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titude of his own transgressions; or had he more fixed views of the nature and glory of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. He that is habitually most penitent, finds his repentance capable of increase when his views are enlarged, and his heart is peculiarly affected with these discoveries: but even in these seasons, his enlarged godly sorrow is little in comparison to what it ought to be, and would be, did he, instead of "seeing through a glass darkly, see face to face." How far then doth the general frame of his spirit, when his mind is comparatively dark and unaffected, come short of the perfection of repentance! Over this every sincere Christian mourns, and for this seeks forgive


For similar reasons the fruits of repentance do nothing towards atoning for our sins, meriting a reward, or justifying us before God. Take a familiar illustration: You owe your tradesman a sum of money; and you now continue to deal with him for ready money only: yet the old debt is not by this diminished. But should you daily purchase to the value of a crown: and only pay daily one shilling, your debt would rapidly increase.-Perfect obedience is no more than what is due to our Creator: so that after we have by sin for years run in arrear with him, did we obey, for all the remainder of a long life, as perfectly as an arch-angel, our love and obedience would be no more than his due for the present, and could do nothing towards discharging the old account: even with the apostle Paul's obedience the debt would rapidly increase. Sure I am, whilst I now write, that I this moment am more deeply deserving of condemnation than ever; because, though I hope sincerely penitent, I daily add recent transgressions to my former sins, and shall certainly perish, if Jesus do not plead for me, "Deliver him from going down into the pit-behold the ransom.'

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This salvation, through the ransom and intercession of the Son of God, every true penitent cordially approves, and thankfully embraces, and shall certainly participate. My brethren, an impenitent believer and a penitent unbeliever are ideal characters, which have no existence unless in some men's imaginations: except where the repentance is counterfeit, and the faith dead. Genuine repentance and faith are twin graces produced together, thriving together, and forwarding each other's growth. It is true, some exercises of faith precede, and produce repentance in the regenerate sonl: but repentance precedes, and makes way for that exercise of faith, which interests the soul in the merits of Christ for salvation. The belief of the existence and perfections of God, his law and government of our relations, obligations, and accountableness to him; of the future state, the day of judgment, heaven and hell, always precedes repentance, and is influential in leading man to it: a belief of several truths respecting Jesus Christ and his salvation, generally, though perhaps not always, precedes. But he must be already in some degree penitent, who can cordially approve and embrace that salvation; for whilst a man remains impenitent, his proud heart will have insuperable objections to it; insuperable I say, in any other way, than by that change of judgment and disposition, which is denominated repentance.

The salvation revealed in the gospel, exalts God upon the throne, and requires the sinner to submit to his authority and righteousness, and give him the whole glory of his salvation. This appears most equitable to the true penitent, and to him alone. "Let God be glorified, says he, by all in heaven and earth, whatever becomes of me; but should he mercifully save so vile and worthless a rebel, I shall be an eternal monument of the richness of his mercy, and the power of his grace." The gospel is intended to put honour upon the law: " It is holy, just, and good," says the penitent soul: "I consent unto it that it is good," and I have "deserved its awful curse for my vile transgressions: I rejoice to see this holy lay magnified, in the obedience unto death of God incarnate: I long to have it written in my heart by the finger of the Spirit: and my prayer is, "O that my ways were directed to keep thy righteous precepts!" The gospel shews sin to be exceedingly sinful, and discovers its infinite odiousness and just demerit; the true penitent, and

he alone, irreconcileably hates all sin, even that which was his most darling indulgence. The gospel abases the sinner, silences his excuses, rejects his pleas, strips him of his distinctions; and, without regard to his learning, wisdom, wealth, honour, morality, or amiable character among men, treats him as a sinner condemned to die, deserving and fitted for destruction. To this the true penitent, and he alone, cordially submits. "I loathe and abhor myself." "To me belongs shame and confusion of face," is the genuine expression of his humbled heart

