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formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou earnest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Yet when the man thus honoured and distinguished would, upon divers occasions, have interceded for his people, we find him restrained by God, saying: "Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me, for I will not hear when they make their supplication in the day of their trouble." Who could pretend to be more righteous than Noah, who, when the earth was filled with wickedness, was the only person found in it exempt from the general contagion? Whose case could be more glorious than Daniel's? Whose faith was there upon earth more likely to be the parent of many martyrdoms than his? Who found such acceptance with God? Who entered the lists so frequently, came out of them victorious, and survived his manifold conquests? Who was more abounding than Job in works of mercy? Who more firm than he under all temptations? Who more patient under all afflictions? More constant in adherence to the truth, or more humbled under an awful sense of God's majesty and power? Yet God hath declared that there were cases wherein he would not hearken even to these men's intercession. For we find upon the prophet Ezekiel's interceding for the transgression of his people, that he had this for answer: "When the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, then will I stretch out mine hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it, and will cut off man and beast from it: Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God." We see, then, that the most righteous and powerful of human intercessors do not always succeed, nor always anticipate the determinations of God. The issue is still in his power, and he reserves to himself the right- of disposing it as he pleases.
7. Our Lord hath said in the gospel: "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." Now we must not imagine that the gospel of Christ will make good one of its engagements, and drop the other: Both of them must stand, or neither must; wherefore if they who deny Christ are not obnoxious to the punishment denounced against them, neither are they who confess him entitled to the reward which is propounded to them. If the faith which enables some to come off victorious shall surely receive its crown, the treachery of others who are prevailed with to depart from it, shall as surely meet with its punishment. What dreadful instances indeed
have we seen, and do yet see continually, of God's vengeance executed upon such as have denied him! How lamentable were the ends they came to! And though this is not the proper time of punishment and retribution, yet even here, and in this present time, they cannot, we see, escape it. A notable proof and example this, that our Lord forsakes the person who denies him; and that whatever such a one shall receive of the outward sign will be utterly insignificant as to any inward or saving purpose. How many of our lapsed brethren, who will not submit to penance, and to a solemn confession of their heinous sin, are thereupon seized by evil spirits, and driven into despair and madness! But we need not multiply examples to this purpose; since there are hardly more instances of persons in this kind offending than there are varieties of punishment observably attending them. The use to be made of such examples will be, not so much considering what other persons have suffered upon this occasion, as what each man, for himself, hath deserved to suffer. No one therefore should flatter himself with a belief that he hath escaped the judgment of God, because his punishment is, perhaps, deferred: quite otherwise; he should rather thence be apprehensive that he is reserved to a sorer punishment, and to a more solemn judgment.
8. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every one of you, who have offended, make an humble and solemn confession of his sin whilst he is yet in the land of the living. Let. him turn unto the Lord his God with all his heart, and express a becoming sense of his transgression in all humility and contrition of spirit- He himself, indeed, hath taught us how we should address him for pardon: "Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments." Daniel, nothwithstanding all the manifold graces wherewith he was adorned, notwithstanding his faith and his spotless innocence, and notwithstanding the declared acceptance and favour which his several virtues found at the hands of God, yet this holy man, I say, endeavoured to interest himself in the mercies of God, by fasting and mortification, by covering himself in sackcloth and ashes, and by making a solemn confession of his sins, saying: "O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments. We have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and have rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts and from thy judgments: Neither have we hearkened unto thy servants the prophets, which spake in thy name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land. O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of face." This hath been the practice of men who were meek and sincere, humble and holy; this was the way wherein they sought for mercy at the throne of grace: yet now the case is so far altered, that even such as have denied their Lord are loth to submit to any penance for it, or even to implore his pardon. I beseech you therefore, brethren, that you would resort to the use of proper remedies, and hearken to sober counsel; that you would join with me in lamentation, weeping and mourning, for your heinous sin. I beseech you, that I may beseech God for you; my prayers are first directed to you, that you would give me leave and liberty to offer them to God for you. Wherefore I again exhort, persuade, and intreat you, that you would submit to a full and proper penance for your sin, and give all becoming proofs of your hearty sorrow for it. Open, I beseech you, the eyes of your minds to a just apprehension of your sin and danger; neither on the one hand despairing of mercy, nor, on the other, claiming a right to pardon. As God is always kind, and hath the indulgence of a gracious Father, so on the other hand we should not forget that his Majesty is great as his mercy; and if the Father is to be loved, the judge should be the object of our fear.