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of heart and obduration, and therefore a new sin superadded
to the old. For although in nature and logic time consigni-
fies, that is, it does the work of accidents, and appendages,
and circumstances, yet in theology it signifies and effects too;
time may signify a substantial duty, and effect a material par-
don : but of all the parts of time we are principally concerned
in the present. But it is remarkable, that though ' hodie
to-day' signifies the present time, yet the repentance which
began yesterday, which took an earlier ' hodie,' is better than
that which begins to-day : but that which stays till to-morrow
is the worst of all.

Ille sapit, quisquis, Postume, vixit heru f

For ' heri' and ' hodie,' ' yesterday' and * to-day,' signifies
" eternity:" so it is said of Christ, " Yesterday and to-day,

1 Martial, v. 59.



190 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

the same for ever." But ' hodie' and * eras,' ' to-day' and
* to-morrow,' signifies but " a little while." " To-day and
to-morrow I work," said Christ ; that is, * I work a little
while;' and " the third day," that is, very shortly or quickly,
" I shall make an end." That repentance is likely to pre-
vail to a happy eternity which was yesterday and to-day, but
if it be deferred till to-morrow, it begins late and will not last
so long. To this purpose excellent are those words of Ben
Sirach ; g " Make no tarrying to turn unto the Lord, and put
not off from day to day : for suddenly shall the wrath of the
Lord come forth, and in thy security thou shalt be destroyed:"
meaning, that * every day of thy life may be the day of thy
death, therefore take heed, and defer not until death to be
justified,' for God oftentimes smites sinners in their confi-
dence ; he strikes them in their security, in their very delay
they are surprised, in their procrastination they shall lose
their hopes, and the benefit and usefulness of to-morrow.
For what is vain man, that he should resolve not to repent
till Easter? It may be, at that very time he so resolves there
is an imposthume in his head or breast, or there is a po-
pular disease abroad that kills in three days, or to-morrow's
dinner shall cause a surfeit, or that night's drinking shall
inflame his blood into a fever, or he is to ride a journey the
next day, and he shall fall from his horse and die, or a tile
in the street shall dash his brains out; and no man can
reckon all the possibilities of his dying suddenly, nor the
probabilities that his life will end very quickly. This ques-
tion therefore may be determined without the intrigues of dis-
putation. Let a man but believe that he is mortal, let him
but confess himself to be a man, and subject to chance, and
there is no more required of him in this article but the con-
sequence of that confession. " Nemo Deo credens non se
sub verbis ejus corrigit, nisi qui diu se putat esse victurum,"
saith St. Austin ; " Whosoever believes in God, will presently
amend his life at the command of God, unless he thinks he
shall live long." But what if a man should live long? is
it so intolerable a thing to live virtuously when we are to live
long, that the hopes of life shall serve to no other end but
that sin may be continued and repeated, and repentance may
be delayed ? That is the worst conclusion in the world from

f Ecclus. v. 7.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 191

such premises. But however, he that considers that so many
men and women die young, will have but little reason to con-
clude to so evil and dangerous purposes from so weak and
contingent principles. When Theramenes came out from his
friend's house, the roof and walls immediately fell down. The
Athenians espying the circumstances of that safety, flocked
about hirn, congratulated his escape, and cried him up as a
man dear unto the gods for his so strange deliverance from
the ruin. But he wisely answered, " Nescitis, viri, ad quse
tempora et pericula Jupiter me servare voluerit ; Ye know
not, O Athenians, to what evils I am reserved." He said
true; for he that had escaped the fall of a house in Athens,
was, in a little while, condemned by the Ephori of Sparta to
drink the cold and deadly hemlock; he passed but from one
opportunity of death unto another.

Ktt/K ifrit ctvruv, ofris l^ififrarai,
T*jy otugitv fi'iH.av<rar il ftitufft<rai. b

" No man can tell whether he shall live till to-morrow:" and
to put off our repentance, when, it may be, there is at the very
instant the earnest of death in thy heart or bowels, a stone
ready formed, hardened and ripe in the kidneys, and will,
before to-morrow morning, drop into the bladder.

jMors latet in mediis abditm visceribus,

" Death is already placed in the stomach," or is gone into
the belly ; then, that is, in any case to defer repentance, is
a great folly and a great uncharitableness, and a contempt of
all the Divine relations concerning heaven and hell. MJ}
w/Vreue xgwu, of all things in the world "do not trust to time."

