« PrécédentContinuer »
"tent must renounce the world, must "abridge even the necessary time of “sleep, must interrupt it with his "sighs, and cut it short with his
prayers." And St. Cæsariais of Arles, Hom. viii. "As often as we visit the "sick, or those that are in prison << or reconcile together those that are cc at variance, with one another; as often as we fast on days commanded "by the church-give alms to the poor that pass by our door, &c. .. By these, and such like works, ou "small sins are daily redeemed. But "this alone is not enough for capital crimes; we must add tears and las mentations, and long fasts ; and give large alms to the utmost of our power. Thus, as the same saint tells Hom. i. "By present mortifica "tion will be prevented the future ❝ sentence of eternal death: thus by "humbling the guilty will the guilt "be consumed; and by this voluntary
severity, the wrath of a dreadful
Judge will be appeased-These "short, penitential labours will pay "off those vast debts, which other"wise everlasting burning will never
be able to discharge. "Christian's let us follow in practice these excellent guides.
Against Delay of Repentance.
Onsider, first, that of all the deceits by which Satan deludes sinners to their eternal ruin, there is none greater or more dangerous than when he persuades them to put off their repentance and conversion from time to time, till no more time re mains for repentance. Alas! thousands and millions of poor souls have been thus betrayed into everlasting flames, who never designed to damn themselves by dying in sin, any more than we do at present. But, by putting off their conversion, they have, by a just judgment of God, been surprised by death, when they least expected it; and, dying as they lived, have been justly sentenced to that second and everlasting death.Unhappy wretches! who would not believe their just Judge, who so often cautions them to watch: and declares in the gospel, that otherwise he shall come.
at a time when they least expect hiin. Ah! how dreadful and how common are these unprovided deaths!
Consider, secondly, the great presumption of sinners, who put off their reconciliation with an offended God till another time, shutting their ears to his voice, by which he calls them at present, and refusing him entrance into their hearts, where he stands and knocks. Alas! if he withdraws himself, they are undone for ever: how dare they then treat him with so much contempt? Is it not an infinite goodness, and inexpressible condescension in this sovereign Majesty, to call after them, when they are running from him; and so earnestly to press them, without any interest on his side, to return to him who is their only good, and su preme happiness? What then ought they not to apprehend from his justice, if they obstinately and insolently refuse to embrace his mercy? How dare they pretend to dispose of the time to come, or promise themselves greater graces hereafter, than those which they now abuse? Do they not know that God alone is master of time and grace,
and that by his just judgment those who presume to tempt him in this manner, generally speaking, die in their sins? Ah! it is too true, that he who has promised pardon to the sinner that is sincerely converted, bas neither promised time nor efficacious grace to those who defer their conversion.
Consider, thirdly, the great folly of sinners who put off their conversion to God ill, another time, upon pretence of doing it more easily hereafter; whereas, both reason and experience make it evident, that the longer they defer this work, the more difficulties they meet to compass it. And how can it be otherwise, since by this de lay, and by adding daily sin to sin, their sinful babits gather strength; the devil's power over them increa ses; and God, who is daily more and more provoked, is by degrees less li beral of his graces, so that they be come less frequent and pressing: till at length, by accustoming themselves to resist his grace, they fall into the wretched state of blindness and hardness of heart, the broad road to final impenitence !
Consider, fourthly, the unparal leled madness of those who defer their conversion upon the confidence of a death bed repentance; designing to put a cheat upon the justice of God, by in dulging themselves in sin all their life time; and then making their peace with God, when they can sin no longer Unhappy wretches! consider that God is not to be mocked : that what a man soweth, the same skall ke reop, Galvi, 6. The general rule is, that as a inaŋ lives, so he dies: a rule so general, that in the whole scripture we have but one example of a person who died well after a wicked life, viz. the good thiefs an example so singular in all its cir cuinstances, as to give no encourage. ment to sinners who entertain a pre meditated design of cheating the jus tice of God by a death bed conversion, Ah! how dreadfully difficult must it be for a dying sinner, in whom the habit of sinis by long custom turned into a second nature, to attain to a thorough change of heart, sincere sor row and detestation of sin, love of God above all things, which he ne ver thought of. in his life time; and