The gospel honours Christ as the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, the All in all: thus he appears to the true penitent, and to none else. In his person, undertaking, righteousness, atonement, resurrection, mediatorial exaltation, offices (as King, Priest, and Prophet,) intercession, instructions, example, and Spirit of grace, he appears to the humbled sinner altogether suitable, sufficient, and precious. On every other side despair lowers the glory of God, and the honour of the law, demand his destruction: but here hope brightens; here he sees God glorious, and sinners saved; here he sees every thing exactly suited to his wants and his desires; here he may have his sins pardoned, his corruptions subdued, his ignorance removed, grace communicated, strength renewed, and every thing bestowed freely, without money and without price, which can raise him from the brink of hell, and the borders of despair, to the lively hope of an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading. Christ appears to him "the Pearl of great price," "the Chief among ten thousand, and altogether lovely." "He counts all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of him." To him he flees, though with trembling heart, lest he should meet with a repulse; with trembling hand he lays hold on this only hope; to him he cleaves in the midst of discouragements and delays, and answers every rising despondency with "Lord, to whom shall I go, thou hast the words of eternal life." Nothing but impenitent pride and love of sin, render men blind to the glory, deaf to the voice, or negligent to the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ: nor can any thing but a penitent sense of the evil of sin, and the misery of a sinner, reconcile the proud heart of man to this salvation.

Though repentance therefore does not in any degree merit pardon; yet it is that disposition of mind which both prepares the soul to receive it, and renders the possessor a meet object on whom a holy God may honourably bestow it: and no further obstacle remaining, divine justice being satisfied in the sufferings of the Redeemer, the point yielded by the sinner's repentance, that he did deserve to perish, and is saved by free grace; and his heart being now rendered willing to be saved in the appointed way; he shall, without all doubt or delay, have salvation, and the consolation which springs from it.

Were more encouragement needful, I might lead your attention to the many examples with which the word of God furnishes us, of sinners, who had committed the most atrocious crimes, and borne the most infamous characters, for complicated long-continued guilt, who on repentance were pardoned and saved. It will be enough to recite a few of their names: such were Manasseh; the woman who was a sinner,-a scandalous and notorious sinner: the thief on the cross; Saul the persecutor; and the very men who crucified the Prince of Life! These instances are doubtless recorded purposely for the encouragement of those, who are ready to conclude that their sins are too many and too great to be forgiven; and they form a very important proof and exemplification of our doctrine; that no degree of guilt can exclude the true penitent from forgiveness, through the blood of Christ. For although our Lord speaks of some who sin against the Holy Ghost, and shall never be forgiven; and the apostle John mentions a sin unto death, which they who have committed should not be prayed for: yet St Paul extricates us out of this difficulty, by informing us, "that it is impossible to renew them to repentance;" which forms indeed an awful warning to those who harden their hearts against conviction and live in impenitency, but

affords no exception to our doctrine, and needs give no discouragement to the 'penitent soul.

And now, sinners, you see the necessity of repentance, the real nature of it, and the abundant encouragement you have to repent. I would hope that from regard to your eternal welfare, you will set about it in good earnest ; not only in preference to your vain amusements and dissipations, but even to your most important business and interests which are of no consequence in comparison with this "one thing needful." Arise then, and be doing, and the Lord will both assist and prosper your endeavours.


The proper Season for Repentance.

SUCH persons as are but superficially acquainted with the credulity of man, and the artifice of Satan; as have taken but little notice of the workings of their own hearts, and made but little observation of what passes around them, may be apt to conclude this part of our subject needless: yet, I trust, it will be found to be of great importance, and essentially necessary to discourse concerning the proper season of repentance.

The words of the Psalmist, quoted by the Apostle, comprise what I shall urge on this head: “To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” The present time alone is ours: yesterday is irrecoverably gone; to-morrow we may be in eternity! Were then all of you in the prime of youth, I would endeavour to enforce on all the necessity of early repentance.

To such then I first address myself. Consider, young sinner, that custom is second nature: thy innate depravity forges the chains which hold thee in bondage, but custom rivets them upon thee. This is not mere speculation,it is the language of inspiration. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may he, who is ACCUSTOMED to do evil, learn to do well."

