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cient weight to break it: that lastly, which when once broken, can never be pieced again? Surely, did Men remember (and is it not strange they can forget) their own Mortality; they would not venture upon one Minute's delay, in a matter of such mighty Consequence;
be their last, and when the last Minute of their living is sure to be the last of working out their Salvation.
3. But there is yet a greater danger behind. For we cannot be sure, that our power of working will extend so far, as the time for it. God often takes his Holy Spirit from Men, and suffers them to live, only for filling up the measure of their Iniquities. This is a fad effect of his Justice, that, after many Tryals to perfuade them, he ceases to strive with those who will not be persuaded. Without his Grace they cannot repent and amend, and that Grace he in anger sometimes withdraws ; abandons them to the Tempter, leaves them under a Disability, but such , as is the effect of their Perverseness. They would not use Grace to prevent their Sins, and therefore they are denied the Grace to repent of them. They hated to be reformed, while they might, and now the very Power of being reformed is taken from them. This shews the fad and comfortless Condition of such Sinners, but it Mews withal the righteousness of God, in all that is brought upon them. For he hath no where obliged himself to contend always with those, who resist and defeat his kind Intentions of doing them good. Nay, he declares he will not. For thus Solonon introduces him, admonishing wicked People how he designs to deal with them. Because I bave called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my band,
and no man regarded; but ye have set at
nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your Calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. Then shall They call upon Me, but I čill not answer, they shall seek me early, but they
Proy. i. 24,
Mall not find me. For the turning away of the simple shall say them, and the prosperity of fools fall destroy them.
And what can awaken stupid Sinners, if this warning will not, that, besides the danger of being cut short in the midst of their wild Career, they hazard the shortning their own Day of Grace? That, by setting their Hearts to act, in despight of the Methods made use of to reduce them, they may shut the Door so hard against themselves, that their most importunate knocking afterwards shall not prevail for the opening it again? What, on the other hand, can justify the Equity of God's proceedings with vile incorrigible Wretches, if this do not clear it from all Exception, that his Spirit is ever at hand, to guide and counsel, to allist and strengthen all, who will accept of his Protection, hearken to his Voice, and be directed by him? That every one, who perishes for want of Mercy, is his own Murtherer, and Loft, because he refused his own Mercy? That, in all Requests for Pardon, and the Divine Aids to do better, God never stops his Ears to our Cries, never refuses to be intreated, till we have first been obstinately Deaf to his Checks and Calls, and resolve not to be persuaded? This is the plain Importance, not of that Passage of Solomon only, but of fundry others in Scripture, upon the like occasion. So that the Prophet's complaint against Israel, is equally true of every hardned Sinner, who receives the Grace of God in vain, Thou, even Thou hajt destroyed thy self.
2. In farther Confirmation of which Truth I urge, lastly, The Certainty of our Succeeding, if we in earneft lay hold on the present Opportunities of Grace. A Certainty, implied by the Apostle in these words, Now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day. of Selvation. Of this we cannot in reason ask any fuller Evidence, than the very Kindness of putting thofe Opportunities into our Hands. God owes them not to
Hof. xiii. 9.
us, but is entirely Master of his own Favours; He hath no Motive to it, but Mercy and Love to most unworthy Creatures. And, that he should, by these Advantages, mean to mock those, who are forward to embrace, and earnestly desirous to improve by them, is somewhat too unsincere, too barbarous, for a Being perfectly Holy and True, Just and Good, to be imagined capable of. Accordingly we may observe, that, as oft as God threatens to cast off a People; as a leading step to that ‘Misery, and an Omen what they are to expect, he threatens the removing their Candlestick, a Famine of the Word, and a fatal withdrawing those Means of Grace, which had been so long offered to no purpose and effect, except that of Abuse and Scorn. Somewhat like this indeed seems to be done with private Persons, when, to compleat their Wickedness and Misery, he suffers them at last to fall under that saddest of all Temptations, turning their Backs upon his Sacraments, forsaking his Church, casting his Word behind them. and treating things that are Sacred with Contempt. How should the Disease of such be other than desperate, who thus defpise and declare against their Remedy? But till it come to this, there are certainly Hopes. And, while we are content to use, and put our selves in the
way of Means, though these have long been try'd with poor Success; yet it is a Sign, that as We have not given these, so neither hath God yet given Us, absolutely over. Not yet, I say; But there is danger, and great cause to fear he will; and our continuing to use them without Fruit, is a provocation to it. Let me then, with the Apostle here, beseech
you look to it in time; that you do not lose this precious Gift by receiving it in vain; that you apply your selves to your Business, while there is yet an Eleventh Hour left; That
you make good Profit of this Holy Season in particular ; looking upon it as a Pledge of the Divine Love, and a loud repeated
Call, to consider, and know, in this your day, the things that belong to your eternal Peace, before they be hidden from your Eyes. Let us from this inftant, humble our Souls before the Face of our offended God; subdue our corrupt Affections by all proper Severities and voluntary Restraints ; remember the Consequences of every fresh Opportunity to become better ; the just Condemnation of Grace received in vain ; and especially pray most earnestly, as our Best of Churches directs, that from hardness of heart, and contempt of his word and commandment, our Good Lord will deliver us. Amen.
