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The First Day of Lent, com
mmonly called, AthWednesday.
Wild. xi. 23, 24.
The COLLÈCT. Lmighty and everlasting' Ged, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and doft forgive the Sins of all
them that are penitent: Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we worthily lamenting our fins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee the God of all mercy, perfect remiflion and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen,
For the EPISTL E.
PARAP H RAS E.
Joel ii. 12. 12. God fill invites
Urn ye even to me, saith the Lord, with all you to return to him,
your beart, and with fafting, and with wveepbut then this must be
ing, and with mourning. done with sincere Repentance, with all the marks of Sorrow for your Sins, Abstinence, and Tears, and bewailings of your Wickedness can give.
13. But rest not in 13. And rent your heart, and not your garments, and those outward Testimo turn unto tbe Lord your God, for be is gracious and mernies, it is the grief of ciful, flow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth your Hearts that God bimofobe evil. requires. For which ye have this encouragement, that He is ready to do good, tender and affectionate, not easily provoked ; and when he is so, capable of being appealed , and prevailed upon not execute the vengeance he hath threatned.
14. Perhaps it may 14. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and not yet be too late, but leave a bleljing bebind bim, even a meat-o
-offering, and a he may till be entreat- drink-offering unto the Lord; your
God? ed, not to destroy utterly, but mitigate at least our Punishment.
15. In order hereun 15. Bloc tbe trumpet in Zion, fanétify a fast, call a to, let your Humilia- folemn assembly. tions befolemn and publick, like those in the Day of Atonement. (Numbers X. Levi ricus xvi. 1. )
16. Let all Ages and 16. Gather the people : sanctify the congregation: alConditions of People semble the elders ; garber the children, and thoje tbat fuck joyn in them, and no ibc breasts : let the bridegroom go forib of bis cbamber, and figns of Joy appear 2
the bride out of ber clofet. mong you.
V V "faces, ibat they may appear unto men to glorious, like thofe dif
17. Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep be 17. Let the Priests intween the porch and the altar ; ard let them say, Spare thy tercede for the People people, O Lord, and give noe tbine beritage to reproacb, in the Holy place, and that the Hearben should rule over them. Wherefore fpould humbly befeech God, tbey say among tbe people, Wbere is tbeir God?
that he will not give up
his own Inheritance to the mercy of Idolaters and Enemies, but, for the sake of his own Honour, prevent those impious Reflections, which their Insolence will be apt to make on such an occasion, as if he had not Power to protect and defend them. (Deut. ix. 28. Psal. Ixxix. 8, 9, 10.)
PARAPH RASE. 16.
HE N ye fast, be not as hypocrites, of a 16. Let not your fast.
sad countenance : for they disfigure ibeir ings be formaland Vaina faft. Verily, i say unto you, i bey have their reward. semblers, who upon such
occafions, either cover their Faces with a Veil, or by Melancholy Looks and Gestures, draw the observation of others. These Fasters have no farther recompence to expect.
Afh-Wednesday; Or, The First Day of Lent.
17. But thou, when tbou fafesi, anoint thine bead, and 17. Do not thou there. way tby face.
fore, when humbling
thy telf thus for thy Sins, forbear thy Ornaments, usual upon common Days
18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto tby 18. Not at all sollici father which is in secret : and tby farber wbicb fectb in se- tous, whether Men take cret shall reward ibee openly.
notice of thy Faits or
not; but careful to recommend thy self to God, who is privy to thy most retired Devotions ; and shall make thy Reward publick for those good actions, which thou hast kept secret.
19. Lay not up for your selves treasures upon earth, 19. Let it not be wbere morb and ruft dotb corrupt, and wbere thieves break thy business to heap through and steal.
up Treasures in this
World, for all such are liable to decay, and may be taken from thee.
20. But by Acts of 20. But lay up for your selves treasures in beaven, where Mercy and Piety, (at neitber moth nor rust doth corrupt, and wbere thieves do not the Times of Fasting break ebrough nor steal. especially) lay up Treafures in Heaven, which can neither be spoiled, nor perish, nor be taken from thee.
21. This is necessary 21. For wbere your treasure is, there will your beart be to draw off thy Affe- alo. &ions from this World. For wherever that is which thou valuest moft, there thy Desires and Mind will likewise center; In earthly Things, if those, upon heavenly, if these, be the Treasure thou esteemeft, and preferrest in thy Choice.
