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eth repentance unto the acknowledging of the truth. Still, you say, “it is required of us as “ our duty.” Most undoubtedly : but so is every one of those christian graces which Christ hath purchased for us. Even reconciliation to God, which is, certainly, procured by the death and insercession of Jesus, is commanded us in scripture. “We pray you in Christ's “stead,” says the apostle, “ be ye reconciled “ unto God.” “ Make ye a new heart,” says God by the prophet Ezekiel, and yet, soon after, he inakes this new promise, “ a new heart “ will I give you and a right spirit will I put “ within you.” The erercise of repentance, then, is our duty, but the true source of it is the spirit of God.
Previous to it, however, two changes are produced, which, though not properly parts of it, are absolutely necessary to its existence. The first is a conviction of sin; a sense of its guilt and danger. When the sinner is led, by the spirit, to compare his conduct and character with the law of God, that perfect rule of life, the commandments of which are exceedingly broad, he sees many defects in them to which he was before a stranger ; he is convinced, that he has sinned, and, in innumerable
respects, come short of the glory of God. He finds that he has omitted many parts of his duty, and, in many instances, acted contrary to it. He sees that even in those actions which appeared good, his motives to the performance of them were improper, and consequently destroyed their merit. "I was alive without “ the law once,” says St. Paul, “ but when “ the commandment came, sin revived, and I “ died.” By the law, then, is the knowledge of sin. And when a sinner thus arrives at the knowledge of his iniquity, he, also, becomes sensible of the guilt and danger which he has incurred. When he contemplates the nature of God, and that strict obedience which he requires, he shrinks back with horrour at his own ingratitude towards his greatest Benefactor; he views, with deep concern, that pollution which separates him from his God, and that guilt which exposes him to the displeasure of his Maker. Innocence hath forsaken his breast, and peace is never found but in her train. Guilt, and her attendant fear, prey upon
his soul. When the thunders roll, and the lightnings flash, that voice of power
power which speaks peace to the good, sounds dreadful in the ears of that man whom conscience appals
with awful forebodings of punishment to come. He trembles at the thoughts of that curse which is due to every one who continueth not to do all things which are written in the book of the law.
This previous change was experienced by the prodigal son. “ He came to himself." Formerly he lived as in a fairy land, where magick and enchantment dressed up every thing in false and gaudy colours, where all was beauty to the eye and musick to the ear; but the spell was dissolved, the fictions of imagination were fled, and he beheld the real wretchedness of his situation. The wicked man is beside himself. Madness, saith Solomon, is in the heart of the sinner. The life of sin is like a dream, during which we believe ourselves seated at a rich banquet, but when we awake we find it all an illusion. It is a state of delirium or infatuation which makes us believe that we are rich and increased in goods, and, that, we stand in need of nothing; but when we come to our senses, we find ourselves wretched, and miserable, and
poor, and blind, and naked.
The second thing previous to repentance is an apprehension of the mercy of God, in
Christ, to such as are penitent. It is, perhaps, of no great consequence to determine the precise order in which faith and repentance take place ; for they are intimately connected and never separated. It seems absurd to say, that, a man can believe, before he has any know- . ledge of sin, before he sees that he has done wrong. But faith in Christ appears naturally to follow those alarms, and that anxiety of mind, into which conviction throws the sinner. Indeed, a hope of pardon is, absolutely, necessary to the very existence of repentance : for without it, conviction would lead only to despair : and we will never repent of those sins from the punishment of which we cannot escape.
Horrours of conscience and anticipations of wrath seize and overwhelm the sons of reprobation. Such
felt the murderer of his brother, and the son of perdition. The devils, who are without hope, are without repentance. But the true penitent sees the cherubim and the flaming sword, which kept the way to the tree of life, removed by the blood of Jesus ; he sees the gates of mercy laid open for the admission of the returning sinner; he beholds the God of love stretching out his hands, and recalling his rebellious children.
If the prodigal son had doubted the affection of his father, and expected a rejection whenever he pleaded for being, again, admitted into his house, never would he have set out on his return, but would have languished out his lite in a foreign land, under the most abject form of misery. But his language was, and the language of every penitent soul is; “ I “ will arise and go to my father.” “Though “ I have offended him, and am cast out of his « sight, he is, still, my father, and pitieth me “ as a father pitieth his children. I know, “ that, there is joy in heaven over one sinner “ that repenteth. At the tribunal of God for“ mer offenders have found mercy, and for" mer sinners have been taken unto favour. • To his ears the cry of the penitent never as- cended in vain. He is, ever, nigh to all “ who call upon him in sincerity of heart. I
will, therefore, prostrate myself at the foot“ stool of his throne, with the faith and hope “ that I will not be cast out."
These two things having been accomplished, the day of righteousness hath dawned, and repentance draweth near,
This is commonly expressed in sacred writ by a word which literally signifies a change of mind. For, in gen