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enter in; and that will weaken, and in time quite destroy our Repentance. Our first Care therefore, must be to have our Convictions always awake ; our Minds possessed with the most dreadful Apprehenfions of the Malignity and Danger of Sin; to fufpect that Dilcourse, to avoid that Company, to resist that
Temptation which would draw us to betray our Vertue in any one known Instance.
And as the best help herein, we should frequently read and converse in the holy Scriptures, which will give us the truest and most lasting Tinctures of Piety. There we have the entire Will of God and the Terms of our Duty plainly revealed; such infallible and convincing Characters of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, as will never suffer us to Sin without giving us a secret Pinch. These (as in a Glass) will shew us the trueft Idea and Pourtraiture of our selves; light us into all the Corners and the innost Recesses of our Souls ; trace out all our vain, and foolish, and wanton Affections; strip them of all that difguise and cunning Address, whereby they lie
in wnit to deceive us; and therefore faith the Ch. 4. 12. Apostle to the Hebrews. The Word of God is
quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged Sword's piercing even to the dividing afunder of Soul and Spirit ; and is a Discerner of the Thoughts and Intents of tbe Heart.
In short, If we would carry on our Repentance to perfection ; we must presërve. our Consciences quick and tender ; always apprelienfive of the
Majefty, and the Justice of God; always fenfible of the Guile and Danger of Sin : In order to that, we must be daily conversant in the holy Scriptures; which (as the same Apg, ftle tells us) are profitable for Doctrine, for Reproof, for Correction, for instruction in Tim. ; Righteousness; that the Man of God may be perfe&t, throughly furnished unto every good Work. But.
2. Secondly, Another Rule or Direction for the perfecting our Repentance, is frequent and ferious Meditation. This is the Fuel which feeds and gives Life to Repentance; without which it will soon grow feeble and die away. And here we must often reflect upon the Grounds of our Faith ; and consider the Scripture-Arguments of Hope and Fear; such are the Love of God in sending Jesus Christ into the World; the Example of his Life ; the Merit of his Death ; and the plain Revelation he hath made of a State of Immortality and future Glory ; such are the Holiness, the Justice, and the Omnipotence of God; the Certainty of Death, and the Resurrection, and a Judgment to come. We must often ponder upon the Beauty and Pleasantness of Holiness, the Satisfaction and the sweet Re pose which a Godly Life gives to our Thoughts ; the Blessedness of those who are at Peace with God and their own Consciences together with the deplorable Misery of wicked Men, whose Consciences are a Torment to them here; but will feel a greater Tormeņt from them hereaf
ter; even the Gnawings of that Immortal Worm which never dies. Finally, if we would increase and perfect our Repentance, we must be careful to practice this Duty of Meditation ; and every Day (as our Affairs or Time will give us leave) cast a ferious Reflection upon our Lives, and whether we have therein done any Thing which is prejudicial to the general Defign of carrying on our Repentance : And how easily might this be done, if we would seriously and conscientiously charge our felves with it?
3. To tenderness of Conscience and to Meditation, we must be careful to add daily Prayer to God. Great is the Power of Prayer in promoting the Work of Repentance : whether we consider its natural Influence tipon our selves or its Prevalency with God.
If we consider its natural Influence pon our felves : What a Divine Force is th're in a constant Faith and Dependance upon God for Mercy and Help; in the melting Saisows of Contrition in the Delight of devdar Praises and Thanksgivings; in the Vows V Refolutions of a perfect Abhorrence of, a holy Zeal and Indignation against Sin? flow do these daily dispose and renew the Soul unto Repentance; ripen and confirm it into a Habit? And it ought to be observed here ; that Prayer does not only.give us a frequent opportunity of exercising Repentance, but also many other Chriftian Vertues ; as Faith, Hope, Charity, Patience, and Humility,
Again, If we consider its Prevalence with God. What will God deny to the effettual fervent Prayer of a Righteous Man? He may indeed deny-him Temporal Things, because perhaps they are not good for him ; he may refuse to remove a Temptation or an Afiction, because this may be a greater Occasion
Occasion of his Repentance, or an Exercise of his Patience, or an enhansing of his Reward, but he will never refuse him his Grace. He will no more deny his Spirit to one, that earnestly begs it, than a natural Parent will do Bread to his hun gry Child. So our Saviour, If you being Evil give good Gifts to your Children, bow much more will your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask it ? And whoever fe, riously considers the Frailty of Human Nature, Mas.9.11. and remembers how foon Pious Motions vanish; what frequent Occasions there are in the World of intermitting or interrupting his Repentance, will discern plain Reason for the Necessity of Prayer, and of blessing God, that he has afforded so gracious a Means of improving and carrying it to Perfection. Farther,
4. Another Rule or Direction in this Matter is, the Conversation of Religious Men; which (tho? but a Human Means, yet) is a great incouragement and help to Repentance. How does the Sense and Experience we have of their Piety attract our Esteem and Affection; instrut and settle our Judgment? How does their Knowledge enlighten us, their Reason perswade us, and their Example inflaine us? A pious
Friendship is a very great Instrument of promoting Religion among Men; and, I believe, many times more instru&ing than Books or Sermons
for it fpeaks, when these can't : Oft-times it meets us in our very Diversions and Recreations, and lays a Restraint upon thern : Many will be awed in Company by the Presence of a Grave and a reverend Person, who are too apt therein to forget the Presence of God. The Conversation of such reminds us, when we are forgetful ; supports us when we faint and tire; reproves us when we give back ; and recalls us when we are out of the Way. How moving, how convincing is the Discourse of a devout and pious Man, who hath dedicated himself to the Service of God and Religion? When he rejoices or when he complains; when he relates the History of his own Experiences, or lets us see the excellent Designs he has form'd in his Life; or the Hopes he has in Death? What variety of Affections does it raise in us, when he makes his Observations on the Frailty of human Nature, and the Vanity of the World ; when he bewails the Dishonour of God, and the Decay of Religion among us, and the particular and crying Sins, which have been the Occasion of it? Enough to prick the Conscience, and to make the Heart of the most Obstinate and Impenitent bleed !
This is the Benefit, and this should be the Business of Conversation ; though God knows, the Vanity and the prophane Huinour of this