« PreviousContinue »
fave them from them) if this Holy Jefiis had never been born.
3. Lastly, Let us all improve this present Opportunity to return our most humble Prailes and Thanksgivings for so great and unyaluable a Blessing, and to join our Voices, as well as we are able, with those bright. Seraphims, and that Heavenly Host that attended and celebrated Christ's Nativity (when the Heavens proclaimed his Birth with their louds Shours of Joy) saying, Glory be to God in the Highest, on Earth Peace, Good-will towards Men.
Blessed be God, for ever blessed be his holy Name, who hath found out a way for our De- . liverance, and hath raised up for us a mighty Salvation ; that we being delivered out of the hands of our Enemies, might serve him without Fear, in Holiness and Righteou fizess before him, all the days of our Life. Praise therefore the Lord, o our Souls, and all that is within us praise his holy Name ; and forzet not all his Benefits, who forgiveth all our 1niquities, and healeth all our Diseases; who bath redeemed our Life from Desiruction, and hath crowned us with Loving-kindness and tender Mercies.
What shall we now return, what do we not owe to him, who came down from his Imperial Throne, and infinitely debasing himself, and eclipsing the Brightness of his glorious Majesty, became a Servant, nay a Curse, for our fakes, to advance our Estate, and to raise
us to a Participation of his Divine Nature, and his eternal Glory and Bliss ?
To him therefore let us now all offer up our selves, our Souls, and Bodies, and Spirits; and that not only to be saved by him, but to be ruled and governed by him: and this he will take as a better Expression of our Gratitude, than if we spent ever so many days in verbal Praises and Acknowledgments of his Love and Bounty:
Let us all open our Hearts and Breasts to receive and entertain this great Friend of Mankind, this glorious Lover of our Souls, and suffer him to take full possession of them, and there to place his Throne, and to reign within us without
any Rival or Competitor : and let us humbly beg of him, that he would be plea. sed to finish that Work in us which he came into the World about ; that by his Blood he would cleanse and wash us from all Filthiness both of Flesh and Spirit ; that he would save us from our Sins here, and then we need not fear his faving us from everlasting Destruction hereafter.
Which God of his infinite Mercy grant to us all, for the alone fake of our blessed Lord and Redeemer, to whom with the Father, &c.
St. MARK VI. 12.
Men should repent.
HO Repentance be a Duty never out of season, nay, is indeed the Work and
Business of our whole Lives, all of us being obliged every Day to amend ; yet there are some particular Times wherein we are more especially called upon to revicw our Actions, to humble our Souls in God's Presence, to bewail our manifold Transgressions, and to devote our selves afresh to his Service; such are times of Affliction, either personal or publick, when extraordinary Judgments are a
broad in the Earth, or are impendent over us ; or when we our felves are visited with any Sickness or grievous Calamity : so also before we receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, we are then more strictly to examine our selves, and renew our Vows and Resolutions of living better. And to name no more, the Church in all Ages hath thought fit to set apart fome folemn Times to call upon Men more earnestly to repent, and to seek God's Face before it be too late ; such were the Fasting-Days before the Feast of the Resurrection or Easter : and accordingly our Church, as you have heard in the Exhortation this day read to you, doth at this time especially move us to earnest and true Repentance; that we should return unto our Lord God with all Contrition and Meekness of Heart, bewailing and lamenting our sinful Lives, acknowledging and confessing our Offences, and seeking to bring forth worthy Fruits of Penance. And such as now seriously set themselves to repent of all the Sins they have committed, using fuch Abstinence as is necessary for the fubduing the Flesh to the Spirit, do certainly keep Lent far better than they who for so long time only fcrupulously abstain from all Flesh, and call filling themselves with the choicest Fish, Sweet-meats and Wine, Fasting.
I shall at this time fuppofe you sufficiently instructed in the nature of Repentance (it being one of the first Principles of the Doctrine of Christ, as the Apostle to the Hebrews calls it, chap. 6. 1.) and also that you will readily acknowledg the indispensable necessity of it, in order to the obtaining the Pardon of your Sins, and eternal Life : and that which I now design, is only to ser before you some, if not the main Hindrances and Impediments that keep Men from Repentance, and to endeavour to remove them; and I shall discourse in order of these three, of the many that might be mentioned.
I. Want of Consideration.
Attempts; when Men haye resolved
ter Opportunity of repenting hereafter.
One of these is commonly the Ground and Cause of those Mens remaining in an impenitent State, who yet are convinced of the absolute necessity of Repentance in order to their Peace and Happiness.
I. Want of Consideration. For could Men but once be persuaded seriously and in good earnest, as becometh reasonable Creatures, to consider their Ways and Actions, patiently to attend to the Dictates of their own Minds,