ABOUT CONVERSION. H
working grace ? and thus, that every baptized per-
son is regenerated, not only sacramentally, but really
and properly. Hence, men fancy, that being regen-
erated already when baptized, they need no farther
work. But if this were so, then all that have been
baptized must necessarily be saved, because the
promise of pardon and salvation is made to conver-
sion and regeneration. Acts 3:19; Matt. 19 : 28.
And indeed, were conversion and baptism the same,
then men would do well to carry but a certificate
of their baptism when they died, and upon sight of
this there were no doubt of their admission into
In short, if there be no more necessary to conver-
sion, or regeneration, than to be baptized, this will fly
directly in the face of that scripture, Matthew 7:13,
14, as well as multitudes of others ; for, first, we
shall then no more say, " Strait is the gate, and nar-
row is the way ;" for if all that were baptized are
saved, the door is exceeding wide, and we shall
henceforth say, "Wide is the gate, and broad is the
way that leadeth unto life." If this be true, thou-
sands may go in abreast ; and we will no more teach
that the righteous are scarcely saved, or that there
is need of such a stir in taking the kingdom of heaven
by violence, and striving to enter in. Surely, if the
way be so easy as many suppose, that there is little
more necessary than to be baptized and to cry,
" Lord, have mercy," we need not put ourselves to
12 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
such seeking, and knocking, and wrestling, as the
word requires in order to salvation. Secondly, if
this be true, we shall no more say, " Few there be
that find it ;" yea, we will rather say, " Few there be
that miss it." We shall no more say, that of the
"many" that are "called, but few are chosen,"
Matt. 22: 14, and that even of the professing "Is-
rael but a remnant shall be saved." Rom. 9 : 27.
If this doctrine be true, we shall not say any more
with the disciples, "Who then shall be saved ?" but
rather, " Who then shall not be saved ?" Then, if a
man be baptized, though he be a fornicator, or a
railer or covetous, or a drunkard, yet he shall inherit
the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 5:11, and 6 : 9, 10.
But some will reply, Such as these, though they
did receive regenerating grace in baptism, are since
fallen away, and must be renewed again, or else they
cannot be saved.
I answer, 1. There is an infallible connection be-
tween regeneration and salvation, as we have already
shown. 2. Then man must be born again a second
time, which carries a great deal of absurdity in its
face : and why may not men be twice born in nature
as well as in grace ? But, 3, and above all, this
grants, however, the thing I contend for, that what-
ever men do or pretend to receive in baptism, if they
be found afterwards to be grossly ignorant, or pro-
fane, or formal, without the power of godliness, they
"must be born again," or else be shut out of the
MISTAKES ABOUT CONVERSION. 13
kingdom of God. So then they must have more to
plead for themselves than their baptismal regenera-
Well, in this you see all are agreed, that, be it
more or less that is revived hi baptism, if men are
evidently unsanctified, they must be renewed again
by a thorough and powerful change, or else they
cannot escape the damnation of hell. " Be not de-
ceived ; God is not mocked." Whether it be your
baptism, or whatever else you pretend, I tell you
from the living God, that if any of you be a prayer-
less person, or unclean, or malicious, or covetous, or
riotous, or a scoffer, or a lover of evil company,
Prov. 13 : 20, in a word, if you are not a holy, strict,
and self-denying Christian, you cannot be saved.
Heb. 12:14; Matt. 15:14.
Paul, while unconverted, touching the righteous-
ness which is in the law, was blameless. Phil. 3 : 6.
The Pharisee could say, " I am no extortioner, adul-
terer, unjust," etc. Thou must have something more
than all this to show, Luke 18 : 11, or else, however
thou mayest justify thyself, God will condemn thee.
I condemn not morality, but warn thee not to rest
in it; piety includes morality, as Christianity doth
humanity, and grace, reason ; but we must not divide
It is also manifest that men may have a form of
godliness, without the power. 2 Tim. 3:5. Men
may pray long, Matt. 23 : 14 ; and fast often, Luke
14 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
18:12; and hear gladly, Mark 6 : 20 ; and be very
forward in the service of God, though costly and
expensive, Isa. 1:11; and yet be strangers to con-
version. They must have more to plead for them-
selves than that they go to church, give alms, and
make use of prayer, to prove themselves sound
converts. There is no outward service but a hypo-
crite may do it, even to the "giving all his goods to
feed the poor, and his body to be burned." 1 Cor.
Conversion is not the mere chaining up of corrup-
tion by education, human laws, or the force of afflic-
tion. It is too common and easy to mistake educa-
tion for grace ; but if this were enough, who a bet-
ter man than Jehoash? While Jehoida, his uncle,
lived, he was very forward hi God's service, and calls
upon him to repair the house of the Lord, 2 Kings,
12 : 2, 7 ; but here was nothing more than good
education all this while; for whe"n his good tutor
was taken out of the way, he appears to have been
but a wolf chained up, and falls into idolatry.