Repentance may be considered either as the work of divine grace in us, or as our own work by the assistance of divine grace. "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you to will and to do of his good pleasure." Doubtless it is always alike easy to almighty God, to change the heart and renew the sinner; yet the sinner, when thus influenced to will, and to do, may find vastly more difficulty in some cases and circumstances than he would in others. When worldly interests, cares, and projects, together with customary indulgences, have added strength to your lusts, you will find repentance vastly more arduous than at present. You will then find it vastly more difficult to "cease to do evil, and to learn to do well," to separate from the ungodly, and to habituate your appetites and passions to controul. If you now delay, and should hereafter repent, you will bitterly know what it is to " pluck out a right eye, and to cut off a right hand." When to the opposition to lusts grown ungovernable by gratification, and remorse for sins which exceed calculation, bitter reflection on the irreparable mischief which you have been doing all your life: you add what it will cost you to renounce the friendship, to withstand the persuasions and enticements, to resist the arguments, to face the scorn and bear the reproach of those comrades in iniquity, with whom you are hitherto happily unconnected whilst perhaps your own children, trained up in wickedness, or the wife or husband of your bosom, whom you have ignorantly espoused, may be among the number of those, who are an offence unto you. Are you therefore in youth, in early youth, yea, in childhood! You are not

* Consider in this place, what has been urged, of the necessity of restitution, Part Second. He who repents early, escapes that difficulty.

too young to be sinners, both by nature and practice; evil dispositions and evil actions render repentance both needful and reasonable; and without it you must perish in your sins. Even now, therefore, I call upon you in the name of God, to repent and turn to God, and to do works meet for repentance. Listen not to your corruptions, to your companions, to the cruel murderer of souls, who would persuade you that it is soon enough yet. Millions are now in outer-darkness, who on earth intended some time to repent, but imagined they had time enough before them. Perhaps there are scarcely any who did not once think as you are now thinking, and flatter themselves as you do. Will you also trifle with the Almighty, till his patience be wearied out, and he cut you off, as he hath those who thus provoked him before you; and send you to be their companions whose example you would imitate? *

Do you imagine you shall find less difficulty, or have more resolution to break through difficulties, hereafter? Alas! your difficulties will daily both be multiplied and gather force; and you will find less and less inclination, or resolution to encounter them. Fear, shame, and conscience will make. gradually more feeble resistance; restraints of education will wear off, and you will grow bolder in iniquity. Finding respite from punishment, you will grow more secure and hardened in sin, till perhaps God will give you over to incurable obstinacy.

Do you imagine that sinful pleasures can afford you more satisfaction, than is to be found in serious godliness: Poor deluded souls! I compassionate your case, whilst I abhor the blasphemous supposition. Once I thought the same; I bless God for undeceiving me, and beg of him to grant you the same mercy. "There is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked." "Vanity and vexation" are stamped upon all created enjoyments; they consist of eager expectations; continual anxiety, disappointments, and mortifications; a few turbulent short-lived gratifications, insipid amusements, and fatiguing pursuits of pleasure. The mind of the poor deluded man who thus seeks happiness where it is not, is uneasy in waiting for the season of enjoyment; surfeited and dissatisfied even with the moment he longed for; pained at the retrospect; alarmed when he looks forward to death and judgment; and he can find no respite from anxiety, but by banishing reflection, and foregoing the noblest privilege of the rational nature. Your smiles, ye Votaries of pleasure! are hypocritical; your mirth affectation; your heart is heaviness in the midst of your loudest peals of laughter; remorse of conscience and foreboding fears often disturb even your most jovial hours, and extort the unwilling sigh; but they render solitude and reflection bitterness: whilst the least remembrance of death, or symptom of its approach, excite a horror I have felt but cannot describe.

This is earthly, ungodly pleasure, even when health, affluence, and all conceivable advantages concur to add relish to it: but when sickness seizes the poor wretch who knows no other joy; when poverty and adversity depress, and death approaches, his case is so miserable, and his anguish so intolerable, that no words can sufficiently express it.

