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4. But, fourthly, It is also to be remember'd, that the quicker and speedier our Confession is after the Commission of any Sin, the more Virtue it hath in it, and the more easily it obtains a Pardon. When it is our Unhappiness at any time to commit a Fault, it is the worst Course we can take to lie under that Fault. When the Sin is newly done, our Conscience (unless we be very bad) doth not fail to charge it home upon us; and we are then deeply sensible of it; and if we go immediately to God Almighty to unburden our selves of the Load it lays upon us, we shall do it very affectionately, and with truly broken and contrite Hearts; whereas if we let the matter rest as it is, and do not presently make our Peace with God by humble Confession and begging Pardon, our Hearts in a little time will grow much harder, we shall lose all that pungent Sense we first had of our Sin, and it will be a difficult Matter afterwards to retrieve it. Besides, it is a hundred to one, if we delay the present Time, but the Sin gets ground upon us. By not having made Confession of it, and renewed our Resolutions (which is the setting ourselves in the same State we were before) the next Temptation to that, or any other Sin, will the easier find Access to us, and prevail upon us.
We have by that Sin disarmed our felves. We have slacken'd our Guard, and are more
obnoxious either to the same, or any other Enemy, that will make assault upon us.
If we design therefore to live virtuously and religiously, whenever we are overtaken in a Sin, let us presently repent of it, and beg Pardon for it, and reinforce our good Purposes. By this means the greatest Crime we can commit will not do us any great Mischief. But if we let Things alone, and defer our Reconciliation with God, even a little Sin may prove dangerous and of fatal Consequence. It is in this Case as it is with the Wounds of the Body: A grievous Wound, presently taken care of, will find an easy Cure; but if thro' our Negligence we let it rankle and ulcerate, it proves oftentimes hard enough for the Skill of an able Surgeon.
Upon this Account I cannot but earnestly recommend to you the Rule that is so often mentioned in our Books of Devotion, viz. That every Night, before you sleep, you would take an Account of the Actions of the Day past; that you would examine your Consciences what has been done well that Day, and what hath been done amiss ; and for the former to return hearty Thanks to God; but what you find of the latter, not to sleep till you have confessed it to God, and beg'd his Pardon for it. If we would be thus punctual as to our Repentance and Confession, it would be in a man
ner impossible for us to miscarry at the long
5. But lastly, to conclude, There is another Advice that we should do very well to put in practice in this Business of confefsing our Sins, viz. That besides our daily Confessions and those others that we may have occasion for, we should appoint to ourselves fome stated Times (and those as frequent as our Affairs will give us Leave) for the more folemn Performance of this Duty: Why should we not once or twice in a Month set apart some Hour or Hours in a Day for this Business; that is, to take an Account of our own Actions, to examine the State of our Souls, to see how we are gone, forward or backward, in the great Work we have to do, and to adjust the Accounts between God and us. No Body but those that have tried it, will easily conceive the Benefits that we shall reap by this Exercise. ?Tis certainly the greatest Preservative of our Virtue and good Estate towards God that can be. And it is like. wise the surelt Way to set us right, if we have gone astray'; especially if to this Exercise we add the renewing our Vows by partaking in the Holy Sacrament.
In a word, Let us all repent earnestly of our Sins, and return to the Lord with all our Hearts, confessing our own Vileness and Wickedness before him, and taking up most
serious and stedfast Resolutions to ferve him faithfully for the Time to come in Newness of Life. Then will God accept us and pardon us, and give us such a Measure of Strength and Assistance, that we shall both walk acceptably before him in this World, and shall likewise be made Partakers of his eternal Glory in the other.
Several useful Observations from this
Text. The Conclusion against Infidelity.
[Delivered in Two Sermons. ]
MARK xvi. 16.
saved : But he that believeth not, Jhall
UR Saviour having, by his Life, and his Preaching, and his Miracles, and his Resurrection from the Dead, laid a
sufficient Ground and Foundation for the ready Belief and Entertainment of his Gospel among Mankind, comes upon his Ascension into Heaven, and as the last Act he had to do upon Earth, to issue out his Royal Charter and Commission $0 his Apostles, to go and prcash this Go