Imatges de pàgina
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such emanations, he may rejoice in his own works, because they are images of his infinity. Thus when he made the beauteous frame of heaven and earth, he rejoiced in it, and glorified himself; because it was the glass in which he beheld his wisdom and almighty power. And when God destroyed the old world, in that also he glorified himself; for in those waters he saw the image of his justice,-they were the looking-glass for that attribute; and God is said 'to laugh at' and 'rejoice in the destruction of a sinner,' because he is pleased with the economy of his own laws, and the excellent proportions he hath made of his judgments consequent to our sins. But, above all, God rejoiced in his holy Son; for he was the image of the Divinity, the character and express image of his person;' in him he beheld his own essence, his wisdom, his power, his justice, and his person; and he was that excellent instrument designed from eternal ages to represent, as in a double mirror, not only the glories of God to himself, but also to all the world; and he glorified God by the instrument of obedience, in which God beheld his own dominion and the sanctity of his laws clearly represented; and he saw his justice glorified, when it was fully satisfied by the passion of his Son: and so he hath transmitted to us a great manner of the divine glorification, being become to us the author and example of giving glory to God after the manner of men, that is, by well-doing and patient suffering, by obeying his laws and submitting to his power, by imitating his holiness and confessing his goodness, by remaining innocent or becoming penitent; for this also is called in the text "giving glory to the Lord our God."

For he that hath dishonoured God by sins, that is, hath denied, by a moral instrument of duty and subordination, to confess the glories of his power, and the goodness of his laws, and hath dishonoured and despised his mercy, which God intended as an instrument of our piety, hath no better way to glorify God, than by returning to his duty, to advance the honour of the divine attributes, in which he is pleased to communicate himself, and to have intercourse with man. He that repents, confesses his own error, and the righteousness of God's laws,-and by judging himself confesses that he deserves punishment,-and therefore, that God is righteous if he punishes him: and, by returning, con

fesses God to be the fountain of felicity, and the foundation of true, solid, and permanent joys, saying in the sense and passion of the disciples, "Whither shall we go? for thou hast the words of eternal life :" and, by humbling himself, exalts God, by making the proportions of distance more immense and vast. And as repentance does contain in it all the parts of holy life, which can be performed by a returning sinner (all the acts and habits of virtue being but parts, or instances, or effects of repentance): so all the actions of a holy life do constitute the mass and body of all those instruments, whereby God is pleased to glorify himself. For if God is glorified in the sun and moon, in the rare fabric of the honeycombs, in the discipline of bees, in the economy of pismires, in the little houses of birds, in the curiosity of an eye, God being pleased to delight in those little images and reflexes of himself from those pretty mirrors, which, like a crevice in the wall, through a narrow perspective, transmit the species of a vast excellency: much rather shall God be pleased to behold himself in the glasses of our obedience, in the emissions of our will and understanding; these being rational and apt instruments to express him, far better than the natural, as being nearer communications of himself.

But I shall no longer discourse of the philosophy of this expression: certain it is, that in the style of Scripture, repentance is the great 'glorification of God;' and the prophet, by calling the people to give God glory,' calls upon them 'to repent,' and so expresses both the duty and the event of it; the event being "glory to God on high, peace on earth, and good-will towards men" by the sole instrument of repentance. And this was it which Joshua said to Achan, "Give, I pray thee, glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him:" that one act of repentance is one act of glorifying God. And this David acknowledged ; " Against thee only have I sinned: ut tu justificeris,' that thou mightest be justified or cleared':" that is, that God may have the honour of being righteous, and we the shame of receding from so excellent a perfection; or, as St. Paul quotes and explicates the place, "Let God be true, and every man a liar; as it is written, that thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judgedTM.”

* Joshua, vii. 19.

1 Psal. li. 4.

m Rom. iii. 4.

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But to clear the sense of this expression of the prophet, observe the words of St. John; "And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, who hath power over those plagues: and they repented not to give him glory "."

So that having strength and reason from these so many authorities, I may be free to read the words of my text thus; "Repent of all your sins, before God cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains." And then we have here the duty of repentance, and the time of its performance. It must be μɛrávoia ɛvkaιpoç, ‘a seasonable and timely repentance,' a repentance which must begin before our darkness begin, a repentance in the day-time; “ut dum dies est, operemini," "that ye may work while it is today" lest, if we stumble upon the dark mountains,' that is, fall into the ruins of old age, which makes a broad way narrow, and a plain way to be a craggy mountain; or if we stumble and fall into our last sickness, instead of health God send us to our grave,-and instead of light and salvation, which we then confidently look for, he make our state to be outer darkness, that is, misery irremediable, misery eternal.