But true religion is the source of the sweetest serenity, the most refined delight, the most exquisite enjoyment. From conscious integrity, peace with God, submission to his will, and reliance on his providential and gracious care, spring calm content with the present, and serene expectation of the future: and these form a "peace of God, which passeth all understanding." Victory over the fear of death, and a well-grounded and lively hope of eternal happiness, support the soul in adversity, and increase the enjoyment of prosperity. Contemplation on the glories of the divine character, and the wonders God hath wrought, issuing in admiring love, adoring gratitude, and fervent praises, inspires the soul, at some seasons, "with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." A life of communion with God, an uniform walk in his pleasant ways, an increasing assurance and experience of his love, fill the Christian's peaceful

* Jer. xiii.-Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! will thou not be made clean? When shall it once be?

soul with an abiding satisfaction; which nothing greatly interrupts, but the stirrings of corruption, the force of temptation, and the imperfection of his obedience. By these, at times, guilt burdens his mind, and sorrow oppresses his heart: yet even godly sorrow itself rather increases than lessens his enjoyment: and if he for a season be unhappy, it is not because he is religious, but because he is no more so. Nor is there any rational satisfaction which he doth not enjoy, with more real relish, because with more moderation, than others do: for real religion abridges us of no enjoyment, but that which is irrational, debasing, or inordinate. In short, a flash of lightning, which for a moment interrupts, and then increases the midnight gloom, bears more comparison to the cheerful genial light of the sun, than the most exquisite gratifications of sin, to those joys which the real diligent Christian experiences from day to day. "Come, taste, and see how gracious the Lord is, and how blessed they are who trust in him.”

But doth Satan persuade you, that you shall have time enough hereafter? Alas! can you be the dupes of so bare-faced an artifice? You know that you have no lease of your lives, nor are sure of beholding to-morrow's light. Many as young, as healthy, as vigorous as you, are followed to the tomb. Dare you risk eternal happiness or misery on such a peradventure! Reflect, also, that your lives are in the hands of that God, whom your sins have greatly provoked, and your presumptuous impenitency still more. May he not, even at this moment, be saying, "thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee?" Hast thou not, deluded,sinner, done enough already to provoke him to it? And shouldst thou slight the present warning, and rush into forbidden pleasure; seriously consider whether thou mayest not reasonably fear, lest in the midst of some daring provocation, he should "cut thee off with a stroke," and "then a great ransom cannot deliver thee."

Dare you flatter yourselves with the presumption of repenting, if not before, yet on a death-bed! Alas! how many are cut off by sudden death! how many bereft of reason by the violence of disease! how many are seized with madness, incurable madness! how many, I say, perish without one cry for mercy, and eternally curse their folly, in being the dupes of such a delusion! 66 Surely in vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird." You evidently see the design of Satan in his temptation: he aims only to lull you into security, till he can plunge you into despair; and then he will insult over you. But even should you have a space given you before death, can you reasonably hope that God will then give you his grace, which you have so long refused? Are you sure you shall improve those hours? Can you at last in your own strength, when you are languishing under a violent disorder, overcome all those difficulties which you have considered as next to insurmountable, even with the assistance of divine grace, all the days of your health? Will you need any additional anguish, when your bones are full of strong pain, and nature is even sinking under the load? Can you then be sure that your repentance is real and genuine, when you have no opportunity of bringing it to a trial by the fruits which it produces? One instance indeed is recorded of a dying penitent, to shew that repentance, even in those circumstances, is neither impossible nor unavailing; and but one, to teach us that such cases are very rare. To-day, then, make sure of this important concern. "Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber to thine eye-lids: deliver thyself as a roe from the hand of the hunter, and as a bird from the snare of the fowler."

"Remember therefore your Creator in the days of your youth." Remember your obligations and relations to him, and your offences against him: remember, repent, and seek forgiveness without delay, through that Saviour who hath promised, that "they who seek him early shall find him."

But indeed this best season is already elapsed with many; and it is too late to exhort them to early repentance. Perhaps some are dolefully lamenting, "My youth hath been spent in vanity and ungodliness; yea, the prime of life is irrecoverably past, and I am growing hoary in the ways of

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