Obrepsit non intellecta senectus;
Nee rerocare potes, qui periere, dies. 1

In time there is nothing certain, but that a great part of our
life slips away without observation, and that which is gone
shall never come again. These things, although they are dressed
like the arguments of orators, yet they do materially and
logically conclude, that if to be uncharitable be a sin, he that
defers his repentance in so uncertain a life, and so certainly
approaching death, must needs be a very great sinner upon
that account, because he does not love himself, and therefore

h Eurip. Aleest. 799. Monk, p. 90. ' Auson. Epigr. 13. Delpliin. p. 13.



192 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

loves nobody, but abides without charity. But our blessed
Saviour hath drawn this caution into a direct precept ;
"Agree with thine adversary ra^t, l quickly.' " " The hope
of eternity which now is in thy hand, may else be lost for
ever, and drop through thy fingers before to-morrow morning.
" Quanto, miser, in periculo versaberis, quanique inopinati
rerum casus te abripient! k Miserable man, thou art in ex-
treme danger, and unlooked-for accidents may end thy talk-
ings of repentance, and make it impossible for ever." A man
is subject to infinite numbers of chances; and therefore, that
we may not rely upon the future or make delays, let us make
use of this argument, * Whatsoever comes by chance, comes
upon the sudden.'

26. But because this discourse is upon the grounds of
Scripture, it is of great force what was by the Spirit of God 1
threatened to the angel of the Church of Ephesus; " Repent,
for I will come unto thee quickly, and remove the candlestick
out of its place unless thou dost repent :" that is, ' Unless
thou repent quickly, I will come quickly.' Who knows how
soon that may be to any man of us all ? and therefore it is
great prudence, and duty, and charity to take care, that his
coming to us do not prevent our return to him ; which thing
can never be secured but by a present repentance.. And if
it be considered that many persons as good as we, as wise, as
confident, as full of health, and as likely to live, have been
snatched away when they least did think of it, with a death so
sudden, that the deferring their repentance one day hath been
their undoing for ever ; that if they had repented heartily,
and chosen a good life clearly and resolvedly upon the day
before their sudden arrest, it would have looked like a design
of grace and of election, and have rendered their condition
hopeful ; we shall find it very necessary that we do not at
all defer our return for this reason, because one hour's stay
may, not only by interpretation, but also in the real event of
things, prove to be that which St. Austin called *' the sin
against the Holy Ghost," that is, final impenitence. For
as he that dies young, dies as much as he that dies after a life
of fourscore years; so is that impenitence final, under which
a man is arrested under the infancy of his crime, as much
as if, after twenty years' grace and expectation, the man be

k S. Greg. Ntu. in Sanct Bapt. ' Rev. ii. 5.



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 193

snatched from hence to die eternally. The evil is not so
great, and the judgment is not so heavy, but as fatal and
as irreversible as the decree of damnation upon the falling
angels.

27. (7.) When we see a man do amiss, we reprove him
presently, we call him off from it at the very time, and every
good man would fain have his unhappy friend or relative
leave in the midst of his sin, and be sorry that he went so far;
and if he have finished his sin, we require of him instantly
to hate it, and ask pardon. This is upon the same account
that God does it, because to continue in it ,ean be for no
good; to return instantly hath great advantages; to abide
there is danger, and a state of evil ; to choose to abide there
is an act of love to that evil state, and consequently a direct
sin ; and not to repent when we are admonished, is a choos-
ing to abide there : and whenever we remember, and know,
and consider we have sinned, we are admonished by God's
Spirit and the principles of grace and of a holy religion. So
that from first to last it follows certainly, that without a new
sin, we cannot remember that we have sinned, unless then
also we do repent : and our aptness to call upon others to do
so, is a great conviction that every man is obliged in his own
particular to do so.

