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every Man to judge and condemn himself, that he may truly repent of his past Follies, and carefully avoid those Sins, for the Time to come, which draw upon Men the Judgments of God.
Q. But is not saying Amen to thefe Sentences of God's Law, a Curfing of ourselves, and is it not a wicked as well as a foolish Thing?
A. This pious Office hath indecd been so traduced; but I believe it hath not been considered, that God himself commanded this Manner of answering. And though some Circumstances in reciting these Curses among the fews might be ce- Deut. xi. remonial, yet the main of the Duty, and the End Ch. xxvii. for which it was prefcribed, was truly moral, tending to the Honour of God and his Laws, and the promoting of true Piety. And the saying Amen does not here signify wishing, but affirming and declaring the Truth of what God hath revealed and thus Amen is often in the Gospel tranlated Verily; and Jefus; who is the Truth, is called Amen ; Mat.v. 18. so that Amen is no more than a Declaration, that he whom God bleiseth is blessed; and he whom Luke iv. God curseth is curled: And these Curses are like Rev. our Saviour's Woes in the Gospel, not Procurers 14. of Evil, but compassionate Predictions of it, in order to prevent it. :
Q. Bui baih not Christ taken away the Curse of ibe Law, being made a Curse for us
A. It is true that our Saviour, by Virtue of his Sacrifice, made Satisfaction for Sin, and bore that Curse which belonged to us; and thereby acquitted and cleared all those that believe in him from the Guilt of those Sins, for which there was no Way of Expiation provided by the Law of Moles; that is, of presumptuous Sins, for which there was no Sacrifice, but the man was to be cut off. But still this Redemption that was purchased for us, was upon the Condition of Repentance; to Dd
Mark iii. 28.
that impenitent Sinners are still the Object of God's Wrath ; and though Pardon and Forgiveness of Sins were procured for us by the Death of Christ, yet Repentance is necessary to qualify us to receive the Benefit of it. It being certain still, that Sinners, while they remain fuch, are really accursed; and to convince them of this, and make them own it, it is the trueft Bleffing the Church can procure for them.
Q. What Use does the Church make of setting the Curses of God's Law before us?
4. To press all Christians to a true and fincere Repentance, from the Confideration of God's dreadful Wrath against all impenitent Sinners ; which as it is severe in itself, and altogether intoterable, fo ir is just in its Proceedings, and abfolutely unavoidable, when it doth come; and when Sinners are awakened by this Consideration from their dreadful Security, they are encouraged to Repentance from God's Readiness to receive truc Penitents to Mercy, and from the great Benefits of it, Pardon and Peace in this Life, and eternal Happiness in the next.
Q. Since Repentance is so earnestly pressed upon uts at this Time, pray wherein does it confif?
H. Repentance consists in such a Change of Mind, as produces the like Change in our Lives and Conversations ; so that to repent of our Sins, is to be convinced that we have done amiss; whence follows hearty Sorrow for our paft Follies, and a firm and effectual Purpose and Resolution of Mind to forfake them for the Time to come. And this Change is so great in our Desires and Resolutions, that the Scripture calls it a new Nature, the Sincerity and Reality whereof appears in Actions suitable to such new Principles.
Q. What Confiderations are proper to excite in 45 Sorrow for our Sins ?
A. Who can forbear grieving, when he considers that he is fallen under the heavy Displeasure of Almighty God, whose infinite Patience he hath abused? That he is exposed to all those Miseries that are implied in an eternal Separation from the Fountain of all Happiness; that he hath foolishly neglected the most important Concern of his Lifó and done what in him lies to make himself everlaftingly miserable ; that he hath been ungrateful to his mighty Benefactor, and unfaithful to his best Friend ; that he hath affronted Heaven with those very Blessings he hath received from thence ; ibat be baih despised the Riches of God's Rom.ii.g. Goodness, and Forbearance, and Long-suffering, which jould have led him to Repentance.
