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a sinning person to the public communions with the faithful, till, besides their sorrow, they had spent some years in an dyadosgyía, in doing good works,' and holy living; and especially in such actions which did contradict that wicked inclination, which led them into those sins, whereof they were now admitted to repent. And therefore, we find that they stood in the station of penitents seven years, thirteen years, and sometimes till their death, before they could be reconciled to the peace of God, and his holy church.
Scelerum si bene pænitet,
Pravi sunt elementa ; et teneræ nimis
Formandæ studiis. *
Repentance is the institution of a philosophical and severe life, an utter extirpation of all unreasonableness and impiety, and an address to, and a final passing through, all the parts of holy living.
Now consider, whether this be imaginable or possible to be done upon our death-bed, when a man is frighted into an involuntary, a sudden, and unchosen piety. 'O METUVOão où φόβω των εναντίων τήν του κακού πραξιν αιρήσεται, saith Hierocles.t He that never repents till a violent fear be upon him, till he apprehend himself to be in the jaws of death, ready to give up his unready and unprepared accounts, till he sees the Judge sitting in all the addresses of dreadfulness and majesty, just now, as he believes, ready to pronounce that fearful and intolerable sentence of, “Go, ye cursed, into everlasting fire;" this man does nothing for the love of God, nothing for the love of virtue: it is just as a condemned man repents that he was a traitor; but repented not till he was arrested, and sure to die: such a repentance as this, may
still consist with as great an affection to sin as ever he had ; and, it is no thanks to him, if, when the knife is at his throat, then he gives good words and flatters. But, suppose this man in his health, and in the midst of all his lust, it is evident that there are some circumstances of action, in which the man would have refused to commit his most pleasing sin. Would not the son of
• Hor. Od. 3. 24.
+ ή δε μετάνοια αύτη φιλοσοφίας αρχή γίνεται, και των ανοήτων έργων τε και λόγων Quyn, xai tās à ustausāÁTou Swñs agúrn pagaorsvú. Hierocles, Needham, p. 126.
See Life of Jesus, Disc. of Repentance, part 2.
Tarquin have refused to ravish Lucretia, if Junius Brutus had been by him? Would the impurest person in the world act his lust in the market-place? or drink off an intemperate goblet, if a dagger were placed at his throat ? In these circumstances their fear would make them declare against the present acting their impurities. But does this cure the intemperance of their affections? Let the impure person retire to his closet, and Junius Brutus be engaged in a far-distant war, and the dagger be taken from the drunkard's throat, and the fear of shame, or death, or judgment, be taken from them all; and they shall no more resist their templation, than they could before remove their fear : and you may as well judge the other persons holy, and haters of their sin, as the man upon his death-bed to be penitent; and rather they than he, by how much this man's fear, the fear of death, and of the infinite pains of hell, the fear of a provoked God, and an angry eternal Judge, are far greater than the apprehensions of a public shame, or an abused husband, or the poniard of an angry person. These men then sin not, because they dare not; they are frighted from the act, but not from the affection; which is not to be cured but by discourse, and reasonable acts, and human considerations; of which that man is not naturally capable, who is possessed with the greatest fear, the fear of death and damnation. If there had been time to curse his sin, and to live the life of grace, I deny not but God might have begun his conversion with so great a fear, that he should never have wiped off its impression :* but if the man dies then, dies when he only declaims against, and curses his sin, as being the author of his present fear and apprehended calamity; it is very far from reconciling him to God or hopes of pardon, because it proceeds from a violent,t unnatural, and intolerable cause; no act of choice, or virtue, but of sorrow, a deserved sorrow, and a miserable, unchosen, unavoidable fear;
moriensque recepit Quas pollet victurus aquas-
He curses sin upon his death-bed, and makes a panegyric of
Cogimur à suetis animum suspendere rebus ;
Atque ut vivamus, vivere desinimus. Cornel. Gal.
virtue, which, in his life-time, he accounted folly, and trouble, and needless vexation.
Quæ mens est hodie, cur eadem non puero fuit?
