Repentance to the Last.
ISAIAH VI. 5.
Then said I, Wo is me, because I am a Man of Unclean Lips.
THEN! T'was after He had been taken up into the Heavenly World! He was a true Minister of the Gospel who uttered that Wish I wish; that if I Dy in the Pulpit, I may Dy Preaching of Repen∣tance; and that if I Dy out of the pul∣pit, I may Dy practising of it. I would most heartily come into the Wish. In the mean 〈…〉 of Re∣pentance man promote the Practi∣sing of it.
O the admirable Discord, the melo∣dious Discord, which must carry on the Life of Christianity. A Conversation with a Glorious CHRIST in Heaven;Page 2 must carry us up to Heaven. The Life of a Christian is then upon its true Notes, when he is as full of CHRIST and HEAVEN, as is in this Life attainable. Heavenly Contempla∣tions on the Blessed JESUS, Heavenly Consecrations to the Blessed JESUS, Lovely Imitations of Heaven and of JE∣SUS, O Heaven-born Souls, why do you make no greater Improvements in them! And yet I shall do my Can∣didate of the Heavenly Life, no manner of wrong, if I fetch him down from the Suburbs of Heaven, and lay him Groaning and Weeping in the lower parts of the Earth. No, There is a most incomparable Agreement, be∣tween a Conversation with CHRIST, and HEAVEN, and a Conversation that has a continual strain of Repen∣tance abasing of it; They assist each other wonderfully! You shall give me leave, without a Censure of Levity in the expression, to say; The shortest way to Heaven is by Water. The Ex∣pression was of old used in the Church of God. And you are apprised of what it means; It means, the Tears of Page 3 a Repenting Soul, which must keep run∣ning from our Eyes, till Death has closed them.
I will then this day put on the Cha∣racter, Oh! For the Spirit and Power, of a John Baptist, among you! A Preacher of Repentance. Repentance, Repentance, yea, a Life of Re∣pentance, is that Grand Article of Piety, whereof I propose the Inculca∣tion. But unto whom? Unto the Sinners that are yet perishing in their Unregeneracy, and Impenitency! Ah, poor Creatures; Tis very sure, You must Repent, or else you Perish, you Perish miserably. But my Errand is unto those, who have already Repented a thousand times over; Tis unto those who are daily mounting up to∣wards Heaven, with the Wings of Eagles, in the most Heavenly Flights of Manly Christianity. Tis unto them that are apace Ripening for Heaven, and just ready to step into it. Sirs, Of you the Demand is, That you keep Repent∣ing to the Last, and Lead a Life of Repentance as long as you Live.
If any one might have pretended an Page 4 Excuse from the Exercise of Repentance, one might have thought, it would have been the Propher Isaiah, when he was favoured with the a Vision of our Holy Lord, and a Rapture into the Heavenly World. What? A man fly∣ing and shining among the Angels of God, and yet Repenting in Dust and Ashes before the Lord, and Lamenting his own Impurities! Oh, Wonderful! Wonderful! I dispute not, whether the Man of God were now in the Temple of Jerusalem, or whether he were not rather, (which, with Peganius, I incline to think, he was) taken up to a View of its Original Pattern, that stupendous TEMPLE of God, which there is in the Heavenly World. But, beholding the Majesty of the Lord, the Spirit of Repentance immediately & marvellously falls upon him. O thou Man of God. Why dost thou not now fall into Songs of Triumph, and make thy Boast unto the bright Angels before thine Eyes;
Oh! Could I with Lips thus touch'd, bring you the Doctrine, which I intend you. Tis,
Page 6That a Servant of God should fall into the Exercise of Re∣pentance, on every occasion afforded for it.
The very Life of a Christian must be a Life of Repentance. It is not enough, that a man Repent once in his Life, The Dispositions of Repentance must Always be kept Alive, in a man, as long as he Lives. A Good man must over and over again Repent of his Evil-doing, and hold on Repenting all his Days. Thus the Great Austin caused the Pe∣nitential Psalms to be writ∣ten in GreatLetters, within the Curtains of his Death∣bed;* that he might even give up the Ghost, in the midst of Penitential Ejacu∣lations. Truly, the Best of Men, have no cause to Leave off Repentance. Yea, the Better any man is, and the nearer to Heaven, the more will the Spirit of Repentance actuate him. The Motto of a Christian, methinks, it should be that of the An∣cient, Page 7Nulli rei natus, nisi Pe∣nitentiae; Born to be in the Repenting Strain continually; Never, Never to be out of it!
