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changed again into the same men, as Tensual and finful, as they were before.. .
Indeed, it sometimes happens, that those souls, which were at first awakened by such a transient, temporary motive, go on to others afterwards, that are more fixt and lasting: and then they are furnished with armour in all times, and have a motive that may bear them out when death is far off, as well as when it is near at hand; in time of health, as well as in time of fick ness.
For they, who were at first affrighted into a change of mind and holy purposes, by the near approach of death and judgement, go on sometimes to confirm their resolutions upon more lasting principles, They think themselves into a deep sense of that baseness and ingratitude towards God, and our dearest Saviour, which is in fin, and of its mischievousness to their own selves; how it robs them of all that etera nal good which their hearts desire, and brings them under all those insupportable and endless evils which they fear: All which it doth, . for the purchase of some light,
empty, and transient pleasures, which are vaftly below the joys of heaven į and for the avoidance of some short pain and uneasiness, which are infinitely nothing in comparison of the pains of hell. ; : And these thoughts give them a firm and lasting conviction, of the utter neces. fity of renouncing all evil courses, which are so destructive ; and of leading a holy and obedient life, which are so infinitely becoming them, and beneficial to them."
And this conviction now, can beget, and preserve a resolution, that is sufficient and effectual, victorious and prevailing. It will be a reason to them, to resolve and practise at all times, in sickness and in health; when they are not tempted, and also when they are. ' For heaven and the love of God, is always a necessary end; and their obedience is always a necessary means or instrument. So that if men resolve upon a conviction of this necessity, they resolve upon a reason that may well hold always. They will constantly have the highest reason to be so convinced; and still to repeat and fortify their resolution, upon such conviction ;
and to act and practise that, which they have so wisely refolved to practise. And when a fick man's change is built upon this ground, and proceeds upon this motive; it may be permanent and fixt, effectual and prevailing. As it is in all those, who are converted by sickness and afflictions, that great, and usually last means, which God makes use of for the reclaiming of finful men.
But generally, men’s fick-bed purposes, go no further than the first ground. They always begin upon the fears of present death, and the near approach of judgement; and though sometimes they go higher Itill, yet ordinarily they reft there; so that they have no change longer than their fickness lasts. And this repentance is certainly insufficient; this will can never be accepted for the deed; because if they were allowed to recover again, and to live on till an opportunity of doing came, the good will and purpose would be quite lost in the time of trial, and able to effect nothing.
Vol. IV. K
BUT although a death-bed change hould proceed upon both these grounds, and the dying men should resolve to amend, both upon the sense of sudden death, which will maintain their resolution so long as it is near, -and also upon a conviction of the absolute necessity of heaven and a boly life, which may make them refolve still when the present danger is over ; yet may their repentance, after all, be infufficient, and avail nothing: for a death-bed repentance, when it doth proceed upon a genuine and lasting motive, is still oft-times ineffectual, for this further reason; namely, because the change is in too weak, and incompetent a measure and degree.. in
It is not every degree, even of true and undisfembled resolution, that will overcome a man's fins, and strengthen him to such a pitch, as to make him prevail over all temptations. A thousand good resolus tions go to hell; because although they are sincere and true, yet they are weak and ineffectual. For how many men are there, who resolve against their fins, who do not yet get quit of them. They purpose, to leave them; but for all that, they still live
in them. Their mind and will is against them; but yet they continue to work and practise them. When once men have got violent affections; and vicious habits; and fin by a long use is become almost å second nature to them; it is not every measure, ho nor every moderate degree of resolution; that can mortify and overcome them. For a weak resolution is quickly overthrown: Men's fins are too hard for it, and quite overbear it. It may make some refiftance; create some trouble, and cause some delay; but that is all that it can do. It can Only contend and struggle, but it is not able to overcome.
Thus weak and unable; ineffective and idle; are many true and real resolutions. They have not strength enough to do their work: The opposition is greater than they can subdue ; so that they are able to make no alteration ; but for all this change of mind; men will continue wicked and dis. obedient in their practice still. ... .
And of this fort generally, even when they proceed upon a genuine and lasting motive, are the penitential purposes of dying men. For, alas, when they have K2