for the many blessings we have received from God, to be given where his providence shall direct us to give.

And the good Lord give a blessing to all our charities, and especially to this before us, that they may continue, and always answer the ends proposed by them.

And God almighty grant if ever it should be his pleasure to change any of our circumstances into a worse condition, that we may bear it patiently, knowing that we have a treasure in heaven.

To which place may we all be admitted, through the merits and intercession of Christ Jesus our Lord, where our portion shall be to praise God continually, and ascribe to him, with the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all honour, power, might, majesty, and dominion, for ever and ever. Amen.


ROMANS i. 28.


F people were but well aware and afraid of causes of God's forsaking men, and leaving them to themselves, as they are startled at the very thoughts of the condition of those that are so given up, it is certain they would be more careful of their ways than generally they are.

Now, the reason here given why God left the heathens to themselves, and suffered them to fall into idolatry and all manner of wickedness, is this: They would not retain God in their knowledge; that is, they forgot their dependence upon him; they were not afraid of his displeasure; they were not thankful for his favours; upon which God gave them up to a reprobate mind, or, as it is translated in the margin of our bibles, a mind void of judgment. In which words we have a just account and reason of God's deserting men; of the causes and steps which lead to this dreadful judgment; and of the consequences and effects which attend it.

* See Exod. x. 27. Zeph. i. 17.

For the short account is this:-Men fall into sinful company and courses; and either from the good education they have had, or from the checks of natural conscience, finding it uneasy to live in sin, while they have a lively sense of God upon their souls, they therefore endeavour to divert such thoughts and fears as make them uneasy, until time, and wicked principles, and wicked company, reconcile them to every abomination. And that which most effectually helps on their ruin is this;-They often sin with hopes and purposes purposes of some time returning to sober reason, until they fall into such courses as make them forget both their purposes and their God.

Therefore, in treating upon this subject, I shall be obliged to lay before you the danger of living in any known sin, for that is the beginning of all our misery; and to shew you that people run a greater hazard than generally they are aware of, who go against their consciences in lesser things, and venture to break the laws of God, in hopes of taking up when they please.

And how necessary it is that we should be truly convinced of this, appears from hence, because most people do find, by sad experience, that they have fallen into such sins and courses as some time in their lives they abhorred the thoughts of; and because there was a time when the most profligate sinners hated vices which now they are so fond of, and were afraid of the anger of God and his judgments, which now they despise.

It will therefore be of great use to us to know by what means men come to change their thoughts and practices so much for the worse; to know that the wickedness, and consequently the miseries of men, are owing to their own carelessness, and wilful continuing in known sin, and not to any harsh and fatal decree, which brings them to ruin; and that men are virtuous and good, not because they cannot be otherwise, but because they find it reasonable and just to be afraid of judgments and danger, when God gives them warning, and to avoid those things which he has told them will bring them to destruction; by which means they secure his favour and protection, and by his goodness and providence are kept from such wickedness as would otherwise ruin them.

So that we shall from hence learn how much every man ought to contribute to his own happiness; and how much he may contribute to his own misery, if he will be obstinately careless.

For thus much is implied in the text;That God hath given us understanding souls: that he hath made himself and his will so far known to us as is necessary and sufficient, by his assistance, to keep us from sin and misery. And so long as we retain in our minds this sense and knowledge of God, it will be a powerful means of keeping us from sin, of securing our selves in his favour, and of attaining that happiness which we so passionately wish for.

Then what follows is expressed in the text; which is, that if men, thus furnished with the knowledge of God and of their duty, and with



a power of choosing well, are notwithstanding careless of themselves and their ways; if they will not retain God in their knowledge, but drive him from them by their wicked deeds; if they will continue to do so, then will God give them up to a reprobate mind; that is, they will become incapable of judging what is good, of choosing what is safe, and of avoiding what is dangerous. For God will leave them to themselves, and remove all those hindrances which before kept them from the foulest vices: and whereas they made wickedness their choice before against reason, they shall at last become unable to think, to act, to live, like men endued with reason. This is, I think, a just account of these words, and of that power which every man has of contributing very much to his own present and future happiness, by the grace of God assisting him.

I know this text has sometimes been made use of to incite and keep up an ungrateful and an unnecessary controversy in the church of God: but who doth not see that it is much easier from these words to persuade men to be good from the assurance of God's assisting grace, and to deter them from evil because of the danger of continuing in known sin, than it would be to give them the least satisfaction from hence about the difficult points of election and reprobation? And because I am sure it will be a work much more useful to you, and more acceptable to God, to endeavour to mend your lives, rather than to gratify your curiosity, I do therefore choose these words for a discourse alto

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