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look the Means and Helps, and yet de- SERM. pend upon the End. The Resolution we
V. speak of is good and necessary ; but if a Man resolves to go a long Journey, and sets forth without taking anyOrder for the needful Provisions, he will soon resolve to come back again. The Observation therefore is, that whosoever would repent to Purpose, and so do the consequent Works, is obliged to make a particular Study of the Method and the Affistances, by which, in Probability, he may be supported and guided in his new Courfe. The Bodies of Animals cannot grow without Nourishment, nor the Fruits of the Earth ordinarily without cultivating; nor the Fruits of Repentance without Discipline. The Manners of Children are formed by the careful and constant Hand of their parents or Masters ; and Men, whose habitual Disorders make it necessary theirs should be formed anew, must be Masters to themselves; and their Hours of Care and Thoughtfulness should prescribe the general Employment to all the rest. It is true, the Means and Helps to a holy Life are prescribed in the Scripture ; but then, some VOL. I. L
SERM.of them are not enjoyn’d, but in certain V. Circumstances; and the Measure and Frequency of some others
may variously to Variety of Circumstances ; and some again are so general, that they require every Man's Thought and Discretion to apply them usefully to his own Cafe. 'Tis apparent therefore, that a right Conduct in this Affair is naturally the Fruit of serious and repeated Deliberations, and faithful Searches into the Constitutions and Habits of our Mind, and all Things indeed within and round about us. Thereupon our Reason will form Resolutions as strong for the necessary Means, as for the End itself. Without the wife Choice and constant Use of which Means, it is as weak to hope for the Reformation of vicious Habits by the Force of a general Resolution, as it would be to cure a chronical Distemper that had corrupted the Mass of our Blood by one single Dose of Physick.
The endless Variety of Mens Circumstances makes it necessary to forbear particular Rules. Every one must study and determine for himself, with Diligence and Impartiality, with regard to his Aversions.
or Fondnesses; or consult also with such Serm. as he has Reason to think best quali- V. fied to advise him ; which last (by the way) should be well considered; since it is evident, there are Cases and Perfons, not a few, where it is no less necessary to procure others to think for them, than generally it is for all Men to think for themselves.
I have no more now to add, but the naming to you the principal of these Helps and Instruments to conduct and support Men in a holy Life : The first is, Meditation, or Reading, and Hearing of our Duties, and the Motives to them. The second, Prayer, and other Acts of Devotion. The third, Acts of Mortification and Self-denial: And the last, (which yet is a Branch of the former) the Withdrawing from all the Occasions and Incentives of our Evil-doing.
God grant that we may discern wisely, and use faithfully the Means necessary for every one of us in particular ; and bless them to the Production of Fruits meet for Repentance, that so we may flee, by that only Way, and be delivered from the Wrath to come, through Jesus Christ.
L2 SERMON VI.
St. LUKE xi. 9.
mall be given you ; seek, and ye
HE Beginning of the
Chapter, you will find
Prayer for their Use, the
shall have a Friend, and Mall go unto him Serm. at Midnight, and say unto him; Friend, VI. lend me three Loaves, for a Friend of mine in bis Journey is come to me, and I bave nothing to set before him : And be from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not ; the Door is now shut, and my Children are with me in Bed : I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, though he will not rise and give him, because he is bis Friend; yet because of his Importunity, he will rise and give him as many as be needeth. Then follow the Words of my Text, as the Instruction of the Parable ; And I say unto you, ask, and it shall be given you ; seek; and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
Doubtless a Man, considering the Majesty, Holiness, and Goodness of Almighty God, will be surprized at first with the Matter and Application of this Parable, and that of the unjust Judge, in the xviiith Chapter, wbich feared not God, neither regarded Man. But when he shall likewise have considered the Perfection and Wifdom of the Teacher, like whom never Man spake, he will only admire the gra. L 3