"Afcttrif ifffjt.iv il; ro veufan7 feQoi'
AvTti a afiecgTaiotrts eu yfyvafxafiti. m

Since we are all wise enough to give good counsel, it will
reproach us if we are not conducted by the consequences of
our own wise advices. It was long first, but at last St. Aus-
tin fell upon this way ; nothing could end his questions, or
give rest unto his conscience, or life to his resolutions, or sa-
tisfaction to his reason, or definition to his uncertain thoughts,
or a conclusion to his sin, but to understand the precept of
repentance to oblige in the very present and at no time else.
" Differens dicebam, ' rnodo ecce modo, sine paululum :' sed
' modo et modo' non habebat rnodum :" he would anon, and he
would next week, and he would against the next communion;
but there was no end of this : and when he saw it, " Sub
fico stravi me flens, quamdiu, quamdiu eras, et eras ? quare

m Menand. Bp. Taylor refers to Menander as the author of these two lines :_
they belong to Euripides ; the latter line should be read thus, Avrei 3* JV*
<rfaXw,K, ev yiKa<ra,ies, Fragm. ixiiii. ex incert. trag. (J. R. P.)
VOL. XIII. O



194 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

non modo ? quare non hac bora finis turpitudinis meae?
I wept and said, How long shall I say, ' To-morrow?' Why
shall I not now, by present repentance, put an end ,to my
crimes?" If not now, if not till to-morrow, still there is the
same reason for every time of your health, in which you can
say to-morrow. There is enough to determine us ' to-day,'
but nothing can determine us * to-morrow.' If it be not
necessary now, it is not necessary then, and never can it be
necessary till it be likely there will be no morrow-morning to
our life. I conclude this argument in the words of the Latin
Anthology,

Converti ad rectos mores et vivere sancte
In Christo meditans, quod cupit acceleret.

He that would live well and be Christ's servant, must make
haste, and instantly act what he knows he ought always to
purpose, and more. To which purpose St. Eucherius gives
this advice, which at first will seem strange ; " Propound to
yourself the example of the thief upon the cross: do as he did."
Yes, we are too ready to do so, that is, to defer our repent-
ance to the last, being encouraged by his example and success.
No : we do not as he did ; that is a great mistake. It is
much to be wished that we would do as he did in his repent-
ance. How so? St. Eucherius thus resolves the riddle ; " Ad
consequendam fidem non fuit extrema ilia hora, sed prima."
He did not defer his repentance and his faith unto the last ;
but in the very first hour in which he knew Christ, in that
very instant he did believe and was really converted : he con-
fessed Christ gloriously, and repented of his sins without hy-
pocrisy : and if we do so too, this question is at an end, and
our repentance shall never be reproved.

28. (8.) He that hath sinned, and remembers that he hath
sinned, and does not repent, does all that while abide in the
wrath of God. God hates him in every minute of his delay.
And can it consist with any Christian grace, with faith,
or hope, or charity, with prudence or piety, with the love of
God, or the love of ourselves, to outstand the shock of thun-
der, to outface the cannon, to dare the Divine anger, and to be
careless and indifferent, though he be hated by the fountain
of love and goodness, to stand excommunicate from heaven?
All this is beside the sin which he committed ; all this is the
evil of his not repenting presently. Can a man consider that



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 195

God hates him, and care not though he does, and yet be inno-
cent ? And if he does care, and yet will not remedy it, does
not he then plainly despair, or despise it presumptuously?
and can he that does so, be innocent ? When the little boy of
Xylander saw a company of thieves robbing his father's house,
and carry away the rich vessels, and ten Attic talents, he
smiled and whipped his top. But when a child who was in
their company stole his top from him, he cried out and raised
the neighbourhood.

Sic sunt qui rident, nee cessant ludere, saevus
Cum Satanas illis non peritura rapit.

' So is he that plays on and is merry, when his soul is in the
possession of the devil :' for so is every soul that hath sin-
ned and hath not repented : he would not be so patient in
the loss of his money, he would not trust his gold one hour
in the possession of thieves, nor venture himself two minutes
in a lion's power ; but for his soul he cares not though it stay
months and years in danger so great, as would distract all
the wits of mankind, if they could understand it perfectly as
it is.

29. (9.) If there were nothing else, but that so long as
his sin is unrepented of, the man is in an unthriving condi-
tion, he cannot entertain God's grace, he cannot hope for par-
don, he cannot give God thanks for any spiritual blessing, he
cannot love his word, he must not come to the holy sacrament;
if, I say, there were nothing else in it but the mere wanting of
those excellences which were provided for him, it were an in-
tolerable evil for a man to be so lon^ in the dark without fire

\j

and food, without health or holiness : but when he is all that
while the object of the Divine anger, and the right-aiming
thunderbolts are directed against his heart from the bow in the
clouds, what madness and what impiety must it needs be to
abide in this state of evil without fear and without love !

