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sitions; not only that our love of God be sincere and cordial, but that it must be intense and perfect to the highest degree.

Thus, Deut. vi. 5. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. The Law and Covenant of Works exact a perfection of degrees, in our love and obedience, as well as of parts. It must not only be sineere, but complete. It not only tries our obedience, by the touchstone; but weighs it in the balance, and gives us no grains of allowance. Now, is there any man upon earth, that so loves God, or obeys him, that it is not possible he should love him more, or obey him better? Do not some Christians exceed others, in their grace and holiness? And might not all exceed themselves, if they would? The Law gives no allowance for any failings and, therefore, if thou canst love God more, and serve him better, than thou dost, thou art not a fulfiller of the Law, but a transgressor of it. Hence St. Austin, in his Confessions, hath a pious Meditation, "Woe to our commendable life, if thou, Lord, setting thy mercy aside, shouldest examine it according to the strict rules of justice and the Law."

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[2] Because of the corruption of our natures, this Legal Perfection cannot be attained in this life.

For we are totally depraved, in every power and faculty of our souls; and every imagination of the thoughts of our hearts is only evil continually. Our understandings are darkened with the thick mists of ignorance and error: our wills are perverted, and stand at a professed contradiction to the holy will of God: our affections are become impure and sensual; our hearts hard and insensible; our consciences seared and stupid; and our carnal minds are enmity against God: for they neither are subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; as the Apostle speaks, Rom. viii. 7. Now where there is this corruption of nature, how can there possibly be perfection of life? for, who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.

And, although this corruption be healed by regenerating grace; yet is it healed but in part. In the very best, the flesh still lusteth against the Spirit, and the law of the members warreth against the law of the mind; so that they cannot do the things which they would; as the Apostle sadly complains: Rom. vii. 23. Gal. v. 17.

Yea, let me add this, too: that, if corruption were perfectly rooted out of the heart of any; and such an extraordinary measure of sanctifying grace conferred upon them, as might


enable them to perform whatsoever the Law of God required, and that to the last degree of intense love and zeal: yet would not this their perfect obedience amount unto a Legal RighteousThe reason is; because the Law of Works, being given to man in his pure and upright estate, when he had a connatural power of his own to obey it, requires obedience to be performed only by his own strength, and allows not the auxiliaries of divine and supernatural grace to enable him. If therefore we should grant, which yet we deny, that, through some extraordinary assistance vouchsafed to some particular man, he should perfectly fulfil the whole Law; yet this actual obedience, because it proceeds not from original righteousness, and the rectitude of his nature wherewith he was at first endowed, would not at all avail him to the obtaining of Justification, according to the terms of the Covenant of Works. For God requires, not only payment of the debt of obedience, which we owe unto him; but also that this payment be made out of the stock of those abilities, which he bestowed upon our nature in our first creation. Now, although it should be possible for any man to pay off the debts of nature, with the treasures of grace received from Christ; yet this would not satisfy the obligation of the Law: since, in the first covenant, it was agreed between God and man, that payment should be made out of another stock; viz. the power and free-will of uncorrupted nature.

iii. We are, therefore, under A TWOFOLD IMPOSSIBILITY OF


1. Because our obedience can never, in this life, attain absolute perfection; but still there will be faults and flaws in it, from the mixture of that corruption, which still in part remains in the best and holiest; who, therefore, ought daily to pray, not out of a feigned and complimental humility, but a true and deep sense of their necessity, Forgive us our trespasses.

2. Because, although our obedience could be perfected; yet perfect obedience, without original righteousness, will not amount unta a legal righteousness.

And thus I have done with the Doctrinal part of these words; and shewn you the impotency we all lie under, of a perfect and exact obedience to the Law.

III. Then let this SERVE

i. TO ABASE THE PRIDE AND STAIN THE GLORY OF ALL FLESH. Search into thyself, O Man. Consider: what art thou, but a mass of sin, rottenness, and corruption? Reflect back upon the whole course of thy life. How hast thou spent those years, which the patience and long-suffering of God have lent thee? Hast thou not lived in open defiance of the great God of Heaven; and a continual violation of those laws, which his authority hath imposed upon thee? Suffer thy conscience to awake, and bring in its accompts: and, though it should be like the unjust steward, and set down fifty for a hundred, and small sins for great; yet, even according to this computation, thou shalt find thyself desperately indebted to the justice of God.

Read over the black catalogue of thy sins; and see, with astonishment and horror, how much thou owest.

1. Art thou not conscious to thyself of any presumptuous Sins, committed against thy Knowledge and the checks and exclamations of thy Conscience; against thy natural light and reason, with a deliberate and resolved wilfulness?

