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I fay, if we were honest and true-hearted to God and our own eternal Interefts, we fhould reflect upon thefe Things. We fhould eftimate our Sins and Failings by thefe Rules, and not judge of them by those common Measures which loofe and fenfual Minds have found out for the leffening and extenuating of them.
4. But fourthly and laftly, There is another Way of covering our Sins, not unfit to be mentioned in this Place, because it is too frequently practifed; and that is, by taking, the Blame off from ourselves, and laying it upon others. Tho' we are not ignorant of the Fault, neither do justify it, nor yet extenuate it, yet we are loth it fhould lie with all its Load upon our own Shoulders, and therefore prudently transfer it upon those that were fome way or other either Tempters to it, or Occafions of it.
To give you an Inftance from Scripture of this kind of covering of Sins: Adam, our firft Parent, had no fooner fallen in Paradife by eating the forbidden Fruit, but when God came to chide him for his Fault, he had his Answer ready, that it was not fo much his Fault as Eve's. The Woman, Gen. 3.12. fays he, that thou gaveft me to be with me, fhe tempted me, and gave me of the forbidden Tree, and I did eat. By this firft Inftance of Sin in the World, we may learn how natural it is for Men to rid the Blame and the Guilt of their eyil Actions off from
themselves, and to lay it upon others. And let us all examine our own Confciences, whether this alfo be not frequently practifed among us. How very ordinary is it when we are thinking of those Things that are apt to trouble our Confciences and make us uneafy, to make juft fuch a Defence for ourfelves as Adan here did? If we can but find out either an Author, or a Partner, or an Occafion of our Sin, we are well enough. With fome Men the Course of Life they are engaged in, the neceffary unavoidable Temptations that their Bufinefs or Employment doth expose them to, is thought a juft fufficient Reason to exempt them from the Practice of those strict Rules of Virtue and Piety, that other Chriftians take themselves to be obliged to. With others, that Set of Company and Acquaintance they are linked with, is an Apology for all the Extravagancies they run into. Saith the one Sort, If I was of another Calling, had I but another Profeffion, I fhould certainly avoid those Sins that I now daily fall into. Saith the other, If I had not fuch continual Temptations from my Friends and Acquaintance, I fhould certainly be another kind of Man than I am. All this be may fo far as true, we can judge of fuch Contingencies. But yet notwithstanding, if we think this feriously, and make it our Apology to God Almighty for our daily Sins, we do but
juggle with him, and do not deal fo uprightly and fincerely as we ought to do. For I would fain know what State of Life is there that will not yield the fame Matter of Excufe for the Faults we are guilty of What Condition in the World can we imagine ourselves to be placed in, wherein we fhould not have the fame Pretences, and ftill fhould have found out fome Body, or fome Things, befides ourselves, to have borne the Blame of our Sins and Irregularities? No all this is ftill a covering of our Sins, an Unwillingness to find ourfelves guilty Such a Self-Love and Tenderness of our own Eafe, as will do us no Good in the World; for when all is done, he that covereth his Sins fhall not profper.
Let us now make Application of these Things to ourselves: And what Application can that be but this? If we be all Sinners, as, I am fure, there is not one that now hears me but is fo, what have we all to do but to humble ourselves before God, acknowledging that we are miserable finful Creatures, and that if he should deal with us according to our Deferts, we must expect nothing but Indignation and Woe?
For, alas! the very beft Actions of our Lives, if they were to be fcanned according to the Exactness of his Law, and the Perfection of his Holiness, would yield us but little Comfort, they being all fome way or other faulty. We have nothing to Ay
unto, but the boundless Compaffion of our gracious God, (thro' our Lord Jefus Chrift) whofe Mercy is over all his Works, and is like his Majefty, truly Infinite. To Him therefore let us go. To Him let every one
of us addrefs himself with the poor Publican, Luke 18. Lord, be merciful to me a Sinner. Let us Job 7. 20. fay with Job, I have finned; what shall I do unto thee, O thou Preferver of Men! I abbor myself in Duft and Afbes. Let us fay Luke 15. with the Prodigal, Father, I have finned against Heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy Child. Let us Pfal. 130. fay with David, Out of the Deep do I call to thee, O Lord; Lord, bear my Voice. If thou fhouldeft be extream to mark what is done amifs, O Lord, who may abide it? → therefore enter not into Judgment with thy Servant, for in thy Sight shall no Man living be juftified. But there is Mercy with thee, therefore thou shalt be feared.
Ah! my Brethren, if we had true Notions of ourselves and of our own Condition, and made a fair and juft Reprefentation to our Minds of God's infinite Holinefs and Purity, and of our own Sinfulness and Impurity, we fhould all be thus affected.
Away therefore with all Thoughts of covering our Sins; let us on the contrary, with Grief and Sorrow of Heart, expofe them. To God, I mean, let us expofe them Let us unburden ourselves to him, and
with, Contrition and Devotion acknowledge our own Guilt and beg his Pardon,
II. And this brings me to my fecond Enquiry in my propofed Method; viz. What kind of Confeffion that is, which is made in the Text an Effential Part of Repentance'; Whofo confeffeth and forfaketh his Sins, fhall find Mercy.
For it may be juftly asked, Is Confeffion any thing else but the telling God that we have offended him? And how comes this to be fo meritorious a Thing? Is not Contrition and Sorrow for Sin of a great deal more Value than this comes to? And is not Refolution against Sin ftill more fit to enter the Definition of Repentance? and yet thefe Things are not named.
My Answer to this is, That it is very certain that Contrition for Sin, and Refolution against it, are every jot as neceffary to a true Repentance as the confeffing of it is. But this we are to remember, that Confeffion, both in the Scripture Notion of it, and in the Reason of the Thing, doth contain and include in it both thefe Things.
We are much miftaken in the Nature of this Confeffion, if we make it to be no more than an Acknowledgment, or Repetition, or Enumeration of our Sins before God (tho' I grant that the Word, in its firft and proper Signification, expreffes no more) No: This is the leaft of that which