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bleffed Saviour Jefus Chrift laid down his life as a facrifice for
the fins of the world; that by his death he reconciled us to
God, and by the merit of his fufferings made full fatisfaction
for us; fo that it is for the fake of what Chrift en-
dured, that God was pleased to reverse our con-
demnation to eternal punishment: nevertheless,
this reconciliation that is made by the death of Chrift between
God and man, is not abfolute, but upon certain conditions on
the part of man, who must repent to make them capable of
that pardon he hath purchased for us; and therefore, our Sa-
viour hath joined these two together in his commiffion to the
apostles, faying, that repentance and remiffion of fins should
be preached in his name throughout all nations.

Therefore, it is mere delufion for man to delay this great
and neceffary work. It is unpardonable stupidi-
ty
for man, who has not the power
power of his own life,
and fhould he be cut off in the midft of his fins,
must be eternally punished, to delay it for the prefent, and
defer it to fome future opportunity; either till the heat of
youth is over, or till ficknefs, old age, or death overtakes him.
And it is not only the greatest folly imaginable, to venture a
matter of fuch confequence upon fuch an uncertainty as fu-
ture time, which we can never be fure of; and to defer a ne-
ceffary work to the moft unfitting feafon of performing it; but
it is highly wicked, in that we abuse God's patience, who
gives us time and opportunity for it at prefent; and prefer
the flavery of fin before his fervice; it is a contempt of his laws
and of that wrath, which is revealed from heaven against all
unrighteousness: fo that we may juftly fear that fuch a
ceeding may provoke God to withdraw that
will then be neceffary for the exercise of our repentance, tho'
grace, which
he should give us time and opportunity for fo great a work.

cy

Not that we pretend to fet bounds to the goodnefs and merof that Lord, who declares that he wills not the death of a finner: and, whenever a foul is raised from the fleep of fin, it must be ascribed unto the Spirit of God calling her to repentance; confequently, it would be rafh and dangerous for us to affert the impoffibility of a death-bed repentance. Yet,

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V. It

A means of falvation.

Muft not be delayed.

V. It is certain, that without a particular grace of God no man will be able to repent upon his death-bed; and it is no ways reasonable to expect these extraordinary influences, when the ordinary means of grace have been neglected all the life long; and therefore, I believe, it very rarely takes effect: but I cannot think it abfolutely impoffible, because the nature of repentance confifting in the change of our minds; and the change in our lives being only the neceffary effect of that inward change, when it is fincere; it is poffible by the extraordinary grace of God, that the change of our hearts may be true, full, and fufficient, and yet we may want time and opportunity to fhew the effect of it in our deeds. So that God, Dangerous. who knoweth our hearts, and fees it thus, may take the inward will and choice for the outward fervice and performance; because he forefees that if time had been allowed, the fick penitent would have kept his good purposes of amendment and obedience to his laws. We alfo find that the refolutions of a fick bed, though very rarely, yet sometimes have been effectual, which is fufficient to prove the thing poffible; and if divines thought otherwise, it would be in vain for them to exhort perfons in fuch circumftances to repent and turn to the God of their falvation. Confidering, nevertheless, the difficulty of a thorough change, and the difadvantageous circumstances of a fick bed; it is to be feared, and it is highly probable, that whoever defers it till that time will never repent at all; or if he does, his penitential refolutions being founded upon fuch temporary principles as the fear of death, and the absence of temptation, they will feldom prove strong and vigorous enough to produce a thorough reformation; as is plain in the cafe of those that recover, among whom there are very few that are true and conftant to thofe purposes of amendment, which they formed upon the profpect of approaching death. But fuppofing their penitential purposes be rightly qualified; confidering the fickleness of our nature, nothing but the fruits and effects of repentance can create in us an affurance that we are inwardly changed; and confequently, they must needs die very uncomfortably, and in great doubt and anxiety of mind concerning their eternal fate and doom. VI. From

Of death

bed repentance.

VI. From whence we may conclude, concerning the times and frequent returns of our repentance. If we are daily guilty of any fin, we should repent every day. We should We may be inftructed in this custom by the chil- repent dren of this world, in the management of their tem- Daily. poral concerns: they teach us that short reckonings are the fafeft means to a fair and unperplexed account. We should repent, before all folemn duties, the bleffed facrament, &c. The time of affliction is a ftrong call to repentance, when sickness, or pains, or outward calamities, or a wounded spirit attack us, we are foon fenfible of our own inability; and whither should we fly for refuge? break off thy fins by repentance, fays Daniel. The approach of death is the most awakening seafon for repentance, and I fear most mens repentance sets fail from this dangerous port *.