Vel cur bis animis incolumes non redeunt genæ ?* I shall end this first consideration with a plain exhortation; that since repentance is a duty of so great and giantlike bulk, let no man crowd it up into so narrow room, as that it be strangled in its birth for want of time, and air to breathe in: let it not be put off to that time when a man hath scarce time enough to reckon all those particular duties, which make up the integrity of its constitution. Will any man hunt the wild boar in his garden, or bait a bull in his closet ? Will a woman wrap her child in her handkerchief, or a father send his son to school when he is fifty years old? These are indecencies of providence, and the instrument contradicts the end : and this is our case. There is no room for the repentance, no time to act all its essential parts : and a child, who hath a great way to go before he be wise, may defer his studies, and hope to become learned in his old age, and upon his death-bed; as well as a vicious person may think to recover from all his ignorances and prejudicate opinions, from all his false principles and evil customs, from his wicked inclinations and ungodly habits, from his fondnesses of vice, and detestations of virtue, from his promptness to sin, and unwillingness to grace, from his spiritual deadness and strong sensuality, upon his death-bed (I say), when he hath no natural strength, and as little spiritual ; when he is criminal and impotent, hardened in his vice and soft in his fears, full of passion and empty of wisdom; when he is sick and amazed, and timorous and confounded, and impatient, and extremely miserable. And now when
you is tempted to commit a sin, remember that sin will ruin you, unless you repent of it. But this, you say, is no news, and so far from affrighting you from sin, that (God knows) it makes men sin the rather. For, therefore, they venture to act the present temptation, because they know, if they repent, God will forgive them; and therefore, they resolve upon both, to sin now, and repent hereafter. Against this folly I shall not oppose the consideration
• Hor. Od. 4. IO.
of their danger, and that they neither know how long they shall live, nor whether they shall die or no in this very act of sin; though this consideration is very material, and if they should die in it, or before it is washed off, they perish : but I consider these things. I. That he that resolves to sin upon a resolution to repent, by every act of sin makes himself more incapable of repenting, by growing more in love with sin, by remembering its pleasures, by serving it once more, and losing one degree more of the liberty of our spirit. And if you resolve to sin now, because it is pleasant, how do you know that your appetite will alter? Will it not appear pleasant to you next week, and the next week after that, and so for ever? And still you sin, and still you will repent; that is, you will repent when the sin can please you no longer : for so long as it can please you, so long you are tempted not to repent, as well as now to act the sin: and the longer you lie in it, the more you will love it. So that it is in effect to say, I love my sin now, but I will hereafter hate it; only I will act it awhile longer, and grow more in love with it, and then I will repent; that is, then I will be sure to hate it, when I shall most love it. 2. To repent, signifies to be sorrowful, to be ashamed, and to wish it had never been done. And then see the folly of this temptation; I would not sin, but that I hope to repent of it; that is, I would not do this thing, but that I hope to be sorrowful for doing it, and I hope to come to shame for it, heartily to be ashamed of my doings, and I hope to be in that condition, that I would give all the world I had never done it; that is, I hope to feel and apprehend an evil infinitely greater than the pleasures of
sin. And are these arguments fit to move a man to sin? What can affright a man from it, if these invite him to it? It is as if a man should invite one to be a partner of his treason, by telling him, If you will join with me, you shall have all these effects by it; you shall be hanged, drawn and quartered, and your blood shall be corrupted, and your estate forfeited, and you shall have many other reasons to wish you had never done it. He that should use this rhetoric, in earnest, might well be accounted a madman; this is to scare a man, not to allure him : and so is the other when we understand it truly. 3. For I consider, he that repents, wishes he had never done that sin. Now I ask, does
he wish so upon reason, or without reason? Surely, if he may, when he hath satisfied his lust, ask God pardon, and be admitted upon as easy terms for the time to come, as if he had not done the sin, he hath no reason to be sorrowful, or wish he had not done it. For though he hath done it, and pleased himself by enjoying the pleasure of sin for that season,' yet all is well again ; and let him only be careful now, and there is no hurt done, his pardon is certain. How can any man, that understands the reason of his actions and passions, wish that he had never done that sin in which then he had pleasure, and now he feels no worse inconvenience. But he that truly repents, wishes and would give all the world, he had never done it: surely then his present condition in respect of his past sin hath some very great evil in it, why else should he be so much troubled ? True, and this it is. He that hath committed sins after baptism, is fallen out of the favour of God, is tied to hard duty for the time to come, to cry vehemently unto God, to call night and day for pardon, to be in great fear and tremblings of heart, lest God should never forgive him, lest God will never take off his sentence of eternal pains ; and in this fear, and in some degrees of it, he will remain all the days of his life : and if he hopes to be quit of that, yet he knows not how many degrees of God's anger still hang over his head; how many sad miseries shall afflict, and burn, and purify him in this world, with a sharpness so poignant as to divide the marrow from the bones ; and for these reasons, as a considering man that knows what it is to repent, wishes with his soul he had never sinned, and, therefore, grieves in proportion to his former crimes, and present misery, and future danger.
And now suppose that you can repent when you will, that is, that you can grieve when you will ;-though no man can do it, no man can grieve when he please, though he could shed tears when he list, he cannot grieve without a real or apprehended felicity; but, suppose it ;—and that he can fear when he please, and that he can love, when he please, or what he please ; that is, suppose a man be able to say to his palate, Though I love sweetmeats, yet to-morrow will I hate and loathe them, and believe them bitter and distasteful things; suppose, I say, all these impossibilities : yet since repentance does suppose a man to be in a state of such real