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to fink under the Superftructures, and to endanger their Ruine and Downfal. Now all the foregoing Duties being neceffary Preparations to a good Refolution, we ought before we refolve, to spend a confiderable portion of time in the diligent Practice of them; and not to refolve hand over head till we are duly and throughly prepared for it, till by exercifing our Faith and Confideration, &c. we have broken and tamed our perverse and obftinate Wills, and throughly perfuaded them to part with every Sin, and to approve of, and confent to every Duty that is comprehended in a through Resolution of Amendment. And if when we are about to refolve, we find upon a strict Examination any fecret Referve or Exception in our Wills, if there be any Luft which they are not throughly perfuaded to part with, or any Duty to which they are not fully reconciled, we ought for that time to forbear refolving, and to go on in the Exercife of the preparatory Duties, till we find our reluctant Wills throughly conquered and perfwaded by them. For if there be any leak left open in our Refolution for any Sin to creep in at, that will be fure to infinuate in the next Storm of temptation; and if it' fhould not let in other Sins after it, as 'tis a thousand to one but it will, 'twill by its own fingle Weight fink us into eternal Perdition. Wherefore before ever we enter into the Refolution of Amendment, we ought to be very careful that our Wills be throughly prepared for it; that they be reduced to a fair Compliance with the matter we are refolving upon, and effectually diffwaded out of all Refolution to the contrary; and when this is done, we may e 2
chearfully proceed to the forming of our good ReJolution.
Which ought to be performed by us, between God and our felvcs, with the greatest. Serioufneß and Solemnity. For now our Hearts being ready, we are to betake our felves to our Knees, and in thefe, or fuch like words, to devote our felves to God,O thou bleffed Author of my Being, I am now fully convinced that I owe my felf to thee by a thousand Ties and Obligations, and am infinitely forry and afhamed that I have fo long fequeftred and withdrawn my felf from thee to fere my own bafe Lufts and Affections. Wherefore now in thy dread Prefence, and in that of thy boly Angels, Ihere entirely refign up my felf unto thee, and do refolve without any Referve or Exception that what foever Temptations I may meet with for the future, I will never wilfully withdraw or alienate my felf from thee more. From henceforth I heartily renounce all my Sins, and particularly thofe that have been most dear and pleaJant to me, and do faithfully promise to continue thy true and loyal Subject as long as I breath, and that what foever Invitations I may have to the contrary, I will never revoke the Refolution I now make, or any part of it. So help me, O my God.
And having thus folemnly refolved, it will be highly neceffary that for the farther Ratification ofit, we fhould yet more folemnly repeat it in the holy Sacrament; wherein, according to the Custom of Feafts upon Sacrifices, God and every faithful Communicant do mutually re-oblige themfelves to one another, and upon the facred Symbols of the Body and Bloud of Jefus do ratifie to each other each others Part of that everlasting
Covenant which by the Federal Rite of his meritorious Death and Sacrifice was inviolably fealed and confirmed. So that when we take thofe holy Elements into our hands, which the Priest in Gods ftead prefents and offers to us, we do in effect make this folemn Dedication of our felves to God; Here we offer and prefent unto thee, O Lord, our felves, our fouls and bodies to be a reafonable, boly and lively Sacrifice unto thee, and here we call to witneß this facred Bloud that redeemed us, and thofe vocal Wounds which do now interceed for us,that from henceforth we oblige our felves never to start from thy fervice, what Difficulties foever we may encounter in it, or what temptations foever we may have to for fake it. And having thus refolved and confirmed our Refolutions by the Body and Bloud of our Saviour, and taken the Sacrament upon it not to depart from what we have refolved, we have actually lifted and ingaged our felves in a warfare against Sin, the World, and the Devil, upon the final Success whereof our everlasting Fate depends. And thus you fee what Duty is implied in the Beginning or Entrance of this Warfaring part of the Life of a Chriftian.
Wherein fome Motives are urged to perfuade men to the Practice of thofe Duties that are proper to the Beginning of the Christian Warfare,
Having in the former Section given a brief Account of those Duties which are neceffary to the well Beginning of our Chriftian Warfare, I shall
now, for a clofe of that Argument endeavour to preß and perfuade thofe who have not as yet begun, to enter immediately upon it, by putting in practice thefe Initial Duties of it. You who have been hitherto warring against God, and striving against your Duty and your Happiness, be at laft perfuaded to make a Stand for a while, and to liften to the voice of Reafon and Religion, which do both call aloud to you to face about, to defert the Party wherein you are engaged, and come over to the Side of Virtue. And that I may, if poffible,prevail, I do here earnestly beseech you, even by all that is dear and precious to you, by the Love of God, and by the Lives of your Souls, and by all your Hopes of Happiness in the World to come, feriously to confider with me thefe following Motives.
That there is a vaft Neceffity of beginning this our Spiritual Warfare one time or other cas
2. That 'tis unfpeakably moft fecure and advan tagious for us to begin it now.
That the final Succeß of it doth very much depend upon the well Beginning of it.
4. That when once we have well begun it, the main Difficulty of it is conquered.
I. Confider the vaft Neceffity there is of beginning this Spiritual Warfare one time or other. For that which is neceffary for us to accomplish at laft, is neceffary to be undertaken by us one time or other. Now it is as neceffary for us to oppofe and vanquish the Temptations of the World, and the Corruptions of our own Nature, as it is not to go to Hell,or not to miß of Heaven. For in this great
Battel the everlasting Fate of our Souls is to be decided, and if we come off Victors, we are made, if vanquished, we are undone to Eternity. So that in this Spiritual Warfare we do not contend like the Warriors of this world for a Triumphal Wreath that will wither upon our Brows, or for Fame and Renown which is nothing but the Breath of a company of talking People, or for the enlarging of our Empire over the next handful of a Turf, but we are contending with Enemies that are purfuing us to Hell, and binding us in Chains of everlasting Darknes. We are to fight for our Immortality, for all our hopes of Happiness and well-being in a never-ending Life; and when fo much depends upon the Succefs of our Conflict, and we must conquer and be crowned, or die; win the Field, and Heaven, or yield our felves Captives to eternal Mifery, I leave you to judge whether we are not obliged under the vastest Neceffity one time or other to begin. And if we must begin one time or other, why not now as well as hereafter? And to what purpofe fhould we defer entring upon that work, which we all confefs we must at laft not only begin, but accomplish? For to have accomplished a neceffary work, especially when it is difficult and important, is a great Satisfaction to the Mind; and whereas while it is yet to do, the profpect of the pain and labour of it creates in us a great deal of Trouble and Anxiety; when once it is done, or the main Difficulty of it is over, every Reflection on our past pains Sweetens our prefent Repofe, and crowns it with Joy and Triumph, And thus it is in our Entrance into the Chriftian Life, which we all confefs to be both necessary and