VII. To this duty of repentance we commonly find the duty of fafting joined in fcripture; and we thereFafting. fore fhall act moft prudently and fafely, to walk by that rule. Fafting, in a strict sense, implies a total abstinence from all meat and drink the whole day, from morning to evening; and then to refresh ourselves fparingly as to the quantity, and not delicately as to the quality, of the nourishment. This was the manner the primitive chriftians fafted many days before Easter. But in a large sense, fasting implies an abstinence from fome kind of food, especially flesh and wine, or a deferring eating beyond the ufual hours, as the primitive christians did on their fet days, till three in the afternoon, to which hour on those days, their publick affemblies continued +.

On folemn occafions.

In afflictions.

At the ap

proach of death.

By this mortification some self-denial is defigned to our bodily appetites; for no abftinence can partake of the nature of fafting, except there be something in it that afflicts us; and nature seems to fuggeft it as a proper means to exprefs forrow. and grief; and as a fit method to difpofe our minds towards the confideration of any thing that is serious. And therefore, All

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See what is faid above in fect. V. and in chapter XVII. on repentance.
See page 37, to page 40.

All nations from antient times have used fasting as a part of repentance, and as a means to turn away God's anger; as it is plain in the cafe of the Ninevites; which was a notion common to them with the reft of mankind. And although our Saviour hath left no pofitive precept about fafting, yet he joins it with almfgiving and prayer, unquestionable duties: and the directions he gave in his admirable fermon upon the mount, concerning the performance of it, fufficiently fuppofes the neceffity of the duty; which if governed by fuch A neceflary rules as our Saviour there lays down, will be accepduty. ted by God, and openly rewarded by him when he judges us according to our works.

How obferv

Therefore the antient christians were very exact ed by the an- both in their weekly, and yearly fafts: their weekly fafts were kept on Wednesdays and Fridays, beftians. caufe on the one, our Lord was betrayed, and on the other, crucified for our fins.

tient chri

It was also a duty all along obferved by devout men, and acceptable to God, under the Old and New Testament, both as it was helpful to their devotion, and as it became a part thereof. But no faft may be accounted religious, but fuch as is undertaken, to restrain the loofer appetites of the flesh, and to keep the body under fubjection; to give the mind liberty and ability to confider and reflect while it is actually engaged in divine fervice, or preparing for fome folemn part of it; to humble ourselves before God under a sense of our fins, and the mifery to which they expofe; to turn away his anger, and to fupplicate for his mercy and favour; to exprefs revenge against ourselves, for the abuse of thofe good things God alloweth us to enjoy, and of which we have made ourselves unworthy by finful exceffes, when it is used as a piece of selfdenial, in order the better to command our fleshly appetites; and as a means to raise in our minds a due valuation of the happiness of the other world, when we despise the enjoyments of this; and, above all, to make it acceptable to God, it should be accompanied with fervent prayer, and a charitable relief of the poor, whofe miferies we may the better guess at, when we are bearing fome of the inconveniences of hunger; always taking care to avoid all prefumption, never to faft under a

fuppofition

Is not me

fuppofition that we merit thereby, nor in fuch an extreme manner as may prejudice our health, and indispose us for the fervice of God. But beware of temp-ritorious. tation; let us deal impartially with ourselves, and not make ufe of thefe reafons, without grounds as a pretence to excufe ourselves from the obligation of this duty *.

Of fatisfac

VIII. Neither is this to be accounted the whole of our repentance; forrow may be raised through fear, and fafting may be undertaken on worldly views; wherefore our repentance should be always accompanied with fatisfaction for injuries done by us: concerning which, observe that it is that part of juftice to which a man is obliged by fome former contract, or a foregoing fault, by his own or another man's act, either with, or without his will. The borrower is bound to pay, and much more he that fteals or defrauds. In the cafe of ftealing, there is an injury done to our neighbour, and the evil ftill remains after the action is past, therefore for this we are accountable to our neighbour, and we are to take the evil off from him, which we brought upon him, or else he is an injured person, and a fufferer all the while: and that any man should be the worse for me, by my act, and by my intention, is against the rule of equity, of juftice, and of charity; I do not that to others which I would have done to myself, for I grow richer upon the ruins of my neighbour. Wherefore, our fin can never be pardoned till we have restored what we unjustly took, or wrongfully detained which we must really perform when we are able. Which doctrine, befides it's evident and apparent reasonableness, is derived from the exprefs words of scripture, reckoning restitution to be a part of repentance, neceffary in order to the remiffion of our fins +: if the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, &c. he shall furely live, he shall not die. And the practice of this part of justice is to be directed by these rules following. That perfon who is a real caufe of doing his neighbour wrong, whether by commending or encouraging it, by counfelling or commanding it, by M 4

t

Neceffary.

.

See alfo what is faid in chapter XVII, concerning repentance.
See above in page 162.

Methods of reftitution.

acting

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