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SERM.things are entirely different from repentance, IV. and men are unhappily deceiv'd who trust in

them. When our Saviour gave commiffioni to his apostles, and establish'd their authority in this manner, John xx. 23. Whose foever fins ye retain they are retained, and wholesoever fins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; it is contrary to the strain of the gospel, and reason itself, to imagine, that he has invested a succession of fallible mortals with a power of pardoning fins, and especially upon conditions different from those which he has irrevocably fix'd by his laws. The plain meaning is, that having received the Holy Ghost

their guide, the apostles had commission, by their doctrine, to declare the perpetual unalterable terms upon which sinners might obtain the justification of life ; and on the other hand, that kind of disobedience which wou'd fix them under a sentence of condemnation. But, indeed the mistake of those protestants is as pernicious, (and in some respects more criminal, because it is gone into against better means of knowledge) who found their hopes of acceptance, and the remission of sins, on meerly external acts, on the public instrumental duties of religion, on confessions and prayers, and the

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facraments, without amendment of life ; SERM.

IV. this is nothing but hypocrify, it is mocking God and deceiving our own souls.

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Secondly, It must be extreme folly and in-
finitely dangerous, to delay the necessary
work of repentance till the approach of
death. This general persuasion is fix'd in
the minds of men, that repent they must
some time or other, since without it their
destruction is inevitable. But through the
deceitfulness of fin their hearts are so har-
den'd, and their affections so obstinately
cleave to theit vitious courses and worldly
interests, they incline to put off that work,
which however confessedly necessary, yet is
disagreeable, to a more convenient season;
and the most convenient they can pitch upon
is, when they must leave this world, and
the pleasures of fin can be no longer held.
1. A great many arguments might be insisted
on, 'to Thew the absurdity of such a conduct,
Any one that considers the mutability of hu.
man affairs, the uncertainties to which they
are liable, particularly the life of man ; our
own observation furnishing a multitude of
instances of men dying without any oppor-
tunity, or even possibility, of preparing for

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death;

SERM. death ; or having any deliberate thoughts IV. about the issues of it : any, I say, who

considers this, must see that it's imprudent. even to madness, to put our salvation on such a risque as the design and expectation of repenting on a death-bed. And as wise providence, to guard againft our poftponing the work of our salvation, has placed the manner and circumstances of our dying wholly out of our view, and made them to us utterly uncertain, so the dispensation of grace and divine aids may be loft, and the Spirit of God grieved by their transgressions, will at last strive nomore with finners, who are become altogether flesh, incorrigibly corrupt, having by a custom of doing evil harden'd themselves into an utter insensibility : Does not experience shew, and the least reflexion on the nature of habits, that the longer repentance is delay'd, the more difficult it becomes ? And must not every one be senfible how inconsistent, and indeed difingenuous it is, to commit sin with an intention to be af. terwards heartily sorry for it, if there wert no more in repentance than sorrow for fin ?

But the confideration to which my present subject particularly directs our thoughts, is

that

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that repentance, as it has been in this discourse SERM

IV. I explained, signifying an actual Reformation of

life, breaking off our fins, and bringing
forth the fruits of righteousness, in the ap-
proach of death, is impracticable: I have
shewn you that according to the scriptural
notion of it, it consists in a thorough uni-
versal change' of the heart and affections of
the dispositions and manner of life; at least,
newness of life is absolutely neceffary accord-

ing to the gospel declarations. But in the cafe di suppos’d, what opportuuity is there for all

this ? To be griev'd for our transgressions, to
acknowledge them with shame, to change
qur inclinations and purposes, and declare,

that if we were to live we would return to D them no more, which is all the repentance

dying men can exercise, is not to do what.
God indispenfably requires as the terms of
our acccptance, but to substitute something
else in the place of it. Besides, if ever so

stress was to be laid on thefe things,
the fincerity of them in dying men, is al-

ways liable to suspicion. How little can be 1

attained of that calmness and deliberation
which is necessary to them, and how natu-
ral is it to fear that in the present circum-
Itances of distress and consternation, seem-

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SERM.ingly religious dispositions are only extorted IV. by the immediate Thocking apprehenfions of

death, and of a future punishment ? We should not indeed take upon us to pronounce judgment against men, who having livd wickedly, do in the immediate views of death exercise all the repentance which is then possible for them; no doubt it is the best they can do, and it's most reasonable to press them to it. But the scriptural declarations are not calculated for that case, and for aught I see, give very little ground of com fort. Their evident design is, to awakeä finners out of their Security, and urge them by the strongeft motives, while yet there is space given to repent and to amend their doings, and that being the case of every one of us, what remains but that we apply it to ourselves, diligently minding in our day the things that belong to our peace, before theğ be bid from our eyes.

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