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launch out and break all his Fences of this kind. And when he hath done fo, it is odds but he goes farther, and lets fall those very Resolutions he made of ne. cessary indispensible Virtue and Holiness. Certainly the being false to his Vows of one kind, will mightily dispose him to be fo to those of the other, since he hath obliged himself equally to both. And fad Experience shews, that this indeed too often comes to pass. If therefore a Man thinks of tying up himself as to these indifferent Matters, as believing that the so doing will be a good Guard to his Virtue, let him take good Advice before he doth it; and especially let him oblige himself but for a little Time, since, if he finds his Resolutions expedient, he may repeat them when he pleases. But if he make Resolutions for a long Time, he cannot, if he finds them inconvenient, so easily undo them again.
What I have hitherto faid, has been wholly concerning the forming of our Resolutions of Virtue and an holy Life. But there are some Things that concern the Government of ourselves after we have actually taken up those Resolutions, that are every whit as necessary to the good Success of them, as the former Points.
II. To give you some Account of these, is the second Point I undertook in this Dif
of which I shall speak very briefly.
1. In the first place therefore, let us not think it sufficient to have made wise, and strong, and good Resolutions once for all, unless we frequently renew them. The firmest and the best contrived Purposes will, in Time and by Degrees, grow very feeble, and languid, and lose all the Force they should have upon us, if we do not take Care to put new Life into them, by over and over again impressing them upon our own Minds, and repeating all the Arguments and Considerations that at first prevailed with us to take them up. It will therefore highly concern us, after we are once entred into hearty and settled Resolutions to serve God, never to let them cool, but to keep up the Fire that is kindled in our Hearts, by constantly ministring Fuel to it. To this End, let us every Day we rise, enter into a serious Consideration of the Obligations we have laid upon ourselves. Let us ask our Hearts how they now stand inclined towards them. They were very forward at first to undertake the Service of God; Do they still continue fo? Are they as full of Hatred and Detestation of Sin, and as vigorously bent to pursue the Paths of Virtue and Religion, as they were when they lately enter'd into Covenant with God? If we find that they flag and waver, and cannot answer us with that Briskness that before they did; We will be good, we will live virtuously, we will serve
God.—Let us ply them with Arguments; let us lay before them the mighty Obligations they had at first to undertake this great Work, and convince them, that they have the same Obligations to persevere in it. Let us beg of them to consider how infinitely good God is in himself, and how infinitely kind and bountiful he hath been to us every Moment of our Lives; and consequently how just and reasonable it is, that we should for ever give up ourselves to the Service of him. Let us represent to them, how righteous, how good, how equitable all his Laws are ; how much the Observance of them tends to our Advantage; insomuch that it is infinitely more our Interest than God's, that we should yield a due Obedience to them. persuade them of the great Folly and Vanity, and the intolerable Mischiefs and Inconveniencies that do attend those Courses we have formerly pursued, and which it seems they have now a Desire to return to again. Let us lay before them how much Pain, and Grief, and Anguish, and Sorrow it cost our Blessed Saviour to redeem us from our vain Conversation; and to purchase for us the Pardon of those cursed Sins of ours, which we are now meditating to take again into our Bosom. If all this will not work upon our Hearts, let them be further remembred that they are now actually engaged in God's Service, and
have, by the most folemn Vows in the World, obliged themselves to continue in it, and therefore it is now too late to look back. To bę guilty of fo base a Perfidiousness, as it will be a most horrid Crime, fo will the Vengeance of God not fail to purfue us for it. Besides, now we are in a fair Way to attain Heaven and eternal Happiness, a good Beginning being in a manner half the Work : But if we fall back, we have lost all the Pains we have already taken in raising up ourselves to: this Pitch, and are but just where we were before we begun this Business. And who knows whether we fhall ever be able to begin it again ? Who knows whether ever God will again afford us either the Grace or the Means to do it? If, notwithstanding all this, your Hearts are yet heavy, and untoward, and unwilling to go on in this Work, you must tell them plainly, that they must go on, there is an absolute Necessity for it.
This is a Business that concerns you as much as your Souls are worth. Your everlasting Salvation or Damnation depends upon it, and therefore there is no dallying in the Matter. In a Word, we must never leave ourselves till we have fo fired our Hearts, that they resolve with all Alacrity to go on as they have begun: that they tell us peremptorily, I will go to my Father.
I will be good whatever it costs me. I will fiend to my Vows what oppoftion foever I
meet with. I will never forsake the Service of my God; and particularly this following Day I will
so take heed to all my Ways, that I will not offend against any of my Purposes.
Oh ! my Brethren, if we would but thus frequently commune with our own Hearts, and daily thus reinforce our good Resolutions, how easy would it be for us to be good ! How easy to vanquish all our evil Habits, and to triumph over every Thing that opposeth us! Nay, I may say, how hard a Matter would it be for us to be bad! We should subvert all Difficulties, and every Day grow better and better, till at last we had got as obstinate confirmed Habits of Virtue and Goodness, as other Men now have, or we ourselves before had, of Vice and Sin.
2. Especially if we join another Thing, which I come now to mention, viz. If we mean our Resolutions should bring forth those good Fruits we make them for, we must remember that there is another necefsary Duty to be performed by us, and that is, daily and constant Prayer to God Almighty, for his Grace and Holy Spirit to go along with us in the great Work we have undertaken. Alas! we are of ourselves poor
frail Creatures. The firmest Resolutions we have made, the strongest Guard we have placed about ourselves, will not protect us from the Deceitfulness of