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For could there be any Necesity that we should die as a Sacrifice for Sin, if we might lead a Life of a contrary Nature? Or could we act more contrary to God, than by making that Life a State of Pleafure and Indulgence, which he has laid under the Curse of Death ? Ought we to indulge a Life which God considers as too unholy to continue in Being?
LASTLY, If we consider that Repentance is the chief, the most constant and perpetual Duty of a Christian, that our Holiness has hardly any other Existence; than what arises from a perpetual Repentance, can it be doubted, that Mortification and Self-denial are essential, perpetual Parts of our Duty?
For to suppose a Repentance without the Pain of Mortification, and the Punishment of Self-denial, is as absurd, as to fuppose a Labour after Holiness, which takes not one Step towards it.
For if Repentance be not an Exercise of Mortification and Self-denial, it is no more a State of Repentance, than the lifting up our Hands, without our Hearts, is a State of Prayer and Devotion.
REPENTANCE is a hearty Sorrow for Sin, Sorrow is a Pain or Punishment, which we are obliged to raise to as high a
Degree as we can, that we may be fitter Objects of God's Pardon.
So that Self-denial and Mortification is only another Word, for a real Repentance.
If Christians will still so far forget the Nature and Design of their Religion, as to imagine that our Saviour's Call to a daily Cross and Self-denial was only a Call to his first Disciples to expect Sufferings and Death from their Enemies, they are governed by as little Reason, as if they lhould think, Repent ye for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand, only obliged those to Repentance, who first entered into the Kingdom of God.
For there is nothing in the Nature of Repentance, that shews it to be a more constant Duty, or more essential to the Christian Life, than there is in this Mortification and Self-suffering.
It is also very absurd to suppose, that a Command to deny themselves and take up their own Cross daily, should mean only the enduring and expecting of Sufferings from others.
Let us now suppose the contrary, that Christians are not called to this State of Mortification, or Denial of their
Appetites. Let us suppose that Christian Churches are full of fine gay People, who spend their
Days in all the Pleasures and Indulgences which the Spirit of the World can invent.
Can it in any Sense be said of such, that they live in a State of Repentance and Sorrow for Sin? May they not with as much Regard to Truth, be said to live in Sackcloath and Ashes ? Can their Hearts feel any Sorrow, or be mourning for the Weight and Misery of Sin, who live only to the studied Enjoyments of Ease and Pleasure ? Can they be said to grieve at Guilt, or be afraid of Sin, who pamper all their Appetites, and seek all the Enjoyments that lead to Temptation? Can they who live in the Gratifications of the Flesh, and Scenes of Pleasure, be said to be working out their Salvation with Fear and Trembling? May they not as justly be said to be walking bare-foot to Jerusalem?
If therefore we will not destroy the whole State of Religion, if we will but own it to be a State of Trial and Probation, we must also allow, that Self-denial and Abstinence from Pleasures are daily essential Duties of it.
For a Life of Sorrow for Sin, and mourning for the Guilt of it, and a Life of Pleasure and Indulgence, are inconsistent States, and as necessarily destroy one another, as Motion puts an End to Rest.
REPENTANCE will have no Place in Heaven, because that will be a State of Perfection, and for the same Reason it ought never to be laid aside on Earth, because there is no Time, when we are not under the Guilt, and subject to the Dan
ger of Sin.
This does not suppose, that we are always to be uttering Forms of Confession from our Mouths, but it supposes, that we are always to live with so much Watchfulness, as becomes penitent Sinners, and never do any thing, but what highly suits with a State of Repentance.
So that whenever we can abate our Selfdenials, without abating our Sorrow for Sin, when we can find Pleasures that neither soften the Mind, nor make it less fearful of Temptation, then, and so far only, may we seek our Ease.
For Repentance whilst it is only a Lipwork at stated Times is nothing, it has not had its Effect, till it has entered into the State and Habit of our Lives, and rendered us as fearful of Sin in every Part of our Lives, as when we are making our Confessions.
Now this State of Penitence, which alone is suited to a State of Corruption and Infirmity, can no more exist without constant daily Self-denial, than we can daily
govern our Appetites, without daily looking after them.
To proceed. Our Saviour faith, Blessed are they that mourn for they hall be conta forted.
Now this is another direct Call to Self-denial and Abstinence from Pleasures, as must appear to every one, that knows Mourning to be different from Pleasure and Indulgence.
The Blessedness that is here ascribed to Mourning, must be understood in relazion to Mourning, as it is a State of Life, and not as to any transient Acts, or particular Times of Mourning.
For no Actions are valuable, or rewardable, but as they arise from a State or Temper of Mind that is constant and habitual.
If it had been said blefled are the Charitable, it must have meant, blessed are they who live in a State and Habit of Charity. For the same Reason, are we to understand the Bleffedness which is due to Mourning, to be only due to a State and Life of Mourning,
SECONDLY, Blessed are theythat mourn, shews us that this Mourning concerns all Men as such, without any Distinction of Time or Person, so that its Excellency and Fitness must be founded upon something