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then those. Darling Sins are our right Eye, or right Hand, because of the great Love we have for them.
(2.) These Beloved Sins are like a right Eye or right Hand, in regard of their seeming so neceffaly to us that we cannot live without them. Predominant Sins are often spared on this very
Account, that Men think it is impossible for them to be without them: They are a necessary and intimate
Part of themselves, as it were, like the most necessary Members of the Body; and therefore they never think of getting rid of them. But granting that they were such, our Saviour advises the cutting them off for all that, as we take off a gangren'd Member to save the rest of the Body.
Thus we see in what respect these Beloved Predominant Sins may be compared to a right Eye, , or right Hand.
2. I proceed, as I proposed, to shew how apt our Affections to them are to offend us, that is, to lead us into sinful Courses. There is nothing more plain than this by constant Experience: Our Inclination to Beloved Sins is like a Byass, which insensibly inclines us to the side of these Sins, whenever the least Opportunity presents. Take a Covetous Man for Example, I mean, a Man whose Heart is wedded to the World, who has that for his Beloved Predominant Sin; and it is easy to observe how it is continually ensnaring him in evil Practices. It tempts him to the neglect of Charity, Generosity, and Gratitude; and inclines him to all the Peevish, Anxious, Penurious, and even unjust ways of dealing with his Neighbours; nay with himself, and Wife, and Children, and
Servants. The first Thoughts that come into his Mind upon every Thing he sets about, are, what · he shall get by it; and if he finds nothing to be got, though there be ever so much good to be done, it is most probable he will utterly neglect that Business; and if it be any thing that not only brings him no profit, but puts him to charge, it is a thousand to one, if any prospect of doing good will tempt him to it; whatever the shame of the World, or the fear that it may turn to his prejudice in other Respects may do. What I have faid of Covetousness is true of Ambition, of Lust, and all other Beloved. Sins; they are continually seducing Men from their Duty, and betraying them into numberless Sins of Omiflion, and Commiffion, according to the Quality and Nature of them.
3. The third Thing then I am to consider is, how we are to pluck out this right Eye, and crit off this right Hand ; that is, how we are to break the force of these Darling Sins, that they may no longer prove Snares to lead us to Destruction. In speaking to this, I propose to do these Three Things.
(1.) To shew the Possibility of Conquering Darling Sinş
(2.) To acknowledge the Difficulty, and to consider the Causes of it.
(3.) To offer fome Advices to facilitate this Matter.
(1.) First, I am to shew the Possibility of Conquering darling Sins. If it were simply impossible to conquer beloved Sins, God would never require it of us, and that under Pain of Damnation; for this would be exceeding Derogatory,
both to the Wisdom of God, in making Salvation to depend upon impossible Conditions; and to the Justice of God, in punishing Men for what it was impossible for them with their utmost Endeavours to help; and above all to the Goodness and Mercy of God, in requiring so very hard and impoffible Tasks of Men. For I take it for granted, what I believe none will offer to deny, that God requires us to forsake all Sin, particularly Darling Sins, upon Pain of eternal Damnation, so as I need not be at the pains to prove it. And as we have a strong Argument for this from the Nature of God, who must be supposed to require nothing of us, but what with the help of his Grace is Possible to be complyed with; so the many Examples of great Sinners of all forts, who by the Grace of God have been reclaimed both of old, and of late, is a plain Demonstration of the Possibility of the Thing.
(2.) But Secondly; it must be acknowledged very difficult, and that for the following Reasons. 1. To make a Darling Sin, we must suppose a great Propensity of corrupt Nature ; and to rectify Nature, it must be owned to be very difficult. 2. This Propensity is to be supposed to be confirmed by a vitious Course or Habit, and so to have become Customary; and Custom we know is a Second Nature; and the difficulty of breaking it off is compared to some natural Impossibilities, (a) Can the Ethiopian change bis Skin, or the Leopard bis Spots ? Then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do Evil. And though the Difficulty
(a) Jer. xiii. 23.
or Impossibility here spoken of, is to be understood only as to Man's Endeavour, not God's ; as our Saviour faid in another case, with Men this is impossible, but with God all Things are possible ; yet really there is something in the nature of Evil Habits, which makes them exceeding Difficult to be overcome beyond other Habits; for all endeavours of that nature, are like Rowing against the Stream ; or like Rolling of an heavy round Stone up Hill: If ever we remit of our care, it rolls Impetuously down again; and we have all our Work to begin anew. Besides, The Pain, and Trouble, and Self-denial of it, is, literally, like the Pulling out of an Eye, or the Cutting off of an Hand. And yet after all it must be attempted, and perfected too, upon no less Pain than that of being cast into Hell, as my Text faith. And this leads me to
(3.) The Last Thing I proposed; namely, to offer fome Advices to facilitate this Matter, and I shall have done.
1. The First Advice is, to be fully persuaded of the Necessity of parting with our beloved Sins, under the pain of our eternal and final Destruction. There is nothing has more kept Men from using Vigorous Endeavours this way, I mean against their Predominant Sins, than that they have fed themselves with false Hopes of being safe without it. In the Church of Rome, by Confession to a Priest, and obtaining his Absolution, and complying with fome flight Penances, they hope to obtain Pardon of Almighty God, though they never forsake their þeloved Sins. Many among our selves have such flight Notions of Repentance, that 'a bare Sorrow for Sin, without Amendment, paffes for it, which if joined with some warmth of Devotion, and flight Resolutions of Amendment, they think enough. Some are willing to Compensate for these Sins, by doing of Alms Deeds, and Compounding the Matter as it were some other Way. But all
this is daubing with untempered Mortar ; there is · no such Thing as true Repentance, except we actually break off our Sins by Righteousness. The rest is all but some Imperfect beginning of Repentance: Sorrows, and Resolutions, and Wishes of Amendment; nay, faint Aiming at it, and feeble Endeavours after it, are far short of Repentance itself, which is a thorough Change of Heart and Life. It is called (a) Repentance from dead Works; which shews us, that if the Heart and Mind are ever so much Changed, unlefs our Sins are actually forsaken, it is no true Repentance. Let this then be believed as an Infalli ble Principle in the first Place; that there is no getting to Heaven while we continue in the Practice of these our Darling Sins. s 2. Let us believe, that the longer we indulge our selves in Vitious Practices, so much the harder it will be to get rid of them. And therefore the fooner we begin, and the more diligently we hold on, our Success will be so much the furer.
3. Let us firmly believe, that there is no Impossibility in overcoming our most Favourite Sins. That it is very Difficult, I will grant; nay, Impoffible purely by our own Strength; but there is nothing Impossible unto God; and we shall be able to do all Things, as the Apostle says, through
(a) Heb. vi. 1.