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is capable to lose, what reason have we not to boast of the bargain?
Let not, therefore, these close curtains confine thy sight: but cast up thine eyes to that heaven, whence thy soul came; and see there that crown of glory, which thy God holds forth for all that overcome; and run with patience, the race that is set before thee, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, who is set down at the right-hand of the throne of God; Heb. xii. 2: and solace thyself with the expectation of that blessedness, which, if thy torments were no less than those of hell, would make more than abundant amends for all thy sufferings.
SECT. 11. The favour of a peaceable passage out of the world. Thou art sick to die, having received the sentence of death in thyself: thy physician hath given thee up, to act this last part alone; neither art thou like to rise any more, till the general Resurrection:
How many thousands have died lately, that would have thought it a great happiness to die thus quietly in their beds! whom the storm of war hath hurried away furiously into another world; snatching them suddenly out of this; not suffering them to take leave of that life, which they are forced to abandon: whereas, thou hast a fair leisure to prepare thyself for the entertainment of thy last guest; to set both thy house in order, and thy soul.
It is no small advantage, my son, thus to see death at a distance, and to observe every of his paces towards thee: that thou mayst put thyself into a fit posture to meet this grim messenger of heaven, who comes to fetch thee to immortality : that, dying thus by gentle degrees, thou hast the leisure, with the holy Patriarch Jacob, to call thy children about thee, to bequeath to each of them the dear legacy of thy benediction: and that, being encompassed with thy sad friends, now in thy long journey to a far country, though thine and their home, thou mayst take a solemn farewel of them, as going somewhat before them to the appointed happy meeting-place of glory and blessedness: that one of thine own may close up those eyes, which shall, in their next opening, see the face of thy most glorious Saviour; and see this flesh, now ready to lie down in corruption, made like to his, in unspeakable glory.
COMFORTS FOR THE SICK SOUL.
The happiness of a deep sorrow for sin. Tuy sin lies heavy upon thy soul:—Blessed be God, that thou feelest it so: many a one hath more weight upon him, and boasteth of ease.
There is music in this complaint: the Father of Mercies delights to hear it, as next to the melody of Saints and Angels. Go on still, and continue these sorrowful notes, if ever thou look for sound comfort. It is this godly sorrow, that workeih repentance to salvation, not to be repented of; 2 Cor. vii. 10.
Weep still, and make not too much haste to dry up these tears; for they are precious, and held fit to be reserved in the bottle of the Almighty ; Ps. Ivi. 8. Over-speeding remedies may prove injurious to the patient: and, as in the body, so in the soul, diseases and tumours must have their due maturation, ere there can be a perfect cure. The inwards of the sacrifice must be three times rinsed with water *: one ablution will not serve the turn.
But, when thou hast emptied thine eyes of tears, and unloaded thy breast of leisurely sighs, I shall then, by full commission from hiin that hath the power of remission, say to thee, Son, be of good comfort, thy sins are forgiven thee.
SECT. 2. . The well-grounded declaration of pardon. THINK not, this word merely formal and forceless. He, that hath the keys of hell and of death, (Rev. i. 18.) hath not said in vain, Whose sins ye remit, ihey are remitted. The words of his faithful ministers on earth are ratified in heaven. Only the priest, under the Law, had power to pronounce the leper clean; Lev. xiii. 3: had any other Israelite done it, it had been as unprofitable as presumptuous.
It is a precious word, that fell from Elihu; When a man's soul draweth nigh to the grave, and his life to the destroyer, if there be a messenger (of God) with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto that man his uprightness; then he (i. e. God) is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down into the pit; I have found a ransom ; Job xxxiii. 22, 23, 24.
Behold, this is thy case, my son: the life of thy soul is in danger of the Destroyer, through his powerful temptations. I am, howsoever unworthy, a Messenger sent to thee from heaven; and, in
* Lev. i. 9. Hebr. Duct, in locum.
the name of that great God that sent me, I do here, upon the sight of thy serious repentance, before angels and men, declare thy soul to stand right in the court of heaven: the invaluable ransom of thy dear Saviour is laid down and accepted for thee: thou art delivered from going down into the pit of horror and perdition.
Aggravation of the grievous condition of the patient : and remedies
from mercy applied. " () IIAPPY message,” thou sayest, “ were it as sure as it is comfortable! But, alas, my heart finds many and deep grounds of fear and diffidence, which will not easily be removed. That smites me, while you offer to acquit me; and tells me, I am in a worse condition than a looker-on can imagine. My sins are, beyond measure, heinous : such, as my thoughts tremble at : such, as I dare not utter to the God that knows them, and against whom only they are committed. There is horror, in their very remembrance : what will there then be, in their retribution ?”
· They are bitter things, that thou urgest against thyself, my son : no adversary could plead worse.
But I admit thy vileness. Be thou as bad, as Satan can make thee: it is not either his malice, or thy wickedness, that can shut thee out from mercy. Be thou as foul, as sin can make thee: yet there is a fountain opened to the house of David, a bloody fountain in the side of thy Saviour, for sin, and for uncleanness; Zech. xiii. 1. Be thou as leprous, as that Syrian was of old, if thou canst but wash seven times in the waters of this Jordan, thou canst not but be clean : thy flesh shall come again to thee, like to the flesh of a little child; 2 Kings v. 14. thou shalt be, at once, sound and innocent. Be thou stung unto death, with the fiery.serpents of this wilderness : yet if thou canst but cast thine eyes to that brazen serpent which is erected there, thou canst not fail of cure.
Wherefore came the Son of God into the world, but to save sinners ? add, if thou wilt, whereof I am chief: thou canst say no worse by thyself, than a better man did before thee; who, in the right of a sinner, claimeth the benefit of a Saviour; 1 Tim. i. 15. Were it not for our sin, what use were there of a Redeemer ? Were not our sin heinous, how should it have required such an expiation as the blood of the Eternal Son of God ?
Take comfort to thyself, my son : the greatness of thy siu serves but to magnify the mercy of the Forgiver. To remit the debt of some few farthings, it were small thank; but, to strike off the scores of thousands of talents, it is the height of bounty. Thus doth thy God to thee: he hath suffered thee to run on in his books to so deep a sum, that, when thy conscious heart hath proclaimed
thee bankrupt, he may infinitely oblige thee and glorify his own mercy, in crossing the reckoning and acquitting thy soul.
All sums are equally dischargeable to the munificence of our great Creditor in heaven: as it is the act of his justice, to call for the least ; so of his mercy, to forgive the greatest. Had we to do with a finite power, we had reason to sink under the burden of our sins: now there is neither more nor less to that, wbich is infinite : only let thy care be, to lay hold on that infinite mercy which lies open to thee: and, as thou art an object fit for mercy, in that thou art in thyself sinful and miserable enough ; so, find thyself, as thou art, a subject meet to receive this mercy, as a penitent believer. Open and enlarge thy bosom, to take in this free grace; and close with thy Blessed Saviour; and, in him, possess thyself of remission, peace, salvation.
Complaint of unrepentance and unbelief, satisfied. “ Sweet words,” thou say est, « to those, that are capable of them. But what is all this to me, that am neither penitent nor believer ? Alas, that, which is honey to others, is no better than gall and wormwood to me, who have not the grace to repent and believe as I ought.”
Why wilt thou, my son, be so unwise and unjust, as to take part with Satan against thine own soul? Why wilt thou be so unthankfully injurious to the Father of Mercies, as to deny those graces which his Good Spirit hath so freely bestowed upon thee? If thou wert not penitent for thy sins, wherefore are these tears ? What mean these sighs and sobs, and passionate expressions of sorrow, which I hear from thee? It is no worldly loss, that thus afflicts thee : it is no bodily distemper, that thus disquiets thee: doubtless, thou art soul-sick, my son : thy spirit is deeply wounded within thee; and what can thus affect thy soul, but sin ? and what can this affection of thy soul be for sin, but true penitence?
Complaint of a mnisgrounded sorrow, satisfied. « ALAS,” thou sayest, “ I am indeed sorrowful for my sin; but not upon the right grounds. I grieve for the misery, that my sin hath brought upon me; not for the evil of my sin : for the punishment; not the offence: for my own danger; not for the disp.easure of my good God.”
Beware, my son, lest an undue humility cause thee to belie the
graces of God's Spirit. Thou art no meet judge of thyself, while thou art under temptations.
Had not thy sorrow a relation to thy God, why wouldest thou thus sigh towards heaven? why would thy heart challenge thee for unkindness in offending? why dost thou cry out of the foulness, not only of the peril of thy sin ? what is it, that makes the act of sin to be sinful, but the offence of the Divine Majesty ? How canst thou then be sorry that thou hast sinned, and not be sorry that thou hast offended ?
Tell me, what is it, that thy conscience primarily suggests to thee, in this deep impression of thy sorrow? Is it, thou shalt be punished? Or is it not rather, thou hast sinned? And, were it put to thy choice, whether thou wouldst rather enjoy the favour of God with the extremest smart, or be in his displeasure with ease; whether wouldst thou pitch upou ? Or, if liberty were tendered unto thee, that thou mightest freely sin without the danger of punishment; whether doth not thy heart rise at the condition, as ready to flee in the face of the offerer?
Besides fear and horror, dost thou not find an inward kind of indignation at thy miscarriage; and such a hatred of thy sin, that were it to be done again, if it were possible to be hid from God and men, and if there were not a hell to avenge it, thou wouldst abhor to commit it?
All these are strong convictions of the right grounds of thy repentance; and of the wrong, which thou dost to thine own soul, in the unjust scruples, which thou raisest against it.
SECT. 6. Complaint of the insuficient measure of sorrow for sin, answered. “ If the grounds,” thou say est, “ of my repentance be right; yet the measure is insufficient. I am sorrowful for my sins; but not enough. An effectual grief for sin should be serious, deer, hearty, intensive : mine is slight and superficial. I sigh ; but my sighs come not from the bottom of an humble heart: I can sometimes weep; but I cannot pour out myself into tears : I mourn; but I do not dwell upon my sorrow.”
My son, thou hast to do with a God, which, in all the disposi- tions of our soul, regards truth, and not quantity. If he find thy remorse sound, he stands not upon measure. He doth not mete out our repentance by inches, or by hours; but, where he finds sincerity of penitence, be is graciously indulgent.
Look upon David, and acknowledge his sin formidably heinous; no less than adultery seconded with inebriation and murder : yet, no sooner did he, in a true compunction of heart, cry Peccavi, I have sinned against the Lord; than he hears, from the same mouth that accused him, The Lord also haih put away thy sin : thou shalt not die; 2 Sam. xii. 13. You do not hear of any tearing of hair,