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Serm. strangely, if they were not bribed by their IV. Paffions. However, in the Place before
us, such Errors are directly obviated. Here Repentance is taken in a more strict and proper Sense, and distinguished from its Fruits : And the Baptist warns his Penitents; that those Fruits are equally necefsary with the Repentance which ought to yield them.
And with that Necessity I will begin : For you cannot be without a general Notion of the Nature (which I have already intimated also) of the good Fruits requir’d, Therefore
Thall hear, I say, in the first Place, how indispensably they are requir'd by most express Scripture, and by evident Reason, with the Answer to some objected Cases. And after that, I hope, to difcourse particularly of the Fruits themselves, and find you prepared for a serious Atten, tion to the Subject, being convinced of the universal and infinite Importance of it.
First, then ; the Text plainly teaches the Necefsity of producing the Fruits of Repentance. Bring forth therefore Fruits meet for Repentance. - You will see the Force and Cogency of that Word, there
fore, by looking into the foregoing Verse. SERM.
John the Baptist, when he saw many of the IV. Pharisees and Sadducees come to his Baptism, said unto them, O Generation of Vipers, wbo bath warned you to flee from the Wrath to come ? The Baptist, you see, admires at these Mens turning from their evil Course. Yet it is not strange for great Sinners to repent ; since their Doings are plainly contrary to Reason and their true Interest; and it is not a little Time that can intirely stupify the Conscience. But here appears to have been a special Cause for despairing of their Conversion; and that is, that their Principles were as corrupt as their Practices. The Custom of Sinning, join'd with such Opinions as render Repentance unnecessary, serve to intrench Men doubly in their Vices, and fix them in a deep and fatal Security. The Pharisees false Interpretations of the Law, and the Sadducees Unbelief of the Resurrection, and the fond Conceit entertained by both, of God's partial Favour to them as the Children of Abraham, serv'd powerfully to this Purpose. These were the Sources of their Immorality and Hypo
SERM.crily, and Pride, the greatest Enemies to IV. Repentance. Here was the Poyson of the
Viper. This made the Preacher cry out,
as amaz'd ; Who could open your Eyes, and make
see the only way to escape the Wrath to come? Then he subjoins, Bring forth therefore Fruits meet for Repentance. As if he had said,
" 'Tis a won« derful Power of Divine Grace that has “ awaken'd Men, in all Appearance dead " and buried in Sin, and given them a Sense “ of the Vengeance that awaits them. Such " Grace was not to be expected; frustrate it
not ; expect it not a second Time ; but “ be sure to go on in the new Way you are “ led into ; and see you add to your « Confession and Sorrow an effectual Refor“mation of your Lives; otherwise, it is in “ vain that you are shew'd that Way; and “ still worse than in vain : Your going fo far “ in it is also vain, because you go no far. " ther. The Warning puts you in Motion, " and ye begin to flee; and it is well : But “ continue therefore your Flight, or else the « Wrath to come will still overtake you.'' This is evidently the Force of Bring fortb therefore Fruits meet for Repentance; which
fhew'd them, and now shews us the Ne-Serm. ceffity of those Fruits.
IV. Secondly, The fame Thing appears by reading what follows the Text : For the 9th Verse, (being the very next Words) says, And think not to say within
youra selves, We have Abraham to our Father ; for I say unto you, that God is able of these Stones to raise up Children unto Abraham. There is the Excuse taken away, which they were apt enough to frame for theirselves. They are taught, (and in them any other that may in like Manner be deluded) that the Privilege of being the chosen People, or the adopted Children of God, gives no Immunity from the Duties of these good Fruits ; so far from it, that without them the Privilege itfelf is loft and forfeited. So there is no Hope for any Creature to obtain the Divine Rei wards, or escape the Punishments, unless they obey the Divine Laws. Then the roth Verfe expresses directly the Fate of a barren Repentance. And now also the Ax is laid unto the Root of the Trees; iberefore every Tree, which bringeth not forth good Fruit, is bewn down and caft into Pro H 4
SERM. the Fire. · He does not say, Every Tree
foms ; nor (which is more) every Tree
Tree from the Ax and Flames. Accordingly, let us say to ourselves: We shall escape everlasting Destruction not if we high or weep only; not if we confess our Sins, and even resolve to forsake them : No, nor yet if we begin to do Good; but our Goodness be as a Morning Cloud, and as the early Dew. But, if that which is confess’d and lamented be indeed forsaken, and that which is warmly resolved warily and steadily executed : But, if the Beginnings of Good become effectual and complete, by our Perseverance, Progress, and Abounding. And this Evidence the Text itself gives us, and indeed a very fuffici. ent Proof, of the Necessity to bring forth Fruits meet for Repentance.
But lest any one should imagine that this Doctrine was somewhat peculiar to,