This exhortation of the prophet was always full of caution and prudence, but now it is highly necessary; since men, who are so clamorously called to repentance, that they cannot avoid the necessity of it, yet, that they may reconcile an evil life with the hopes of heaven, have crowded this duty into so little room, that it is almost strangled and extinct; and they have lopped off so many members, that they have reduced the whole body of it to the dimensions of a little finger, sacrificing their childhood to vanity, their youth to lust and to intemperance, their manhood to ambition and rage, pride and revenge, secular desires, and unholy actions; and yet still farther, giving their old age to covetousness and oppression, to the world and the devil: and, after all this, what remains for God and for religion? Oh, for that they will do well enough: upon their death-bed they will think a few godly thoughts, they will send for a priest to minister comfort to them, they will pray and ask God forgiveness, and receive the holy sacrament, and leave their goods behind them, disposing them to their friends and relatives, and some

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dole and issues of the alms-basket to the poor; and if after all this they die quietly, and like a lamb, and be canonized by a bribed flatterer in a funeral sermon, they make no doubt but they are children of the kingdom, and perceive not their folly, till without hope of remedy, they roar in their expectations of a certain, but a horrid eternity of pains. Certainly nothing hath made more ample harvests for the devil, than the deferring of repentance upon vain confidences, and lessening it in the extension of parts as well as intention of degrees, while we imagine that a few tears and scatterings of devotion, are enough to expiate the baseness of a fifty or a threescore years' impiety. This I shall endeavour to cure, by shewing what it is to repent, and that repentance implies in it the duty of a life, or of many and great, of long and lasting parts of it; and then, by direct arguments, shewing that repentance put off to our death-bed, is invalid and ineffectual, sick, languid, and impotent, like our dying bodies and disabled faculties.

1. First, therefore, repentance implies a deep sorrow, as the beginning and introduction of this duty: not a superficial sigh or tear, not a calling ourselves sinners and miserable persons; this is far from that 'godly sorrow that worketh repentance' and yet I wish there were none in the world, or none amongst us, who cannot remember that ever they have done this little towards the abolition of their multitudes of sins: but yet, if it were not a hearty, pungent sorrow, a sorrow that shall break the heart in pieces, a sorrow that shall so irreconcile us to sin, as to make us rather choose to die than to sin, it is not so much as the beginning of repentance. But in Holy Scripture, when the people are called to repentance, and sorrow (which is ever the prologue to it) marches sadly, and first opens the scene, it is ever expressed to be great, clamorous, and sad: it is called a weeping sorely' in the next verse after my text; a weeping with the bitterness of heart; a turning to the Lord with weeping, fasting, and mourning;' a weeping day and night;' the sorrow of heart;' the breaking of the spirit;' the 'mourning like a dove,' and chattering like a swallow P.' And if we observe the threnes and sad accents of the Prophet Jeremy, when he wept for the sins of his nation; the P Joel, ii. 13.

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• Ezek. xxvii. 31.

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heart-breakings of David, when he mourned for his adultery and murder; and the bitter tears of St. Peter, when he washed off the guilt and baseness of his fall, and the denying his Master; we shall be sufficiently instructed in this 'præludium' or introduction' to repentance; and that it is not every breath of a sigh, or moisture of a tender eye, not every crying" Lord have mercy upon me," that is such a sorrow, as begins our restitution to the state of grace and divine favour; but such a sorrow, that really condemns ourselves, and by an active, effectual sentence, declares us worthy of stripes and death, of sorrow and eternal pains, and willingly endures the first to prevent the second; and weeps, and mourns, and fasts, to obtain of God but to admit us to a possibility of restitution. And although all sorrow for sins hath not the same expression, nor the same degree of pungency and sensitive trouble, which differs according to the temper of the body, custom, the sex, and accidental tenderness; yet it is not a godly sorrow, unless it really produce those effects: that is, 1. that it makes us really to hate, and 2. actually to decline sin; and 3. produce in us a fear of God's anger, a sense of the guilt of his displeasure; and 4. then such consequent trouble as can consist with such apprehension of the divine displeasure: which, if it express not in tears and hearty complaints, must be expressed in watchings and strivings against sin; in confessing the goodness and justice of God threatening or punishing us; in patiently bearing the rod of God; in confession of our sins; in accusation of ourselves; in perpetual begging of pardon, and mean and base opinions of ourselves; and in all the natural productions from these, according to our temper and constitution: it must be a sorrow of the reasonable faculty, the greatest in its kind: and if it be less in kind, or not productive of these effects, it is not a godly sorrow, not the exordium' of repentance.

But I desire that it be observed, that sorrow for sins is not repentance; not that duty which gives glory to God, so as to obtain of him that he will glorify us. Repentance is a great volume of duty; and godly sorrow is but the frontispiece or title-page; it is the harbinger or first introduction to it: or, if you will consider it in the words of St. Paul,

? See Rule of H. Living, D. of Repentance, sect. ix. 1.

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