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come. Last, raise your eyes to the bleeding, dying love of Him, who was lifted up between the heavens and the earth, as if unfit for either; and who, while sublimely agonized he hung, did nothing but pray for his murderers, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Blessed be God! in our good Land, a Christian sees not the grated bars of the inquisition of Bigotry, nor the bloody falling-axe of Atheism. Yet, while this world is our home, Christians must expect to meet, at times, with the malice of the Infidel, and the sneers of the Libertine. But, though mocked, like holy Elisha of old, we must not call down fire from heaven. Though doomed, like God's servant Job, to scrape away with a shard the angry pustules of Satan, we must not curse God. We should the rather, mourn over the plagues of our own hearts. Being reviled, we should bless; being persecuted, we should suffer it; being troubled on every side, we should not be distressed; being perplexed, yet should we not despair; knowing that He, who raised up the Lord Jesus, can raise up us also, and will be present with us; for which cause, we should faint not. Be thou faithful unto death. Blessed is the man, that endureth unto the end. Remembering that, in all these things, we shall be more than conquerors, through Him, that loved us. Blessed be God! who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Brethren and Sisters in the Church of our common Lord. What the Preacher from Heaven proclaimed, eighteen hundred years ago, on the Mount, in the Holy Land, is true, on this day, in our land. Time cannot weaken the Force of Truth.
Four First. If, therefore, any of you are poor in spirit, seeking not the perishable vanities of this world, but after more durable riches above; Jesus hath said, Ye are blessed, for yours is the kingdom of heaven.
If any of you are mourning, because death hath enter
ed your dwelling, or over the desolations of sin in your own hearts, and ye mourn after a godly sort; to you, Jesus hath said, Ye shall be comforted.
If any of you are meek, having that humility of temper, which becometh the follower of Him, who was meek and lowly in spirit; Jesus hath promised, that ye shall inherit the earth.
If any of you are hungering and thirsting after righteousness, more than after fame, or honour, or wealth, or pleasure; Jesus hath said, Ye shall be filled.
Four Last. If any of you are merciful, both to your equals and inferiors, to your debtors and your enemies, to the wayfaring man and his beast; Jesus hath declared, Ye shall obtain mercy.
If any of you are pure in heart, not mocking the Lord with lip-service, while the heart is far from him; Jesus hath said, that you shall see God.
If any of you are peace-makers, among neighbours and townsmen, in the church and the senate-house, and especially with your own souls; Jesus hath said, Ye shall be called the children of God.
Finally, If any of you are persecuted for righteousness' sake; if any of you have to encounter the fiery darts of the Adversary, as you pass along the road of christian duty; to you, Jesus has promised, that yours is the kingdom of heaven.
I TAKE it for granted, that we all need repentance. I assume the fact. We all feel it; deeply feel it. And if we do not, the whole Bible states, and proves it. If it did not, it would not, on almost every page, in both the Old and in the New Testaments equally; from Genesis to Malachi, and from Matthew to Revelation; be exhorting, and entreating, and commanding us, and every soul that is born to die, and go to judgment, To repent, and be converted, that our sins may be blotted out.
Repentance and Faith make up the sum of Christian duty. Repentance is one half; faith is the other half. Repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Indeed, they go together, and grow together. They cannot exist apart. If one precede the other, yet they are twin-born; and twins they will live, and twins they will die. But postponing now the discussion of the Nature and Triumphs of Faith; it will be my aim, to explain and enforce the Nature and Duties of Repentance. I now proceed to explain, under several distinct heads, the Nature and Effects of that true Repentance, which is enjoined by the zealous Saint Peter.
Not a little
1. Repentance implies a deep sorrow. moisture of the outward eye, not a little heaving of the outward breast, to be seen and heard of men. Not a
mere crying, Lord, Lord, with the outward lips. Not the mere chattering like a swallow, but the moaning like a dove. Not a sorrow for the present or coming retribution of sin only, for then is hell crowded with true penitents. We must be sorrowful, not like Cain, when his punishment was greater than he could bear; not like Saul, when he heard the lowing of the oxen; not like Judas, when he went out and hanged himself: but with the wailing of a mourning Jeremiah; with the heartbreakings of a guilty David; with the scalding tears of a fallen Peter. We must be filled with a bitterness of soul, with a weeping day and night; this is the first cry of that repentance, which needeth not to be repented of. It must be a sorrow, that will make us uneasy and contrite, because we have broken our duty, and offended our God. Because we have cast a forgetfulness toward our Saviour. It must be a sorrow, that will lead us to condemn ourselves, and make us feel worthy of stripes; that will make us hate sin, and be willing to mortify ourselves; that will clothe our souls in sackcloth, and make us cry, God be merciful to me a sinner. It must be a sorrow, that will work upon the spirit, and bring down our affections to our duty. A sorrow, that will throw cold water upon the fire of our lusts; level the hills of our pride; and hand us the scrip and staff, for the bags of our covetousness. A sorrow, that will lead us to bear patiently the rod of God. That will make us feel, that we are not worthy to lift up so much as our eyes to heaven. That will lead us to crucify every passion, that warreth against the soul. That will rend our heart, and not our garments. That will search and try our ways. That will make us be afflicted, and mourn, and weep. That will let the whole head be sick, and the whole heart faint. That will put our mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. It must be a sorrow, that will cause one to say to himself, Thou art the man ; and to cry to God, Against thee, thee only, have I sinned. We should be sorry, that we cannot be more sorry. And we should beg of God, to continue this sorrow, until it works its salutary end.
But, after all, simple sorrow is not repentance of sin. It is but the natural, and promising harbinger to it. For
godly sorrow worketh repentance. Sorrow is the parent, repentance is the child; and the child too in its veriest infancy; and it has much to do, before it can increase, and grow into favour both with God and man.
2. Sorrow, we said, is but the first part of Repentance. This alone will not do. There must follow a total relinquishment of sin. This sorrow must produce conversion; that turning about of the heart, as the word implies, which will cause a turning about of our lives from sin, and the dark lanes of sin. Else it is not a godly sorConviction of sin is nothing, without a conversion from sin. It is not a casting out of some great sins less inviting, for an indulgence of others more easily besetting. It is not a commuting of one sin for another sin. It is not the emptying of one basket of the fruits of unrighteousness, to fill another with the like from the same tree. It is a formal, peremptory, and absolute reprobation, and abandonment of all sin; of every sin, whether of head or heart; of thought, speech, or action; overt or covert. We must make clean our raiment, and hate even the garment spotted by the flesh. We must not taste, nor reach after, nor look towards, nor ever long after, the apples of Sodom. We must bring every sin to the altar, and slay it before God, and before the people. To win the graces, we must slay the vices. We must not only slay every sin, but must cover it with the pall of mourning, and shed over it the tears of contrition; not that it is dead, but that it ever lived; and then bury it out of our sight, in the lowest deep of humility, that it may no more rise in judgment against us. What say the Scriptures? Wash you, and make you clean. Make you a new heart, and a new spirit. Come out from among them, and be ye separate. Amend your ways, and your doings. Break off thy sins by righteousness. Touch not the unclean thing. Touch not, taste not, handle not. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. We may weep, and we may fast, and we may pray, and we may condemn ourselves;