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if any who had unreservedly complied with this injunction, should at last be led to execution, they would think themselves trifled with, however just their punishment might otherwise be. Now the Lord has revealed himself as infinitely merciful to the fallen race of men; he has opened "a "new and living way," for our approach to him upon a throne of grace; he has invited us to draw near, and plead the name of our heavenly Advocate, and the merits of his atoning sacrifice; " he hath commanded all men every where to re"pent:" and from these things we confidently infer that every one, without exception, who through grace obeys the call,' will be saved, by the free mercy of God in Christ Jesus. In short, if any man were sinless, and had no need of repentance; or if any were so sinful that repentance would avail him nothing; the general language of the text would not be suited to the case: but as all have sinned, and “with the Lord there is mercy and

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plenteous redemption;" as no impenitent sinner can be saved, and no true penitent can be lost; therefore all men are exhorted and commanded "to repent and turn to God, and do works meet "for repentance."

III. We proceed to consider the peculiar nature of repentance and turning unto God.

The parable of the prodigal son was evidently intended as an illustration of this important subject: and the following verse is a most suitable introduction to our discussion of it. "When he came


"to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough and to spare, and "I perish with hunger!" He had been infatuated,

he had acted as one in a delirium, or insane: but now the disorder is removed, he awakes as out of sleep, recovers the use of his faculties, and perceives his misery and danger. He sees every object in a new gt; he forms a very different judgment of his father's conduct, and of the rules and privileges of his family; of his own perverse behaviour, of his associates in vice, and in short of every thing connected with his character, situation, and prospects. From this revolution in his judgment, a total alteration takes place in his conduct. He considers the meanest servant of his father as comparatively happy, and himself as a wretched outcast deservedly perishing. His only hope in this extreme distress arises from a persuasion of the tender compassion of his father, whom before he had regarded as opposing his happiness: and he determines at all events to return to him, and seek to be reconciled, as the only hope of escaping destruction.

Thus the sinner, having long thought the Lord a hard master, and religion a wearisome service; and in vain sought liberty and pleasure in sin and folly; at length by rich mercy, is brought to himself, recovers from his delirium or fascination, to see his misery and lament his madness. Now he perceives that God is worthy of all love, obedience, and adoration; that his law is holy, just, and good; that his service is perfect freedom, and his favour, life and felicity; and that sin is but another name for folly, bondage, and ruin. He is convinced that the poorest believer is far happier than the most prosperous of the wicked, that his past conduct calls for the deepest humiliation, that his present situation is perilous in the extreme, and that his

only refuge is in the compasion of that God, against whom he has ungratefully rebelled. Influenced by such considerations, he arises from his grovelling indulgences and low pursuits; he repents and turns to God, with humble confessions and fervent prayers; he struggles through difficulties, resists temptations, and rises above dark desponding fears; and finds our heavenly Father far more ready to pardon, welcome, and bless him, than he could possibly have expected.

Yes, my brethren, many of you know the meaning of this parable by your own happy experience and, comparing the bitterness of your sinful courses, with the peace and joy which you have found in believing, you are ready to say to others, “Come, taste, and see how gracious the "Lord is, and how blessed they are that trust in "him.”—But are there not also among you some persons who never thus "came to themselves?" and have no acquaintance with the change that has been described? A few instances may indeed occur, where repentance and conversion have begun so early in life, and been matured so gradually, as to leave no distinct traces of this experience: but they who are strangers to it are almost universally ignorant of vital Christianity and its saving efficacy. True converts, however imperceptible their progress, are always conscious of desires and dispositions not natural to fallen man and they are more prone to question, whether a change, wrought quietly and gradually, can be genuine, than to suppose a more distinct awakening to a sense of guilt and danger, not before felt, to be in general unnecessary.

pursuits and connexions, that he may seek liberty and happiness in the favour and service of his reconciled God. His former alienation is removed; he returns to him as his rest and refuge; and, through many conflicts and discouragements, he comes to God, to yield himself to his service, to become his spiritual worshipper, and, "as bought "with a price, to glorify him, in body and in spirit, "which are his."

In this manner all men are commanded to "re"pent, and turn to God" from their worldly idols and sinful pursuits. And do you not find, my friends, that, in keeping at a distance from "the "Fountain of living waters," you prolong your own distress and disappointment? Do none of you, while striving against conviction, or cleaving to your lusts and pleasures, and refusing to humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, experience such disquietude as the Psalmist has described? "When I kept silence, my bones "waxed old, through my roaring all the day long: "for day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: 66 my moisture is turned into the drought of sum"mer."1 Why should you pertinaciously refuse to hearken to the voice of Christ, and the admonitions of your own consciences? Why refuse to draw near to God, that he may draw near unto you? Do you not sometimes feel, though unwilling to own it, that the warnings and counsels of your ministers are reasonable, and that it would be your highest interest to comply with them? Are you not ready to say, "Go thy way at this time,

Psal. xxxii. 3, 4.

"when I have a convenient season I will call for "thee?" But why do you delay to apply for relief, and embrace happiness? Have you not found the world to be vain and vexatious, and the pleasures of sin bitter and painful? Have not all endeavours "to establish your own righteousness," or overcome your own passions, habits, and temptations, proved wearisome and unsuccessful? Hear then the words of the sinner's Friend, while he speaks to you in accents of the tenderest love: "Where"fore do ye spend money for that which is not "bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth "not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye "that which is good, and let your soul delight "itself in fatness. Incline your ear and come. " unto me, hear and your soul shall live.” "Seek

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ye the Lord while he may be found; call ye upon "him while he is near: let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; " and let him return unto the Lord, and he will "have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he "will abundantly pardon." Confess your sins, therefore, without reserve; forsake them without delay; renounce your former associates in ungodliness; "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I "will receive you, and will be a father to you, and

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ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the "Lord Almighty."2 "Cleanse your hands, ye "sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double"minded: be afflicted, and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning, and


1 Isai. Iv. 2, 3, 6,


2 2 Cor. vi. 17, 18.

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