30. (10.) The advice of St. Paul in the instance of anger
hath something in it very pertinent to this article ; " Let not
the sun go down upon your wrath ;" that is, do not sleep till
you have laid aside your evil thoughts : for many have quietly
slept in sin, who with horror and amazement have awaked
in hell. But St. Paul's instance of anger is very material,
and hath in it this consideration, that there are some prin-



196 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

cipiant and mother-sins, pregnant with mischief, of a pro-
gressive nature; such sins which, if they be let alone, will
of themselves do mischief; if they be not killed, they will
strike, like as quicksilver, unless it be allayed with fasting,
spittle, or some other excellent art, can never fix ; now of
these sins there is no question, but a man is bound instantly
to repent ; and there is no season for these, but all times are
alike, and the first is duty. Now how many are thus, is not
easily told; but it is easily told that all are so of their own
nature, or may be so by the Divine judgment ; and therefore
none of them are to be let alone at all.

31. (11.) The words of St. Austin, which he intended for
exhortation, are also argumentative in this question ; " Ho-
diernum habes, in quo corrigaris, You have this day for
your repentance." To-morrow you have not. For God did
not command him, that lived in the time of Samuel, to repent
in the days of Moses ; that was long before him, and there-
fore was not his time : neither did he command, that Manas-
ses should repent in the days of the Asmonaei ; they lived
long after him, and therefore that could not be his time, or
day of repentance. Every one hath a day of his own. But
when we consider, that God hath commanded us to repent,
and yet hath given us no time but the present, we shall per-
ceive evidently, that there is no time but the present, in
which he intended we should obey him. Against this there
can be no objection ; for it is so in all our precepts whatso-
ever, unless there be something in the nature of the action,
that is determiuable by circumstances and particularities :
but in this there is nothing of relation to time and place ;
it may be done at any time, and is of an absolute, irrespec-
tive nature, of universal influence, and of absolute necessity:
and God could no more intend to-morrow to be the proper
season of repentance, than he could intend the five-and-
twentieth Olympiad to be your day for it; for the command-
ment is present, and to-morrow is not present; and therefore
unless we can suppose a commandment, and no time given
us with the commandment for the performing it, we must
suppose the present only to be it. If to-morrow does come,
then, when it is present, it is also the time of your repentance.
By which it is infallibly certain, and must be confessed so by
all wise and rational persons that know the consequences of



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 197

things, and the persuasion of propositions, that God in every
present commands us to repent ; and therefore in every pre-
sent in which we rememher our sin and repent not, we offend
God, we prevaricate his intentions, we sin against his mer-
cies, and against his judgments, and against his command-
ments. I end this with the plain advice of Alcimus Avitus ;

Dum patulam Christ! cimctis dementia sese
Przebet, praeteritae plangamus crimina vitae,
Poeniteatque olim negligenter temporis acti,
Dum licet, et sano ingenioque animoque valemus.

In which words, besides the good counsel, this argument is
insinuated, ' that because we must repent even of the days of
our negligence, and be sorry for all our mispent time, and
weep for having stayed so long from God, it follows that the
very deferring of our repentance, our very neglecting of it,
is a direct sin, and increases the causes of repentance ; and
therefore makes it the more necessary to begin the sooner,
by how much we have stayed the longer.'

Question II.

32. As an appendage to this great case of conscience, it
is a useful inquiry to ask, Whether a man is bound to re-
pent, not only the first time, but every time that he thinks
of his sin ?

