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3dly, That though he knows and believes the curse, yet perhaps he relaxes nothing of his sin, because he resolves to bear it, 576.

But it is shewn that it can proceed from neither of these reasons; therefore the true one is conceived to be a presuming confidence of a future repentance: other reasons indeed may allure, this only argues a man into sin, 577. Now the face of these words is directly set against this soul-devouring imposture of a deferred repentance. In the prosecution of them it will be convenient to inquire into their occasion. In the 12th verse we find, they are part of a letter to the church (here collectively taken, as including in it many particular churches) of Pergamos, indited by the Spirit of God, and directed to the angel, that is, the chief pastor of that church, 578.

The letter contains a charge for some sinful abuse that had crept in, and was connived at, ver. 14. This abuse was its toleration of the Nicolaitans, whose heresy consisted in this, 1st, That they held and abetted the eating of sacrifices offered to idols to be lawful. 2dly, That they held and abetted the lawfulness of fornication, 579. It likewise contained the counsel of speedy and immediate repentance in the words of the text, in which are two parts:

1. The first stands directed to the church itself; Repent, or I will come unto thee quickly. God's coming is shewn to mean here his approach in the way of judgment, 580.

2. The other part of the words relates to those heretics; And I will fight against them with the sword of my mouth; that is, with the reprehending, discovering force of the word, and the censures of the church, 582. From this expression these two occasional observations are collected:

1. That the word of God powerfully dispensed has the force and efficacy of a spiritual sword, 583.

2. When God undertakes the purging of a church, or the reformation of religion, he does it with the weapons of religion, with the sword of his mouth, 584.

The general explication of the words thus finished, the principal design of them is prosecuted by enforcing the duty of immediate repentance; which is done,

1st, In shewing what that repentance is that is here enjoined, 585. Repentance in scripture has a threefold acceptation.

1. It is taken for the first act, by which the soul turns from sin to God, 586.

2. It is taken for the whole course of a pious life, from a man's first turning from a wicked life to the last period of a godly: which

is the only repentance that Socinus will admit. But this is not the proper notion of repentance; 1st, Because then no man could properly be said to have repented till his death, 586. 2dly, Because scripture, no less than the natural reason of the thing itself, places repentance before faith, 587. 3dly, Because scripture makes all those subsequent acts of new obedience after our first turning to God, not to be the integral, constituent parts, but the effects, fruits, and consequents of repentance, 587.

3. Repentance is taken for a man's turning to God after the guilt of some particular sin, 588.

II. Arguments are produced to engage us in the speedy and immediate exercise of this duty, which are,

1. That no man can be secure of the future, 589.

2. That supposing the allowance of time, yet we cannot be sure of power to repent, 591.

3. That, admitting a man has both time and grace to repent, yet by such delay the work will be incredibly more difficult, 594. And the delay of this duty is most eminently and signally provoking to God, upon these reasons:

1. Because it is the abuse of a remedy, 599.

2. Because it clearly shews that a man does not love it as a duty, but only intends to use it for an expedient of escape, 599.

3. Because it is evidently a counterplotting of God, and being wise above the prescribed methods of salvation, to which God makes the immediate dereliction of sin necessary, 600.

After the general nature of this subject, follows a consideration of it in particular. The grand instance of it is a death-bed repentance; the efficacy of which, having been much disputed in the world, is here discussed under two heads:

I. This great case of conscience is resolved, whether a death-bed repentance ever is or can be effectual to salvation, 602. Several arguments against it being stated and answered, 602. six positive arguments are produced to prove and assert it.

1. That such a repentance, commenced at the last hour of a man's life, has de facto proved effectual to salvation, 608.

2. Is taken from the truth and certainty of that saying, owned and attested by God himself, that if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted, according to that a man hath, and not according to that a man hath not, 610.

3. Because repentance saves not, as it is a work, or such a number SOUTH, VOL. IV.


of works, but as it is the effect of a renewed nature and a sanctified heart, from which it flows, 611.

4. If to repent sincerely be a thing at the last moments of our lives impossible to be done, then, for that instant, impenitence is not a sin, 612.

5. That to deny that a death-bed repentance can be effectual to salvation, is a clear restraint and limitation of the compass and prerogative of God's mercy, 613.

6. That if a death-bed repentance cannot possibly be effectual to salvation, then a sinner upon his death-bed, having not repented before, may lawfully, and without sin, despair, 613.

II. Supposing a death-bed repentance may prove effectual, yet for any one to design and build upon it beforehand is highly dangerous, and therefore absolutely irrational; which appears from these considerations :

1. From the exceeding unfitness of a man at this time, above all others, to exercise this duty, 614.

2. That there can be no arguments, from which either the dying person himself, or others by him, can certainly conclude that his repentance is sound and effectual, 616.

In fine, this alone can be said for it, (and to a considering person no more need to be said against it,) that it is only not impossible, 618.


ROMANS i. 3, 4.

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;

And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. P. 620.

Where the construction of the text lies so, that we cannot otherwise reach the full sense of it without making our way through doubts and ambiguities, philosophical discourses are necessary in dispensing the word, 620.

The present exercise therefore consists of two parts:

I. An explication of the words: for the scheme of the Greek carries a very different face from our translation, which difference renders the sense of them very disputable, 620.

The explication is comprised in the resolution of these four inquiries:

1. Whether the translation rightly renders it, that Christ was declared to be the Son of God, since the original admits of a different signification, 621.

2. What is imported by this term, with power, 623.

3. What is intended by the following words, according to the spirit of holiness, 623.

4. How those words, by the resurrection from the dead, are to be understood, 624.

II. An accommodation of the words to the present occasion, which is in shewing, first, how Christ's resurrection may be a proper argument to prove his divinity and eternal sonship, 626. next, that it is the greatest and principal of all others, 628.

And for this we may observe, that it is not only true, but more clear and evident than the other arguments for the proof of the truth of Christ's doctrine, when we consider them as they are generally reducible to these three:

1. The nature of the things taught by him, 628.

2. The fulfilling of prophecies in his person, 630.

3. The miracles and wonderful works which he did in the time of his life, 631. And though these were undoubtedly high proofs of Christ's doctrine, yet his resurrection had a vast preeminence over them upon two accounts.

1. That all the miracles he did, supposing his resurrection had not followed, would not have had sufficient efficacy to have proved him to be the Messias. But his resurrection alone, without relation to his preceding miracles, had been a full proof of the truth of his doctrine; which appears upon these two accounts : 1st, That considered absolutely in itself, it did outweigh all the rest of his works put together, 632. 2dly, That it had a more intimate and near connection with his doctrine than any of the rest, 632.

2. Because of the general opinion and judgment that the world had of both, 632.

The Jews and unbelievers never attempted to assign any causes of the resurrection besides the power of God, so as by that means to destroy the miraculousness of it; though they constantly took exceptions to Christ's other miracles, still resolving them into some cause short of a divine power; which exceptions may be reduced to these two heads:

1. The great difficulty of discerning when an action is really a miracle, 633.

2. Supposing an action is known to be a miracle, it is as difficult


to know whether it proves the truth of the doctrine of that person that does it, or not, 634. But neither of these exceptions take place against the resurrection. For,

1st, Though we cannot assign the determinate point where the power of nature ends, yet there are some actions that at first appearance so vastly transcend it, that there can be no suspicion that they proceed from any power but a divine, 636.

2dly, Should God suffer a miracle to be done by an impostor, yet there was no necessity hence to gather, that God did it to confirm the words of that impostor: for God may do a miracle when and where he pleases, 636.

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