Choice excerpts from Joseph Alleine's
"An Alarm to the Unconverted" 1671
But now the tune is changed
Conversion turns the bent of the affections. These all
run in a new channel. Christ is now his hope. This is his
prize. Here his eye ishere his heart. He is content to
cast all overboard, as the merchant in the storm about
to perishso that he may but keep this jewel.
The first of his desires is not after goldbut grace. He
hungers for it, he seeks it as silver, he digs for it as for
hidden treasure. He had rather be gracious than great.
He had rather be the holiest man on earth than the most
learned, the most famous, the most prosperous. While
carnal, he said, 'O if I were but in great esteem, rolling
in wealth, and swimming in pleasurethen I would be
a happy man!' But now the tune is changed. 'Oh!'
says the convert, 'if I had but my corruptions subdued,
if I had such a measure of grace, and fellowship with
Godthough I were poor and despised, I would not
care, I would account myself a blessed man!'
Reader, is this the language of your soul?
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The hypocrite's life
The hypocrite's life is sadly deficient. He speaks, it may
be, like an angelbut he has a covetous eye, or the gain
of unrighteousness is in his hand. His hand is whitebut
his heart is full of rottenness (Matt 23:27), full of unmortified
cares, a very oven of lust, a shop of pride, the seat of malice!
It may be, with Nebuchadnezzar's image, he has a golden
heada great deal of knowledge; but he has feet of clayhis
affections are worldly, he minds earthly things, and his way
and walk are sensual and carnal.
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It opens the eye of the mind
Conversion is a deep work, a heart work. It makes a new
man in a new world. It extends to the whole manto the
mind, to the members, to the motions of the whole life.
Conversion turns the balance of the judgment, so that God
and His glory outweigh all carnal and worldly interests. It
opens the eye of the mind, and makes the scales of its
native ignorance fall off, and turns men from darkness to
light. The man who before saw no danger in his condition,
now concludes himself lost and forever undoneexcept
renewed by the power of grace. He who formerly thought
there was little hurt in sin, now comes to see it to be the
chief of evils. He sees the unreasonableness, the deformity
and the filthiness of sin; so that he is affrighted with it,
loathes it, dreads it, flees from it, and even abhors himself
for it (Rom 7:15; Job 42:6; Ezek 36:31). He who could see
little sin in himself, and could find no matter for confession,
now sees the rottenness of his heart, the desperate and
deep pollution of his whole nature. He cries, 'Unclean!
Unclean! Lord, purge me with hyssop, wash me thoroughly,
create in me a clean heart.' He sees himself altogether filthy,
corrupt both root and branch. He writes 'unclean' upon all
his parts, and powers, and performances. He discovers the
filthy corners that he was never aware of, and sees the
blasphemy, and theft, and murder, and adultery, that is
in his heart, of which before he was ignorant.
His hatred boils, his anger burns against sin. He has no
patience with himself; he calls himself 'fool' and 'beast';
and thinks any name too good for himselfwhen his
indignation is stirred up against sin. He could once wallow
in it with much pleasure; now he loathes the thought of
returning to it, as much as of licking up the filthiest vomit!
Hitherto he saw no form nor loveliness in Christ, no beauty
that he should desire Him; but now he finds the Hidden Treasure,
and will sell all to buy this field. Christ is the Pearl he seeks.
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Like a splinter in his eye
When a man is converted, he is forever at enmity with sin;
yes, with all sinbut most of all with his own sinsand
especially with his bosom sin. Sin is now the object of his
indignation. His sin swells his sorrows. It is sin which pierces
him and wounds him; he feels it like a thorn in his side, like
a splinter in his eye. He groans and struggles under it,
and not formallybut feelingly cries out, 'O wretched man!'
He is not impatient of any burdenso much as of his sin.
If God should give him his choice, he would choose any
affliction so he might be rid of sin; he feels it like the
cutting gravel in his shoes, pricking and paining him
as he goes.
Before conversion he had light thoughts of sin. He cherished
it in his bosom, as Uriah his lamb; he nourished it up, and it
grew up together with him; it did eat, as it were, of his own
plate, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and
was to him as a sweet daughter. But when God opens his
eyes by conversion, he throws it away with abhorrence, as
a man would a loathsome toad, which in the dark he had
hugged fast in his bosomand thought it had been some
pretty and harmless pet.
When a man is savingly changed, he is deeply convinced
not only of the danger but the defilement of sin; and O,
how earnest is he with God to be purified! He loathes
himself for his sins. He runs to Christ, and casts himself
into the fountain set open for him and for uncleanness.
If he falls into sin, what a stir is there to get all clean
again! He has no rest until he flees to the Word, and
washes and rubs and rinses in the infinite fountain,
laboring to cleanse himself from all filthiness both of
flesh and spirit.
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Satan may sometimes catch his foot in a trap
Before conversion, the devil could no sooner hold up his
finger to the sinner to call him to his wicked company,
sinful games, and filthy delightsand immediately he
followed, 'like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer
stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like
a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him
his life' (Prov 7:22-23). No sooner could Satan bid him to
liebut immediately he had it on his tongue. No sooner
could Satan offer a filthy objectbut he was overcome
But after he is converted he serves another Master, and
takes quite another course; he goes and comes at Christ's
bidding. Satan may sometimes catch his foot in a trap
but he will no longer be a willing captive. He watches
against the snares and baits of Satan, and studies to be
acquainted with his devices and plots.
