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him short, and prohibit him all irregular and exorbitant actions : fince they are so contrary to human nature and such a disturbance in God's
government: and fince there is nothing in inferior nature, but what is regular and constant, from the first moment of its creation, to this hour. There is turpitude in every act of fin ; yet fins differ for there are several degrees of sin ; for fins are aggravated orabated by the disposition, capacities, and principles of the agent that commits them. As
1. If there be clear light, and fulness of liberty 5 then it is fin with a high hand.
2. If sin be committed in doubtfulness and uncer, tainty, then it weakens and disables conscience." Great regard is to be had to the innocence and tenderness of our own mind. The wise man in Ec-' clefiafticus faith, thou hast no friend in all the world. so near to thee as the reason of thy own mind, therefore never treat the reason of thy mind unhandsomely. Treat kindly thy home reprover ; there is no friend truer to thee, nor can do thee better fervice; therefore hear it's voice, and give it satisfaction.
3. If men sin through confusion of thoughts, then it may be said we were not ourselves. One may fay we were but half ourselves, when we did it.
4: If we fin by misapprehension or mistake ; then we did not intend that, but another thing, when we did it.
5. If we did it by an assault, or fudden suprisal, then it was as well another's fault as ours.
6. If upon provocation, heat of passion, and we revoke it as soon as we return to ourselves ; by this
We make it morally void and null : for you
7. If men fin by some carelessness, negligence, and indiligence ; if we recompence it by after care, and diligence upon this coftly experience ; this also helps to excufe.
I conclude with two words of admonition to two forts of persons.
First, To the atheistical and profane, I earnestly recommend to them the re-examining of things; and if they do not pretend to infallibility, I beg of them to consider their former thoughts and resolutions. Think again, whether the great things of religion may not be realities, viz. the being of a God, the immortality of the foul, the eflential difference of good and evil; and future rewards and punishments. At least do not practise against the sense of these things; but return, and use thy reason, which if not vitiated and prepoffeft, will satisfy the native sense of the mind. To say nothing now of fcripture (which speaks enough of aflurance of what it declares ; fo that they which read it will not easily shut their hands of it, ifthey intend to be wicked ;) reason hath fo. much to say for these great things, that the obstinate are put upon it, to blind and blot out those reasons, and arguments, which they know not what to say, to, nor how to answer; which stick as so many goads. in their fides. No man but be, who is habitually evil,, and hath dethroned his reason, and confederated with the enemy of his mind, can satisfy himself, that there is no reason to satisfy him to fear these great things, viz. the being of a God, the immorta
lity and eternity of the soul, and future punishments. If then these things be real, have not finners run a wild course? I will only tell them,
1. That many, who have as madly resolved, have before their deaths found cause to alter their judgments in these matters, and thought it their fafest way to deprecate their offence.
2. However they make shift to ftifle the voice of conscience at present, and go on to fin; fome others, who have fometime done the like, have never had any true enjoyment of themselves after fuch wounds made in their conscience, and breach of their peace; but either fell into confusion of thought and perplexity of mind, or distraction, and have been sometimes their own executioners, and have made an end of themselves ; rather then endure the reproofs of their consciences, have rid themselves out of the world.
3. Those that are of raised intellectuals, of refined morals, of fober reason, would not have upon them the guilt of some mens fins (however they may escape judgment in this world) for all the titles, powers and revenues which such men enjoy in the world. It will only give such, reason to know, that notwithstanding their own incompetent judgment concerning themselves, that is true even of them, which is said by Samuel concerning the wicked fons of Eli ; they have made themselves vile, and contemptible. So are these profane and atheistical persons ; they are base in the sight of God, and in the fight of wise men : for wickedness doth difrobe any man
of his excellency, and makes him vile and contemptible.
Secondly, To persons engaged in ways of religion, If thefe be real and fincere in their profession, they are in a state of reconciliation with God; and if in a state of reconciliation with him, then let them be true to the terms of friendship, and not do acts of enemies in the state of friendship. Let them that name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity. Where God speaks peace to his people, let them not return again to folly, Psal. lxxxv. 8. To the fear of God, in scripture, is always adjoined the eschewing of evil; and this is the character God gives of an upright man, Job i. 8. It is essential to religion, to walk according to the difference of good and evil.
There are other things which have the use and consideration of the means in religion, which I call the instrumental part of religion : but religion itself, doth issue in holiness, uprightness, integrity, and separation from iniquity.
The DANGER of UNFAITHFULNESS
He B. jii. I2. Take heed, brethren, left there be in any of you, an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. ELIGION is highly concerned in two things ; the judgment of truth, and the con
science of right : and he doth substantially fail upon account of religion, that is wanting in either of these.
I shall now consider the reasons of this caution in the text, Take heed, brethren, &c. We are highly concerned to be cautious and wary, upon a fourfold
1. From those things that are within us. 2. From things that are about us.
3. From the great consequence and importance that truth and goodness hath unto our souls.
4. From not a posibility only, but a probability of failing, and miscarrying, if care be not taken; and the greatness of the evil, if we do fall fhort.
1. We had need to be wary, because of those things that are within us : for if once we consent to iniquity, and acquaint ourselves with evil, we put ourselves out of an indifferency to good and e