The First Thing to be now done, is, to Enquire,
What is that Repentance, which we are to keep in continual Exercise?
I will briefly state the Operations of that Repentance.
First; In Repentance, tis to be supposed, we are Apprehensive, That we have Sinned; That we have been or done, that which is to be Repented of. An Apprehension of our Sinfulness is necessary. A Repenting Sinner, is a Convinced Sinner. The Language of Repentance, is that; 2 Sam. 24.10. I have Sinned greatly in that I have done, I have done very Foolishly. Tis implied, That we are acquainted with the Law of our GOD; That we have an Acquain∣tance with what the Exceeding Broad Law Enjoyns upon us. We must see the Law of GOD Violated, in what we have been, or done; A Law to be for ever Magnified and made Honourable. The First Thing said by a Repenting Sinner, Page 8 is that, Luk. 15.17. I have Sinned against Heaven. But if we would not sinfully Intermit our due Repentance, we must see our selves thus Chargeable with Sin, in all that we do; Sinful in all Under∣takings; in all Conditions; in all Relati∣ons; Defiled with Sin, in all that we meddle withal. In this our Sight of our Sin, tis not only our Actual Sin, that is to be set before our Eyes. Our Sight must penetrate as far as our O∣riginal Sin. This must be seen, as the Original of all our Sin. We must Look in, Look down, upon that Foun∣tain of Wickedness, which we have in an Heart, that is Deceitful above all things, and desperately Wicked. 'O wretched One, that I am! What a Leper am I! What a Viper am I! What a Seed of all Sin have I Lodging in me!
Secondly; Tis necessary to Repen∣tance, that we Know and Think, what we have done, when we have Sinn'd. The Voice of Repentance is that; Job 33.27. I have Sinned, and Perverted that which is Right, and it Profited me not. To make Light of Sin, this is inconsistent with Re∣pentance. We don't Repent, until we Page 9 reckon Sin, the worst Evil in the world.
Because I would Chastise the most frequent and most fatal Folly in the world, I will somewhat Expressively tell you, what a man does, when he Sins. My Hearers, Attend unto me!
A Sinner does Deny, Disown, cast off the Authority of the God that made him. He sets up Himself in the Throne of his Maker. He Reproaches the Wisdom and Justice of GOD, in His Laws; the Wise and Just Rules that GOD has given us. He Questions the Goodness of GOD, and counts it better to be under his own Government, than that a Good GOD, should Govern him. He throws Contempt on the Holiness of GOD, and represents Him as an Unholy Approver of Sin. He defies the Power of GOD; & Challenges all the Thun∣derbolts of the All-powerful One. He despises the Promises of GOD; He despises the Threatenings of GOD; He believes not His Faithfulness in them. He makes a Vile Use of the Benefits, he has received from GOD; a Vile Use of the Corrections which GOD has Em∣ploy'd upon him; a Vile Use of the Page 10Punishments which he hath seen GOD inflict upon other Offendors. He tramples on the Blood of the Blessed JE∣SUS, which hath been shed, that men might be Redeemed from all Iniquity. He turns a Deaf Ear upon the motions of the Holy SPIRIT, who Cries unto him, O Do not this abominable thing! The Dictates and Warnings of his own Con∣science, the Deputy of GOD, are nothing with him. The Excellent Pattern of a CHRIST, and of the Saints, the Excellent in the Earth, who have been the Follow∣ers of that Good One, is derided by him. He disturbs the sweet Harmony whereto the world is tuned, by a Great Creator and Preserver. He Obeys the Devil, he Follows the Devil; and makes him∣self worse than the Beasts that Perish. He wrongs the Faculties of his own Soul; and Exposes himself to Wounds from the Wrath of GOD upon All his Interests. He prefers his Flesh above his Immortal Spirit. He prefers Temporal Enjoy∣ments on Earth, before Eternal Enjoy∣ments in Heaven. He incurs the un∣known, but fearful Miseries in the World to come; and all but for a momentany Delight in this World.
