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words confesses you only to be a sinner in general. For as this is nothing, but what the greatest saint may justly say of himself, so the daily repeating of only such a confession has nothing in it to make you truly ashamed of your own way of life.
Again ; must you not tell such a man, that, by leaving himself to such a weekly, general confession, he would be in great danger of forgetting a great many of his sins ? But is there any sense or force in this argument, unless you? suppose that our sins are all to be remembered and brought to a particular repentance ? Is it not as necessary, that our particular sins be not forgotten, but particularly remembered in our daily, as in a repentance at any other time ? So that every argument for a daily confessiona and repentance is the same argument for the confession and repentance of the particular sins of every day. Because daily confession has no other reason or necessity but our daily sins; and therefore is nothing of what it should be, but so far as it is repentance and sorrowful ac... knowledgment of the sins of the day.
You would, I suppose, think yourself charge able with great impiety, if you were to go to bed without confessing yourself to be a sitner,
and asking pardon of God; you would not think it sufficient, that you did so yesterday: And yet, if without any regard to the present day, you only repeat the same form of words, which you used yesterday, the sins of the
present may justly be looked upon to have had no repentance. If the sins of the present day require a new confession, it must be such a new confession as is proper to itself. For it is the state and condition of every day, which are to determine the state and manner of your repentance in the evening ; otherwise the same general form of words is rather an empty formality, which has the appearance of a duty, than such a true performance of it, as is necessary to make it truly useful to you.
Let it be supposed, that on a certain day you have been guilty of these sins ; that you
have told a vain lie, ascribing something falsely to yourself through pride ; that you have been guilty of detraction, and indulged yourself in some degree of intemperance. Let it be supposed, that on the next day you have lived in a contrary manner ; that you have neglected no duty of devotion, and been the rest of the day innocently employed in your proper business .
Let it be supposed, that on the evening of both these days you only use the same confession in general, considering it rather as a duty, which is to be performed every night, than as a repentance, which is to be suited to the particular state of the day.
Can it with any reason be said, that each day has had its proper repentance? Is it not as good sense to say, there is no difference in the. guilt of these days, as to say, that there needs be no different repentance at the end of them? Or how can each of them have its proper re. pentance, but by its having a repentance as large, and extensive, and particular, as the guilt. of each day ?
Let it be also supposed, that in that day, when you have been guilty of the three noto rious sins above-mentioned, in your evening repentance you had only called one of them to mind ; is it not plain, that the other two are unrepented of, and that therefore their guilt still abides upon them? So that you are then in the state of him, who commits himself to the night without the repentance for such a day, as, had betrayed him into two such great sins.
These are not needless particulars, nor such scrupulous niceties, as a man needs not trouble
himself about ; but are such plain truths, as essentially concern the very life of piety. For if repentance be necessary, it is full as necessary, that it be rightly performed, and in due manner. I have entered into all these particulars, only to show you in the plainest manner, that examination, and a careful review of all the actions of the day, is not only to be looked upon as a good rule, but as something as necessary as repentance itself.
If a man is to account for his expenses at night, can it be thought a needless exactness in him, to take notice of every particular expense in the day?
If a man is to repent of his sins at night, can it be thought too great a piece of scrupudosity in him to know and call to mind, what sins he is to repent of ?
Though it should be granted, that a confession in general may be a sufficient repentance for the end of such days, as have only the unavoidable frailties of our nature to lament; yet even this fully proves the absolute necessity of this self-examination ; for without this examipation, who can know, that he has gone through puy day in this manner ?
· An evening repentance, which thus brings all the actions of the day to account, is not only necessary to wipe off the guilt of sin, but is also the most certain way to amend and perfect our lives. : For it is only such a repentance as this, which touches the heart, awakens the conscience, and leaves a horrour and detestation of sin upon
the mind. For instance, if it should happen, that, upon any particular evening, all, with which you could charge yourself, should be this ; namely, a hasty, negligent performance of your devotions, or too much time spent in impertinent conversation; if the unreasonableness of these things were fully reflected upon, and acknowledged; if you were then to condemn yourself before God for them, and implore his pardon and assisting grace, what could be so likely a mean : to prevent your falling into the same faults the
next day? .. Or if you should fall into them again the next day; yet if they were again brought to the same examination and condemnation in the presence of God, their happening again would be such a proof to you of your own folly and weakness, would cause such a pain and remorse in your mind, and fill you with such shame and