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Covetousness, and perfuades Contentedness, because
do that which all good Men call Repentance, that is, I will be humbled before God, and mourn for my sin, and for ever ask Forgiveness, and judge my felf, and leave it with halte, and mortify it with Diligence, and watch against it carefully. And this I can do but in the manner of a Man, I can but mourn for my Sins, as I apprehend grief in other Instances: But Í will rather chuse to suffer all Evils than to do one deliberate Act of Sin. I know my Sins are greater than
Sorrow, and too many for my Memory, and too insinuating to be prevented by all my Care: But I know also, that God knows and pities my Infirmities; and how far that will extend I know not, but that it will reach so far as to satisfy my Needs, is the matter of my Hope. * But this I am sure of, that I have in my great Neceflity prayed humbly and with great Defire, and sometimes I have been heard in kind, and sometimes have had a bigger Mercy instead of it; and I have the hope of Prayers and the hope of my Confelion, and the hope of my Endeavours, and the hope of many Promises, and of God's essential Goodness : And I am sure that God hath heard my Prayers, and verified his Promises in temporal Instances, for he ever gave me sufficient for my Life; and although he promised such Supplies, and grounded the Confidences of them upon our first seeking the Kingdom of Heaven, and its Righteousness, yet he hath verified it to me, who have not fought it as I ought : But therefore I hope he accepted my endeavour, or will give his great Gifts and our great Expectation even to the weakest endeavour, to the leaft, so it be a hearty Piety. * And sometimes I have had some chearful Visitations of God's Spirit, and my Cup hath been crowned with Comfort, and the Wine that made my Heart glad danced in the Chalice, and I was glad that God would have me fo; and therefore I hope this Cloud may pass : For that which was then a real cause of Comfort, is so still, if I could discern it, and I shall discern it when the veil is taken from mine Eyes. And (blessed be God) I can still remember that there are Temptations to Despair; and they could not be Temptations if they
were not apt to persuade, and had seeming Probability on their fide; and they that despair think they do it with greatest Reason; for if they were not confident of the Reason, but that it were such an Argument as might be opposed or suspected, then they could not despair. Despair assents as firmly and strongly as Faith itself: But because it is a Temptation, and Despair is a horrid Sin, therefore it is certain those Persons are unreasonably abused, and they have no reason to despair, for all their Confidence: And therefore although I have strong reasons to condemn my self, yet I have more reason to condemn my Despair, which therefore is unreasonable because it is a Sin, and a difonour to God, and a ruin to my Condition, and verifies itself, if I do not look to it. For as the hypochondriack Person that thought himself dead, made his Dream true when he starved himself, because dead People eat not: So do despairing Sinners lose God's Mercies by refusing to use and to believe them. * And I hope it is a Disease of Judgment, not an intolerable Condition that I am falling into, because I have been told fo' concerning others, who therefore have been affiliated, because they fee not their Pardon fealed after the manner of this World, and the Affairs of the Spirit are transacted by immaterial Notices, by Propofitions and spiritual Discourses, by Promises which are to be verified hereafter ; and here we must live in a Cloud, in Darkness under a Veil, in Fears and Uncertainties, and our very living by Faith and Hope is a Life of Mystery and Secrecy, the only part of the manner of that Life in which we shall live in the state of Separation. And when a Diftemper of Body or an Infirmity of Mind happens in the Instances of such secret and reserved Affairs, we may ealily mistake the manner of our notices for the uncertainty of the thing: And therefore it is but reason I should stay till the state and manner of my Abode be changed, before I despair : There it can be no Sin, nor Errour, here it may be both; and if it be that, it is also this; and then a Man may perish for being miseable, and be undone for being a Fool. In conclufion,
my Hope is in God, and I will trust him with the Event, which I am sure will be just, and I hope full of Mercy. * However, now I will use all the spiritual Arts of Reason and Religion to make me more and more to love God, that if I miscarry, Charity also hall fail, and something that loves God shall perish and be damned, which if it be impoffible, then I may do well.
These Confiderations may be useful to Men of little Hearts, and of great Piety: Or if they be Persons who have lived without Infamy, or begun their Repentance so late that it is very imperfect, and yet so early that it was before the Arrelt of Death. But if the Man be a vicious Person, and hath persevered in a vicious Life till his Death-bed; these Confiderations are not proper. Let him enquire in the Words of the first Difciples after Pentecost, Men and Brethren, what fall we do to be saved? And if they can but entertain so much Hope as to enable them to do so much of their Duty as They can for the present, it is all that can be provided for them : An Enquiry in their Case can have no other purposes of Religion or Prudence. And the Minister must be infinitely careful that he do not go about to comfort vicious Persons with the Comforts belonging to God's Elect, left he prostitute holy Things and make them common, and his Sermons deceitful, and Vices be encouraged in others, and the Man himself find that he was deceived, when he descends into his House of Sorrow.
But because very few Men are tempted with too great fears of Failing, but very many are tempted by Confidence and Presumption; the Ministers of Religion had need to be instructed with spiritual Armour to relilt this fiery Dart of the Devil, when it operates to evil Purposes.
Considerations against Presumption.
Have already enumerated many Particulars to
provoke a drowsy Conscience to a Scrutiny and to a Suspicion of himself, that by seeing cause to fuspeet his Condition, he might more freely accuse himself, and attend to the Necessities and Duties of Repentance : But if either before or in his Repentance he grow too big in his Spirit, so as either he does some little Violence to the Modesties of Humility, or abates his Care and Zeal of his Repentance, the spiritual Man must allay his Forwardness, by representing to him, I. That the growths in Grace are long, difficult, uncertain, hinderd, of many Parts, and great Variety. 2. That an Infant-Grace is foon dath'd and discountenanced, often running into an Inconvenience, and the Evils of an imprudent Conduct, being zealous and forward, and therefore confident, but always with the least Reafon and the greatest Danger : Like Children'and young Fellows, whose Confidence hath no other Reason, but that they understand not their Danger and their Follies. 3. That he that puts on his Armour ought not to boast, as be that puts it off; and the Apostle chides the Galatians for ending in the Flesh after they had begun in the Spirit. 4. That a Man cannot think too meanly of himself, but very easily he may think too high. That a wife Man will always in a Matter of great Concernment think the worst, and a good Man will condemn himself with hearty Sentence. 6. That Humility and Modelty of
Judgment and of Hope, are very good Instruments to procure Mercy and a fair Reception at the Day of our Death: But Presumption or bold Opinion serves no End of God or Man, and is always imprudent, ever fatal,' and of all things in the World is its own greatest Enemy, for the more any Man presumes, the greater reason he hath to fear7. That a Man's Heart is infinitely deceitful, unknown to itself, not