In short, conversion consists not in illumination or
conviction, in a superficial change or partial reforma-
tion. An apostate may be an enlightened man, Heb.
6:4; and a Felix tremble under conviction, Acts
24 : 25 ; and a Herod do many things, Mark 6 : 20.
It is one thing to have sin alarmed only by convic-
tions, and another to have it crucified by converting
grace. Many, because they have been troubled in
MISTAKES ABOUT CONVERSION. 15
conscience for their sins, think well of their case,
miserably mistaking conviction for conversion. With
these, Cain might have passed for a convert, who
ran up and down the world like a man distracted,
under the rage of a guilty conscience, till, with build-
ing and business, he had stifled it. Others think,
that because they have given over their riotous
courses, and are broken off from evil company or
some particular lust, and are reduced to sobriety
and civility, they are now no other than real con-
verts ; forgetting that there is a vast difference be-
tween being sanctified and civilized ; and that many
seek to enter into the kingdom of heaven, and are
not far from it, and arrive to the almost of Chris-
tianity, and yet fall short at last. While conscience
holds the whip over them, many will pray, hear, read,
and forbear their delightful sins ; but no sooner is
the lion asleep than they are at their sins again. Who
more religious than the Jews when God's hand was
upon them : yet no sooner was the affliction over,
than they forgot God. Thou mayst have forsaken
a troublesome sin, and have escaped the gross pol-
lutions of the world, and yet in all this not have
changed thy carnal nature.
You may cast lead out of the rude mass into the
form and features of a man, yet all the while it is
but lead still ; so a man may pass through divers
transmutations, from ignorance to knowledge, from
profaneness to civility, and thence to a form of relig-
16 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
ion, and all this time he is but carnal and unregen-
erate whilst his nature remains unchanged.
Hear then, sinners, hear as you would live.
Why would you wilfully deceive yourselves, or build
your hopes upon the sand ? I know that he may
find hard work that goes to pluck away your hopes.
It cannot but be ungrateful to you, and truly it is
not pleasing to me. I set about it as a surgeon
when about to cut off a mortified limb from his well-
beloved friend, which of necessity he must do, though
with an aching heart. But understand me, beloved,
I am only taking down the ruinous house, which will
otherwise speedily fall of itself and bury you in the
ruins, that I may build it fair, strong, and firm for
ever. The hope of the wicked shall perish. Prov.
11:7. And hadst not thou better, sinner, let the
word convince thee now in time, and let go thy false
and self-deluding hopes, than have death too late
open thine eyes, and find thyself in hell before thou
art aware? I should be a false and faithless shep-
herd if I should not tell you, that you, who have
built your hopes upon no better grounds than these
before mentioned, are yet in your sins. Let con-
science speak : What is it that you have to plead
for yourselves ? Is it that you wear Christ's livery ;
that you bear his name ; that you are of the visible
church ; that you have knowledge in the points of
religion, are civilized, perform religious duties, are
MISTAKES ABOUT CONVERSION. 17
just in your dealings, have been troubled in con-
science for your sins ? I tell you, from the Lord,
these pleas will never be accepted at God's bar : all
this, though good in itself, will not prove you con-
verted, and so will not suffice to your salvation.
look about you, and bethink yourselves of turning
speedily and entirely. Study your own hearts ; rest
not till God has made thorough work with you ; for
you must be other men, or else you are lost men.
But if these persons be short of conversion, what
shall I say of the profane sinner ? It may be he
will scarcely cast his eyes on, or lend his ear to this
discourse ; but if there be any such reading, or
within hearing, he must know from the Lord that
jmade him, that he is far from the kingdom of God.
May a man keep company with the wise virgins,
and yet be shut out ; and shall not a companion of
fools much more be destroyed ? May a man be
true in his dealings, and yet not be justified of God?
What then will become of thee, O wretched man,
whose conscience tells thee thou art false in thy
trade, and false to thy word, and makest thy advan-
tage by a lying tongue ? If men may be enlight-
ened and brought to the external performance of
holy duties, and yet go down to perdition for resting
in them and sitting down on this side of conversion,
what will become of you, miserable families, that
live without God in the world ? and of you, O
wretched shiners, with whom God is scarcely in all
AUeinrt Alum. 2
18 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
your thoughts ; that are so ignorant that you cannot,
or so careless that you will not pray ? O repent
and be converted ; break off your sins by righteous-
ness ; away to Christ for pardoning and renewing
grace ; give up yourselves to him, to walk with him
in holiness, or you shall never see God. that
you would take the warnings of God ! In his name
I once more admonish you : Turn ye at my reproof.