Page 11O Fearful! What? All of this Venom in every Sin! Such an Horror of Sin; Such an horrid and hideous Idaea of Sin, we ought always to be possessed of.
Thirdly; An Abhorrence of Sin, and of Our selves for our Sin; This must be an Ingredient of the Repentance to be always in motion with us.
We must be greatly Griev'd, because we have Sinned; Our Grief on the ac∣count of our Sin, must be incompara∣ble. Repentance is a Mourning for Sin. Sorrow for Sin does Pierce the Heart, and Break the Heart, in Re∣pentance. The Repenting Soul Cries out, I am sorry for my Sin! His Picture, I'll show it you; Tis in Jer. 31.18. I have surely heard him be moaning him∣self,— I am ashamed, yea, even confounded, beause I bear the Reproach of my Youth. His Dwelling is at Bochim. He looks on his Falls, with such Eyes as Peter had; with Weeping Eyes. He Weeps Bitterly. He is Greatly Troubled; He never counts, he can be Troubled enough. He Mourns, because he Mourns no more. And Sin being Loathsome to him, Page 12 he Loathes himself because of it. He Cries out with him; Job 42.6. I Ab∣hor myself, and Repent. He Loads him∣self with Shame. He is Asham'd of what he is and does. He looks upon Sin as a Shameful Folly. He calls himself, A Fool; and he is heartily willing, that the rest of the world should call him so. Hence, a Penitent Confessi∣on of Sin, will proceed from him. He does with Sincerity and Ingenuity. Confess his Foolishness. He comes to that; Psal. 32.5. I Acknowledge my Sin unto thee, and my Iniquity I have not hid; I said, I will Confess my Transgressions unto the Lord. He will Confess unto GOD; and he is very ready to Confess unto Man also, if he be call'd unto it. Finally; He Judges himself; he Humbles him∣self. He submits to all the Humiliation that God shall order for him. He is a Self-Condemned Sinner. He joyns with the Holiness and Righteousness of GOD against himself; and he Cries out, Lord, I am worthy of all thy Judgments! If God visit him with Plagues, he owns he has deserved all these Plagues; and he says, I will bear the Indignation of the Lord, be∣cause Page 13 I have Sinned against Him. Yea, and if Men treat him Contemptuously, he is Patient under the Contempt; he bears the Contempt with Patience; he sees himself so Sinful, that he says, Con∣tempt belongs to me! Calcate me! —I am Unsavoury Salt; O Trample on me.
Having pass'd thro' these Points of Repentance, there is in it, Lastly, A Returning to GOD in our Lord JE∣SUS CHRIST. So we read; Hos. 6.1. Come, Let us Return unto the Lord.
The Repenting Sinner, first, flies to the Pardoning Mercy of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance is accompanied with Hope; An Hope of Pardoning Mercy; and with an Hope∣ful Prayer for a Pardon. An Hopeless Re∣pentance, is a Repentance for none but a Judas, none but a Devil. The Repent∣ing Sinner, is not a Despairing Sinner. He is upheld with that Perswasion; Psal 130.4. There is Forgiveness with thee, that thou moyst be Feared.
Now, tis a Glorious CHRIST, who is his Hope. The Repenting Sinner flies to that Hope, as his only Refuge, 1 Joh. 1.7. The Blood of JESUS CHRIST the Page 14 Son of God, Cleanseth us from all Sin. A Repenting Soul, is a Believing Soul. His Cry is; Lord, Let my Sin be Pardoned, because a Glorious CHRIST is my Sacri∣fice and my Advocate. Lord. My whole Dependence is on a Glorious CHRIST, that I may find Mercy and Pardon with thee!
And then, the Repenting Sinner comes to New Resolutions. He Resolves with the Help of Grace, to Glorify GOD, with a New, and more Exact Obedience. Tis with him, as we read, Job 34.31, 32. I will not Offend any more; If I have done Iniquity, I will do it no more. He Forsakes every Sin. He Wishes, Oh! That I might not Sin any more! He Chuses the Blessed GOD for his God. He Re∣solves to Obey Him. His Desires are; Oh! That my Life may be a Walk with God! Lord, I am Thine; I Resolve, with thy Help, to Acknowledge thee in all my Wayes! If an Austin were here, he would say unto you, Inanis est Paenitentia, quam sequens Culpa coinquinat. Repenting will be in vain, if Relapsing be not mightily watch'd against.
