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dice: and whilst impenitent wretches shall be lashed at the same time both by God and their own consciences, whilst they shall be surrounded with darkness and horror on every side, and not be able to discover any glimpse of day, either within, or without, or above them; whilst heaven and earth, and their own consciences, are storming together about their ears, so that which way soever they turn themselves they are miserable : whilst God disowns them, their own consciences reproach them, and the world will no longer help and succour them; you, being reconciled by your repentance, both to your God and your conscience, will have a safe retreat within your own bosoms, whereinto you may retire, and be merry in spite of fortune; and being there entertained with the ravishing sense of your Father's love, with the soft harmonies of a quiet conscience, and the glorious hopes of a blessed immortality hereafter, you will not only be enabled to support your share of the public calamity, but also to rejoice and triumph over it: so that would you be but persuaded to repent, I durst assure you, you shall find the benefit of it, either in the removal of the judgments you fear, or in the assistance it would give you to undergo them bravely.

5. And lastly, Consider how dearly we shall repent when it is too late, if we do not endeavour to prevent our danger, by repenting now, when we are grovelling under those dreadful judgments that hang lowering over us. When our religion, liberties, and properties are seized, and become a prey to our insulting enemies; when our country is spoiled or imbrued in blood by intestine broils or foreign invasions, and all is involved in ruins and confusions


round about us, then we shall remember, with the tears in our eyes, that we had once an opportunity to be happy; that if we would have been contented to part with a few base lusts, that did unman and prostitute our natures, we might have been still a blessed and prosperous people;' that if we would have been so wise as to have sacrificed to God's approaching judgments our sensuality and profaneness, our faction, oppression, and hypocrisy, they would then have fairly retreated, and left us in the quiet enjoyment of all our spiritual and temporal blessings we enjoyed: whereas now, being incensed and drawn on by our desperate obstinacy, they have made a dismal spoil of all, and left us nothing but our sins and guilts to bear us company in our miseries. When we shall see our desolate country, that was heretofore the queen of nations, sitting like a mournful widow in the dust, with her head uncrowned, her garments torn, her breast wounded, and all her parts besmeared with blood; when we shall see our church unpaled, and all her fences trodden down by wild beasts, her beauty defaced, her sun extinguished or overcast with darkness and confusion, how will it cut our hearts to think, that all this is the best product of our own follies, and that if we would have been persuaded betime to abandon our lusts and listen to sober counsels, all these dismal ruins and desolations might have easily been prevented.

O then we shall lament our follies, and wring our woful hands, and wish a thousand and a thousand times, that we had been wiser before it was too late! Seeing therefore it is not yet too late, let us for once resolve to make a trial what good our repentance can do to the public: and O would to God we VOL. IV.


would once conspire to make this blessed experiment! And if upon our making it, a cure doth not yet follow; if we do not sensibly perceive our grievances abate, our dangers vanish, our enemies weakened and disheartened, and our broken counsels retrieved and united in the public good, I will be contented to undergo Cassandra's fate, never to be believed in my affirmations more.

For this I am sure of, repentance cannot fail of a good effect; and that, besides all the good it would do us by its own natural and necessary influence, it would reconcile Him to us that hath the disposal of our fate, and then all would go well, and God, even our own God, would give us his blessing. Which he of his infinite mercy grant: to whom,

with his eternal Son and Spirit, be ascribed of
us and all the world, all honour, and glory,
power, from this time forth and for ever-






Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. THESE words are a part of John Baptist's sermon to the Pharisees and Sadducees, of whom mention is made in the foregoing verse: the first of which being a sort of demure and formal hypocrites, who under religious pretences shrouded the blackest villaines; the second, a company of atheistical debauchees, who, to supersede the troublesome obligations of their consciences, and to obtain of themselves a free dispensation to be wicked, denied the existence of spirits and the life to come.

The Baptist, upon

their address to be admitted to his baptism, sharply reprehends them both under one common name, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come! And then he goes on, Bring forth fruits meet for repentance. As much as if he should have said ; " O ye worst of

men, ye brood of venomous miscreants ! I perceive, by your coming hither, somebody or other hath “ alarmed you with the forewarnings of that dread“ ful vengeance that is falling upon this generation : “ and now, to prevent it, you pretend repentance of

your sins; because you have heard that I baptize “ with water unto repentance, you would needs as“sume this outward badge of penitents. But I know

you well enough; ye are a pack of arrant knaves “ and hypocrites, and howsoever at present you may



“ be frightened into a demure pretence of repent

ance, I know your hearts are as wicked as ever ; “ and that you will not part with one of those lusts “ which render you so base and infamous. And “ therefore, for my part, till I have better hopes of

you, I am resolved I will have nothing to do with you.” This I take to be the most natural and genuine sense of the words : and I know but one objection of any weight against it ; that whereas this account makes John Baptist to have refused them his baptism, other texts of scripture seem to assert that they themselves refused to be baptized of him; and they did not come to him under a pretence of repentance, but upon a design to cavil with him, and expose his baptism to the people : for Luke vii. 30. it is said, that the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves; i. e. the counsel which God by John the Baptist gave them, being not baptized of him. But what counsel was it they rejected ? Was it the counsel of being baptized ? No such matter: for John Baptist never advised them to it; but the counsel he gave them was to repent, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance. And this they rejected; for which they were not baptized of him. Not but that they

. would have been, if they could : for it is expressly said, in the verse foregoing my text, that they came to John's baptism ; -but John knowing their hypocrisy would by no means admit them to it, till they had first brought forth such fruits as were meet and proper for repentance. In handling of which words I shall endeavour these three things:

I. To shew what this repentance is, of which he exhorts them to bring forth the meet fruits.

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