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the sure way of pardon, and mayest also finish it. But if thou dost believe that thy sins are pardoned, remember the words of our Lord concerning Mary Magdalene; Much is forgiven her, and she loved much. If thou fearest thy sins are not pardoned, pray the more earnestly, and mortify thy sin with the more severity; and be no more troubled concerning the event of it, but let thy whole care and applications be concerning thy duty. I have read of one that was much afflicted with fear concerning his final state; and not knowing whether he should persevere in grace, and obtain a glorious pardon at last, cried out, o si scirem, &c. Would to God I might but know, whether I should persevere or no! he was answered, 'What wouldest thou do, if thou wert sure? Wouldst thou be careless, or more curious of thy duty? If that knowledge would make thee careless, desire it not; but if it would improve thy diligence, then what thou wouldest do in case thou didst know, do that now thou dost not know; and whatever thy notice or persuasion be, the thing in itself will be more secure, and thou shalt find it in the end.'-But if any man is curious of the event, and would fain know of the event of his soul, let him reveal the state of his soul to a godly and a prudent spiritual guide ; and he, when he hath searched diligently, and observed him curiously, can tell him all that is to be told, and give him all the assurance that is to be given, and warrant him, as much as himself hath received a warrant to do it. Unless God be pleased to draw the curtains of his sanctuary, and open the secrets of his eternal counsel, there is no other certainty of an actual pardon, but what the church does minister, and what can be prudently derived from ourselves. For to every such curious person, this only is to be said, 'Do you believe the promises.--that if we confess our sins and forsake them, if we believe and obey, we shall be pardoned and saved ?If so, then inquire whether or no thou dost perform the conditions of thy pardon.'— How shall I know ??--Examine thyself, try thy own spirit, and use the help of a holy and a wise guide. He will teach thee to know thyself. If after all this, thou answerest, that thou canst not tell whether thy heart be right, and thy duty acceptable ; then sit down, and hope the best, and work in as much light and hope as thou hast; but never inquire after the secret of God, when thou
dost not so much as know thyself; and how canst thou hope to espy the most private counsels of heaven, when thou canst not certainly perceive what is in thy own hand and heart. But if thou canst know thyself, you need not inquire any further. If thy duty be performed, you may be secure of all that is on God's part.'—
70. V. Whenever repentance begins, know that from thenceforward the sinner begins to live; but then never let that repentance die. Do not at any time say, 'I have repented of such a sin, and am at peace for that;' for a man ought never to be at peace with sin, nor think that any thing we can do, is too much: our repentance for sin is never to be at an end, till faith itself shall be no more; for faith and repentance are but the same covenant; and so long as the just does live by faith in the Son of God, so long he lives by repentance; for by that faith in him our sins are pardoned, that is, by becoming his disciples we enter into the covenant of repentance. And he undervalues his sin, and overvalues his sorrow, who at any time fears he shall do too much, or make his pardon too secure,—and therefore sits him down and says, "Now I have repented.'
71. VI. Let no man ever say he hath committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, or the unpardonable sin ; for there are but few that do that; and he can best confute himself, if he can but tell that he is sorrowful for it, and begs for pardon, and hopes for it, and desires to make amends; this man hath already obtained some degrees of pardon: and St. Paul's argument in this case also is a demonstration ; " If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” That is, if God to enemies gives the first grace, much more will he give the second, if they make use of the first. For from none to a little, is an infinite distance; but from a little to a great deal, is not so much. And therefore, since God hath given us means of pardon and the grace of repentance, we may certainly expect the fruit of pardon: for it is a greater thing to give repentance to a sinner, than to give pardon to the penitent. Whoever repents, hath not committed the great sin, the unpardonable. For it is long of the man, not of the sin, that any sin is unpardonable.
e Rom. v. 10.
72. VII. Let every man be careful of entering into any great states of sin, lest he be unawares guilty of the great offence: every resisting of a holy motion calling us from sin, every act against a clear reason or revelation, every confident progression in sin, every resolution to commit a sin in despite of conscience, is an access towards the great sin or state of evil. Therefore concerning such a man, let others fear since he will not, and save him with fear, plucking him out of the fire; but when he begins to return, that great fear is over in many degrees; for even in Moses's law there were expiations appointed not only for error, but for presumptuous sins.
