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deemer; and that we are resolved, by God's grace, to fight the good fight of faith.
2dly, And surely, after such a declaration as this, we cannot want to be convinced, that to return back to our former sins must be attended with great danger.
In the distempers of the body relapses are always dangerous, and often fatal: and they are not less so in the distempers of the soul : and the danger ever increases in proportion as our returns to sin are more frequent; as I shall endeavour to make appear to the meanest capacity.
And Ist, Relapses into siņ are fatal, because they make us more familiar with vice, and take off a great deal of that shame and fear, which aț first restrained us within the bounds of our duty. By often falling we fancy ourselves unable to resist, and therefore cease to use our efforts against the attacks of sin: we quit our guard, and slacken our resolution, and thus are a ready prey to every sin that beșets us. - Qur conscience, indeed, that faithful witness which God has placed within us, will from time to time lift up its voice, will cry aloud and spare not, will haunt the sinner's midnight slumbers, and paint H 4
L. his guilt, his folly, and his danger, in their proper colours : but even that will at length grow weary of its useless task, and leave the man who suffers himself to be repeatedly drawn into sin, to a state of final impenitence and ruin.
2dly, Relapses into sin are fatal, because they weaken the sense of God's grace in us, and therefore render the conversion of the sinner more burdensome and difficult. After the first or second fall into sin, men easily rise again; their guilt is not confirmed by habit, and the Spirit of God works strongly within them to stop theit danger and ruin. But as their guilt increases, the difficulty of their recovery increases also ; for evil practices confirmed by habit become a second nature : it will therefore require a more extraordinary assistance of God's Spirit to break through this unhappy state of confirmed wickedness. But where, alas ! shall this extraordinary assistance of divine grace be had or expected, when our sins have driven away the Holy Spirit? Where shall the streams of mercy be found, when our -past abuse of it has dried up the fountain of divine goodness? Where shall we look for aid, when the God of Jacob is no longer our help? And such he certainly will not be to the hardened and dating sinner: for whatever
help he may grant to the infirmities of his of fending children ; how great soever the riches of his goodness and long-suffering may be towards the sincere, though frail, Christian; yet they may be wearied out by repeated ingratitude and unfruitfulness. He knows whereof we are made, and therefore will not be extrenie to mark what is done amiss : but if neither his exhortations, nor warnings, nor blessings, nor threatenings, nor diseases, nor afflictions, can awaken us to a sense of our folly, and keep us from falling, he does not then say, “ Sin no
more,” but he leaves us to our own counsel, to walk in the ways of our heart, and in the sight of our eyes
. And in this, 3dly, consists the danger of frequent relapses into sin. For God having withdrawn himself from the sinner, and left him to the guidance of corrupt nature, he has no longer any strength to rise and repent. His repeated crimes add weight to his yoke, and it is impossible to break it without help from above : he is such an utter stranger to repentance, that he knows not how to set about it: and if he should, his guilt is so complicated, that he knows not where to begin : the sins of his youth and the iniquities of his riper years are so many, that he is afraid to look back upon his past life:
they are a sore burden, too heavy for him to bear, yet he has not the courage to cast them off: he wishes to repent, yet dares not begin the dreadful task : and thus between guilt and fear; between the struggles of conscience and the temptations of sin; between the ineffectual wishes of repentance and the unavailing hopes of mercy; between the bounds of time and the moments of eternity ; the poor unhappy sinner lingers on in terror and irresolution, till death snatches him away, unprepared, to answer for his sins at the bar of a just God, and from thence to dwell for ever with everlasting burnings.
Such then is the folly, such the danger of suffering ourselves to relapse into sin. ; Be it our care, therefore, whilst we have it yet in our power to avoid them. We may, indeed, find it hard to sin no more; but we shall find it much harder to bear those never-dying torments which will await us in the next life, if we continue in our sins. Our temptations to sin may be strong; but our motives to abstain from it are still stronger. Whenever, therefore, we are
tempted, if we would only put into one scale the - pleasure or profit we hope to gain from the commission of any sin, and into the other that worse thing which will befal us if we commit it,
even the everlasting burnings of hell; we could not hesitate one moment which we ought to chuse: for little should we be profited, if we should gain the whole world at the expençe
of losing our valuable and immortal soul.
Whenever, therefore, we approach the altar of God, let it be with a full resolution to sin no more, when we consider that we are the sick that have been made whole; when we reflect that our cure was purchased at no less a price than the blood of the everlasting Son of God; let us determine not to trample upon so great a blessing, not to reject the riches of his goodness towards us ; lest a worse thing befal us. And may that God, who supports the feeble knees, so strengthen our pious resolutions, that we may faithfully keep them here, and be everlastingly rewarded for them hereafter.