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been warmed by fome pathetick Difcourfe, or startled by fome great Danger, or chafed into a Difpleasure against their Sins by the fenfe of fome very dolorous Accident whereinto they have been betrayed by them; in thefe or fuch like Cafes, its ufual with men to make hafty Refolutions of Amendment, without confidering either the Matters which they refolve upon, or the Motives which fhould fupport their Refolution; and fo finding when they come to Practice, more Difficulty in the Matter than they were aware of, and having not fufficient Motives to carry them through it, their Refolution flags in the Execution, and very often yields to the next Temptation which encounters them.
Now though I do not deny but that those Heats of Paflion are good Opportunities to begin our Religion in, and if wifely improved will very much contribute to our Voyage Heavenwards, and like a brisk Gale of Wind render it much more expedite and eafie; yet if in thefe Heats we refolve too foon, without a due Confideration of all Particulars, and of the Difficulties on the one fide, and the Arguments on the other, it is hardly poffible that our Refolution fhould ever prove a lafting Principle of Goodness. For when we refolve inconfiderately, we refolve to do we know not what, and our Refolution includes a thoufand particulars that we are not aware of; most of which being repugnant to our vicious Inclinations, will when we come to practise them be attended with fuch Difficulties as will easily startle our weak Refolution, which having not a fufficient Foundation of Reafon to fupport it, will
never be able to out-ftand those boiiterous Storms of Temptation whereunto it will be continually expofed. If therefore we mean our Refolution fhould hold out, and commence a living Principle of Goodness, we must found it in a through Confideration both of the Duties and Difficulties of Religion, and of the Motives which Ihould ingage us to embrace it; we must fet before our Minds all the Sins we must part with, and all the Duties we must fubmit to, and fairly represent to our felves all the Difficulties and Temptations wherewith we must ingage; and as much as in us lies render them actual and prefent to us, by suppofing our felves already ingaged in our Spiritual Warfare, and furrounded with all the Temptations both from within and without that we can reasonably expect will oppofe themselves against us; and having thus placed our felves in the midst of the Difficulties of Religion, we must never cease urging our felves with the great Arguments and Motives of it, till we have throughly perfuaded our stubborn Will, and obtained of them an explicite Confent to every Duty that calls for our Confent and Refolution.
III. To our good Beginning of the Chriftian Warfare it is alfo neceflary that we be deeply and throughly convinced of our great need of a Mediator to make a Propitiation for our Sins, and render us acceptable to God. For 'tis to convince us of this neceffary Truth that the Scripture doth fo exprefly declare, that as there is one God, fo there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jefus, 1 Tim. ii. 5. that if any man fin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jefus Chrift
the righteous, and that he is the Propitiation for our fins, and not for ours only, but for the fins of the whole world; and that 'tis for his Name fake that our fins are forgiven, 1 John ii. 1, 2, 12. that we have redemption through his bloud, Eph.i. 7. and that without the shedding his bloud there is no remiffion, and that 'twas by the facrifice of himself that Christ put away fin; Heb. ix. 22, 26. that we are accepted of God through his beloved Son, Eph. i. 6. that Chrift is entred into heaven now to appear in the presence of God for us, Heb. ix. 24. and that there he ever lives to make interceffion for us, Heb. vii. 25. that 'tis through him that we have acceẞ unto the Father, Ephef. ii. 18. and by him that we have admittance to his grace and favour, Rom. v. 2. The defign of all which is, throughly to convince us of this great truth, that by our Apoftafie from God and Rebellion against him we have all rendred our felves fo very obnoxious to his Vengeance,that he would not pardon us upon any lefs Atonement than the precious Bloud, nor admit us into favour upon any lefs Motive than the powerful Interceffion of his own Son; that by the hcinoufnefs of our Guilt we have fo highly incenfed the Father of Mercies against us, that no lefs confideration than the Death and Advocation of the greatest and deareft Perfon in the whole world will move him to admit of our Repentance, and listen to our Supplications. And certainly next to exacting the punishment due to our fins at our own hands, the most dreadful Severity he could have expreffed was to refolve not to remit it upon any other confideration than that of his own Sons undergoing it in our ftead; by which he hath
given us the greatest reafon that Heaven and Earth could afford to tremble at his Juftice, even whilft we are inclofed in the Arms of his Mercy.
This therefore we ought to be deeply and throughly convinced of, that our Sins have fet us at fuch a distance from God, that 'tis nothing but the bloud of Chrift will reconcile him to us; and that though without our Repentance he will never be reconciled to us, yet 'tis not for the fake of that or any thing elle we can do, that he will be induced to receive us into favour, but only for the fake of that precious Sacrifice which his Eternal Son hath offered up for us. The firm Perfuafion and Confideration of which will mightily overawe our minds, and imprint upon them fuch gaftly and horrible Apprehenfions of fin, as will fcare us from all thoughts of Compliance with it, the dreadful demonstration which God hath given us of his righteous feverity against it in the very Reason of his pardoning it, will effectually antidote us against all our finful Securities and Confidences: For this way of Gods pardoning us upon the Sacrifice of his Son, guards his Mercy with fuch an awful Terrour, as is fufficient to dishearten the most defperate Sinner from prefuming upon it. For he that dares prefume to fin on upon a Mercy that coft the Bloud of the Son of God, hath courage enough to out-face the Flames of Hell, and is not capable of any Mercy that the great God can indulge with fafety to his own Authority. For what Mercy can be fafe from that mans Abuse and Prefumption, that dares abuse a Mercy fo guarded and fecured as this is,
by being founded upon fuch a dreadful Confideration?
And as a through Persuasion of the Neceffity of Chrifts Sacrifice to the Forgiveness of our Sins will fill us with awful Apprehenfions of the divine Severity, and fet before us a most dismal Prospect of the vaft demerit of our Sin, both which are neceffary to ingage us to a through Reformation; fo a through conviction of the Neceffity of his Interceffion to render our Duties, our Prayers, and Perfons acceptable to God, will effectually humble and abafe us in our own eyes, which, as I fhall 'fhew you by and by, is highly conducive to a good Beginning of this our Christian Warfare. For next to banishing us from his Prefence for ever, the most effectual courfe God could take to abafe us was to exclude us from all immediate Intercourse with him, and not to admit of any more Addreffes or Supplications from us, but only through the hands of a Mediator; which is a plain Demonftration how infinitely pure he is, and how bafe and vile our Sins have rendred us: infomuch that he will not fuffer a finful Creature to come near him otherwife than by a Proxy, that he will not accept of a Service from a guilty Hand, nor lifen to a Prayer from a finful Mouth, till 'tis first hallowed and prefented to him by a pure and holy Mediator. So that unless we are ftrangely inconfiderate, we cannot but be touched with a deep fenfe of our own Kilenes, when we think at what a distance the pure and holy God keeps us; how he ftands off at the Stench of our Abominations, and notwithstanding all his Benignity towards us, will neither bear us, nor have any thing to do