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efforts you use for the accomplishment of these desires, while you continue at a distance from Christ, you must be vile in the eyes of the all seeing God. How then can your desires or performances be pure? If you should justify yourselves, and allege that you have done all you can to make yourselves pure, your mouths would prove you perverse. The love of sin reigns unsubdued in your hearts. Should a man come with a petition for his life into the presence of his Prince, and appear before the arbiter of his life, with his face, his hands, his clothes, all covered over with mire and dirt, would the Prince think himself honored? Would he not command the presence chamber to be instantly cleared of a man who treated majesty with such contempt? No pollutions are more abominable to us, than sin to God; and every sinner before him, whatever his attainments are, is as an unclean thing, and all his righteousnesses are as filthy rags.
The consideration of our sins might well cure us of those proud conceits by which we are prevented from humbling ourselves to the dust before divine majesty. You know that you are chargeable with innumerable sins. But you are sorry that ever you behaved so foolishly. Now you have attained more wisdom, and will never return to your former follies. On the contrary, you resolve to cry mightily to God for the pardon of what you have done, and resolve, that if you have done
iniquity, you will do no more. What then? Is God under any obligation to comply with your wishes? This you will not venture to say.. Yet you would think yourself hardly dealt with, if, when you are as penitent as you can be without a new heart and a new spirit, you should be rejected. But why do you think it would be a hard thing? The damned in hell are a thousand times more penitent, with this kind of penitence, than you are. Is God a tyrant because he does not pluck them as brands out of the burning? A great part of mankind, upon their death beds, mourn sore for the sins of their past lives, and would give worlds that what has been done could be undone. Is God therefore under a necessity either from his justice, or from his goodness, to give them repentance unto life? Then few gospel hearers would die in their sins, except those who die insane, or who are cut off so suddenly that they have not time to repent.
These, you will say, have no title to mercy, because their vehement desires of favor from God are the mere effects of terror and of self love. What obligation can lie upon the Almighty to shew mercy to men whose cries for help are extorted by necessity, and who, if they were permitted to return to life, would probably return to their former impiety? This is true. But what if it is as true of yourselves, as of those that are in the agonies of death? Your cries for mercy are the expres
sions of your fear and grief for yourselves. The power of sin is so far from being destroyed, that if your fears were removed, it would operate as powerfully as ever; or rather, it has not ceased to operate, though in a diffeIt takes occasion, by the commandment coming into your souls, to work all manner of concupiscence. You are not yet reconciled to the law of God. Your enmity against the purity and strictness of the law, apparent in your own enlightened consciences, though not to the world, is a strong indication of the mighty power of sin. Sin, by the commandment, becomes exceeding sinful, when it excites reflections against that justice which denounces wrath against every soul of of man that doth evil.
You are better, you say, than you once were, although you cannot deny that you are still too bad. But what reason have you to say that you are better? Do you take every thing into the account that ought to be considered? If you are better in your outward conduct, are you not worse in the secret workings of enmity against the law, which is the same thing with enmity against God himself? Is your saying that you are better, any sign that you are disposed to receive salvation as the gift of free and sovereign grace? You have, it seems, somewhat less need of the Physician than you had formerly. But those who need the Physician are the sick, and those
who are the most sensible of their sickness are the persons to whom the Physician is most welcome.
You ought rather to think yourselves worse than better; and just convictions of sin will dispose you to account yourselves worse than ever formerly you thought yourselves. You have yet all the sins of your former lives. upon your heads, and new sins every day and every hour added to them. A man was never in a worse state than he is at present, if he is not a believer in Christ, because he never had a greater load of transgressions upon his head. Every new sin adds to the causes of God's wrath, and none of the exercises or attainments of unconverted persons can free them, in the least degree, from the guilt of any of their former sins, or compensate for the new provocations, by which they daily offend the Most High.
Consider your behavior since you were awakened to a concern for your salvation. Have you ever gratified any of your corrupt inclinations since the time that God began to remonstrate against them by the loud voice of your own consciences? Are you sure that you have not resisted the Holy Ghost, by complying with your own lusts, and with the devil, in opposition to his remonstrances? If you have done so, how can you imagine that your prayers and tears have given you any title to the favor of God? Do you not rath
er merit worse damnation than ever, by wit fully taking part against the Most High with his irreconcileable enemy?
Has fear or shame withheld you from fulfilling your former lusts? Consider what the services are by which you think you have merited some favor from God. Have you not offended God by many wandering imaginations in your devotions? When you were singing God's praises, were your hearts always fixed, and was your devotion always fervent? When you read or heard his word, were your hearts always penetrated with that reverence which is due to the Author of it? And did you attend to it with that earnestness which might be expected from the interesting nature of the subjects about which God deals with us in his word? When you duly consider how you have performed these services, by which you hope to deserve some favor, you will see that you ought rather to seek pardon for your duties as well as for your sins. Your righteousnesses are as filthy rags. If you pretend to require a compensation for them from God, they must be rejected with abhorrence.
Presume not to think that you can make God a debtor to such vile dust and ashes as you must acknowlege yourselves to be, but lie down in your shame, and let your confusion cover you, for you have transgressed against the Lord, and your transgressions wil