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we have done to any of his Attributes. By thus accusing and condemning ourselves, we do Right to God's Sovereignty and absolute Power, by acknowledging him to have both a Right and an Ability to punish
We do Right likewise to his Goodness, since we acknowledge that we have acted vilely and unworthily, and against our own Interests, in transgresling his Laws, which we cannot but be sensible are infinitely reasonable and good, and much for our Advantage to observe. To his Omniprefence and Omniscience also we make some Satisfaction, since our Confession of our Faults supposeth that we have a Sense that God knows and taketh notice of all our Actions. In a word, by hearty and penitent Confession of our Sins, we both justify God, and give Glory to him. We may say both these Things, because we have Warrant from Scripture for them. David, in the 51st Psalm, therefore makes a Confession of his Sins to God, I hat God might Ver. 4. be justified in his Sentence, and clear when he is judged. And when Joshua exhorts Achan to confess his Sin, tho' yet it was well enough known already in the Congregation, the Argument he useth to persuade him, was, that this Confession was for the Glory of God. My Son, says he, give Glory to the Josh.7.19. Lord God of Israel, and make Confession unto bim.
This that I have said is abundantly sufficient to shew what great Reason there is, that Confession of Sins should be made so indispensible a Condition of the Forgiveness of theni.
I might add several other Considerations, drawn from the great Benefits and Advantages that we ourselves do receive by the Practice of it ; as for Instance, the great Peace, and comfort, and Satisfaction that it must needs yield to an afflicted, troubled Mind, thus to have disburden'd itself of all its Loads and Incumbrances (as certainly, to a sensible Spirit, the Conscience of Sin is of all others the greatest Burden.) So that upon this Acconnt God's obliging us to the Confession of our Sins is the greatest Mercy to us that can be. I might add also another Consideration, viz. the mighty Obligation that this Practice of Confession doth lay upon all of us to forsake the Sins we do thus confefs. Such an Obligation, that really we must be impudent if we can always confess, and yet always return to the same Sins again. So that upon this Account it must be acknowledged that it is as much for our Good, as for the Reasonableness of the Thing, that Confession of Sins is made fo necessary a Part of Repentance.
But I shall wave these Things, and proceed (by way of Application of what has been said) to say something of the Manner
in which we are to confefs our Sins, and to give a few Directions about it.
The great Business that we have to take care of in the Exercise of this part of Repentance, is, that we do deeply affect our selves with a Sense of the great Evil of Sin, and the Affront it puts upon the Divine Majesty ; as also with a Sense of the infinite Obligations we are under to obey all the Laws of God, both upon the Account that they are so just and reasonable in themselves, and likewise upon Account that God, by so many Instances of Kindness to us (as every one of us, if we would reflect, can give Thousands of Instances to ourselves) hath laid such powerful and irresistible Engagements upon us to live up to a Conformity to them.
1. If now we be affected with a sense of these Things as we ought to be, we shall in the first place, whenever we approach to God to confess our Sins, express a hearty Sorrow for having offended so good, so kind, so gracious a God, fo continual a Benefactor : For having transgressed such righteous, such unexceptionable Laws, which were given us purely for our Benefit ; and which we can never transgress but we act against ourselves and our own Interests. We shall blush at our extreme Ingratitude to God, and see our own Folly in so unaccountably departing from him in any Instances; and at the same time we have these Thoughts, we shall seriously resolve to be wiser for the future, and accordingly we shall anew dedicate and devote ourselves to the Service of God our Creator, and Jesus Christ our Redeemer, renewing our Vows and Purposes that we have so often made to him, in a faithful Endeavour, in all our Thoughts, and Words, and Deeds, to govern ourselves by the Laws he hath prescribed us. All this is implied in the Notion of religious Confession, as I have before explained it, and is indeed the very Life and Soul of it.
2. But then, fecondly, The more partiçular our Confession is, the better it is, and the more acceptable it will be: Not upon Account that God ever needs to be inform'd of what Faults we are guilty, or takes any Delight in a Rehearsal of a long Catalogue of Sins ; but because this particular Confession is an Argument and an Expression of the Sincerity of our Repentance, and shews that we have searched and examined our Hearts to the Bottom, and that we harbour no concealed Affe&ion to any particular Sin whatsoever, but that we are willing to bring out every Enemy that speaks Opposition to God and his Laws, to be Nain before him.
3. But, thirdly, He that confesseth as he should do, will be sure not to favour himself in his Confession ; he will not be forward to make Excuse or Apologies for bis Sins. He will not say, that the Faults he hath been guilty of, are either little in their own Nature, or brought upon him by such Temptations as he could not avoid. On the contrary, he will rather aggravate his Faults, and lay a Load upon himself, that God may lay the less Load upon
him. He will acknowledge himself to be a base, vile, unworthy Creature, unfaithful to his Vows and folemn Purposes, and ungrateful to his God, who is every Day heaping Obligations upon him. He will remember all the Engagements God hath laid upon him, and that he hath laid upon himself, to a ftrict Life of Virtue and Holiness. He will bitterly censure his own Folly and unaccountable Extravagance, that he hath in any Instance departed from those Rules. In a word, the aggravating Circumstances which he can in his own Mind apply to his Sins, will so affect him, that he shall become vile and mean in his own Eyes; fo unworthy a Thing, that he will from the Bottom of his Heart profess to God, that he is not worthy the least of his Mercies. And certainly this is the Confeflion that is acceptable to God. This is the judging of 1 Cor. 16. ourselves that the Apostle speaks of, by which we prevent our being judged of the Lord. And lastly, this is thač Oblation which David speaks of, of a broken and P1.51.17. contrite Heart, which he says, God will not despise.