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hearts. For if we keep a secret reserve for any fin, our heart is given but by halves to God, and is not whole with him. :
Thus must our penitential purposes be full and entire with God, not sticking at any thing he has enjoined, nor allowing of any thing his law forbids. And therefore those resolvers must not think they have finished, but only begun the work, who have not renounced all, but only the greatest part, and still reserve themselves for some particular fins, which are deeprooted in their natural tempers, or closely interwoven with their way of life and business; yea, or for some particular times and acts of any fin; resolving against it in all cases fave only when it is powerfully recommended by some great temptations : whilft they resolve thus by halves, they must needs perform and obey by halves
too. . .
A Third qualification of a purpose of repentance must be, to forsake fin, not only hereafter, but instantly and now it present. When men's consciences are afF 2 :
frighted with the sense of their fins, and are made to see the necessity of repentance; yet thinking that they may repent at any time, and defiring to enjoy the pleasures of fin as long as they can, they will venture to fin on for some time, and resolve afterwards to repent. They will serve their vices whilst they are in health, and amend when they come upon their fickbeds; they will enjoy all the liberties of fin in the vigorous days of youth, and grow severely virtuous when they are bowed down by the infirmities of old age. Or if they are afraid to defer the work of reformation fo long, left in the mean time death prevent them; yet will they venture still to put it off a little longer, and not set about it suddenly, but delay it till the next facrament, or till some solemn time come.
But now as to this dilatoriness in men's penitential purposes ; fo far is it from being an act of true repentance, that indeed it is only an art and subterfuge for men's impenitence. For whilst we resolve only to repent hereafter, it is plain we intend
to continue wicked still at present ; nay, what is more, we are in very great danger, when that future time is come, to continue wicked then also. For if we delay it till death or sickness seize us, in all likelihood, we shall neither have time, nor power, for it. And if we put it off till old age, we shall then have far greater difficulties, and much less strength to set about it. Nay, if we defer it to any time yet absent, besides our dying in the mean season, which may prevent our doing what we intend, we shall find as great, or greater hinderances then, than we do now.
If we delay it, I say, till death and sickness seize us, in all likelihood we shall have neither time nor power for it. The alteration of a whole life, and long course of fin, requires much time, and a vigorous and diligent application. We cannot retrench our sinful habits, but by an opposite course and usage. We cannot turn the bias of our natures, and the bent of our corrupt inclinations, but by strong and frequent exercise. When we have a whole life to alter and reform, and must mortify F3
many evil inclinations, and acquire as many virtues, which are opposite and repugnant thereunto; we have a long and studious work that lies upon us, and that requires both much time, and much freedom, and fitness in all our faculties, And how can we expect that upon our death-bed? For then our time is short, and all our facul, ties enfeebled and oppressed, which utterly unfits them to be held either much or long employed. So that if we delay our repentance till death seize us, in all probar bility we shall never thoroughly repent at
Again, if we delay our repentance till old age; we shall have then far greater difficulties, and much less strength to set about it.
The difficulty which we have to conquer, will then be greater. For by our continuance in fin, all those things are Itrengthened and confirmed, which make our return difficult; for all our finful habits are confirmed by practice, and all our natural desires are heightened by indulgence; so that our continuance doth
nothing else, but add to the disease, and make it harder to be cured afterwards.
And as it heightens the difficulties, so it impairs our aids, and leaves us much less strength to set about amendment. For by every repetition of an evil action, our conscience of its guilt is the more extinguished, and the good Spirit of God is the more alienated from us, and provoked the more to withdraw himself, and abandon us; and our own conscience, and God's grace, are the very things, which must recover us out of our finful state, if ever we do recover out of it. So that to defer repenting to old age, is only to put it off, till we have contracted the greatest spiritual weakness, and till fin is grown most strong and powerful in us; which is not the way to reclaim us from, but to secure us fast in wickedness.
Nay, if we would not defer repenting till our death-bed, nor till we are grown old, but only till the next facrament, or some other time' yet diftant; yet even of this delay I must observe, that besides our dying in the mean season, which may preF 4