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and undertaken by us at our first justification; bold- s ERM. ing fast the profesjon of our hope without wavering ; keep- VIII. ing faith, and a good conscience ; so long as we do not forfeit the benefit of that grace by making shipwreck of Hebina: 23. faith and a good conscience, relapsing into infidelity, or profaneness of life. Our case is plainly like to that 2 Pet. ii. of a subject, who having rebelled against his prince, Heb. x: 26, and thence incurred his displeasure, but having after- 38. vi, 1. ward upon his submiffion, by the clemency of his prince, obtained an act of pardon, restoring him to favour and enjoyment of the protection and privileges suitable to a loyal subject, doth continue in this state, until by forsaking his allegiance, and running again into rebellion, he fo loseth the benefit of that pardon, that his offence is aggravated thereby : fo if we do persevere firm in faith and obedience, we shall (according to the purport of the evangelical covenant) continue in a state of grace and favour with God, and in effect remain justified; otherwise the virtue of our justification ceaseth, and we in regard thereto are more deeply involved in guilt.
3. Although justification chiefly signifieth the first act of grace toward a Christian at his baptism, yet (according to analogy of reason, and affinity in the nature of things) every dispensation of pardon granted upon repentance may be styled justification; for as particular acts of repentance, upon the commission of any particular fins, do not so much differ in nature, as in measure or degree, from that general conversion practised in embracing the Gospel ; so the grace vouchsafed upon these penitential acts, is Penitencia only in largeness of extent, and solemnity of admi-imitatur
Baptifmatis nistration, diversified from that; especially confider gratiam. ing that repentance after baptism is but a reviving Hier. adv.
Pelag. i. 10. of that first great resolution and engagement we made in baptism; that remission of sin upon it is only the renovation of the grace then exhibited; that the whole transaction in this case is but a reinstating the covenant then made (and afterward by
SER M. transgression infringed) upon the fame terms, which
were then agreed upon; that consequently, by congruous analogy, this remiffion of sins, and reftoring to favour, granted to a penitent, are only the former justification reinforced; whence they may bear its name : but whether St. Paul ever meaneth the word to signify thus, I cannot affirm.
Now according to each of these notions all good Christians may be said to have been justified; they have been justified by a general abolition of their fins, and reception into God's favour in baptism; they so far have enjoyed the virtue of that gracious dispensation, and continued in a justified ftate, as they have perfifted in faith and obedience; they have, upon falling into fin, and rising thence by repentance, been justified by particular remiffions. So that having been justified by faith, they have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Chrift.
S E R M O N IX.
The Pleasantness of Religion.
Prov. iii. 17.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are
peace. HE meaning of these words seems plain and s E R M.
obvious, and to need little explication. Her ways, that is, the ways of Wisdom. What this Wifdom is, I shall not undertake accurately to describe. Briefly, I understand by it, an habitual skill or faculty of judging aright about matters of practice, and choosing according to that right judgment, and conforming the actions to such good choice. Ways and paths in Scripture-dialect are the courses and manner of action. For doing there is commonly called walking ; and the methods of doing are the ways in which we walk. By pleasantness may be meant the joy and delight accompanying, and by peace the content and satisfaction ensuing such a course of actions. So that, in short, the sense of these words seems simply to be this; that a course of life directed by wisdom and good judgment is delightful in the practice, and brings content after it.
SERM. The truth of which proposition it shall be my enIX. deavour at this time to confirm by divers reasons,
and illustrate by several instances.
I. Then, Wisdom of itself is delectable and satisfactory, as it implies a revelation of truth, and a detection of error to us. It is like light, pleasant to behold *, casting a sprightly lustre, and diffusing a benign influence all about ; presenting a goodly prospect of things to the eyes of our mind; displaying objects in their due shapes, poftures, magnitudes, and colours ; quickening our spirits with a comfortable warmth, and disposing our minds to a cheerful activity ; dispelling the darkness of ignorance, scattering the mists of doubt, driving away the spectres of delusive fancy ; initigating the cold of sullen melancholy; discovering obstacles, securing progress, and making the passages of life clear, open, and pleafant. We are all naturally endowed with a strong appetite to know, to see, to pursue truth : and with a bashful abhorrency from being deceived, and entangled in mistake. And as success in enquiry after truth affords matter of joy and triumph ; so being conscious of error and miscarriage therein, is attended with shame and forrow. These desires Wifdom in the most perfect manner satisfies, not by entertaining us with dry, empty, fruitless theories, upon mean and vulgar subjects; but by enriching our minds with excellent and useful knowledge, directed to the noblest objects, and serviceable to the highest ends. Nor in its own nature only, but,
II. Much more in its worthy consequences is Wifdom exceedingly pleasant and peaceable : in general, by dispofing us to acquire and to enjoy all the good, delight, and happiness we are capable of; and by freeing us from all the inconveniences, mischiefs, and infelicities our condition is subject to. For what. ever good from clear understanding, deliberate ad
* Veritatis luce menti hominis nihil dulcius. Cic. Acad. 2.
vice, sagacious foresight, stable resolution, dextrous S E R M. address, right intention, and orderly proceeding doth naturally result, Wisdom confers : whatever evil blind ignorance, false presumption, unwary credulity, precipitate rashness, unsteady purpose, ill contrivance, backwardness, inability, unwieldiness and confufion of thought, beget, Wisdoin prevents. From a thousand snares and treacherous allurements, from innumerable rocks and dangerous surprises, from exceedingly many needless incumbrances and vexatious toils of fruitless endeavour, the redeems and secures us. More particularly,
III. Wildom assures us we take the best course, and proceed as we ought. For by the same means we judge aright, and reflecting upon that judgment are affured we do fo: as the same arguments by which we demonstrate a theorem convince us we have demonstrated it, and the same light by which we see an object makes us know we see it. And this afsurance in the progress of the action exceedingly pleases, and in the sequel of it infinitely contents us. He that judges amiss, not perceiving clearly the rectitude of his process, proceeds usually with a dubious folicitude ; and at length, discovering his error, condemns his own choice, and receives no other satisfaction but of repentance. Like a traveller, who, being uncertain whether he goes in the right way, wanders in continual perplexity, till he be informed, and then too late, understanding his mistake, with regret seeks to recover himself into it. But he that knows his way, and is satisfied that it is the true one, makes on merrily and carelessly, not doubting he shall in good time arrive to his designed journey's end. Two troublesome mischiefs therefore Wisdom frees us from, the company of anxious doubt in our actions, and the consequence of bitter repentance ; for no man can doubt of what he is sure, nor repent of what he knows good. IV. Wisdom begets in us a hope of success in our