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I

Of Perseverance.
HAVE discoursed against Relapsing

into a sinful course, not as if it were
lutficient for us to forbear going back-
Ward, or to stand at a stay, but because
in order to our progress in Virtue, it is the
first thing necessary, to stand upon your
Legs, and to be in a moving and walking
posture.
32. THE second thing therefore we
are to be careful of, is, to remember the
Promises and Resolutions we have made,
and to pursue 'them so as to transmit them
into a settled Practice of all manner of
Virtue. This Direction consists of several
Branches.

1. We are to keep our Vows of Amendment as fresh in our Memories as 'tis possible. For the Understanding being the original Principle of Action, which governs the Lower Faculties of the Soul, according to those Idea's and Notions that it works by it self, it is impossible to act with any certain regularity, when a Man doth not Apprehend, or doth not Remema ber what he is to do. Notions that are

quite

quite loft have no more Power and Influ. ence upon us, than if we had never entertained them: And this is one great cause of the Decay of Religion, that Men de not fufficiently charge their Duty upog their Memories, nor revolve their Obli gations in their Minds as they should do, but lay aside the thoughts of their former Engagements, like those unfruitful Hearers St. James speaks of, who though they find by the Precepts of Christ how Undefiled and Pure their whole Man fhould be; yet inconsiderately drop all care of cleanling themselves from their Pollutions, as those who behold their natural face in a glas, and then go their ways, streightway forg getting what manner of Men they were i that is, what Spots there are in their Faces which are necessary to be wiped off, Jam. 1. 23, 24. when the confidera. tion of those Resolutions we made at the Lord's Table, doth flide fo foon out of the mind, it is impossible to conceive how they should bring any Fruit ynto Perfection, though many were serious and strong for the time, because they are not rooted enough in the Heart to spring up, like Cora cast into the Bosom of a Kindly Soyl, but are lost presently for want of deep digestion, like Seed (catter'd by the way side, upon stony ground, which

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lies a little, to be picked up by the next Bird

that comes. Due Consideration is very * powerful to Invigorate the Faculties of 2 the Soul, and to make them productive

of a New Life ; because it keeps the mind in such a constant motion as maintains the whole Soul at its daily Work. Be sure therefore often to renew the remembrance of those Vows, which you made to God at this Covenant-Feast; consider and meditate upon them every day, as you should upon your · Latter End, or, that I may allude' to. Moses in another case, Lay up those Vows in your heart, and in your soul, and bind them for Sign upon your band, that they may be as Phylacteries before your eyes, and think of them when you hat in your Houses, when you walk by the way, when

you ,

lie down, And when you rise up, Deut. 11. 18, 19.

2. THE next business is, to transmit them into Practice. For neither are lazy Wishes to any purpose ; nor can feeble Resolutions or "faint Endeavours ever answer the great Ends of Christianity. As Virtue is acquired by single Ads, so is it Improved by repeated exercise, and Perfected by the assiduous Discipline of Orfeverance. that Christ's Spirit works after such a Physical Manner, as to Transform a Man

per

perfectly in a moment, or to make him compleatly Religious all at once, by a sudden and uncontroulable Infufion of Habitual Holiness. His Operations are fuccessive; alluring, stirring, and strength. ning Men to perfect Holiness in the fear of God gradually; and by helping them to Rectifie and Refine Humane Nature more and more, just as evil Custom helps to deprave it. Therefore the Practice of Virtue is absolutely necessary, because it cannot be thought how the frequent Lufts of the Flesh.can otherwise be mortified, or how a crooked Disposition can other wise be Reformed and streightned; or how inveterate Habits can otherwise be eradicated to the full.

3: THIS, Thirdly, must be a setled Practice,' a State, a Tenour, a Life of Virtue. To resolve one Day upon a regular Progress, and then to let those Resolutions go off with ones first Sleep, is but a parting with ones Sins in a kind of pet, like the parting of Lovers, whom the next opportunity reconciles. Many things may provoke People to fall out with their Lusts for a while, either the penetrating faculty of the Word of God; or a sudden and surprising prospect of Hell; or the snubbings and lashes of a reftless Mind ; or some outward Calamity

· thas

that reneweth the smart of an old Sore, and revives the sense of former Guilt, ás the Imprisonment of Jacob's Sons in Es sypt brought it into their frefh remembrance how guilty they had been concering their Brother, Gen.42. Nor do I deny, but such Passions are sometimes preparatory to a true Repentance, it right realon steps in before the fit be over, and obtains full Liberty of Audience. But if these motions of the Soul do not settle into a composed State of Virtue, but are only Temporary and Transient things, like a Morning Cloud, and the eårly Dem that goeth away, to use the Prophet's comparison, Hof. 6. 4. They cannot profit as to the main, because they fall short of the Ends of our Religion, being not effectually perfective of our Natures.

4. FOR, Fourthly, our Resolutions should pass into the practice of Universal Holiness. The Perfection of God himself consists in the Infinite Glory and Rectitude of his Nature, that he is most perfedly Wise, Just, Good, Pure, True, and the like, and that there is such an entire Harmony within himself, that there cannot be the least Aberration or Declension of his Will from the Infinite Reason of his Mind; but that in all his Actions his Power is conducted by Rca.

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fons

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