Q. How ought we to express our Scrrow for our Sins ?
4. By humbly confessing them to Almighty God with Shame and Confusion of Face, by an utter Abhorrence and Detestation of them, by being heartily troubled for what we have done amiss, and resolved not to do the like again. By testifying the Reality of our inward Sorrow, by all those Ways that we find naturally occur in other Cases that afflict us, as in Fafting, Weeping, and Mourning, practised by Penitents both in the Old and New Testament'; as is plain by Ezra, David, Nehemiah, 1 zra x. 6. St. Peter, and St. Paul ; all deep Impressions of the the Mind naturally producing some proportionable Effect upon the Body ; and it being very Mat. **. fit that as the Soul and Body have been Partakcrs 75. in the same Sins, so they should join together in Aets ix 9. the same Humiliation.
Q. What is meant by a firm Resolution of Amendmcnt?
A. Such a Purpose of Mind as is formed upon calm Deliberation, after all the Difficulties of a holy Life have been thoroughly considered; and Dd2
Psal. lxix. 10.
those Discouragements that will frequently attend us in pursuing such a Course. After all the Pleasures of Sin have been feriously weighed, and those Temptations that will constantly solicit us to commit it ; with all those Motives and Arguments that excite us to perform the one and avoid the other; a Resolution of Mind, framed after this Manner, is likely to be permanent and lasting:
Q. What is the best Method to make a Resolution of Amendment effeclual ?
A. To extend it to all the Particulars of our Duty, obliging ourselves to have a Respect to all God's Commands, and to avoid every Thing his Law forbids. . To make it adequate to all Times, not only hereafter, but at present ; not only when we are out of Temptations, but when we are under them; not only when we cannot act them, but when we can act and repeat them too. To resolve upon avoiding all those Occasions that betray us into the Breach of our Duty ; and to make Use of all those Means and Helps that are established for our Growth in Grace, especially to pray to God that he would strengthen our Weakness, and confirm our holy Purposes; and that they may be durable, frequently to repeat and renew them, particularly when we approach the Holy Table of the Lord.
Q. Is all true Sorrow for Sin, and are all real Purposes of Amendment for the Time to come, in all Cafes sufficient?
A. No; in some Cases they are not sufficient : For if we have any ways wronged or injured our Neighbour, we must make him all the Reparation We are able. Those that we have drawn into Sin, by our Example, or Neglect of our Duty towards them, we must endeavour all we can to contribute to their Recovery; if we have injured their good Names, we must acknowledge our Faults, and vindicate their Reputations, and by all fitting Ways repair their Credit; if we have wronged them in their Estates, either by Fraud or Force, we must make Restitution ; that is, restore to the right Owner what we unjustly polless, or to his Heirs, or when neither can be discovered, to the Poor; and that with all those Measures and Circumstances, which, upon Consideration, we shall find to be our Duty. Without this Fruit of Repentance, all other Expressions of it will stand us in no Stead, since our Obligation to Reftitution is founded upon immutable Reason and natural Justice, which is to do that to anotber which we would have anotber do to us. Moreover, the detaining of what we know to be another's Right is a persevering in the first Injustice; and as long as we continue in that State, we cannot expect Pardon.
Q. Whence arifes our Obligation to Repentance?
A. From the absolute Neceflity of it, in order to make us capable of the Merry and Forgiveness of God. Without Repentance, we must be unavoidably miserable ; for it is the great Condition upon which our Salvation depends; and this Change in our wicked Tempers must be wrought, before we can be qualified for that Happiness God hath promised in the Gospel-Covenant.
Q. What do you mean by the Forgiveness of Sins ?
A. A Discharge and Release from that Punishment that is due to Sin. By transgressing God's Laws we contract Guilt, which is an Obligation to suffer that Punishment the Wrath of God shall think fit to inflict : but by the Forgiveness of Sins, we are freed and delivered from that Punishment to which we were before obnoxious.
Q. Is Repentance the valuable Consideration for which God bestows upon us Forgiveness of Sins ?
1. The Scriptures are clear that our blessed Saviour Jefus Chrift, laid down his Life as a Sacri