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we cannot well divine what will be the Iffue of it. Our Refolution is yet fo young, fo raw and unexperienced, and befieged with fo many powerful counterstriving Inclinations, that we cannot confide in it without great Folly and Prefumption. For till fufficient Trial hath been made of it, for all that we know, it may prove to be only a Godly Mood, or a fhort Lucid Interval between the raving Fits of our Luft and extravagant Affections, which in a few days perhaps may return again, and utterly alienate and distract us from all our fober Counfels and Purpofes. And if it fhould fo happen, that which we now look upon as our Cure and Recovery, will prove but an Intermission of our Disease. And when for fome time we have tried our Refolution, and found that it hath bravely refifted thofe Temptations that have hitherto allaulted it, yet we cannot prefently be reasonably affured of it, confidering the fickleness and Inconftancy of our Nature. For it may be it hath not been yet affaulted on the weak Side, or it hath not been nick'd with a feasonable Temptation, or it may be we may be more remifs and carelefs another time, or more vehemently inclined to a vicious Compliance; and then thofe Temptations which we have hitherto conquered, may captivate and fubdue us. And if it thus happen, that which we now look upon as an everlasting Breach between us and our Lufts, may prove only a Pet or fhort Distaste, and like the Fallings out of Lovers end in the renewing of Love. And till we have made fome confiderable Progrefs in the mortification of our finful Inclinations, and the Acquifition of their contrary Habits, our Religion will have


fo many Flaws, Defects, and Imperfections in it, as will give us great Reafon, if we have any modefty in us, to be very fearful and jealous of it. But fince without Sincerity in Religion we can have no Title to Heaven, it hence follows, that without a clear Senfe of our Sincerity, we can have no Affurance of our Title to it; and fuch a clear Senfe as is neceffary to found fuch an Affurance on, is not to be acquired, you fee, without a thorow Trial of our Refolution in a long and vigorous Courfe of Religion. So that for men to be immediately fnatching at Affurance, as foon as ever they are entred into a good Life, argues them not to be fo fenfible, as they fhould be, of their own Imperfection and Frailty; they ought in Modefty to expect a while, and not conclude too foon for themselves, till they have made a thorow Trial of their Refolution; and in the mean time to ftrive on, in Hope that by the Bleffing of God concurring with their Endeavours,they fhall at last attain fuch a certain Senfe and Feeling of their own Sincerity, as will be fufficient to infer a firm and rational Affurance. For Affurance being the Top of Chriftian Attainment, we muft afcend to it gradually, by the intermediate Staves and Rounds of a tried and lafting Obedience, and not leap up in an inftant before we have taken all the Steps and Degrees that lead thither.:

But though we ought not to be too forward in our Affurance, yet we are bound to labour after it in a due and regular Way; that is, to perfift in our Obedience till we have reduced our inward and outward Motions to fuch a Degree of Conformity to the Standard of the Gospel, as that


upon comparing our felves with it, we may bể able without Flattery or Prefumption to conclude our own Sincerity and Uprightnefs. I know there is a much shorter Paffage to Affurance, which fome of late have pretended to; and that is, by certain unaccountable Incomes and Manifestations of Gods Spirit, who, as they pretend, doth immediately whifper and reveal to them their Title and Intereft in Heaven. But this alas! is too much like the North-East Paffage to the Indies, which is fhorter indeed, if it could be found, but fo very dangerous, that I doubt there are but few that attempt it but mifcarry, and 'tis well if they do not finally perish in the Discovery. Not that f do in the leaft doubt but God doth many times fuggeft and whisper unfpeakable Comforts and Affurances to the Minds of good men, but then it is to be confidered that this is an Arbitrarious Gift, which he feldom, if ever, bestows but in extraordinary Cafes, when 'tis neceffary to encourage us to fome great Work, or to fupport us under fome extraordinary Suffering. For he is a wife and careful Father of his Children, and knows 'tis much more neceffary for us to be good, than to be ravished and tranfported; and that fuch high Cordials are neither proper nor fafe for us but in great Extremities; and therefore for us to expect that he should make them our ordinary Food and Entertainment is an Argument of our Childish Ignorance and Prefumption. But though fuch immediate Whispers and Revelations may ferve to good Purposes in a Pinch of Extremity, yet are they by no means to be built upon as the Foundations of our ordinary, ftanding Affurance. For fo long.


as there is an evil Spirit without, and à disordered Fancy within us, that can imitate these Whispers, we fhall be continually liable, fo long as we put Confidence in them, to all the Cheats and Impostures of natural and Diabolical Enthufiafin, and unavoidably mistake many an Injection of the Devil, and many a warm Flush of Fancy, or brisk Fermentation of melancholy Humour, for a Whisper and Testimony of the Spirit of God, and by this means be often lull'd into falfe Confidences and Affurances, which like Golden Dreams will vanish when we awake, and leave us miferably disappointed. That affurance therefore which we are to aim at, must be founded in the Teftimony of a good Confcience, and inferr'd from the Senfe of our own Integrity and Uprightness.

And this we are commanded to indeavour after; fo Heb. x. 22. we are bid to draw near unto God, v Tanpopopia wisews, in Confidence, or full affurance of Faith, that is in a firm Perfuafion of Gods Love to us, and our Intereft in his Promises; which Persuasion is to be founded upon an inward Senfe of our having our hearts fprinkled from an evil confcience, and our bodies wafh'd with pure water; and accordingly, Heb. vi. 11. to be diligent in good works, to the full affurance of hope unto the end, i. e. to be fo diligent in our Duty as that we may thereby acquire fuch a full Affurance of our Re ward as may inable us to continue and hold out to the End. For St. John tells us, that 'cis by the Integrity of our Vertue, and particularly of our love to one another, that we are to affure our hearts before God, 1 Joh. iii. 14,19. for, faith he, ver.21. If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confi CC dence

dence towards God; and for this purpose among others, the fame Apostle tells us he wrote this Catholick Epistle, that true Chriftians might know and be affured that they had eternal life, 1 Joh. v. 13.

From all which 'tis evident, that 'tis our Duty to labour after fuch an Affurance of Heaven, as naturally arifeth from the clear and certain Senfe of our Sincerity towards God, and the firm Belief of the Promise of eternal Life, to which our Sincerity intitles us. For when we are fo far improved in Religion, as that upon an impartial Surveigh of our felves we can feel our own Integrity, and fenfibly perceive that our Intention is pure,our Refolution fix'd, and our Heart intirely devoted to God, we may from thence most certainly infer our Title and Intereft to the Promife of Heaven. So that to the obtaining this Affurance,all that we have to do is, fo far to purifie our Intentions from finifter Aims, and fubdue our bad Inclination to our Refolution of Obedience, as that when ever we reflect upon, and compare our felves with the Rule, our Confcience may be able without any Diffidence to pronounce us fincere; and then we may as certainly conclude our Interest in Heaven, as we can that Gods Promises are true; and if after we are thus far improved in Religion, we ftill remain unaffured, it proceeds not from the Want of fufficient Evidence, but either from a melancholy Temper, or a weak Faith, or a misinformed Confcience; and which foever of these is the Cause of it, when that is once removed, we fhall as plainly feel our own Sincerity, and therein our Intereft in Heaven, as we do now our bodily


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