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But we are not 'to suppose, that this great blessing requires nothing to be done on our part, or that we are allowed to continue in our sins. Christ will indeed pardon our sins past, provided we forsake sin for the time to come: it is indeed his to give health to the sick, but it is our's to preserve it. This was what he expected from the paralytic: this is what he expects from every one of us; “ Behold, thou art made whole; sin “ no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.”
Yet great as these mercies are, which are held forth to us, there are too many who wickedly and shamefully neglect them. They reject all the offers of their heavenly Physician, and are contented to live on in their miserable and paralytic state; the slaves of sin, the servants of corruption. Christ daily addresses himself to them in those affectionate words, “ Wilt thou “ be made whole ?”. He exhorts them by his word, he warns them by his ministers, he knocks at the door of their hearts by his grace: every blessing you receive, every affliction you suffer, are so many warnings, which cry out to you that are spiritually sick, Will you be made whole ? will you accept of my peace and my salvation ? But, alas! we fear to be healed, and refuse the helps which he so kindly offers : we forsake the Church and Sacrament, because we will not forsake our lusts and sins till age or sickness begin to summon us to the grave. And then, when God writes bitter things against us ; when the iniquities of our youth alarm our consciences; when the decays of nature place death and judgment before us, and, in short, when we are able to sin no longer; we then send for our spiritual guides, and request to be partakers of the holy Sacrament: as if the one could teach us to live, when we are going to die; or the other could wash away those sins, which we are determined never to forsake.
But suffer not yourselves, my christian hearers, to be deceived in this point by mistaken notions or deceitful practices. It is indeed the practice of too many to neglect both the worship of God and his holy Sacraments; to bid defiance to the commands of God, the ordinances of man, and the repeated exhortations of the ministers of the Gospel ; and in spite of every invitation, advice, remonstrance, and reproach, to remit the care of their souls to the last moment of their lives. But if ever there was any practice dangerous and blameable, this is certainly so. The man who is guilty of it cannot truly be called a Christian, because he renounces his allegiance to Christ, by disobeying his positive commands. He can
not believe the Gospel, for the whole tenor of the Gospel is entirely against it; its folly hath been unanswerably again and again exposed, and its danger evinced by the clearest and most convincing reasons. If therefore men will stand out and persevere in a practice, which they cannot but know to be wicked and indefensible, they must pay for their folly ; but let them remember, that eternal damnation is a sad price to pay for it!
But as for you, who better know the gift of God, and the value of that pardon which is offered to you, faithfully continue to draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort. Be assured, that your prayers' and penitential sighs will all be heard before God; your sins and frailties will all be washed away in the blood of the everlasting covenant; your faith will be confirmed and strengthened; your pious resolutions accepted; your hopes cherished. and enlivened; and your expectations raised above the petty views of this vain and perishing world, to an inheritance undefiled in the heavens. And after a life thus spent in obedience to the will of God, whenever it shall please him to visit you with sickness unto death, you will then be able to bid adieu to the world with com
fort, fort, and to say with the transport of good old Simeon, “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant “ depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen thy es salvation.”
Afterwards Jesus findeth him in the temple, and
said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole ; sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.'
I HAVE already taken occasion from these 1 words to point out the great excellence and advantages of that spiritual cure, which is offered to us in the holy Sacrament.
I shall now proceed to shew, that it is the duty of every communicant to abstain from those sins which have been there forgiven; and, secondly, to point out those dangers and inconveniences to which men expose themselves by relapsing into their former wicked habits.
“ Sin no more," said our Saviour to the poor paralytic, whom he had healed, and “ sin ng VOL. III.