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one diftemper, by contracting another equally inveterate, and as certainly mortal. What profit was it to the Pharifee that he was not an extortioner like the publican? his pride rendered him ftill more odious and detestable in the fight of God.
I may add here, that befides the common and neceffary change of age and temper, a change of fituation, employment, and connections, will fometimes wean a man from one fin, and introduce an attachment to another. If the temptation is removed, the fire may be extinguished for want of fuel. The inclination to fin in fome kinds may be thus occafionally weakened, or the commiffion of it rendered impoffible. It is eafy to fee that such a change as this can be of no avail in the fight of God; or rather, to speak more properly, it is only an apparent, and no real change at all. It is a difference of effect from an alteration of circumstances, but arifing from the very fame caufe. Are there not many who may apply this reflection to themselves? Are there not many who have ceased to fin in some refpects, because they have begun to fin in others? Are there not many who are abused and deceived by this delufory view? who take comfort to themselves by remembering fome fpecies of fins or follies which they now fincerely and heartily defpife? Take heed that this be not entirely owing C
to your progress through life, or a change of circumftances and fituation. Are you not fill living as much to yourfelves as ever? as much averse from a life of love to, and communion with God, as ever? Remember, that though your conduct may be wifer and more prudent, and your character more refpectable in the world than before, this is no proof of regeneration; and " except a man be born again, he cannot "fee the kingdom of God."
2. Sometimes a partial change is produced by ftrong occafional convictions, either from the word or providence of God. There are many inftances in which convictions of fin are raised in the minds of the hearers of the gospel, which continue in great force for fome time, and have a partial effect, which still remains. Even a Felix is fometimes made to tremble at the thoughts of a judgment to come. It is very certain that natural confcience, when awakened by the word of God, will both reftrain from fin, and excite to duty, even while fin hath the dominion upon the whole. As the spirit lufteth against the flesh, and the flesh against the fpirit, in believers, fo. confcience, the divine witnefs in the hearts of unbelievers, may urge to the practice of duty in a certain measure, when it is not able to change the heart inwardly and univerfally. It may deter from fins to which the attachment is lefs
ftrong, even whilft it is not able to expel a darling luft, or dethrone a favourite idol.
There is a remarkable example of this character in Herod, and his behaviour to John Baptift. We are told by the evangelift Mark, that Herod "feared John, knowing that he was a just man and
an holy, and obferved him, and when he heard "him he did many things, and heard him "gladly *." That is to fay, he did many fuch things as were leaft contrary to the bent of corrupt affection. But that the change was not entire is plain; for when he was reproved for his beloved luft, it only served to inflame his refentment, and he took away the life of his reprover. We find that Ahab king of Ifrael, of whom it is faid, that he did more to provoke "the Lord God of Ifrael to anger than all that "went before him," yet humbled himself on the denunciation of divine wrath, and was fo far penitent as ferved to procure a fufpenfion of the temporal ftroke.
It appears, indeed, from innumerable inftances in fcripture, as well as from daily experience, that there are temporary convictions raised in the minds of many, both by the word and providence of God. It is also certain, that there are imperfect effects of these convictions, which often continue a confiderable time, or rather are per
petual, though they are ftill only partial. Many finners, though they continue unrenewed, yet dare not return to the fame unbounded licence as before. Nay, there are fome fins, under the penal effects of which they have feverely smarted, which they never dare afterwards to indulge. We have a very remarkable national inftance of this imperfect reformation in the Jews. They were at first shamefully and amazingly prone to idolatry, and continued so under repeated ftrokes, till the terrible defolation they met with at the Babylonish captivity: from that period, however, notwithstanding their great guilt in other particulars, they never returned to idolatry, but to this day continue to have the deepest abhorrence of that capital crime.
There are many particular perfons in the fame fituation. Some fins which have lain heavy on their confciences, or for which they have feverely fuffered in the courfe of providence, they will not commit; but others, one or more, which may be called their own iniquity," they hold fast, and will not let them go. Are there not different degrees of depravation and obstinacy to be found in different finners, as well as different degrees of holiness, obedience, and fubmiffion in the children of God? And though there is usually a progrefs in the first to the worse, as well as in the laft to the better, yet ftill there may be par
ticular fins which they dare not commit, and particular duties which they diligently discharge. Nay, this partial character is often the very thing that blinds their minds, and continues their fecurity in an habitual alienation of heart from the life and power of true religion.
Are there not many cuftomary Chriftians who have a form of godliness, and, though they are ut ter ftrangers to communion with God, yet nothing will induce them to part with their form. Are there not many whom it would be unjust to brand with the groffer crimes of prophane fwearing, fenfual riot, or unclean luft, who yet have their hearts fet upon the world,, which they love and purfue, and on which they reft with complacency, as their sweetest portion? Are all outwardly decent. - and fober perfons ready to take up the crofs, and follow their mafter without the camp? Are they ready to forfake" houses and brethren, and fifters "and lands, yea, and their own life alfo, for "his fake and the gofpel's?" And yet without this they cannot be his difciples. There are many hard fayings in religion, which ordinary profeffors cannot bear, and with which they never comply. Remember the cafe of the young man. who came to our Saviour, and spoke with fo much modefty and difcretion, but could not bear this great trial: "Then Jefus beholding him loved "him, and faid unto him, One thing thou"lackeft: