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ries which Christ denounced should befall them, will fall on us. Nor if Life were assured to us, could we at all times form such a true Repentance as would qualifie us for the Mercy of God; which consists not in a transient forrow for past Sins, but in a total change of all the vicious Habits and Inclinations of the Will, Nor lastly, is there any Pardon promised to presumptuous Sins, deliberately committed in prospect of the Pardon offered to all truly penitent Sinners, But of the Nature, Necessity and Benefits of Repentance, I shall speak more largely in the further prosecution of these Words in my next Discourse.
Preach'd March 23, 10 at Lam.
Luke XIII. 5.
N my last Discourse, I described to you less Pretence to entertain such a Perswalion, which is contrary to the Constitution ot' humane Nature, to the Wisdom of God, and to the present Order of the World settled by him the Author of it. Lastly, rhat however God doch ordinarily bear with the Sins of Men in this Life, and deferr the Punishment of them to another World; yet that this giveth no reasonable Encouragement to Men to pur off their Repentance till the end of their Lives.
the Reason and the Excellency of the Institution of this Holy Season. To improve which, I proposed to treat of Repentance from these Words ; and therein observed the Occasion of them; which was a pernicious Mistake of the Jews, that the Divine Justice, not punishing the Sins of Men in this Life, did thereby warrant them; and that the Defect of such a visible Execution, was an Argument of the little necessity of Repentance. In Opposition to which I shew you, that however the Jewish Revelation might give fome Countenance to such an Opinion, yet that they had therein miitaken their Law: That under Christianity there is yet much
After having removed these Obstacles of Repentance, I proceed to enforce the Duty, and direct you in the ufe of it. The Motive to Repentance is taken from the plain Words of the Text, being the certaiaty of Destruction without Repentance, pronounced by our Lord, Except ye repent, ye spall perish. And the Usetulness of it is insinuated in the same Words ; that by Repentance, if true, sincere and rightly applied, Destruction may be avoided. These two then shall be the Heads of my present Discourse.
And first, I will improve the Argument of Repentance, drawn from the inevitable consequence of Destruction attending the want of it, and endeavour to convince you of the certainty of that Consequence. The Evidence of the Argument, when once a full Conviction is formed of the Truth of it, is manifeit, being taken from that which most affects Mankind, their own Interest. It were indeed more noble to pay our jult Obedience to God, rather from a Sense of Duty, than that of Interest ; rather out of Gratitude to God for the many Benefits received from him, and a Conviction of the entire Subjection due to that Almighty Being, than from the Fear of Punishment, or the Hope of Reward. But such is the Weakness of humane Nature, fo corrupted is his Will, and fo much darkened his Understanding, that this Argument hath been ever found infufficient, God therefore of his Infinite Mercy hath been pleased to employ that more sensible Argument of Prolit and Interest, by proposing Rewards to his obedient Servants, and dea nouncing Punishments to obstinate Sinners,
An Argument, which cannot fail, if Man by reflecting on it would perswade himself, that his Interest is indeed engaged in it. For it affects those very Passions, which are wont to betray the Will of Man to Sin, Desire and Fear; and, would Men consider, could not but be more prevalent than all other Objects which move those Passions ; since the Reward proposed is more desirable, the Punishment denounced more to be feared, than any other Thing whatsoever. This was the Argument which our Lord, his forerunner John Baptist, and his Apostles employed to convert the World. Repent, for the Kindom of God is at band; the Time now comethi, when he will no longer wink at the Sins of Mankind ; when he will evidently declare his Resolution to punish impenitent Sinners
and even exemplifie it in the terrible destruction of the impenitent Nation of the Jews, as he did shortly after. The axe is now laid to the root of the tree, and every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, sall be hewn down and cast into the fire.
These and such like Denunciations of the Wrath of God to unrepenting, Sinners, drew Multitudes of Men to a Sense of, and Sorrow for their Sins; not only the more devout Jews, buţ also Soldiers and Publicans, who confessing their Sins, where then Baptia
manifesting by that anciently received Emblem of Purity and Innocence, their Resolution of linning no more. Even after a full Conviction formed of their Duty, our Lord thought fit to propose this very Argument to his Disciples, who had been long trained
in Obedience to him, and were now entring upon the most difficult Point of Christianity, the Patient enduring of Persecution, Amiction, and even Death it self ; all which he foretold should be all them in that Mission, which he then enjoyn’d them. Yet to these Fears he opposeth, as the greatest Remedy, this Consideration only, Fear not them which can kill the Body, and after that can do no more ; but I will tell
you fall fear, Fear him, who can destroy both Body and Soul in Hill. All other Motives of Interest, all other Objects of Fear or Hope, concern the Body only, and terminate there: But in the Matters of Religion, the Reward