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of us, if we had been born under the dominion of a Turkish lord, or in America, where no Christians do inhabit, where they worship the devil, where witches are their priests, their prophets, their physicians, and their oracles; can we choose but apprehend a visible notorious necessity of perishing in those sins, which we then should not have understood by the glass of a divine law to have declined, nor by a revelation have been taught to repent of? But since the best of men does, in the midst of all the great advantages of laws, and examples, and promises, and threatenings, do many things he ought to be ashamed of, and needs to repent of; we can understand the riches of the divine goodness best, by considering, that the very design of our birth and education in the Christian religion is, that we may recover of and cure our follies by the antidote of repentance, which is preached to us as a doctrine, and propounded as a favour; which was put into a law, and purchased for us by a great expense; which God does not more command to us as a duty, than he gives us as a blessing. For now that we shall not perish for our first follies, but be admitted to new conditions, to be repaired by second thoughts, to have our infirmities excused, and our sins forgiven, our habits lessened, and our malice cured, after we were wounded, and sick, and dead, and buried, and in the possession of the devil; this was such a blessing, so great riches of the divine goodness, that it was taught to no religion but the Christian, revealed by no lawgiver but Christ, so it was a favour greater than ever God gave to the angels and devils: for although God was rich in the effusion of his goodness towards them, yet they were not admitted to the condition of second thoughts; Christ never shed one drop of blood for them, "his goodness did not lead them to repentance" but to us it was, that he made this largess of his goodness; to us, to whom he made himself a brother, and sucked the paps of our mother; he paid the scores of our sin, and shame, and death, only that we might be admitted to repent, and that this repentance might be effectual to the great purposes of felicity and salvation. And if we could consider this sadly, it might make us better to understand our madness and folly in refusing to repent; that is, to be sorrowful, and to leave all our sins,-and to make amends by a holy life. For that we might be admitted and suffered to do so, God was fain to pour forth all the riches of his


goodness: it cost our dearest Lord the price of his dearest blood, many a thousand groans, millions of prayers and sighs, and at this instant he is praying for our repentance; nay, he hath prayed for our repentance these sixteen hundred years incessantly, night and day, and shall do so till dooms-day; "He sits at the right hand of God making intercession for And that we may know what he prays for, he hath sent us ambassadors to declare the purpose of all his design; for St. Paul saith, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though he did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God." The purpose of our embassy and ministry is a prosecution of the mercies of God, and the work of redemption, and the intercession and mediation of Christ it is the work of atonement and reconciliation that God designed, and Christ died for, and still prays for, and we preach for, and you all must labour for.

And therefore here consider, if it be not infinite impiety to "despise the riches of such a goodness," which at so great a charge, with such infinite labour and deep mysterious arts, invites us to repentance; that is, to such a thing as could not be granted to us unless Christ should die to purchase it; such a glorious favour, that is the issue of Christ's prayers in heaven, and of all his labours, his sorrows and his sufferings on earth. If we refuse to repent now, we do not so much refuse to do our own duty, as to accept of a reward. It is the greatest and the dearest blessing that ever God gave to men, that they may repent: and therefore, to deny it or delay it, is to refuse health, brought us by the skill and industry of the physician; it is to refuse liberty indulged to us by our gracious Lord. And certainly we had reason to take it very ill, if, at a great expense, we should purchase a pardon for a servant, and he, out of a peevish pride or negligence, shall refuse it; the scorn pays itself, the folly is its own scourge, and sits down in an inglorious ruin.

After the enumeration of these glories, these prodigies of mercies and loving-kindnesses, of Christ's dying for us, and interceding for us, and merely that we may repent and be saved; I shall less need to instance those other particularities whereby God continues, as by so many arguments of kindness, to sweeten our natures, and make them malleable to the precepts of love and obedience, the twin-daughters of holy repentance: but the poorest person amongst us, be

sides the blessing and graces already reckoned, hath enough about him, and the accidents of every day, to shame him into repentance. Does not God send his 'angels to keep thee in all thy ways?' are not they ministering spirits sent forth to wait upon thee as thy guard? art not thou kept from drowning, from fracture of bones, from madness, from deformities, by the riches of the divine goodness? Tell the joints of thy body; dost thou want a finger? and if thou dost not understand how great a blessing that is, do but remember, how ill thou canst spare the use of it when thou hast but a thorn in it. The very privative blessings, the blessings of immunity, safeguard, and integrity, which we all enjoy, deserve a thanksgiving of a whole life. If God should send a cancer upon thy face, or a wolf into thy breast, if he should spread a crust of leprosy upon thy skin, what wouldest thou give to be but as now thou art? Wouldest not thou repent of thy sins upon that condition? Which is the greater blessing? To be kept from them, or to be cured of them? And why therefore shall not this greater blessing lead thee to repentance? Why do we, not so aptly, promise repentance when we are sick, upon the condition to be made well, and yet perpetually forget it when we are well? As if health never were a blessing, but when we have it not. Rather I fear the reason is, when we are sick we promise to repent, because then we cannot sin the sins of our former life; but in health our appetites return to their capacity, and in all the way


we despise the riches of the divine goodness," which preserves us from such evils, which would be full of horror and amazement, if they should happen to us.

Hath God made any of you all chapfallen? Are you affrighted with spectres and illusions of the spirits of darkness? How many earthquakes have you been in? How many days have any of you wanted bread? How many nights have you been without sleep? Are any of you distracted of your senses? And if God gives you meat and drink, health and sleep, proper seasons of the year, entire senses and a useful understanding; what a great unworthiness is it to be unthankful to so good a God, so benign a Father, so gracious a Lord? All the evils and baseness of the world can shew nothing baser and more unworthy than ingratitude: and therefore it was not unreasonably said of Aristotle, Euruxía φιλόθεος, "Prosperity makes a man love God," supposing


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men to have so much humanity left in them, as to love him from whom they have received so many favours. And Hippocrates said, that although poor men use to murmur against God, yet rich men will be offering sacrifice to their Deity, whose beneficiaries they are. Now, since the riches of the divine goodness are so poured out upon the meanest of us all, if we shall refuse to repent (which is a condition so reasonable, that God requires it only for our sake, and that it may end in our felicity), we do ourselves despite, to be unthankful to God; that is, we become miserable, by making ourselves basely criminal. And if any man, whom God hath used to no other method but of his sweetness and the effusion of mercies, brings no other fruits but the apples of Sodom in return of all his culture and labours; God will cut off that unprofitable branch, that with Sodom it may suffer the flames of everlasting burning.

Οἴει σὺ τοὺς θανόντας, ὦ Νικήρατε,
Τρυφῆς ἁπάσης μεταλαβόντας ἐν βίῳ,
Πεφυγέναι τὸ θεῖον ὡς λεληθότας r;

If here we have good things, and a continual shower of blessings, to soften our stony hearts, and we shall remain obdurate against those sermons of mercy which God makes us every day, there will come a time when this shall be upbraided to us, that we had not vovv avríTUπov, a thankful mind, but made God to sow his seed upon the sand, or upon the stones, without increase or restitution. It was a sad alarm which God sent to David by Nathan, to upbraid his ingratitude: "I anointed thee king over Israel, I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul, I gave thee thy master's house and wives into thy bosom, and the house of Israel and Judah; and if this had been too little, I would have given thee such and such things: wherefore hast thou despised the name of the Lord ?" But how infinitely more can God say to all of us than all this came to; he hath anointed us kings and priests in the royal priesthood of Christianity; he hath given us his Holy Spirit to be our guide, his angels to be our protectors, his creatures for our food and raiment; he hath delivered us from the hands of Satan, hath conquered death for us, hath taken the sting out, and made it harmless and medicinal, and proclaimed us heirs of heaven, coheirs with the eternal Jesus: and if, after all this, we despise the comPhilemon. Clerici. p. 360.

mandment of the Lord, and defer and neglect our repentance, what shame is great enough, what miseries are sharp enough, what hell painful enough, for such horrid ingratitude? St. Lewis the king having sent Ivo, bishop of Chartres, on an embassy, the bishop met a woman on the way, grave, sad, fantastic, and melancholic, with fire in one hand, and water in the other. He asked, what those symbols meant. She answered, My purpose is with fire to burn Paradise, and with my water to quench the flames of hell, that men may serve God without the incentives of hope and fear, and purely for the love of God. But this woman began at the wrong end: the love of God is not produced in us, after we have contracted evil habits, till God, with his fan in his hand, hath thoroughly purged the floor,' till he hath cast out all the devils, and swept the house with the instrument of hope and fear, and with the achievements and efficacy of mercies and judgments. But then, since God may truly say to us, as of old to his rebellious people, 'Am I a dry tree to the house of Israel?' that is, Do I bring them no fruit? Do they serve me for nought?' and he expects not our duty till first we feel his goodness; we are now infinitely inexcusable to throw away so great riches, to "despise such a goodness."


However, that we may see the greatness of this treasure of goodness, God seldom leaves us thus: for he sees (be it spoken to the shame of our natures, and the dishonour of our manners), he sees that his mercies do not allure us, do not make us thankful, but (as the Roman said), "Felicitate corrumpimur," 'We become worse for God's mercy,' and think it will be always holiday; and are like the crystal of Arabia, hardened not by cold, but made crusty and stubborn by the warmth of the divine fire, by its refreshments and mercies: therefore, to demonstrate that God is good indeed, he con] tinues his mercies still to us, but in another instance; he is merciful to us in punishing us, that we may be led to repentance by such instruments which will scare us from sin; he delivers us up to the pædagogy of the divine judgments: and there begins the second part of God's method, intimated in the word avox, or "forbearance." God begins his cure by caustics, by incisions and instruments of vexation, to try if the disease that will not yield to the allectives of cordials and perfumes, frictions and baths, may be forced out by deleteries, scarifications, and more salutary, but less pleasing, physic.

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