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many an irksome sweat we must endurek. Yea, far- SERM. ther,

XLVIII. 5. We may consider, that by delaying to amend, to do it may become quite impossible ; it may be so in the nature of the thing, it may be so by the will of God: the thing may become naturally impossible; for vice by cuftom may pass into nature, and prove so congenial, as if it were born with us; so that we shall propend to it, as a stone falleth down, or as a spark fieth upward : by soaking in voluptuousness, we may be fo transformed into brutes, by Itecping in malice so converted into fiends, that we necessarily shall act like creatures of that kind, into which we are degenerated; and then nowise, without a downright miracle, are we capable of being reformed'. How long, saith Solomon, wilt thou Neep, Prov. vi. 9. O Nuggard ? when wilt thou arise out of thy peep? We may be so often called on; and it is not easy to awaken us, when we are got into a spiritual Number; but when we are dead in trespases and hns, so that all breath Eph. ii. 1. of holy affection is stopped, and no spiritual pulse from Apoc. 1.3: our heart doth appear; that all sense of duty is lost, all appetite to good doth fail, no strength or activity to move in a good course doth exert itself, that our good complexion is dissolved, and all our finer spirits are dissipated, that our mind is quite crazed, and all its powers are shattered or spoiled; when thus, I say, we are spiritually dead, how can we raise ourselves, what beneath omnipotency can effect it? As a stick, when once it is dry and stiff, you may break it, but you can never bend it into a Frangas ci

tius quam straighter posture ; so doth the man become incorrigible, who is settled and stiffened in vice. The stain of habitual quæ in pra,

vum indu. sin may fink in so deep, and so thoroughly tincture all our soul, that we may be like those people of whom the Quintil, i. 3. SERM. Prophet faith, Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the XLVIII. leopard his spots ? Then may ye do good, that are accus. Jer. xiii. 23. tomed to do evil. Such an impoffibility may arise from

ruerunt.

-frustra medicina paratur, Cum mala per longas invaluere moras. Ovid. Ράον απ' αρχής μη ενδέναι κακία, και προσιούσαν διαφυγείν, ή προβαινούσαν αναzóyon. Greg. Naz. Orat, 26.

1 Επειδάν εις φρενίτι, έκτισόντες λακτίζωσι και δάκνωσι τους βουλομένους απαλλάξαι της αρρωσίας αυτούς, τότε νοσούσιν ανίατα. Chry/. in Babyl. Οrat. 2.

nature; one greater and more insuperable may come from God.

To an effectual repentance, the fuccour of divine grace Sohn iii. 8. is necessary; but that is arbitrarily dispensed; the Spirit

lloweth where it listeth; yet it listeth wisely, with regard both to the past behaviour and present capacities of men; so that to such who have abused it, and to such who will not treat it well, it shall not be imparted. And can we be well assured, can we reasonably hope, that after we by our presumptuous delays have put off God, and dal. lied with his grace; after that he long in vain hath waited to be gracious; after that he hath endured so many neglects, and so many repulses from us; after that we

frequently have lighted his open invitations, and smoTè ernūpuce thered his kindly motions in us; in short, after we fo rūs rápitos unworthily have misused his goodness and patience, Heb.x. 29. that he farther will vouchsafe his grace to us ; when we Aduvaror. have forfeited it, when we have rejected it, when we have

spurned and driven it away, can we hope to recover it?

There is a time, a feason, a day, allotted to us ; our 2 Cor. vi. 2. day, it is termed, a day of salvation, the season of our vifiHeb. iii. 13. tation, an acceptable time ; wherein God freely doth ex

hibit grace, and presenteth his mercy to us: if we let this Luke xix. day slip, the night cometh, when no man can work; when

the things belonging to our peace will be hidden from our Isa. lix, 10. eyes ; when (as the Prophet expresseth it) we shall grope

for the wall like the blind, and stumble at noon-day as in the night, and be in defolate places as dead men: after that day is spent, and that comfortable light is set, a dismal

night of darkness, of cold, of disconfolateness, will fucJer. 37. 6. ceed; when God being weary of bearing with men, doth Mal. ii. 17. utterly desert them, and delivereth them over to a repro

bate mind; when subtracting his gracious direction and Rom. i. 24. affistance, he giveth them over to their own heart's lusts, Plal. Ixxxi. and to walk in their own counsels; when they are brought Ifa, Ixiii. 39. to complain with those in the Prophet, O Lord, why hafi

Heb. vi. 4.

Luke xix. 42, 44.

John ix. 4.

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Ila, i. 14. vii. 13.

12,

Matt. XXV.

Luke xiii.

25.

29.

thou made us to err from thy' ways, and hardened our heart SERM. from thy fear ? when, like Pharaoh, they survive only as XLVIII. objects of God's justice, or occafions to glorify his Rom.ix.17. power; when, like Esau, they cannot find a place of repentance, although they seek it carefully with tears ; Heb. xii. when, as to the foolish loitering virgins, the door of va mercy is fhut upon them ; when the Master of the house 10. doth rise and shut the door, &c. when that menace of divine wisdom cometh to be executed; They Mall call Prov. i. 28, upon me, but I will not answer; they Mall seek me early, but they fall not find me ; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord. And if, neglecting our season and present means, we once fall into this state, then is our case most deplorable; we are dead men irreversibly doomed, and only for a few moments reprieved from the stroke of final vengeance; we are vessels of Rom. ix. wrath fitted (or made up) for destruction ; by a fatal 27

Kalngrieni blindness and obduration sealed up to ruin ; we are like vasis ásóthe terra damnata, that earth (in the Apostle) which drink- Heb. vi. 7, ing up the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bearing thorns 8. and briars, is rejected, and is nigh unto curfing, and whose end is to be burned. Wherefore, according to the advice of the Prophet, Seek ye the Lord when he may be found, ifa. Iv. 6. call ye upon him while he is near.

