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increases their fenfe of the evil of fin, and their abhorrence of every approach to it.
Prefumption, and fuch views of God's mer cy as are taken by the fecure, arife entirely from the extenuation of fin. The language of their hearts is,Surely this is not fo great a matter, • but God's mercy will forgive it. If you will either seriously examine yourselves, or obferve, with fome attention, the difcourfe of careless worldly perfons, you will perceive this very clearly. They comfort themselves with the thoughts of their little comparative guilt, rather than of the certainty and greatness of divine mercy. I may perhaps,' fays one of them, have been guilty of fuch or fuch fins; but I am fure I never did fo or fo,' or perhaps as fome others who immediately occur to their minds as greater finners than themfelves. I cannot help mentioning to you the faying of a prince of our own country, towards the clofe of life, who had been a remarkable libertine in his younger years: 'I cannot think,' says he *, that God will be fo hard as to damn a man ' for taking a little pleasure out of the common ' road.*
In oppofition to this, the true penitent fees more than ever his inexcufable guilt as a finner, but hopes for forgiveness from God, as the effect of his own infinite grace, and the accomplishment of his promife in the gospel. He gives the whole glory of it to him; and ne
K. Charles II. to Bifhop Buract.
ver thinks of diminishing the luftre of his tranfcendent mercy, by covering or extenuating the offence. Hence fecure perfons are eafily fatisfied, while true penitents make fupplication with ftrong crying and tears. They are often reconfidering the promise, and frequently queftioning the ground on which their dependence has been placed. Hence alfo fecure perfons feek eafe to themselves from the remonftrances of confcience, by ftifling conviction, and offering excuses; but true penitents, by giving full force to the accufation, and pleading the benefit of the remiffion. To fay all in a word, the one ftruggles hard to be found innocent, the other to obtain mercy.
4. From what hath been faid, you may fee of how much moment it is to the Christian to keep clear views of the mercy of God, as well as of his own intereft in it. The moment he lofes the comfortable fenfe of peace with God, his chariot-wheels are troubled, and he drives heavily. It makes his duty burdenfome, and his trials infupportable. And no wonder, fince he is not fo far left of God as to return to the fecurity of finners; and at the fame time the fource of his inward confolation is like a Spring fhut up, and a fountain fealed. For what end are the promises of God contained in scripture? why are they put into your hands? why are they repeated in your ears? Why, but for preferving you in that peace which the world cannot give, and which, bleffed be God, it cannot take away. Hear what your Saviour fays,
John xvi. 33 "These things I have spoken un"to you, that in me ye might have peace. In "the world ye fhall have tribulation: but be "of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
5. In the last place, You may fee from what hath been faid, in what way you may most effectually, and most certainly, preserve your peace with God, viz. By the frequent exercise of penitence and confeffion. This will fhew you the neceffity of forgiveness from God, This will conftrain you daily to feek for forgiveness from God. Beware of feeking or preferving peace. by the extenuation of fin, or by stifling conviction. This may well lead you to floth and fecurity for a feafon, which lays the foundation of the bittereft repentance of all; but will never give you the comfort of God's children. He that shutteth his eyes upon his own fins, fhall never fee the glory of divine mercy. Serious, voluntary, deliberate humiliation, is the true way of promoting both that steadiness in duty, and that peace with God, which ought to be the Chriftian's fupreme defire. Whatever des ftroys felf-fufficiency promotes the growth of true piety. The gofpel is particularly directed to thofe that fee their neceffity. It brings comfort to the mourner, help to the miserable, and mercy to the guilty. It is a great mistake to think, that the contrition and penitence of the children of God is hurtful to their comfort, for it is the very foundation of it; according to that refreshing promise, with which I fhall conclude, If. lxi. 1. 2. 3. "The spirit of the Lord
"God is upon me, because the Lord hath a"nointed me to preach good tidings unto the "meek, he hath sent me to bind up the broken"hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, "and the opening of the prifon to them that "are bound to proclaim the acceptable year of "the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our "God, to comfort all that mourn: to appoint "unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto "them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for "mourning, the garment of praife for the spirit "of heavinefs, that they might be called trees "of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, "that he might be glorified."
The nature of Faith.
1 JOHN . 23.
And this is his commandment, That we should be lieve on the name of his Son Jefus Chrift.
E propofe, in a little, to draw near to
ftian worship. With what humble folicitude ought we to inquire, whether we are truly intitled to this great privilege, or may hope for acceptance in this important duty. It is the most explicit, and the most public profeffion we can make of faith in the Redeemer's blood; and therefore none can do it in a proper manner but those who have indeed believed in the Redeemer's name.
Faith in Chrift is the great foundation of our peace with God. It is the great principle of our fanctification. It is the great distinction between the heirs of glory and the heirs of hell: "For he that believeth, and is baptized, fhall "be faved; but he that believeth not, fhall be "damned." And therefore no fubject can be of