THIS, This is Repentance; the Repentance to be for ever breathing Page 15 in us, as long as we have a Breath to draw in the World. The Soul of a Christian should be, strongly Turned this Way; always Tending this Way. To be Repenting at this rate, must be the Daily Study and Labour of a Good Man. Essayes of such Repen∣tance, must be Livelily carried on, as long as we Live.
Wherefore, The Second Thing to be now done, is to Enquire,
What are the Occasions, which to keep Repentance in a Continual Erercise, we are to Lay Hold upon?
I am going to set before you a Mystery of Practical Godliness, which rarely has been fully spoken to. I am going to Shew you an Excellent Way, for a Good Man to be always Repenting the Errors of his Life as long as he Lives. A Se∣rious, Watchful, Self-abasing Mind, may lay hold on Thousands of Occasions, to Cry out; Wo is me, I am Unclean: Lord, I Repent before thee, and I Entreat a Pardon, thro' the Blood of the Lamb of God.
Page 16¶ First, There are Solemn Acts of Repentance, to be frequently Performed, frequently Repeted.
My Intention is This. We are fre∣quently to Set a part a Time, on purpose to go thro' a Process of Repen∣tance, in all the Parts of it, and all the Acts of it. This Time is to be thus divided. Having first implored the Assistance of Heaven, then, O Ser∣vant of God, Go on to take a view of thy Original Sin; thy wretched, forlorn, filthy circumstances, by rea∣son of Original Sin. There-withal set before thee an, Exposition of the Ten Commandments; what is Forbidden, what is Required, in them. Examine the Faults of thy Life by this Glass. Acknowledge the Faults, with Bit∣terness of Soul before the Lord. Glo∣rify GOD in the Bitterest Chastisements, which thou hast felt, or canst feel, for thy offences. Weep to the Lord, for a Pardon, thro' the Propitiation of the Lovely JESUS. Lay Hold on the Par∣doning Mercy of God. Here-upon, take up agreeable Purposes, of Living more Carefully, more Fruitfully, more Ho∣lily. Page 17Record your Purposes. Make and Keep a Record of them. Afterwards, Fail not of Execution.
Sirs, A Time should be now and then Devoted unto this Intention. Es∣pecially, when we Prepare to Approach the Table of the Lord; This, This is to be One considerable Stroke of our Preparation. Yea, sometimes a Servant of God, should set apart, a Whole Day upon this Intention; A Day of Humiliation. And, why not in Secret Places before the Lord! Methinks, I hear the Glorious Lord saying unto us; Isa. 58.6. Is not this the Fast that I have chosen? To loose the Bands of Wick∣edness. Verily, such Dayes of Repentance must be frequent with us; Even to the End of our Dayes. But,
Secondly. Methinks, every New and Gross Fall into Sin, Oh! it affords us a deplorable occasion! It should immediately put us on a New & Fresh Act of the most Explicit Repentance. When a Peter has Fallen, what is to be done Immediately? What, but That; Matt, 26.75. He went out, and wept bitterly. If Temptation has gain'd at any time up∣on Page 18 on us, and has drawn us into any Mis∣carriage, for which our Hearts Condemn us; Now is a Time for us immediately to Retire and Repent before the Lord, & Weep Bitterly. Now, Now, Let US, With∣out any Delay, Go alone, and Lament our Foolishness, and Beg of the Glorious LORD, That He would Forgive our Iniquity, and preserve, us from ever fall∣ing again into the like Iniquity. My Friend; Thy Soul should be in as much pain as a Bone out of joynt, until this Repentance has Restored thee.
I design a particular pungency in it, that I now refer to this Head, what I might have made a distinct One. Our Well-doing as well as our Ill-do∣ing affords us an occasion of Repentance. When we have done any Service for God; appear'd as Witnesses for Him; done Good Offices for His People; or perhaps been Scattering our Alms like the Showres of Heaven; Instead of be∣ing Lifted up, now full down before the Lord; Lord, I am asham'd, I am asham'd that my Service, has been so poorly & meanly performed: Lord, The Iniquity of my Holy Things abases me Exceedingly! I incor∣porate Page 19 our Ill-doing, and our Well-doing, into one Paragraph of my Discourse, be∣cause, God knows, we do in our Practice too much incorporate them.