It is true, that God is ever ready, upon our true conversion, to receive us into favour; that his arms are always open to embrace a sincere penitent; that he hath declared, whenever a wicked man turneth from his wicked- Ezek. xviii. ness, and doeth that which is right, he Mall save his soul 27. alive; that if we do wash ourselves, make us clean, put Ifa. i. 16, away the evil of our doings, and cease to do evil, then, al-18. though our sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow ; though they be like crimfon, they Mall be as wool; that if we rend our hearts, and turn unto the Lord, he is gracious Joel. ii. 13. and merciful, and will repent of the evil; that God is good Pf. lxxxvi. and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all that 5. call upon him ; that whenever a prodigal fon, with humble confeflion and hearty contrition for his sin, doth arise Luke sv. and go to his father, he will embrace him tenderly, and 18.

VOL. II,

Nn

SER M. entertain him kindly; that even a profane apoftate, and XLVIII.

a bloody oppreffor, (as Manaffes,) a lewd strumpet, (as Vid. Chryf. Magdalene,) a notable thief, (as he upon the cross,) a tiad Theod.

morous renouncer, (as St. Peter,) a furious persecutor, ii. Judas (faith he (as St. Paul,) a stupid idolater, (as all the Heathen world, there was when the Gospel came to them, was,) the most heinous

of pardon. finner that ever hath been, or can be imagined to be, if

he be disposed to repent, is capable of mercy: those declarations and promises are infallibly true; those instances peremptorily do evince, that repentance is never superannuated ; that if we can turn at all, we shall not turn too late ; that pænitentia nunquam fera, modo feria, is an irrefragable rule. Yet nevertheless delay is very unsafe ; for what assurance can we have, that God hereafter will enable us to perform those conditions of bewailing our fins, and forsaking them? Have we not cause rather to fear that he will chastise our prefumption

by withholding his grace? For although God faileth not Rom. ii. 4. to yield competent aids to persons who have not despised

his goodness and long suffering, thai leadeth them to repentance; yet he that wilfully or wantonly loitereth away the time, and squandereth the means allowed him; who refuseth to come when God calleth, yea wooeth and courteth him to repentance, how can he pretend to find such favour?

We might add, that supposing God in superabundance of mercy might be presumed never to withhold his grace; yet seeing his grace doth not work by irresistible compulsion ; seeing the worse qualified we are, the more apt we shall be to cross and defeat its operation ; seeing that we cannot hope that hereafter we shall be more fit than now to comply with it; yea seeing we may be sure, that, after our hearts are hardened by perseverance in fin, we fhall be more indisposed thereto ; we by delay of repentance do not only venture the forfeiture of divine grace, but the danger of abusing it, which heinously will aggravate our guilt, and hugely augment our punishment.

We should do well therefore most seriously to regard Hleb. ii. 13. the Apostle's admonition; Exhort one another to-day, while it is called to-day, lest any of you be hardened by the SERM. deceitfulness of fin. Now that we find ourselves invited to XLVIII. repent; now that we apprehend so much reason for it; now that we feel our hearts somewhat inclined thereto; now that we have time in our hands, and are not barred from hopes of mercy; now that it is not extremely difficult, or not absolutely impossible, let us in God's name lay hold on the occasion, let us speedily and earnestly set upon the work. Farther yet,

6. We should consider, that we are mortal and frail, and thence any designs of future reformation may be clipt off, or intercepted by death; which is always creeping toward us, and may, for all we can tell, be very near at hand. You say you will repent to-morrow : but are you sure you shall have a morrow to repent in m? Have you an hour in your hand, or one minute at your disposal? Have you a lease to shew for any term of life? Can you claim or reckon upon the least portion of time without his leave, who bestoweth life, and dealeth out time, and ordereth all things as he pleaseth ? Can you anywise descry the just measure of your days, or the bounds of your job xii. 10.

xiv. 5. vii. appointed time, without a special revelation from him, in whose hands is your breath; and with whom alone the Plal.xxxix. number of your months is registered ? Boast not thyself of Dan.v. 23. to-morrow ; for thou knowest not what a day may bring

Prov. xxvii. forth, faith the Wife Man; boaft not of it, that is, do Oix cidas to not pretend it to be at thy disposal, presume not upon sa pin isany thing that may befal therein ; for whilst thou pre-azzinou tà fumest thereon, may it not be said unto thee, as to the

Baf. M. exh. rich projector in the Gospel, Thou fool, this night shall thy ad Bapt: foul be required of thee? Doth not, secluding hidden decrees, every man's life hang upon a thread very slender and frail? Is it not subject to many diseases lurking within, and to a thousand accidents flying about us? How many, that might have promised themselves as fair scope as we can, have been unexpectedly snapt away?

1.

4. XC. 12.

1.

μη σά. .

Luke xii. 20.

Qụi pænitenti veniam fpofpondit, peccanti craftinum diem non promifit. Greg. in Evang. Hom. ix.

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