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grievous case this I do yeeld, and yet not to be despaired; God of his bounty and mercy cals all to repentance, Rom. 2. 4. thou maist be called at length, restored, taken to his grace as the Thief upon the Cross, at the last hour, as Mary Magdalen and many other sinners have been, that were buryed in sin. God (saith * Fulgentius) is delighted in the conversion of a sinner, he sets no time ;' prolixitas temporis Deo non præjudicat, aut gravitas peccuti, deferring of time or grievousness of sin ; do not prejudicate his grace, things past and to come are all one to him, as present ; 'tis never too late to repent. “y This heaven of repentance is still open for all distressed souls ;" and howsoever as yet no signs appear, thou maist repent in good time. Hear a comfortable speech of S. Austin, “z Whatsoever thou shalt do, how great a sinner soever, thou art yet living ; if God would not help thee, he would surely take thee away ; but in sparing thy life, he gives thee leasure, and invites thee to repentance.” Howsoever as yet, I say, thou perceivest no fruit, no feeling, findest no likelihood of it in thy self, patiently abide the Lord's good leisure, despair not, or think thou art a Reprobate; he came to call sinners to repentance, Luke 5. 32. of which number thou art one ; he came to call thee, and in his time will surely call thee. And although as yet thou hast no inclination to pray, to repent, thy faith be cold and dead, and thou wholly averse from all divine functions, yet it may revive, as Trees are dead in Winter, but flourish in the Spring ! these Vertues may lie hid in thee for the present, yet hereafter shew themselves, and peradventure already bud, howsoever thou dost not perceive. 'Tis Satan's policy to plead against, suppress and aggravate, to conceal those sparks of faith in thee. 'Thou dost not believe, thou sayst, yet thou wouldst believe if thou couldst, 'tis thy desire to believe; then pray, “ a Lord help mine unbelief ;” and hereafter thou shalt certainly believe: o Dabitur sitienti, It shall be given to him that thirsteth. Thou canst not yet repent, hereafter thou shalt; a black cloud of sin as yet obnubilates thy soul, terrifies thy conscience, but this cloud may conceive a Rain-bow at the last, and be quite dissi. pated by repentance. Be of good chear; a child is rational in power, not in act; and so art thou penitent in affection, though not yet in action. 'Tis thy desire to please God, to be heartily
• * Delectatur Deus conversione poccatoris ; omnę tempus vitæ conversioni deputatur ; pro praesentibus habentur tam præterita quam futura.
Austin. Semper pænitentiæ portus apertus est ne desperemus. Quicquid feceris. quantumcunque peccaveris, adhuc in vita es, unde te omnino si sanare te collet Deus, auserret; parccndo clamat ut redcas, &c. • Matth. 6. 23. Rev. -1. 6.
sorry; comfort thyself, no time is overpast, 'tis never too late. A desire to repent, is repentance it self, though not in nature, yet in God's acceptance; a willing minde is sufficient. “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness,” Mat. 5. 6. He that is destitute of God's Grace, and wisheth for it, shall bave it. “The Lord (saith David, Psal. 10. 17.) will hear the desire of the poor," that is, such as are in distress of body and minde. 'Tis true thou canst not as yet grieve for thy sin, thou hast no feeling of faith, I yeeld; yet canst thou grieve thou dost not grieve ? It troubles thee, I am sure, thine heart should be so impenitent and hard, thou wouldst have it otherwise ; 'tis thy desire to grieve, to repent, and to believe. Thou lovest God's children and Saints in the mean time, hatest them not, persecutest them not, but rather wishest thyself a true Professor, to be as they are, as thou thy self hast been heretofore ; which is an evident token thou art in no such desperate case. 'Tis a good sign of thy conversion, thy sins are pardonable, thou art, or shalt surely be reconciled. « The Lord is near them that are of a contrite heart,” Luke 4. 18. A true desire of mercy in the want of mercy, is mercy itself; a desire of grace in the want of grace, is grace it self; a constant and earnest desire to believe, repent, and to be reconciled to God, if it be in a touched heart, is an acceptation of God, a Reconciliation, Faith and Repentance it self. For it is not thy Faith and Repentance, as Chrysostom truly teacheth, that is vailable, but God's mercy that is annexed to it, he accepts the will for the deed : So that I conclude, to feel in ourselves the want of grace, and to be grieved for it, is grace it self. I am troubled with fear my sins are not forgiven, Careless objects ; but Bradford answers, they are ; “ For God hath given thee a penitent and believing heart, that is, an heart which desireth to repent and believe; for such a one is taken of him (he accepting the will for the deed) for a truly penitent and believing heart.