There is a Third Occasion for the Exercise of Repentance, which the E∣vening of Every day brings unto us. Every Evening, before we go to our Lodging, we should go to our Clo∣set. There call to mind, as, what Spe∣cial Mercies of the Day past we have to be Thankful for, so what Special Evils of the Day past, we have to be Humbled for Child of God, How canst thou Sleep comfortably, without some such Exercise. Look back on the Day past, and on thy Knees before the Lord, mention those Errors, which thou, Canst understand in thy Conduct? Lord, My Unfruitfulness this Day! Lord, my want of Zeal in the Duties of Religion! Lord, my Indiscreet Behaviour, in such and such Com∣pany! Oh, Pardon it, for the sake of the only Sacrifice, and Assist me, that I may no more, so sin against thee! Now Fall Asleep, with that Song of Zion; Psal. 48. I will both lay me down in 〈◊〉, and Sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safey.
Page 20My Neighbours, If you have passed any One Day without making Work for Re∣pentance, you shall be Excused from the Task now laid upon you!
You will find a Fourth Occasion for the Exercise of Repentance, in Every Errand that you go to Heaven upon. We can Request nothing of the Holy GOD, but we may Repent of something, which this thing may lead us to Think upon. A Prayer for a Mercy, must be all upon the Base; and the Note must be That; Luk. 18.13. God be Merciful to me a Sinner. Suppli∣ant, When ever thou dost make any Supplication to GOD for a Mercy, not only Bewayl the Sins, which render thee unworthy of all Mercy, but also more Distinctly Seek for, and Find out, and Bewayl the Sins that render thee more notoriously unworthy of that Mercy Make a Distinct Recognition, That for Such a Sin, and for Such a Sin, thou De∣servest, that the Petition thou art now Prosecuting, should be Rejected of Heaven. This Repentance, Oh! what an agreeable Introduction to the Favours of the Lord!
Page 21I will mind you of a Fifth Occasion, for the Exercise of Repentance; but it is a very Comprehensive One, a very Accu∣mulative One. It shall be, when-ever any Truths of GOD, and of His Gospel, are Conversed withal. When∣ever you see any thing more of GOD and CHRIST, say, as Job did, upon such an Invitation; Lord, Now I abhor my self, and Repent. We read, of such a thing as that; Mark 1.14, 15. Preach∣ing the Gospel, and Saying, Repent & Be∣lieve the Gospel. There are no Truths of the Gospel, but what contain Admoni∣tions to Repentance in them. When you hear a Vertue commended, Certainly you may say, Lord, I am Sorry, that I have so little of this Vertue in me! When you hear a Duty propounded, certainly, you may say, Lord, I am Sorry, that I have been so defective in doing this Duty. When you hear any Sin Rebuked, certainly, you will see cause to say, Lord, I Mourn for a Degree of that Sin found upon me. My Hearers, when did you Hear a Sermon, which might not put you in mind of Something to be Repented of! When you have been Meditating on a∣ny Page 22Truths of the Gospel, the Meditation should Expire with Something of this importance; What can I now find in my self to be Repented of? Especially, if the Glory, the wondrous Glory, of GOD and CHRIST, be at any time set before you, Oh! the Self-abhorance, which you ought hereupon to be cast into! Have you seen the, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Hosts and of Times? Cry out with Repentance and Amazement, Ah, Wo is me! I am an Unholy Creature, a Pollu∣ted Creature. How unlike the Holy One! How unfit to hold Communion with Him! You see, Our Excellent Esaias did so.