I. O ETERNAL God, gracious and merciful, I adore the immensity and deepest abyss of thy mercy and wisdom, that thou dost pity our infirmities, instruct our ignorances, pass by thousands of our follies, invitest us to repentance, and dost offer pardon, because we are miserable, and because we need it, and because thou art good, and delightest in shewing mercy. Blessed be thy holy name, and blessed be that infinite mercy, which issues forth from the fountains of our Saviour, to refresh our weariness, and to water our stony hearts, and to cleanse our polluted souls. O cause that these thy mercies may not run in vain, but may redeem my lost soul, and recover thy own inheritance, and sanctify thy portion, the heart of thy servant and all my faculties.
II. Blessed Jesus, thou becamest a little lower than the angels, but thou didst make us greater, doing that for us which thou didst not do for them. Thou didst not pay for them one drop of blood, nor endure one stripe to recover the fallen stars, nor give one groan to snatch the accursed spirits from their fearful prisons; but thou didst empty all thy veins for me, and gavest thy heart to redeem me from innumerable sins and an intolerable calamity. O my God, let all this heap of excellences and glorious mercies be effective upon thy servant, and work in me a sorrow for my sins, and a perfect hatred of them, a watchfulness against temptations, severe
any, nor love
and holy resolutions, active and effective of my duty. O let me never fall from sin to sin, nor persevere in any thing which thou hatest; but give me thy Holy Spirit, to conduct and rule me for ever; and make me obedient to thy good Spirit, never to grieve him, never to resist him, never to quench him. Keep me, O Lord, with thy mighty power, from falling into presumptuous sins, lest they get the dominion over me: so shall I be innocent from the great offence. Let me never despair of thy mercies by reason of my sins, nor neglect my repentance by reason of thy infinite loving-kindness; but let thy goodness bring me and all sinners to repentance, and thy mercies give us pardon, and thy Holy Spirit give us perseverance, and thy infinite favour bring us to glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
OF ECCLESIASTICAL PENANCE; OR THE FRUITS OP
The fruits of repentance are the actions of spiritual life; and signify properly, all that piety and obedience which we pay to God in the days of our return, after we have begun to follow sober counsels. For since all the duty of a Christian is a state of repentance, that is, of contention against sin, and the parts and proper periods of victory; and repentance, which includes the faith of a Christian, is but another word to express the same grace, or mercies of the evangelical covenant; it follows, that whatsoever is the duty of a Christian, and a means to possess that grace, is, in some sense or other, a repentance, or the fruits of God's mercy and our endeavours.. And in this sense St. John the Baptist means it, saying, “ Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance ;" that is, “Since now the great expectation of the world is to be satisfied, and the Lord's Christ will open the gates of mercy, and give repentance to the world, see that ye live accordingly, in the faith and obedience of God through Jes
Christ." - That did, in the event of things, prove to be the effect of that sermon.
2. But although all the parts of holy life are fruits of repentance, when it is taken for the state of favour published by the Gospel; yet when repentance is a particular duty or virtue,--the integral parts of holy life are also constituent parts of repentance; and then, by the fruits of repentance, must be meant, the less necessary, but very useful, effects and ministries of repentance, which are significations and exercises of the main duty. And these are sorrow for sins, commonly called contrition, confession ofthem, and satisfactions ; by which ought to be meant, an opposing a contrary act of virtue to the precedent act of sin, and a punishing of ourselves out of sorrow and indignation for our folly. And this is best done by all those acts of religion by which God is properly appeased, and sin is destroyed,--that is, by those acts which signify our love to God, and oựr hatred to sin, such as are prayer, and alms, and forgiving injuries, and punishing ourselves, that is, a forgiving every one but ourselves.
3. Many of these, I say, are not essential parts of repentance, without the actual exercise of which no man in any case can be said to be truly penitent; for the constituent parts of repentance, are nothing but the essential parts of obedience to the commandments of God, that is, direct abstinence from evil, and doing what is in the precept. But they are fruits and significations, exercises and blessed productions, of repentance, useful to excellent purposes of it, and such from which a man cannot be excused, but by great accidents and rare contingencies. To visit prisoners, and to redeem captives, and to instruct the ignorant, are acts of charity; but he that does not act these special instances, is not always to be condemned for want of charity, because by other acts of grace he may signify and exercise his duty: he only that refuses any instances, because the grace is not operative, he only is the uncharitable; but to the particulars he can be determined only by something from without, but it is sufficient to the grace itself, that it works where it can, or where it is prudently chosen. So it is in these fruits of repentance. He that out of hatred to sin abstains from it, and out of love to God endeavours to keep his commandments, he is a true penitent, though he never lie upon the