Forsake the foolish, and live. Be sober, righteous,
and godly. Wash your hands, ye sinners ; purify
your hearts, ye double-minded. Cease to do evil,
learn to do well. But if you will go on, you must
THE NATURE OF CONVERSION. 19
SHOWING POSITIVELY WHAT CONVERSION IS.
I MAT not leave you with your eyes half open,
like him that saw "men as trees walking." The
word is profitable for doctrine as well as reproof.
And therefore, having thus far conducted you by
the shelves and rocks of so many dangerous mis-
takes, I would guide you at length into the haven
Conversion then, in short, lies in THE THOROUGH
CHANGE BOTH OF THE HEART AND LIFE. I shall
briefly describe it in its nature and causes.
I. The AUTHOR of conversion is the Spirit of God,
and therefore it is called " the sanctification of the
Spirit," and " the renewing of the Holy Ghost,"
yet not excluding the other persons in the Trinity ;
for the apostle teacheth us to " bless the Father of
our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again
unto a lively hope." And Christ is said to " give
repentance unto Israel," and is called the " ever-
lasting Father," and we his seed, and the children
which God hath given him. Yet this work is prin-
cipally ascribed to the Holy Ghost, and so we are
said to be " born of the Spirit."
So then regeneration is a work of God : " We
are born, not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man, but of God." John 1 : 13. If ever thou
20 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
wouldst be savingly converted, them must despair
of doing it in thine own strength. It is a resurrec-
tion from the dead, Eph. 2 : 1 ; a new creation, Gal.
6:15; Eph. 2:10; a work of absolute omnipotence,
Eph. 1 : 19. If thou hast no more than thou hadst
by thy first birth, a good nature, a meek and chaste
temper, etc., thou art a stranger to true conversion:
this is a supernatural work.
II. The EFFICIENT CAUSE of conversion is internal,
1. The internal cause is free grace alone. " Not
by works of righteousness which we have done, but
of his mercy he saved us," and " by the renewing of
the Holy Ghost." " Of his own will begat he us."
We are chosen and called unto sanctificaaon, not
God finds nothing in man to excite his love :
enough to provoke his loathing. Look back upon
thyself, Christian ! Do not thine own clothes
abhor thee? Job 9:31. How then should holi-
ness and pureness love thee ? Be astonished, O
heavens, at this ; be moved, earth. Who but
must needs cry, Grace, grace. Hear and blush, ye
children of the Most High ye unthankful men !
that free grace is no more in your mouths, in your
thoughts ; no more adored, admired, and commended
by such as you. One would think you should be
doing nothing but praising and admiring God wher-
ever you are. How can you forget such grace, or
THE NATURE OF CONVERSION. 21
pass it over with a slight and formal mention ?
What but free grace could move God to love you,
unless enmity could do it, unless deformity could do
it ? How affectionately doth Peter lift up his hands :
" Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus,
who of his abundant mercy hath begotten us again."
How feelingly doth Paul magnify the free mercy of
God in it : " God who is rich in mercy, for his great
love wherewith he loved xis, hath quickened us to-
gether with Christ. By grace ye are saved."
2. The external cause is the merit and interces-
sion of the blessed Jesus. He hath obtained gifts
for the rebellious, and through him it is that God
worketh in us what is well pleasing in his sight.
Through him are all spiritual blessings bestowed
upon us in heavenly things. Every convert is the
fruit of his travail. He is made sanctification to us.
He sanctified himself that is, set apart himself as a
sacrifice that we may be sanctified. "We are
sanctified through the offering of his body once for
all." Heb. 10 : 10.
It is nothing, then, but the merit and intercession
of Christ, that prevails with God to bestow on us
converting grace. If thou art a new creature, thou
knowest to whom thou owest it ; to Christ's agonies
and prayers. And whither else shouldst thou go ?
If any in the world can show that for thy heart
which Christ can, let them do it. Doth Satan claim
thee ? Doth the world court thee ? Doth sin sue
22 ALLEINE'S ALARM.
for thy heart ? But were these crucified for thee ?
Christian, love and serve the Lord whilst thou
hast a being.
III. The INSTRUMENT of conversion is either per-
sonal or real. The personal is tbe ministry. I have
begotten you in Christ through the Gospel. 1 Cor.
4:15. Christ's ministers are they that are sent to
open men's eyes, and to turn them to God. Acts
unthankful world, little do you know what you
are doing while you are persecuting the messengers
of the Lord. These are they whose business it is,
under Christ, to save you. Whom have you re-
proached and blasphemed ? Against whom have
you exalted your voice, and lifted your eyes on high ?
" These are the servants of the most high God, that
show unto you the way of salvation," and do you
thus requite them, O foolish and unwise ! O sons
of ingratitude, against whom do ye sport yourselves ?
These are the instruments that God uses to convert
and save sinners : and do you revile your physicians,
and throw your pilots overboard? "Father, for-
give them ; for they know not what they do."