Will the Ministers of the Gospel, permit the meanest of their Number, to let fall a Word to the Wise, as we go along! Before we Preach a Sermon, Sirs, we have something to do in our Studies, And this is One Thing. When we are Studying a Sermon, we should make a Pause on every Paragraph, to bring a∣bout an Impression thereof on our own Souls, [The most significant way of having our Sermons by Heart!] We should Examine our own Miscarriages, relating to the Truths, which we are going Page 23 to Deliver unto our People. We should on our Knees, humble our selves before the Lord for our own Miscarriages, and implore the Pardon of them thro' the Blood of the only Sacrifice. In our going forth to Preach a Sermon, we should also first of all, in Secret, Ac∣knowledge before the Lord, our great Unworthiness, to be Employ'd by Him in Holy Ministrations, among His Peo∣ple. The greater the Service is that we have before us, the more we should lay our selves in the Dust, with Repenting Self-Annihilations. Now, Now we shall Preach with Lips touch'd by a Coal from the Altar; Now our God will make us as His Mouth unto our Auditories. But yet, after our Work in the Publick is over, we should Lament before the Lord, all the Sloth, all the Pride, all the Indifference of Soul, and Want of Compassion to the Souls of o∣thers, & whatever Discomposure of mind has attended us: All our Negligence in doing the Work of the Lord.
You shall take notice of a Sixth Oc∣casion, for the Exercise of Repentance. You shall see it, in the Administra∣tion of the Sacraments. what Page 24 is Baptism? We read, Mark 1.4. The Baptism of Repentance. As often as you see any person Baptised, so often think; I see, I see, that we all bring into the World with us Sinful Nature, deeply to be Repented of. And so often, O ye Bap∣tised ones, Call to mind your own For∣getfulness of your own Baptismal Vows; A Forgetfulness that cannot be too often, or too sadly, Repented of. Every Bap∣tism among us, would be a Sermon, if' it were thus improved, for the promoting of our own Repentance. But then, O Communicant at the Table of the Lord; Remember, Thou hast before thee, an Ordinance which belongs to none but Repenting Souls. Do not ven∣ture to come, without some Solemn Renewal of Repentance, every time you come. And when There you see Him, whom you have Pierced by your Sins, Will you not Mourn; and shall not the Wounds of your own Souls Bleed afresh? When you have Evidently set forth before your Eyes, a CHRIST Crucified for your Sins, won't you bring your Sins to the Cross of the Lord, that they may be there Cru∣cified & Mortified? The Death of thy Page 25Saviour, Exhibited at His Table, my Friend, it must give a New Life to thy Repentance for thy Sin; a New Blow towards the Death of thy Sin.
Yea; There is a Seventh Occasion for the Exercise of Repentance; and it may be called, a Seven-fold Occasion, a Many-fold Occasion. I will sum it up in one Term. You have it in every Dis∣pensation of God, whether it be a Comfortable Dispensation, or whether it be a Calamitous Dispensation, there is a Call in it; REPENT, REPENT; That is the Call.
First; You have your Enjoy∣ments. But, what Use are you to make of them? You are advised; Rom. 2.4. The Goodness of God Leads thee to Re∣pentance. Oh! Let your Enjoyments cause you to think; What, Oh! how much, have I been and done, to Forfeit such Enjoyments! How Gloriously does the Sove∣reign Grace of Heaven, triumph over an Ill-deserving Sinner, in such Enjoyments! Think thus upon every one of them, as far as you can. Have Days of Thanksgiving for it. Man, Does GOD Smile upon thee? O Repent, and Page 26Wonder, because thou dost not Perish! Every Morsel of Meat on thy Table, may be Eaten, with Wonder, that it is bestow'd upon such an Ill-deserving Sin∣ner. Eat thy Morsel, with the Bitter Herbs of Repentance: It will be the Sweeter for it.
And then; You have your Affli∣ctions. But what should they drive you to? To Repentance. This is the Advice of Heaven; Job 34.31. Surely, It is meet to be said unto God, I have born Chastisement, I will not Offend any more. Let your Afflictions cause you to think, What, What are the Iniquities, that have procured me those Afflictions? Wherein have I rendred my self worthy of such Afflictions' Do thus upon every one of them. Child, Let not so much as a Fit of the Tooth-ake take thee, without some such Reflections. It is a dreadful Brand upon any man; In the Time of his Distress, he Sins yet more against the Lord; And, He Repents not of the Sin for which God is now smiting of him.
Oh, Let both Prosperity and Adversi∣ty, bring us down into the Dust and Ashes of Repentance before the Lord.
