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to hold fast our iniquities : for “ the Son
of God was manifested for this very pur“ pose, that he might destroy the works of “ the devil.” And in vain do we plead the merit of his death, unless we follow the example of his life, and submit to the government of his laws and Spirit; for “ he is the “ author of eternal salvation only to them “ that obey him.”
But it may be, you hope to make all up by repentance; and though at present there are some sins you are unwilling to part with, yet you propose to do it afterwards, with a resolution never to return any more to folly. Well, sinners, this at least is a plain confession that you are self-condemned creatures in the mean time. You admit that repentance is necessary, and that you are undone without it. And now let me display to you the folly of your conduct. -Should you die this night, what would become of you ? and what afsurance have you that you shall be alive to-morrow? Were not Zimri and Cosbi cut off in the act of fin? and have not many others been carried off by a sudden death, G3
without leisure afforded them to cry for mercy? Your sin, and consequently your misery, is present and certain : your repentance only future, and therefore altogether uncertain; for who knoweth what a day may bring forth ?- Besides, is it not egregious folly to do that deliberately which needeth repentance? Would he not be justly accounted mad, who should drink à deadly poison, merely to try the strength of an antidote ?- Though you could repent at pleasure, and had a lease of life to any term of your own choosing, which you well know you have not ; yet, even upon this supposition, your conduct would be foolish and irrational. But I have something to add that is still more alarming. Repentance is the gift of God; it is a grace that can only be produced in your hearts by that divine Spirit, whom now you grieve; And is grieving him the way to, obtain his assistance ? must God wait your time, and patiently endure all your affronts, and then bestow upon you a pure favour, to which you can plead no title, whenever you shall deign to ask it? No,
finners. There are such awful words in your Bibles as these: “ My Spirit shall. 6 not always strive with man;" and, “ Be« cause when I called, ye refused; when I “ stretched out my hand, ye did not regard 6 me; therefore will I laugh at your ca“ lamity, and môck when your fear co“ meth.” Go, think upon these, and get you to your knees, and beg of God, for Christ's faķe, that he may pardon what is past, and restrain you from such presumptuous fins for the future. This brings me to the
Last thing I proposed; which was, to direct you how to put up this prayer to God, Keep back thy fervant from presumptuous fins.
In the if place, You must do it sincerely, with an unfeigned and earnest desire, that God may hear and grant your request. We are very apt to impose upon ourselves in this matter. Conscience being galled and irritated by presumptuous fins, may grow fo turbulent and clamorous, that something must be done to still and pacify
it. By this means, we may be forced into the closet, and obliged to use the words of my text; nay, to apply them to those particular fins for which conscience upbraideth us. But, alas ! our prayers are oft-times false and hypocritical; we hate not the fin, but the remorse that follows it; and we wish
not so much to be delivered from the fin, · as from the fierce challenges of the awful
reprover within us. Have you not difI covered something of this hypocrisy in the
time of praying? Have you not felt a fe-
that you might view them as deadly foes, and long to be rescued from their tyranny; for till your hearts are brought to this, in vain do you utter the words of David; your prayers are hollow and insincere, whatever dress you put them into; and are themselves more presumptuous than any of those sins against which you pretend to use them.
2dly, We must put up this request, from a humble sense of our own weakness, with a lively hope of the mercy of God, and a stedfast reliance upon the efficacy of his grace. These qualifications are absolutely necessary: for till we feel our inability to overcome our impetuous and headstrong passions, we shall not be very importunate with God to restrain them; and we shall foon grow weary in our addresses to him for aid, if we either call in question his good-will to bestow it, or doubt of its sufficiency to answer our necessities. We must neither pray proudly nor despairingly; we affront God equally both ways. If we go to him merely in a complimental way, as if we did him honour by asking