All this is true thou replyest, but yet it concerns not thee, 'tis verified in ordinary offenders, in common sins, but thine are of an higher strain, even against the Holy Ghost himself, irremissible sins, sins of the first magnitude, written with a pen of Iron, engraven with a point of a Diamond. Thou art worse than a Pagan, Infidel, Jew, or Turk, for thou art an Apostate and more, thou hast voluntarily blasphemed, renounced God and all Religion, thou art worse than Judas hiniself, or they that crucified Christ : for they did offend out of ignorance, but thou hast thought in thine heart there is no God. Thou hast given
· Abernethy, Perkins. annexa.
Non est pænitentia, sed Dei misericordia
thy thy soul to the Divel, as Witches and Conjurors do, explicite and implicitè, by compact, band and obligation (a desperate, a fearfull case) to satisfie thy lust, or to be revenged of thine enemies, thou didst never pray, come to Church, hear, read, or do any divine duties with any devotion, but for formality and fashion sake, with a kinde of reluctancie, 'twas troublesome and painfull to thee to perform any such thing, præter volun. tatem, against thy will. Thou never mad'st any conscience of lying, swearing, bearing false witness, murder, adultery, brybery, oppression, theft, drunkenness, idolatrie, but hast ever done all duties for fear of punishment, as they were most advantageous, and to thine own ends, and committed all such notorious sins, with an extraordinary delight, hating that thou shouldest love, and loving that thon shouldest hate. In stead of Faith, fear and love of God, repentance, &c. blasphemous thoughts have been ever harboured in his minde, even against God himself, the blessed Trinitie : the * Scripture false, rude, harsh, immethodicall : Heaven, hell, resurrection, meer toyes and fables, + incredible, impossible, absurd, vain, ill con. trived ; Religion, Policie, and humane invention, to keep men in obedience, or for profit, invented by Priests and Law-givers to that purpose, If there be any such supream Power, he takes no notice of our doings, hears not our prayers, regardeth them not, will not, cannot help, or else he is partiall, an excepter of persons, author of sin, a cruell, a destructive God, to create our souls, and destinate them to eternal damnation, to make us worse then our dogs and horses, why doth he not govern things better, protect good men, root out wicked livers ? why do they prosper and flourish ? as she raved in the tragedy - pellices cælum tenent, there they shine,
“Suasq; Perseus aureas stellas habet," where is his Providence ? how appears it?
" Marmoreo Licinus tumulo jacet, at Cato parvo,
Pomponius nullo, quis putet esse Deos.” Why doth he suffer Turks to overcome Christians, the enemy to triumph over his Church, Paganisme to domineer in all places as it doth, heresies to multiply, such enormities to be committed, and so many such bloudy wars, murders, massacres, plagues, feral diseases ! why doth he not make us all good, able, sound? why makes he venomous creatures, rocks, sands, deserts, this
* Cæfilius Minutio, Omnia ista figmenta male sanæ religionis, & inepta so Latia à poeris inventa, vel ab aliis ob commodum, superstitiosa misteria, &c. + These temtations and objections are well answered in John Downam's Christian Warfare. Seneca. Vid. Campanella cap. 6. Atheis. triumphat. et c. 2. and argumentum 12. ubi plura. Si Deus bonus unde colum, &c.
aene, especial they are contate. Theyde ut
nto pray, lead,
earth it self the muckhill of the world, a prison, an house of correction?
« * Mentimur regnare Jovem,” &c. with many such horrible and execrable conceits, not fit to be uttered ; Terribilia de fide, horribilia de Divinitate. They cannot some of them but think evil, they are compelled volentes nolentes, to blospheme, especially when they come to Church and pray, read, &c. such foul and prodigious suggestions come into their hearts.
These are abominable, unspeakable offences, and most opposite to God, tentationes fæde & impie, yet in this case, he or they that shall be tempted and so affected, must know, that no man living is free from such thoughts in part, or at some times, the most divine spirits have been so tempted in some sort, evil custom, oinission of holy exercises, ill company, idleness, solitariness, melancholy, or depraved nature, and the divel is still ready to corrupt, trouble, and divert our souls, to suggest such blasphemous thoughts into our phantasies, ungodly, profane, monstrous and wicked conceits : If they come from Satan, they are more speedy, fearfull and violent, the parties cannot avoid them : they are more frequent, I say, and monstrous when they come ; for the divel he is a spirit, and hath means and opportunitie to mingle himself with our spirits, and sometimes more slily, sometimes more abruptly and openly, to suggest such divelish thoughts into our hearts ; he insults and domineers in melancholy distempered phantasies and persons especially ; Melancholy is balneum diaboli, as Serapio holds, the divel's bath, and invites him to come to it. As a sick man frets, raves in his fits, speaks and doch he knows not what, the divel violently compels such crazed souls to think such dained thoughts against their wils, they cannot but do it ; sometimes more continuate, or by fits, he takes his advantage, as the subject is less able to resist, he aggravates, extenuates, affirms, denies, damnes, confounds the spirits, troubles heart, brain, humors, organs, senses, and wholly domineers in their imaginations. If they proceed from themselves, such thoughts, they are remiss and moderate, not so violent and monstrous, not so frequent. The divel commonly suggests things opposite to nature, opposite to God and his word, impious, absurd, such as a man would never of himself, or could not conceive, they strike terror and horror into the parties own heart. For if he or they be asked 'whether they do approve of such like thoughts or no, they answer (and their own souls truly dictate as much) they abhorthen
as Hell and the Divel himself, they would fain think otherwise if they could ; he hath thought otherwise, and with all his soul desires so to think again; he doth resist, and hath some good motions intermixt now and then: So that such blasphemous, impious, unclean thoughts, are not his own, but the Divel's ; they proceed not from him, but froin a crazed phantasie, distempered humours, black fumes which offend his brain : they are thy crosses, the Divel's sins, and he shall answer for them, he doth enforce thee to do that which thou dost abhor, and didst never give consent to : And although he hath sometimes so slily set upon thee, and so far prevailed, as to make thee in some sort to assent to such wicked thoughts, to delight in, yet they have not proceeded from a confirmed will in thee, but are of that nature which thou dost afterwards reject and abhor. Therefore be not overmuch troubled and dismaid with such kinde of suggestions, at least if they please thee not, because they are not thy personall sins, for which thou shalt incur the wrath of God, or his displeasure: contemn, neglect them, let them go as they come, strive not too violently, or trouble thyself too much, but as our Saviour said to Satan in like case, say thou, Avoid Satan, I detest thee and thenı. Satanæ est mala ingererc (saith Austin) nostrum non consentire : as Satan labours to suggest, so must we strive not to give consent, and it will be sufficient: the more anxious and solicitous thou ait, the more perplexed, the more thou shalt otherwise be troubled, and intangled. Besides, they must know this, all so molested and distempered, that although these be most execrable and grievous sins, they are pardonable yet, through God's mercy and goodness, they may be forgiven, if they be penitent and sorry for them. Paul himself confesseth, Rom. 7. 19. “ He did not the good he would do, but the evil which he would not do ; 'tis not I, but sin that dwelleth in me.” 'Tis not thou, but Satan's suggestions, his craft and subtilty, his malice: comfort thyself then if thou be penitent and grieved, or desirous to be so, these hainous sins shall not be Jaid to thy charge; God's mercy is above all sins, which if thou do not finally contemn, without doubt thou shalt be saved. “? No man sins against the Holy Ghost, but he that wilfully and finally renounceth Christ, and contemneth himn and his word to the last, without which there is no salvation, from which grievous sin, God of his infinite mercy deliver us," Take hold of this to be thy comfort, and meditate withall on God's word, labour to pray, to repent, to be renewed in minde, “ keep thine heart with all diligence,” Prov. 4. 13, resist the
subtilty, hi Tis not theudo ; 'tis not would do,
• Perkins. "Hemingius. Nemo peccat in spiritum sanctum nisi qui finaliter & voluntarie renunciat Christo, eumq; & cjus verbum extreme contemnit, sioe quo nulla salus ; à quo peccato liberec nos Dominus Jesus Christus. Amen