The First Sunday in Lent.
St. Matth. iv. I.
PARAP H R AS E. Hen was Jefus led up of the Spirit into the 1. Jesus, prefently afWilderness, to be tempied of tbc Devil. ter his Baptism, by an
impulse of the Holy Ghost of which he was full (See Luke iv. 1.) went up from Jordan into the Wilderness, where he was alone with the wild Beasts, (See Mark i. 13.) that there he might be tempted of the Devil.
2. And when he had fafted forty days and forty nights, 2. There he, by a mibe was afterwards an bungred.
raculous Power, did nei
ther eat nor drink forty Days and Nights ; but then he felt the Necessities and Appetites of his Human Nature return upon him.
3. And when the Tempter came unto bim, he said, 3. Of these the Devil If ibou be the Son of God, command that tbefe fiones be taking an Advantage, made bread.
challeng'd him to prove
himself the Son of God
by turning Stones into Bread. 4. But be answered and said, It is written, Man 4. Jesus answered, that fball not live by bread alone, but by every word that pro- there was no occasion ccedetb out of the mouth of God.
for such a Miracle to fa
tisfy his Hunger, fince the Scripture hath declared ( Deut. viii. 3. ) that God hath other ways of sustaining his Servants, besides that of common Focd.
5. Then the Deviltaketh him up into the buly City, and 5. Then the Devil fetrecb bim on a pinnacle of tbe Temple.
conveys him to Jeraja
lem, fets him on the Battlement of the Temple there.
6. And would have 6. And saith unto him, If thou be obe Son of God, persuaded him to prove cast thy self down: For it is written, He shall give biś himself the Son of God, angels cbarge over thee, and in their bands tbey shall by throwing himself bear thee up, left at any time ibou dash thy foot against down, urging a Pallage afione. of Scripture, (Psalm xci. 12.) which promised him Protection and Safety.
7. To this Jesus re 7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Tbou foa!! turned another Scrip not tempi tbe Lord thy God, ture (Deut. vi. 16.) forbidding Men to tempt God by unnecessary Experiments of his Power and Care of them. As this would be, by arguing a diftruft of the Evidences already given of the Point he urged him to prove, in complying with that Proposal.
8, 9. Once more, the 8. Again the Devil taketh bim up into an exceeding Devil' moves him to an bigh mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of tbc exceeding high Moun- world, and the glory of tbem. tain, represents all the 9. And saith unto bim, all these things will I give Splendor and Glory of tbee, if tbou wilt fall down and worship me. the World to him, and proffers that as a Reward, if he would fall down and worship him. Pretending that he was in poflesion, and had power to dispose, of it all.
10. This offer Jesus 10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee bence Satan ; rejected with Indigna- for it is written, tbou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and tion, commanded the bim only malt thou serve. Devil away, and proved from another Scripture, (Deut. vi. 13.) that Worship was due to God alone.
11. Then the Devil, 11. Then the Devil leaveth bim, and bebold Angels baffled in all his At came and ministred unto him. tempts, left him for that time, (see Luke iv. 13.) and the Holy Angels came, attended upon him, and supplied him with Neceffaries.
many other Arguments to quicken us into the Duties of this Holy Time, (the Abstinence and Severities whereof are one continued Fight against Temptations) the Example of our Blessed Saviour should this Day be propounded to our Consideration.
The several Circumstances of this Encounter with the Prince of Darkness are full of Instruction and Encouragement. The Ends for which, The Time when, The Place where, The Manner how he was tempted ;