Page 27I will go on, and make an Eighth Occasion for the Exercise of Repentance. Tis, when a man is Reproved by his Neighbour; yea, I will add, And when a man is Reproached by his Neighbour. My Friend, Has a Kind and a Just Reproof been given to thee? Receive it with Repentance. Repent, and Reform, what is Amiss. Don't Have Reproof: God calls that man, a Bruit, who will do so. But if a Reproof be en∣tertained with Repentance, it will appear in this; It will be Entertained with a suitable Thankfulness. Reproved Christi∣an, say with him ; Psal 141.5. Let the Righteous Smite me, it shall be a Kindness; and let him Reprove me, it shall be an Ex∣cellent Oyl. Oh, Love and Thank thy Reprover; Thankfully Address him, with a, Blessed be thou of the Lord, and Blessed be the Lord that hath sent thee to me But, perhaps you are Defamed, Abused, Reproached. The World is full of Re∣proaches. Well, But by Repentance, a Re∣proached Child of God, may not only Shake off a Viper, but also fetch a Treacle out of a Viper. When you have to do with a Calumnious Man, you, have also Page 28 to do with a Righteous God. You may say, as he, 2 Sam. 16.11. The Lord hath bidden him. Now, my Brethren, Your Business is to Search out, Why the Lord hath bidden him, and Repent of the Sin, which has provoked your Father, to Employ the Scourge of the Tongue, or the Pen, upon you. Tho' the Thing spoken of you be a Cursed Falshood & Slander, yet you shall thus turn into a Blessing, Let it set you a thinking, How far am I to blame, in that thing for which I am Evil spoken of ? However, I may be sure, I am to blame for something. What, what it is that the Glorious One sees Blameworthy in me, for which He permits me to be buffeted with such Re∣proaches? Don't Leave off, till the Lyes of Ill-minded People, awaken you to discover something that is truly to be 〈◊〉 of. Oh ! how much may we advance in Repentance, and in All Good-ness by being Evil-spoken of! It may be an Advantage unto a Lazarus, to have a 〈◊〉 Licking his Ulcers. Yea, and if we attempt our own just Vindi∣cation, Let it be managed with Much Humility. Let the Spirit of Repentance,Page 29 Dictate, and Mollify, and Lenify all that we say, when we vindicate our selves. Old Ambrose was in the Right of it; Qui Paenitentiam agit, paratus de∣bet esse ad opprobria perferenda, injuriasque subeundas.
I will Suggest a Ninth Occasion for the Exercise of Repentance. Tis, when we see the Actions of other Men. Do you see ary Laudable Actions, done by ther men? Blush, Blush, O Christian of slow Pace, to think; How much do I lag behind that Excellent, Lively, Fruitful Servant of God! But you may see Cri∣minal Actions done by other men. What is now to be done, but That? Psal. 119.158. I beheld the Transgressor, and was grieved. We may be Grieved, because Their Transgressons may mind us of Our Own. When we See or Hear a Wicked Thing done by any man, Think; Was I never my self Guilty of Such a thing? If Guilty, Oh Repent over again. Be that as it is, what ever Wickedres we know committed in the World, it should cause us to lay to Heart, our own Wicked, Corrupt, Vicious Nature. It should cause us Smite our Heart and say, A∣las Page 30 Alas, I should soon fall into that wicked∣ness, if Left unto my self. To Think so, is to Repent in one signal way of doing it.
With a Tenth Occasion for the Exer∣cise of Repentance, I will shut up all. Tis, in the Iudgments of God, up∣on a Sinsul World. If we see any Dis∣mal Thing befal any One Person, Oh! Let it Quicken us to Think. Wherein have I deserved such a dismal Fate! And, Re∣pent, Repent, Lest it prove also our Dis∣mal Fate. So, when a Sad Accident befell some unhappy People, our Savi∣our made that Application of it; Luk. 13.3. Except ye Repent, ye shall all likewise perish. But then, in a time of General Judgments on the World, and on the place where we live; How Penitently should we think; What share has my Sin had, in Pulling down these Judgments ? What have I done, to increase the Heap of Wrath, which overwhelms the World? What are the Epidemical Sins, which provoke the Displeasure of Heaven; and how far have I Sinfully conformed unto them?
