Page images

tion, if it be genuine and fincere, is fixed and immutable ; and is apt to express itself in such language as this : « I have in my soberest thoughts made « choice of a virtuous course, and I « will stand to what I have done : if

my resolution was good at first, it is “ equally good now, and therefore no

thing shall move me to break it : I « foresee that I shall be tempted again

to the commission of such or such a « fin: my own lusts may prompt me to “ it, or I may be sollicited by wicked “ men,or instigated by the devil himself;

nay, perhaps they may all combine

together to urge me on: but withal, " I know that tho they can tempt, yet “ they cannot force me: and therefore « here I resolve that, let the temptation “ be ever so strong, I will not comply « with it. I bid an eternal adieu to all “ sinful pleasures, and will never taste 66 of them more.

And as I will for ever abstain from all vice, so I will “ be constant in the practice of all vir“ tue: my goodness shall not be as a

morning cloud, nor go away as the

early dew, but shall run through all “ the periods of my life. I will not “ perform religious duties one day, and


neglect them another ; but the same " which I have done to-day, I will do

to-morrow, and I will strive to do si them better." Thus peremptory and unmoveable is a good man in his holy resolutions; which he renews from time to time till they grow habitual, and become the very temper of his soul.

3. Another property of religious resolution is that it respects the time present, and admits of no delay. There are some persons who resolve to forsake their fins, and to enter upon a religious course some time or other before they die, but they care not to do it at present. They are willing to enjoy the pleasures of fin a little longer, before they take their final leave of them. Being now young and healthy, they fondly hope that they have many years to live, and that they shall be better disposed to religion in a more advanced age than they are now, because then their passions will be more moderate, and their judgments more mature. They vainly think, that meditations upon religion are better suited to a time of fickness and adversity than to a time of health and prosperity :

« 'Tis time enough, say they, to be grave and se" rious, when dull and melancholy

« scenes

« scenes present themselves to us. "Tis “ time enough to prepare for death " when we come within the view of « it ; but now whilst every thing a« round us looks gay and smiling, let

us give a loose to joy, and take our « fill of sensual pleasures ; but let us “ not anticipate our forrows, or ter“ rify ourselves with the apprehen“ fion of an evil, which, in all proba

bility, is at a great distance from


Thus do the generality of men banish serious thoughts from their minds, and defer the great concern of life till the last scene of it. But it is otherwise with a true penitent. He resolves to break off his fins immediately, and apply himself to the business of religion with out delay. This is the language of his soul: “'I have trifled too long already « in a matter of the highest import

ance: therefore I am determined not “ to lose any more time, but will im“ mediately return to God and my duty. “ If it is expedient for me to repent at « all, it is expedient for me to repent

now : and the same reasons which " should induce me to reform at any “ time, are as cogent to persuade me « to reform at this time. Vice is the fame odious and deformed, and vircue the fame beautiful and amiable

thing now, as it will be hereafter ; « and there is the same connexion be

tween vice and misery, between vir

tụe and happiness. 'Tis vain to think, ” that I shall be better disposed to for

sake my sins, or to perform the du“ ties of religion hereafter, than I am

at present : for my lufts will but grow stronger by age; and by a long neglect of the duties of religion they

will grow but the more formidable 6 and difficult, and I shall contract the

greater distaste of and aversion to " them. Besides; it is absurd for me

to reckon upon futurity, for I am not sure of a moment to come. I

enjoy a precarious existence at the " pleasure of the Almighty : and, for

I « at hand, when he shall call me out " of this state of trial into a state of

recompence ; and then there will be " no place for repentance. Upon these " accounts therefore I resolve from this “ moment to abandon all the vices « which I have formerly indulged my“ 'self in, and will forthwith apply my


[ocr errors]

" felf to the practice of universal


4. The last property of religious resolution, is, that it is univerfal, and refpects all God's commandments. There are some persons who make a resolution of abftaining from some fins, to which they are least addicted by their natural temper, or least tempted from without; and of performing some duties which are most easy and agreeable to them: but as for those fins to which they have a strong propensity by nature, and to which they are moft vigorously tempted by external things, these they cannot find in their hearts to renounce; neither can they be prevailed upon to practise those duties which are most irksome and painful to them. As for example: a man may be naturally of a meek and quiet spirit, and so no wonder if he resolves not to fly out into a paffion upon a provocation, but to maintain his wonted calmness and ledateness of temper'; and yet at the same time, being of a covetous and worldly difpofition, he may be unjuft in his dealings, and unmerciful to the poor : and, on the other hand, a man who is led by his natural temper to acts of jus

« PreviousContinue »