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der them not only tolerable, but delightsome. For how can I think any pains intolerable, the endurance whereof will create a constant harmony within me, will crown me with the applause of my own mind, will endear me to the fountain of all love and goodness, and entertain me with the hopes of being as happy, after a few moments, as all the joys of an everlasting heaven can make me? But, I beseech you to consider, is it not much easier to endure the agonies of a bitter repentance, than the horrid despair of a damped ghost ? to thwart a foolish and unreasonable lust, than to roar for ever upon the rack of a selfcondemning conscience? If it be so grievous to us to contend with an evil habit, and struggle a while with a stiff and obstinate inclination, to resolve, and strive, and watch, and pray against them, Lord, how grietous will it be to dwell with everlasting burnings, and to endure the dire effects of thy unquenchable fury for ever? And one of these must certainly be endured; for between them there is no medium.

! Wherefore seeing we are under such an absolute necessity of enduring hell or the difficulties of repentance, in the name of God, let us but act like men, and of the two choose that which is most tolerable ; and then I am sure we shall follow the counsel of the text, and bring forth fruits meet for repent

ance.

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rai.lt - and the door was shut. THESE words are the close of the parable of the ten virgins, whom our Saviour distributes into five wise and five foolish; and by them he represents the different carriage and fate of men both good and bad. For the better understanding of which paraa ble, you must know that our Saviour borrowed this, as well as sundry others, from the Jewish doctors, of which our learned Sheringham, in his preface of his translation of the Joma, hath given us sundry instances; of which this is one; which to this purpose he transcribes out of the Gemara Babylonica: Rab Eliezer said, “Be sure thou repent the day before “ thou diest.” Upon which his disciples asked him, whether a man might know that hour of his death? Whereunto he answers, “Let a man therefore re“ pent every day, because he knows not when he “ shall die.” Upon which Rab. Jochanan proposes this parable: A certain rich man prepared a marriage feast, to which he called his servants, but did not tell them the distinct time when his feast should be: of these servants some were wise and some foolish; the wise clothed themselves splendidly, and sitting before their master's house, thus thought with themselves; All things are here prepared, and nothing is wanting: wherefore, since we are uncertain what hour we shall be called, we will wait, that so

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whensoever he calls us we may be ready to attend. But the foolish sleepy servants loitered away their time, concluding thus with themselves; We need not be over-hasty in making ourselves ready, it being yet a great while before we are like to be called. But on a sudden the master calls them all to the supper; upon which the wise appeared before him ready to attend, but the foolish, being unready, would fain have gone away to dress themselves; but the king, rejoicing for those who were ready, and being very angry with those that slept, said, You who are ready shall sit down and eat, and drink, and rejoice; whilst you that slept shall be shut out of door: for so saith the Lord; Behold, my servants shall eat, but you shall hunger; my servants shall drink, but you shall thirst. This is the Jewish parable, which for substance being so exactly agreeable with our Saviour's, we may very reasonably conclude that his was only a copy of that original: and since the design of it is evidently to shew the danger of delaying repentance to the last, we may fairly suppose the design of our Saviour to be so too. For by the wise and foolish virgins here, our Saviour plainly means good and bad Christians; and by the marriage feast, that state of happiness which he hath prepared for the good. By their going forth to meet the bridegroom, is meant their expectation of Christ's coming, either to their particular or to the general judgment. By their lamps in their hands, expositors generally understand their visible profession of Christianity. By the oil that made those lamps to shine, is meant charity and good works, which are the fruits of a sincere repentance, and the glory and lustre of our Christian profession. And as for the wise, who by sincere repent

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ance had prepared themselves for this feast of hea. venly happiness, they are admitted into it; but as for the foolish, that had put off all to the last, though they bestirred themselves very vigorously in this sad extremity, yet all this was to no purpose; for when they came to ask admittance into heaven, the door was shut against them, and they are dismissed with this bitter farewell, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. So that the design of the words is plainly to represent the sad catastrophe of a late repentance ; which though it may be very active and vigorous when things are reduced to the last extremity, yet proves most commonly ineffectual, and finds the door of heaven shut against it.

That therefore which I design from these words is this, to explain and state what is the effect of a death-bed repentance; by which I mean, such a repentance as, after a long course of wickedness, begins upon the very near and sensible approach, either of a natural or violent death ; such as is put off till death is at the door, and men perceive themselves to be departing hence, and going away into eternity. For as for that repentance which is begun in health, when death is not in view, and men are in the midst of temptations to the contrary, it is much more free and ingenuous than that of a death-bed can be supposed; and consequently, though it should be stopped in its progress by a sudden unexpected death, yet there is much more hope of it: and that which begins also in a long lingering sickness, though it be not so free as the former, and therefore not so hopeful; yet is there much more hope of it, than of that which begins in more acute diseases, to which death more suddenly follows; because it hath much more time

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to grow in, and to finish and complete itself by. That late or death-bed repentance therefore, concerning which we are now inquiring, must be such a repentance as begins in the prospect of a near approaching death, and to which that death doth very suddenly follow. Concerning which I shall inquire these three things :

I. How far it is possible for such a repentance to be effectual.

II. How extremely hazardous it is whether it ever actually prove effectual to our happiness or no.

III. If it should prove so, yet how impossible it is, in an ordinary way, for us to attain any comfortable assurance of it.

- 1. How far it is possible for such a repentance to be effectual. And here I dare not pronounce it to be absolutely and universally ineffectual, though I confess I am horribly afraid that it very rarely proves otherwise. For the repentance on which salvation is entailed necessarily includes a thorough change of soul; that is, a new prevailing judgment and resolution : and for certain, wheresoever this really is, there is true repentance. For the very life of répentance consists in the universal subjection of our souls to God; and this subjection consists in such a firm resolution of soul to obey him, as, whensoever occasion is offered, will render us actually obedient. I know there are some who place this subjection of their souls to God in an universal habit of obedi. ence; but surely they do not consider that an hábit of obedience, which consists in an inherent aptness

is not attainable under a long progress in religion ; and that in our first entrance into the religious state, 'we are so far from being ha

and faculty of obeyina

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