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forrow and affliction to our felves a. gainst the day of repentance, and con
Vol. VII, sequently sin on, in hopes of being hereafter so much the more troubled and grieved for what we have done ; as if a Man should go on to break the Laws, in hopes of a more severe and exemplary Punishment ; furė this can be no encouragement or ground of hope to any reasonable and considerate Man.
Lastly, As to the encouragement which Men take from the sudden repentance of great Criminals and Malefactors, and their dying with so much comfort and assurance ; if this be well considered, there is little comfort to be ferched from such Exam. ples. For,
ijt, Tho' a lincere repentance in such circumftances be possible, yet it is almost impossible for the Party himself concerned, much more for others, upon any good ground, to judge when it is fincere. God who knows the hearts of Men, and whether, if they had lived longer, they would in the future course of their lives have justified and made good their repentance and good resoluti
on, only knows the fincerity of
Vol. VII. it.
But, 2dly, no certain judgment is to be made from the comfort and confidence of the Party concerned ; for the business is not what comfort and confidence Men have, .but what ground they have for it ; and whereas Men are apt piously to sup. pose, that so extraordinary a comfort and affurance is wrought in them by the Spirit of God, nothing is more. uncertain ; becaufe we sometimes see those who give no such testimony of their repentance, to dye with every whit as much courage, and comfort
, and confident, perfwasion of their Salvation, as those that do. But this certainly is not from the Spirit of God; a natural Obstinacy and Courage may carry Men a great way; and false and mistaken Principles may fill Men for the present with as much comfort and confidence as well grounded hopes. In the Church of Rome, great numbers of those who have led very wicked lives, after a formal Confeffion and Abfolution, and some good words of encouragement from the Priett, dye as full of peace and com
fort, to all appearance, as the best Vol.VII
. of Men.
Indeed it is very natural to Men, who find themselves in a desperate condition, to be strangely elevated and raised, upon any hopes given of escaping so great a danger as they apprehend themselves to be in ; espec: cially if these hopes be given them by a grave Man, of whofe Piety and Judgment they have a venerable opinion. When Men have the Sentence of death in themselves, as all wicked livers must have, they are naturally apt to be overjoy'd at the unexpected news of a Pardon.
To speak my mind freely in this matter, I have no great opinion of that extļaordinary comfort and confidence which some have, upon a sudden repentance for great and flagrant crimes, because I cannot discern
any fufficient ground for it. I think great humility and dejection of mind, anda doubtful apprehension of their condition, next almost to despair of it, would much better become them because their case is really so very doubtful in it self. There is great reason for the repentance of such per
is fons, and it becomes them well; but VI.VH.I see very liccle reason for their great
comfort and confidence, nor does it become their circumstances and condition. Let them excercise as deep a repentance as is polible, and bring forth all the fruits meet for it that are possible in lo short a time; let them humble themfelves before God, and pray incessantly to him day and night for mercy; make all the reparation they can for the injuries they have done, by confession and acknowledge ment, and by making fatisfaction to the parties injured, if it be in their power, by giving Alms to the Poor, by warning others, and endeavouring to reclaim them to a better mind and course of life ; and for the rest humbly commit themselves to the mercy of God in Jesus Chrift; let them imi.. gate, as near as they can, the behaviour of the penitent Thief, the only Example the Scripture hath left us of a late, repentance that proved ef. fe&tual, who gave the greatest testiwiony that could be of a penitent forsow for his fins, and of his Faith in the Saviour of the World, by a genesous and couragious owning of him in
the midst of his disgrace and suffer.