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His once-idolized righteousness
Before conversion, man seeks to cover himself with his
own fig-leaves, and to make himself acceptable with God
by his own duties. He trusts in himself, sets up his own
righteousnessand does not to submit to the righteousness
of God. But conversion changes his mind; now he counts his
own righteousness as filthy rags. He casts it off, as a man
would the verminous tatters of a nasty beggar! Now he is
brought to poverty of spirit, complains of and condemns
himself; and all his inventory is, 'I am poor, and miserable,
and wretched, and blind, and naked!' He sees a world of
iniquity in his holy things, and calls his once-idolized
righteousness but filth and loss; and would not for a
thousand worlds be found in it! Now he begins to set a
high price upon Christ's righteousness. He sets himself
down for a lost undone man without Him. Before, the
gospel of Christ was a stale and tasteless thing; but
nowhow sweet is Christ! In a word, the voice of the
convert is, 'None but Christ!'
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They cannot leave the lap of Delilah
The unsound convert takes Christ by halves. He is all
for the salvation of Christbut he is not for sanctification.
He divides the offices and benefits of Christ. Hypocrites do
not love the Lord Jesus in sincerity. They will not have Him
as God offers, 'to be a Prince and a Savior' (Acts 5:31).
They divide what God has joined, the King who rulesand
the Priest who saves. They desire salvation from suffering
but they do not desire to be saved from sinning. They would
have their souls savedbut still would have their lusts. They
would be content to have some of their sins destroyedbut
they cannot leave the lap of Delilah, or divorce the
beloved Herodias. They cannot be cruel to the right eye
or right hand.
The sound convert takes a whole Christ, and takes Him
for all intents and purposes, without exceptions, without
limitations, without reserve. He is willing to have Christ
upon any terms. He is willing to have the dominion of
Christ as well as deliverance by Christ. He says with Paul,
'Lord, what will you have me to do?' Anything, Lord! He
gives Christ the blank pageto write down His own conditions.
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What would you ask for?
That night God appeared to Solomon in a dream and
said, "What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!"
2 Chronicles 1:7
If God should give you your choice, as He did to Solomon,
what would you ask for? Go into the gardens of pleasure,
and gather all the fragrant flowers therewould these satisfy
you? Go to the treasures of mammon; suppose you may carry
away as much as you desire. Go to the towers, to the trophies
of honorand become a man of renown. Would any of these,
would all of these satisfy you, and make you to count yourself
happy? If so, then certainly you are carnal and unconverted.
Converting grace turns the heart from its idolsto the living
God. Before conversion, the man minded his farm, friends,
pleasuresmore than Christ. He found more sweetness in his
merry company, wicked games, earthly delightsthan in Christ.
Now he says, 'But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss
for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss
compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus
my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them
rubbish, that I may gain Christ!' Philippians 3:7-8
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Certain signs of an unconverted sinner
"If any man loves the world, the love of the Father
is not in him." 1 John 2:15
The predominant love of the world is a sure evidence
of an unsanctified heart. But how often does this sin
lurk under the fair cover of profession. Yes, such a
power of deceit is there in this sin that many times,
when everybody else can see the man's worldliness
and covetousnesshe cannot see it himself! He has
so many excuses and pretenses for his eagerness after
the world, that he blinds his own eyes and perishes in
his self-deceit! How many professing Christians are
there, with whom the world has more of their hearts
and affections than Christ, 'who mind earthly things',
and thereby are evidently after the flesh, and likely
to end in destruction (Rom 8:5; Phil 3:19).
Did they but carefully search their hearts, they would
quickly see that their greatest satisfaction is in the world,
and that their greatest care and main endeavor are to get
and secure the worldwhich are the certain signs of an
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Death will knock off their fingers
"When the wicked dietheir hopes all perish." Pr. 11:7
Wicked men are fixed in their carnal hope, and will not
be beaten out of it; they hold it fast, they will not let it
go; but death will knock off their fingers. Though we
cannot undeceive them, death and judgment will. When
death strikes his dart through the wicked man's heart,
it will ruin both his soul and his hopes together.
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"I myself, the Sovereign Lord, am now your enemy!"
Unconverted sinner! You are not only against Godbut
God is against you! As there is no friend like Himso
there is no enemy like Him. As much as heaven is above
the earth, omnipotence above impotenceso much more
terrible is it to fall into the hands of the living God, than
into the paws of bears and lions, yes, furies or devils!
God Himself will be your tormentor! Who or what shall
deliver you out of His hands? Sinner, I think this would
go like a dagger to your heartto know that God
Himself is your enemy! Oh where will you go?
Where will you shelter yourself?
The infinite God is engaged against you! He hates all workers
of iniquity. Man, does not your heart tremble to think of your
being an object of God's hatred? "As surely as I live, when I
sharpen My flashing sword and begin to carry out justice, I
will bring vengeance on My enemies and repay those who
hate Me!" (Deuteronomy 32:40-41)
The power of God is mounted like a mighty cannon against
you. Sinner, the power of God's anger is against youand
power and anger together make fearful work. There is no
escaping His handsno breaking loose from His prison.
"O consider this, you who forget God, lest He tear you in
pieces, and there be none to deliver!" (Psalm 50:22)
Submit to mercy. Let not dust and stubble battle against
the Almighty. "Woe to him who strives with his Maker!"
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The Devil's trap
"Then they may come to their senses and escape
the Devil's trap, having been captured by him
to do his will." 2 Timothy 2:26
It is the common misery of all the unsavedthat the
devil is their god. His drudges they are, and his lusts
they do. However Satan may provide his slaves with
various pleasuresyet it is but to draw them into
endless perdition. O dreadful case!
The serpent comes with the fruit in his mouth, but,
like Eveyou do not see the deadly sting! He who is
now your tempterwill one day be your tormentor!
O that I could but make you see how bad a master
you serve, how merciless a tyrant you gratify; whose
pleasure is to make your perdition and damnation
sure, and to heat the furnace hotter and hotter in
which you must burn for millions and millions of ages!