When thou hast seen all the curses and threatenings of the Law stand ready bent against thee, and hell-fire flashing in thy very face; when conscience hath commanded thee, in the name of the Great God, to forbear, and denounced against thee wrath and death if thou daredst to commit it; hast thou not then fallen upon thy conscience, violently stopped its mouth, yea wounded and stabbed it? Yea, to add measure to this; hast thou not frequently relapsed into the commission of these presumptuous and daring sins; and repeated them, against thy vows, and protestations, and prayers, and seeming repentance: so ripping open the wounds of thy conscience again, before they were well closed, and making them bleed afresh? Who of us all can acquit ourselves of sins against knowledge and conscience, that have ever had any knowledge or conscience?

2. The Sins of Ignorance, which you have committed, are altogether numberless.


The soul naturally is a dark and confused chaos; and, until the light of the glorious truth shine into it, sin and duty lie undistinguished; and, in the blindness of our minds, we oftentimes take the one for the other. We many times transgress the Law, because we know it not; and many times transgress it, when we intend to observe it. We heed not our own actions, but let them pass from us without consideration or reflection;

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and truly the greatest part of our lives is thus huddled up, without pondering what we do; and we are equally ignorant as careless, whether we do well or ill. And in such neglected actions, the far greater part must needs be sinful: for when we heed not the rule, it is hard for us not to transgress it: and therefore saith the Psalmist, Ps. xix. 12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Add to this,

3. All thy Sins of Infirmity and Weakness.

Sins to which thou art betrayed, contrary to thy purpose and resolutions, by the sudden surprise of a temptation: sins, which, although they may not be wilful and presumptuous, yet may be very gross and scandalous: as was St. Peter's denial of his


Cast in also,

4. All the swarms of thy Secret Sins, thy Vain Thoughts, and Sinful Desires.

Sins, which, though the world can take no cognizance of them, yet are visible and conspicuous to the eyes of the AllSeeing God. He sees a sinful object lying in the embraces of thy affections: and, if there be but the least hovering of thy heart, the least fluttering of thy thoughts towards vanity, het remarks it, and writes it down in his debt-book: although, perhaps, thy conscience may omit it. And, oh, how vast a sum these alone amount unto! thy thoughts run as swift as time, and click as fast as the moments. And such a giddy, feathery, unconstant thing is the mind of man, that we cannot dwell long upon any one thought; but, whilst we are pursuing one, ten thousand others arise. Our thoughts are like those numberless motes, that play in a sunbeam: they flit up and down in our minds, without any certain scope or design. We cannot turn ourselves fast enough to them: nor can we think what we think : but God knoweth them all; and, for such infinite multitudes of thoughts, he sets down so many sins.

And, yet, besides all these, art thou not conscious to thyself, 5. Of the Omission of many Holy Duties,which thou oughtest to have performed in the several times and seasons when God called for them?

Canst thou not call to mind, that thou hast often refrained prayer from God, or charity from men? that thou hast not served him, nor helped them, when thou mightest have done it? Hast thou not neglected the ordinances of Jesus Christ, his word

and sacraments, upon small or sought occasions, or else foolish and groundless prejudices? Endless it would be, to recount all the omissions we are guilty of: which, certainly, are many more than our duties; and yet, perhaps, far more numerous.

6. All thy Miscarriages in those Duties, which thou hast performed.

The dulness of thy affections, the vagrancies of thy thoughts, thy hypocrisy and formality, all thy base and by-ends which like dead flies corrupt the most precious ointment, are all sins; and God's Law censures and condemns them for such.

Now, O Sinner, having such a load of guilt upon thy soul, how darest thou look the Holy and Just God in the face? Consider, O Wretch, what a life is this, which thou hast led; that, in all the millions of thoughts and actions about which thou hast employed thyself, the far greater pärt should be sins, for the matter of them; and all the rest sinful, for the manner. Can thy conscience lie lulled asleep, when all those troops and armies of Philistines be upon thee? Awake yet, at length, O stupid soul! Rouse thyself, and consider the woeful and desperate estate in which thou art. Wonder no longer at others, that they complain and mourn; and go heavily under the burthen of their sins, and the pangs and smart of their convictions. Muse not that there should be some few, who, with horror, cry out that they are undone and ruined, eternally undone! Alas, wert thou but once shaken out of thy lethargy; couldst thou but look about thee, and seriously view and ponder the infinite multitude and the nature of thy sins: nothing, but the strong consolations of God, could keep thee from running up and down distracted with the terrors of the Lord; and, with the utmost horror and despair, crying out, thou art damned, damned already!

But, the truth is, men are dead in trespasses and sins. Those sins, which are the cause of their misery, keep them from feel. ing it.

But, believe it, you must be convinced of your sins, either here, or hereafter. Conscience will revive in you, if not here, yet in hell. Nay, it is now writing down your sins against you, and drawing up the bill of your indictment. But, as some use such juices, that what they write shall not be legible till held to the fire; so do many men's consciences write down their sins which although they cannot perhaps read now, yet they shall read the long and black scroll of them, when they hold it

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