HIS is the Day, that enters us into that Seasori
of Devotion and Humiliation, so solemnly obferved, in the former and purer Ages of the Christian Church. A Season of more than ordinary Instruction heretofore, for informing new Converts in the Principles of Religion ; that so they might come throughly qualified at Easter, to enter into Covenant with God by Baptism. A Season of Penance and strict Discipline ; for putting Them to publick Shame, whose open and notorious Breaches of that Covenant had given publick Scandal. And a Season of Recollection and Repentance to All; Who, though they had not reflected such Dishonour upon their Holy Profession, yet, by examining the State of their own Souls, would find occasion more than enough, for the Austerities usual at this Time: to humble themselves for their Sins, to subdue the Flesh and its Appetites, to crucify themselves to the World and its Pleasures, to abstract and exalt their Affections, and thus, in a Spiritual Sense, to die and rise again with their Saviour and Lord. The commemorating whose Death and Resurrection, this Season, and such religious Observance of it, were very reasonably esteem'd a fit Preparation for, and Introduction to.
The Coming in of the World into the Faith, and the charitable Care of admitting to Baptism Children of Believers early, and of administring that Sacrament at all Times of the Year without distinction, have superseded the first of these Uses, in proportion as the Number of the Adult, who want it, and whose actual Sins require actual Repentance, is diminished. That This End of the Lent-Fast is not now answered, is our Happiness: that the Second is not, is our unspeakable Misfortune. Our Church, in the Service of this Day, calls upon us to lament the Loss, and to wish the Restitution, of that wholesome Discipline, which partly the Abuses of some later Ages, and partly the Degeneracy of the present, have rendred ineffectual and impracticable. But the Third Use I mentioned will always continue; For this we Mall ever have Nced, ever Opportunity. The Chastising our selves is always in our power ; and ought to be in practice so much more, as the decay of publick and judicial Chaftisement hath left us more in our own Hands. And a due preparation for the Lord's Supper at Eajter calls for the same previous Care, in great measure, which that for Baptism did heretofore. Thus we in some degree may make our Profit of this Holy Season, to all the Purposes above-mentioned. And, had not a very punctual Observation of it been still expected from us, the Church would not have chosen these Scriptures now to employ us.
Both which I thought expedient to treat upon at once; that so I may from thence be able, in One View, to set out the several Ingredients of a thorough and solemn Repentance, together with the Reasons for, and Usefulness of, Each of them.
Now Those, as is manifest from the Scriptures appointed for the Epistle and Gospel for the Day, are First, Sincerity. Secondly, Sorrow for our past Faults. Thirdly,Abstinence. Fourthly, Earnest Prayer. Fifthly,
Lev. i. 6.
ii. 12. Ezra ix. 35. 2 Chron. xxxiv. 27.
Almsgiving. And, Sixthly, As a Qualification common to,' and necessary to recommend all the rest, That every one of these be free from Ostentation and Vainglory. Upon Each of which my Design is so to treat, as First to explain the Nature of the Duty, and Then to shew our Obligation to it.
1. I begin with Sincerity, implied more especially in those Two Commands, Turn ye even unto me, saith the Lord, with all your heart, and Rent your heart, and
not your garments, and turn unto the Lord
your God. That Renting of the GarJob i. 20.
ment was a Ceremony customary with the Jews, to express their Grief, either for
some great Calamity that had befallen Jerem. xxxvi.
them, or for some heavy Judgment which
they at that time were in dread of, is 65. Mark xiv. 63. evident from a great many Texts in Scri
appear one Text, I know of, that God hath ever disapproved of our expressing Grief upon Religious accounts, by the fame outward Testimonies, as are used in common Cases. But this indeed he absolutely disallows: that Men, upon such Occasions, should put on a shew and face of Grief, where it is not; or should rest in the Sign, as if that alone were sufficient, without regard to the thing it was intended to fignify. This is the Prophets, this our Saviour's Meaning; that God is not to be imposed upon with Pomp and Forms: That the rending of the Heart is what he expects ; and, that a Garment rent, where That is not, can be of no account with him. That there are some Circumstances, when the outward Guise of Sorrow may be dispensed with, nay may be wisely, and much better let alone. So that the Inward Sorrow is not always of less, is sometimes of more value, because the outward Signs of it are wanting. But the Outward is never of any value at all, where the Inward is want