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cially on a sudden, is like the inyading and forcing of nature, which is not to be done without a violent hand. As long as nature is at the bottom, it will appear, and that with vigour, when the aid and help of the sensual appetites, and when custom hath given it a kind of title to the mastery.
This shews what a great necessity there is for a man, to bestow pains upon himself, more or less, every day ; because it is this which gives him a gradual victory: He is continually doing something towards it: Here he gaineth one point, and there another; and so in time he finds certain and kindly success, by thus taming his nature, and bringing it to a ductile mapageable temper by degrees.
But all this while I am supposing him, not to have arrived to the pitch of an overgrown finner, but to be come only to the common age of manhood; when one's fins, though they are strong and impetuous, yet are not fo fixed, obstinate, and refractory, as crooked old age is apt to make them. Such an experienced wretch whom the pleasure, and perhaps the profio likewise, of fo many years, hath confirmed in wickedness, --comes at last to be so har dened, that all reasonings, admonitions, counsels, and prayers are thrown away upon him, and make as little effectual impression upon his perverfe mind, as they would upon a rock.
The danger of coming to this fad pass, is a stronger argument still, of the necessity there is, of doing something daily in order to eternity; that is, to mortify some fin or other every day, and every day to live more and more unto God. Our corrupt nature brings forth fin; and fin becomes finished by degrees, by growing, and gathering strength daily.
And by this means the devil insensibly prepares a way, to that fad ftate, which is called final impenitence; by which is meant, such a numbness, stupidity, and deadness of heart, as doch utterly indispose it for a true godly repentance.
It is to be feared, that men often come to this wretched state, by the just judge.
ment of God upon them, for their wicked lives, and for their obstinately putting off the reformation of them from day to day. The truth is, it naturally followeth such a wicked course. For use and custom do naturally serve to harden the heart : So that when the hoary head comes, it is as hard a matter to renew the old wicked mind, as it is almost to renew one's age. Nature is of itself inclined to evil; and when a long trade of wickedness hath brought the mind" to be in love with it, to be devoted to it, to be bent, fet, and fixt upon it, it must needs be almost impossible to pluck up those men's habits quite by the roots, which have been so many years a contracting, and which have grown so strong and deep into the heart. ..
But, besides all this ; the more time: men waste in an evil course, the less they have of God's holy Spirit; and by this means also the stiffer and harder are their hearts, and the more they fin away their day of grace. Without Christ we can do
. nothing ;: nothing; for it is God that worketh in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. The strength we have is from above; the power which serves to prepare and affist our souls, and which doth every way enable us to work out our salvation, is freely given us by the Father of spirits.
Now though God giveth freely unto all, and to every man such a portion of his grace as is necessary and suitable ; yet they that are negligent, and ill husbands of their talents, do impair their stock daily: By refisting the holy Spirit of God, they take a course to grieve it ; and by continuing to grieve it, they proceed at length to quench it. Where God's grace is abused or slighted, there he withdraws it, and leaves them to themselves, thereby punishing them most justly for the long incorrigibleness of their temper.
And this necessity of working out our salvation day by day, is one reason why a late repentance is so often represented as a ftate of danger and of the utmost hazard ; by a late repentance, meaning, that remorfe of conscience, and sorrow for fin, which is not begun, till old age or sickness comes, and the terrors of death with it, For though it be granted, that God pardons every true penitent, whenever he turns to God with all his heart and soul : Yet the great question is, Whether a late repentance be true, right, and such as the gospel requires ? that is, Whether it be indeed a true change, and renewing of the mind? For there may be a forrow, and often is, a real and passionate sorrow, without fuch a change; a forrow that proceeds, not from an hatred of sin, but merely from a fear of hell.
For how is it probable, that so many old beloved vices can be quite cast off on a sudden? That so many fixed habits can be rooted out in the twinkling of an eye? Or that the whole bent and temper of the heart, can in a moment be changed so, as to be directly opposite to what it was just before? It is far more probable, that it was only the fight of hell that scared the wretch, and threw him into pangs; and fo any man may be troubled, terrified,