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a very small portion of sorrow may make some tender dispositions melt, and break out into tears ; or a man may perhaps weep at parting with his fins, as he would to bid the last farewel to an old friend, that he was sure never to see again.
But there is still a more pleasant cheat in this affair, that when we find a deadness, and a strange kind of unaptness and indisposition to all impressions of religion, and that we cannot be as truly sorry for our sins as we should be ; we then pretend to be sorry that we are not more forry for them, which is not less absurd and irrational, than that a man should pretend to be very angry at a thing, because he did not know how to be
angry at all.
But, after all, what is wanting in this part
of repentance, we expect to make it up in the next; and to that purpofe, we put on a resolution of a. mendment, which we take to be as firm as a house built upon a rock; so that, let the floods arise, and the winds blow, and the streams beat vehemently upon it, nothing shall shake it into ruin and disorder. We doubt not, upon the ftrength of this resolve, to stand fast and unmoved amidst the storm of a temptation, and do firmly believe, at the time we make it, that nothing in the world will ever be able to make us commit those fins over again, which we have fo firmly refolved against.
Thus, many a time, have we come to the facrament of the Lord's supper, with a full purpose of amendment, and with as full a perfuafion of
putting putting that same purpose into practice; and yet, have we not all as often broke that good purpose, and falfified that fame persuasion, by starting an side, like a broken bow, into those very fins which we then fo folemnly and fo confidently declared against ?
Whereas, had but any other person entered with us, into a vow, fo folemn, that he had taken the holy sacrament upon it, I believe, had he but once deceived us, by breaking in upon the vow, we should hardly, ever after, be prevailed upon to trust that man again ; although we still continue to trust our own hearts, against reason, and against experience.
This, indeed, is a dangerous deceit enough; and will, of course, betray all those well-meaning persons into fin and folly, who are apt to take religion for a much easier thing than it is. But this is not the only mistake we are apt to run into: we do not only think, sometimes, that we can do more than we can do, but sometimes that we are incapable of doing less: An error of another kind, indeed, but not less dangerous, arising from a diffidence and false humility; for, how much a wicked man can do, in the business of religion, if he would but do his best, is very often more than he can tell.
Thus, nothing is more common, than to see a wicked man running headlong into fin and folly, against his reason, against his religion, and against his God. Tell him, that what he is going to do, will be an infinite disparagement to his under
standing, which, at another time, he setteth no small value upon; tell him, that it will blacken his reputation, which he had rather die for, than lofe; tell him, that the pleafure of the fin is short and tranfient, and leaveth a vexatious kind of a fting behind it, which will very hardly be drawn forth; tell him, that this is one of those things for which God will, most surely, bring him to judgment, which he pretendeth to believe, with a full affurance and perfuafion : and yer, for all this, he shutteth his eyes against all conviction, and rusheth into the fin, like a horse into the battle ; as if he had nothing left to do, but, like a filly child, to wink hard, and to think to escape a certain and an infinite mischief, only by endeavouring not to see it.
And now, to fhew that the heart hath given in a false report of the temptation, we may learn from this, that the same weak man would resist and master the fame powerful temptation, upon considerations, of infinitely less value than those which religion offereth ; này, such vile confiderations, that the grace of God cannot, without blafphemy, be supposed to add any manner of force and efficacy to them. Thus, for instance, it would be a hard matter to dress up a fin in such soft and tempting circumstances, that a truly covetous man would not resist, for a considerable sum of money; when neither the hopes of heaven, nor the fears of hell, could make an impres
upon him before. But, can any thing be a surer indication of the deceitfulness of the heart,
than thus to shew more courage, resolution, and activity, in an ill cause, than it doth in a good one? and to exert itself to better purpose, when it is to serve its own pride, or luft, or revenge, or any other passion, than when it is to serve God, upon the motives of the gospel, and upon all the arguments that have ever been made use of, to bring men over to religion and a good life? And, thus, having fhewn that a man is wonderfully ápt to deceive and impofe upon himself, in pafiing through the feveral stages of that great duty, repentance; I proceed, now, in the
II. Second place, To enquire into the grounds and reasons of this ignorance, and to fhew, whence it cometh to pass, that a man, the only creature in the world that can reflect, and look into himfelf, should know so little of what pafleth within him, and be so very much unacquainted, even with the standing difpofitions and complexions of his own heart. The prime reason of it is, because we so very feldom converse with ourselves, and take so little notice of what, pafseth within us. For, a man can no more know his own heart, than he can know his own face, any other way than by reflection : he may as well tell over every feature of the smaller portions of his face, without the help of a looking-glass, as he can tell all the inward bents and tendencies of the soul, those standing features and lincaments of the inward man, and know all the various changes that this is liable to, from custom, from paflion, and from opinion, without a very frequent use of looking within himself.
For our paffions and inclinations are not always upon the wing, and always moving towards their respective objects; but retire, now and then, into the more dark and hidden recesses of the heart, where they ly concealed for a while, until a fresh occafion calls them forth again: fo that, not every tranfient, oblique glance upon the mind, can bring a man into a thorough knowledge of all its strengths and weaknesses; for a man may fometimes turn the eye of the mind inward upon itself, as he may behold his natural face in a glass, and go away, and straight forget what manner of man he was. But a man must rather sit down, and unravel every action of the past day, into all its circumstances and particularities, and observe how every little thing moved and affected him, and what manner of impression it made upon his heart: this done, with that frequency and carefulness which the importance of the duty doth require, would, in a short time, bring him into a near and intimate acquaintance with himself.
But when men, instead of this, do pass away months and years, in a perfect slumber of the mind, without once awaking it, it is no wonder, they should be fo very ignorant of themselves, and know
very little more of what pafseth within them, than the very beasts which perish. But, here, it may not be amiss to enquire into the reaVOL. II.