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SERM. years, they not only with certainty obtain

them, but, as a present reward as well as natural consequence of their wisdom, they usually enjoy an infinitely greater portion of prosperity during their continuance on earth.




Acts xxiv. Latter Part Of V. 25.

Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season I will call for thee.

Among the various kinds of self-decep- SERM.

XXIV tion, that of all others is the most dangerous, by which we lull ourselves into contentment with our present vicious course of life, on a persuasion that we shall repent and reform at some future time: for however wickedly men may live, it is certain that the generality desire to die holily; almost all believe that there is a God above, who delights in and will reward piety and virtue, and who hates and will punish iniquity and vice; they know therefore, and whenever they think about it will acknowledge, that accordingly as they behave themselves in this life, such will be their Vol. II. . A'a lot

SERM. lot to all eternity. With such a convic


tion it would be almost impossible for

them to continue in their sins, if they did not impose on themselves with the intention, and really make themselves believe, that they purpose one day to repent of all that is past, and live, or at least die, good Christians.

To shew the folly and danger of continuing in our sins, on this presumption, that we shall one day repent of them, and, for that reason, of delaying and putting off our repentance and reformation, shall be my endeavour in the following discourse.

In the first place, so uncertain is human life, that we cannot promise to ourselves another day; there is no one of us, who has arrived at any age, who cannot recollect instances of some friend or acquaintance unexpectedly snatched away by death, who was as likely to have been alive at .this time as himself. What has happened


pened to others, we all know may happen SERM. to ourselves. Without repentance, our Bible tells us, we cannot attain salvation; how absurd is it then to venture so great a stake on so desperate a chance as the continuance of human life!

We will grant, for a moment, that a man is in earnest in his design of repenting of his past sins, and living virtuously at some future time; we will suppose that he even fixes the very time; (for an intention of doing a thing one time or other without fixing when, can scarcely be called any intention at all) we will suppose then that he fixes the very time, let it be two years distant, or one year, or a month, nay, let it be only one day; let him seri. ously have determined and vowed, — I

will repent and be virtuous to-morrow;' “ Thou fool, this night shall thy soul be “ required of thee ;” the sword of death is constantly hanging over thy head, how soon it will fall, God alone knows :-To

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SERM. day alone is thine; but to-day thou hast


resolved to continue in thy sins; if then thou livest not till to-morrow, what must be thy fate to all eternity? We cannot deny but this is possible, and if it be possible, how great is our folly to neglect the opportunity which is in our power, for one at which we may never arrive?

Even in this view, considering the uncertainty of human life, and the possibility, nay the probability, that we may never reach the time which we have fixed for repentance, to postpone it is highly absurd and' hazardous: but there is yet another danger, even if we do arrive at the time fixed on, and that is, that wc may not be then disposed to put our design in execution. If we find it so hard to part with our sins now, we may be assured that the difficulty will be greatly increased by delay; what we have been long accustomed to do, we never quit without much reluctance and great efforts, and in proportion to the


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