33. I answer, that he is ; but to several purposes ; and
in differing measures and significations. If he hath never
repented, then upon the former accounts, every remembrance
of his sin is a specification and limit to the indefinite and af-
firmative commandment; and the second thought of it, be-
cause the first not being attended to, hath increased the score,

O *

and the time being so much the more spent, hath increased
the necessity and the haste : and if the second be neglected,
then the third still calls louder ; and every succeeding thought
does not only point us out the opportunity, and the still pro-
ceeding season of doing it, but it upbraids every preceding
neglect, and presses the duty stronger by a bigger weight of
the same growing arguments. For no man is safe but he
that repents at least to-day ; but he was wise that repented
yesterday. And as it is in human intercourse, he that hath
done wrong, and runs presently to confess it, and offer amends,



198 OF THE INTERPRETATION AND OBLIGATION

shall have easier terms of peace than he that stands out at
law, and comes not in till he be compelled ; so it is in our
returns to God ; the speedy penitent shall find a ready and a
prepared mercy, but he that stays longer, will find it harder,
and, if he stays to the last, it may be, not at all. But then if
we have repented at the first monition or memory of sin, we
must never any more be at peace with it : it will perpetually
make claim, it will every day solicit, it will break into a flame
upon the breath of every temptation ; it will betray thy weak-
ness and abuse thy credulity ; it will please thy fancy and
abuse thy understanding ; it will make thee sin again as for-
merly, or desire to sin, to fall willingly, or very hardly to
stand ; and, after all, if thou hast sinned, thou art under a
sad sentence, and canst not tell when thou shaft have a cer-
tain peace. So that whenever thou thinkest of thy sin, thou
hast reason to be displeased, for thou art always the worse
for it ; always in danger, or always uncertain : thou hast
always something to do, or something to undo ; something
to pray for, and many things to pray against. But the par-
ticular causes of a perpetual repentance for our past sins are
reducible to these two.

34. (1.) Whenever we have sinned, and fallen into the
Divine displeasure, we dwell for ever after in the dark : we
are sure we have sinned, and God's anger is plainly revealed
against sinners : but we know not how far this anger will ex-
tend, nor when it will break out, nor by what expressions it
shall be signified, nor when it will go off, nor at what degree
of sorrow God will be appeased, nor how much industry shall
be accepted, nor how many actions of infirmity shall be al-
lowed ; nothing of this is revealed. But we are commanded
to do an indefinite duty, we are to have an unlimited watch-
fulness, we are called upon to have a perpetual caution, a
duty that hath no limit, but all our time and all our possi-
bilities ; and all the fruit of this is growing in the paradise
of God, and we shall not taste it till the day of the revelation
of the righteous judgment of God. In the meantime we
labour and fear ; we fear and hope ; we hope and are uncer-
tain ; we pray and cannot see what will be the event of things.
Sometimes we are confident : but that pertness comes, it may
be, from the temper of the body, and we cannot easily be sure
that it comes from God : and when we are cast down, it may



OF THE LAWS OF JESUS CHRIST. 199

be, it is nothing but an effect of the spleen, or of some hypo-
chondriacal propositions, or some peevish company, and all
is well with us, better than we think it is ; but we are under
the cloud, and, which is worst of all, we have always but too
much reason to fear, and consequently to be grieved for, the
causes of all this darkness, and all this fear, and all this
danger.

35. (2.) Besides all this, our sin is so long in dying, and
we kill it with such lingering circumstances, and reprieve it
so often, and it is often laid aside only until the day of
temptation, and our repentance is so frequently interrupted,
or made good for nothing; and even in our weepings for sin
we commit folly, that a man can never tell when he hath
done, and when he is to begin again. For these reasons we
find it very necessary to hate our sin perpetually, and for
ever to deplore our calamity in the Divine displeasure, to re-
member it with sorrow, and to strive against it with diligence.
Our sins having made so great an alteration in our persons,
and in the state of our affairs, we cannot be so little concerned
as to think of them with indifference ; a sigh at least, or a
tear, will well become every thought : a prayer for pardon or
an act of indignation against them ; a ' Domine, miserere,' or
a ' Me miserum peccatorem ! ' ' Have mercy upon me,O God,'
or, ' Miserable man that I am ! ' something of hope, or some-
thing of fear. Own it but as a cause of sorrow, or an instance
of thy danger ; let it make thee more zealous or more pa-
tient ; troubled at what is past, or cautious for the time to
come : and if at every thought of thy sin it be not easy to do
a positive act of repentance, yet the actions must be so fre-
quent that the repentance be habitual ; ever in preparation,
and ever apt for action ; seeking occasions of doing good,
and omitting none ; praying and watching against all evil,
and committing none. At this rate of repentance a man
must always live, and in God's time expect a freedom from
sin, and a confirmation in grace. But then as to the main



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