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were not unactive, they produced a multi- S E R tude of transgressions, not in thought only, HI but in word and deed; and shall not his now*""""*" contrary repenting dispositions, inclinations, * and purposes, exert themselves in the contrary works?
But, let us lay ever so great stress on all these particulars which are ingredients in repentance, or rather preparations so* it, and tendencies towards it, on sorrows for sin, deep contrition, confessions and pious dispositions, religious inclinations and purposes, let us even make the supposition, that the essence of repentance were in them, this important question will remain, how does their sincerity appear? It is an acknowledg'd principle, that nothing called religion can be acceptable to the Deity, let it be faith, repentance, obedience, charity, or whatsoever virtue or good work so called, it cannot, I fey, be acceptable without being sincere. Now, let any one judge whether there can be in the nature of the thing any evidence, without good works, or fruits meet for the amendment of life, as the scripture calls them, of these inward dispositions and affections, religious inclinations and purposes, W of godly sorrow for sin? or any satisfying F 4 evidence F. Rm.evidence that men are sincere in confessing
III- their sins.
Nay, upon the unhappy supposition that our repentance is thus imperfect, that we are sorry for our sins, confess them, and purpose to reform, without actually reforming; our guilt is thereby greatly aggravated, and the separation between us and our God, which our iniquities have made, is in• creased. I do not now put the case of insincerity, which is always displeasing to that God who loves truth in the inward parts, but allowing that men really, and in earnest are grieved for their transgressions, and confess them with deep contrition of foul; upon that supposition, if it can be made, without amendment of life, the sins in which they continue are very much heightened, because they are committed against the plainest and most sensible connections of their own minds, and still the affront to God is the greater, the more it is done in defiance of light, and with our eyes open.
I cannot now finish what I intended in this discourse, and mall for this time conclude with exhorting you to consider seriously. rioufly, the absolute, indispensable neces- Serm. sity, of breaking off your sins by actual thqrough amendment j by turning our feet to God's testimonies, making baste to keep his commandments *. Which that we may all sincerely do, God of his infinite mercy grant.
S E R M O N IV.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
IN a former discourse from these words, I endeavoured to explain the nature of that true repentance, which the scripture declares to be so absolutely and indispensably necessary to our acceptance with God. And what I intend at this time principally to insist; on, are, the motives whereby this most important duty is urg'd upon us. But one observation will first be usefully made in order to our understanding it better, and applying what is said concerning it with greater advantage to our selves, that is, concerning the difference between the repentance originally preach'd to sinners, both Jews and Heathens, as the condition of their entrance into the christian state, and that which
is is required of those who sin wilfully underSerm. the christian profession. The gospel was IV. first declared to such as, by the account it ""J gives of them, were very ignorant and very wicked; all flejh had corrupted their ways, and the whole -world became guilty before God. The religion of the Jews had degenerated into empty formality; external rites and ceremonies, were put in the place of substantial piety and virtue: And the Gentiles were dead in trespasses and fins, fooli/h and disobedient, serving diverse lufls and pleasures. Such were they whom our Saviour and his apostles called to repentance, to an entire change of their tempers and their manner of life, to become new creatures, to pus off the old man and be renewed after the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness. To this purpose very strong motives were set before them, taken from the death and resurrection of Christ, and from the hope of a glorious immortality, which Jesus Christ brought to light; and they came under a solemn obligation by baptism, which was a seal of their religious profession, and a sacred engagement upon them to walk in newness of life, as the apostles explain it. A persevering course of sincere obedience, as the condition of their claim to tb,e benefits of