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tent and disobedient ; * and the servant, who SERM. knowing his. Lord's will, does not prepare
IV. bimself to do it, will deserve to be beaten with many stripes,
I may add, under this head, the gracious assistance which the gospel affords that men may be led to repentance. It is the glory of christianity to be the ministration of the spirit. Not only was the holy Ghost sent down from heaven to attestit by miraculous gifts and operations at first, but the divine comforter abides always with the followers of Christ, to instruct them, to lead them in the
of truth, and incline them to the practice of their duty. Now as all their obedience is summed upin repentance, from which confolation naturally arises, and to the increase whereof it tends, the operations of the Holy Spirit may be said to have this for their end. The prophet Zechariah foretelling the glory of the last days, or of the christian dispensation when the most perfect model of religion fhould take place, and real piety and virtue fhould flourish, says chap. xii. 10. It frall come to pass faith the Lord, that I will pour on the bouse of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of suppli
cations, * Luke xii. 47.
SERM.cations, and they fall look upon me whom they VI. have pierced, and they shall mourn and be
in bitterness. The Holy Spirit then pour’d out abundantly shall incline men to repent, and from a sense of their former fins, to renounce them with abhorrence, and do no more wickedly. When such aids are offer'd to us, and the Spirit of God strives, in order to reclaim and reform us, it must be a high aggravation of wickedness to resist him, and by such hardness and * impenitence of heart men treasure up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. cou'd have been done on God's part that he has not done? he not only calls upon us by the voice of reason and nature, which loudly proclaims his glory and our duty, and exercises great patience and long suffering towards us ; nay, he not only has appointed a propitiation for our sins, and thereby given us the most solemn and satisfying assurances of pardon, that by the hope of it we might be animated to a dutiful return to him ; but he had such pity on our weakness, tho' it was in a great measure criminal, and contracted by our own fault, that he sends his
Holy * Rom. ii. 5.
Holy Spirit to help our infirmities, to en-Serm. lighten our darkness, and to strengthen our IV.
and if after all we will remain impenitent, and defeat the best means, , and gracious efforts of mercy for our recovery, our ruin must be wholly charg’d on ourselves.
And, lastly, the kingdom of heaven, or the gospel, has brought life and immortality to light, and since we have entrance with boldness into the holiest of all by tbe blood of Jesus, by that new and living way, which he bath confecrated
for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh. The apostle's inference is very juft, Heb. x. 22. Let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, baving our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with purs : waters; that is, let us come to God in the exercise of faith and unfeigned repentance. It is true, that reason itself and natural religion carries no small light into futurity, When we consider the moral perfections of God, from which we infer that some time or other he will make a distinction between the good and the bad, which is not done in the external administration of providence here, for as Solomon cbserves, Ecclef. ix. 2.
Serm. All things come alike to all
, there is one event IV.
to the righteous and to the wicked, to the good, and to the clean, and to the unclean, to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not ; as is the good, so is the finner, and be that Sweareth as he that feareth an cath; when, I say, we consider this, we conclude very reasonably, that there will be a great difference made hereafter in the condition of men, by the appointment of their great judge.
But, christianity gives us still a much clearer light into the other world. It represents a future judgment, and the awful important issues of it in the most affecting manner; that Jesus Christ, as the visible judge, will fit on his throne, summon the whole human race to appear before him, and distribute to every one rewards and punishments, according to what they have done in the body, whether it be good or evil. By this powerful consideration, God requires all men to repent: the hope of an absolute and compleat justification, and the enjoyment of an eternal rest, and of fulness of joy in God's presence, if they fulfil the terms of his covenant; if amending their evil ways and breaking off their fins, they
patiently continue in well doing, is the Serm.
IV. strongest inducement that can be propos’d to a reasonable nature. And, on the contrary, the fear of that judgment and fiery indignation wherewith God will consume his adverSaries, one would think sufficient to awaken the attention of the most obdurate finners, and dispose them to forsake their fins. Not that such fear is sufficient of itself to produce true repentance, but at least, it Thews the extreme folly of impenitency; and as it is generally the first thing that takes hold of very corrupt and harden'd hearts, it may excite such confideration as shall end in an ingenuous conversion to God.
I shall now make some practical reflections on all that has been said, and the
first, which I think a very important one, is, that we should take care to avoid resting in false appearances of repentance, and substituting any thing else in the room of that true repentance which the gospel does indispensably require. They are gross errors of the Papists, and of a most dangerous tendency to place the power of forgiving fins in the hands of frail and fallible men, and annex that forgiveness to fastings, confessions, penances, or any thing of a like nature. These 4