It is Observable, That our Admira∣ble Esaias cryes out upon himself, I dwell in the midst of a people of Unclean Page 31 Lips. Our Incomparable Witsins has an Holy Note upon it; Notatu dignum est, quod Semetipsos Sancti Prophetae, uti partem Populi consideraverint, sic ut sibi quodammodo attribuerent Crimina quae Po∣pulus Perpetraverat; neque minus de ijs Erubuerint, quam si al quam in eorum com∣munione partem habuissent. In Short;
I have bespoke it, that we Live Re∣penting. You understand my Intenti∣on also, To Dy so. One of the Best of Men, that very Aged and very Useful Servant of God, Francis Tallents, when he lay a dying, and was become able to Speak but little, Then said, Here I ly Endeavouring to Renew my Repentance for all my Sins, from the Beginning to this Day. Oh! I would not think, that my weakness and illness may Excuse me from the Exercise of Repentance.
Page 32I have done. I am sensible, T'were Easy to find more Occasions for the Exercise of Repentance. But, my Hearers, If you will Improve These, t'will soon be Nat'ral for you, to fall upon many more.
To demonstrate this, I will only mention one passage, which I have some-where met withal
From so Minute a Passage, you may take an Hint, how Surprisingly the Excitations of Repen∣tance, in a Religious and Ingenious Mind, will Increase and Multiply!
My Friends;These are some of those Me∣thods, by which a Life of Repentance is to Page 33 be carried on. Oh! come into these Methods. I know, you cannot but Approve them! You do so, if you Approve ths things that are Excellent!
If you do, I know you cannot but abhor the Proud Spirit of Quakerism, We have heard of the Pride of the Quaker,(he is very Proud)even, of his haughtiness, and his Pride, and his Wrath; But his Lies shall not perswade us, that he is attain'd unto the Perfection, in which he pre∣tends to be got beyond Occasions for the Daily Exercise of Repentance. There needs no more to render Quakerism abominable to every sensible Christian ; It Extinguishes the Spirit of Repentance. There is nothing Plainer, My Friends, than the Diametrical Opposition, be∣tween the Spirit of Quakerism, and the Spirit of Repentance. A Poor, and Proud Creature, being. Ignorant of the Righteousness of God, and of His Commandment, which is Exceeding Broad, layes his conscience Asleep. His Conscience wickedly forbears to Convict him of Numberless Offences, into which he falls, where-ever he comes every day that comes over his Head. Now. he fan∣cies himself to have arriv'd unto Perfection, he has done with Repentance; he derides those that Confess themselves, Miserable Sinners; he looks upon them with a Supercilious Disdain, and sayes, Come not near to me, for I am Holier than thou! Of such Pretenders does the Holy Lord say, These are a Smoke in my Nose. a Fire that burns all the Day, that is, My Anger shall Smoke and burn against them everlastingly. To these Deluded Neighbours, I cannot but apply those Words; Prov 30.12 There is a Generation that are Page 34 Pure in their own Eyes, and yet is not washed from their Filthiness. and unto the rest of the Neigh∣bours, I say, For These Meetings which pretend the Worship of God, but never Pray for the Par∣don of Sin, be cautious, how you come into them. Soul, Dishonour not thy self, by being United unto such Assemblies!
But, O my Brethren, Hold on, Repenting E∣very day, and often in a Day, and as long as you Live. Yea, Let it not come as a Shocking Paradox upon you, if I tell you, There will something of Repentance remain with us, after we come to Heaven. After we are in the Sinless and Joyful Glory of the Heavenly World, we shall blame our Old Sins, more than ever we did in our Lives; and keep wondring▪ won∣dring, at the Grace that has brought such Un∣worthy Sinners to such a Glory
In the mean time, I must assure you; Tho' a Life Of Repentance here may seem an Austere one, a Severe one; yet even here it is a joyful one GOD will dwell with the Repenting, Soul; with that Humble and Contrite one, A Soul full of God will be a Soul full of Light And how Joyful will the Issue be? How Joyful the Harvest of all! I Conclude with that, which will be the Conclusion of all; Psal. 126.5 They that Sow in Tears shall Reap in Joy.