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deed at all tends to, a real amendment. But, SERM. the mind that grieves after a godly fort dwells III.

the confideration of sin as it is in itself, and in the lights wherein the scripture sets

e it considers moral evil as an error, as unbecoming the rational nature, as a deviation from the eternal and unchangeable measures of right, as offensive to, and disapproved bý, the best of all beings, as ingratude to a benefactor who continually loads us with his favours, and exercises towards us the most amazing patience and tender compassion ; to all which the gospel adds, that most powerful motive taken from the death and passion of Christ. Our glorious redeemer was, as the prophet speaks of him, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief I ; and after a life of deep humiliation, poverty and contempt, endured a most ignominious and painful death. And, when we remember that he suffered and past through all his scenes of grief for our fakes, that he might redeem us from all our iniquities, and purify to bimself a peculiar people zealous of good works * ; and finally bring us to the possession of an eternal rest and blessedness in heaven; when I say, all this is considered, it must be a hard heart that does not relent, that can look to

bin Ifa. liii. 3.

* Titus ü. 14

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SERM.him that was pierced for our sins, and not HI.

mourn and be in bitterness.

It is likewise very natural for men convinced, and sensibly affected with the res membrance of their transgressions, to confess them to God whom they have offended. Nature dictates a way of expressing our forrows, and reason tells us that sorrow for injuries done, should be uttered in acknowie ledgements to the person injured. We are very ready to expect and demand it when wrong is done us, and can we question the equity of paying it when our hearts tells us we have done wrong'; especially, this homage is due to the supreme being, when we have affronted and provoked him by violating his righteous laws. The confession of fin is a reproaching ourselves in the bitterness of our spirits, as polluted by the most nauseous and loathsome thing, which we can no longer bear. It is, as the scripture speaks, taking to ourselves shame, and confufion of face, and justifying God whom our transgressions dishonoured, making a folemn acknowledgement of the reasonableness of his laws, and the righteousness of the sentence which he has pronounced against the evil deeds of men. At the same time, it gives glory to his mercy and the truth of his pro

mise,

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mise, that he will pardon iniquity, tranf- SERM
gression, and sin ; the hope of which, far III.,
from lefsening the malignity of fin, in the view
of a penitent, it increases it rather, as the
prophet says, in the name of the Lord.
Ezekiel xvi. 63. Thou shalt remember, and
be ashamed and confounded, and never open the
mouth, because of thy fame, when I am
pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done.
For these reasons, the confession of fin is
often enjoin’d in scripture, and great promi-
ses are made to the sincere performance of it;
yet the stress is not laid on the performance
itself, but the value of it depends on its ten-
dency to a reformation, which, chiefly, is
well-pleasing to God.

The result will certainly be a change of
mind and affections from evil to good, a
disposition to alter our course of action; for
it is altogether an inconsistent supposition,
that we should be sorry for having offended,
and acknowledge it with fhame, at the fame
time resolving that we will continue in the
fame course. But still all these are only pre-
parations for repentance, it is not finish'd in
them. It's true characteristic is a deliberate
and resolved change of temper and behaviour;
a firm purpose of amendment thoroughly exe-
cuted; resolving to keep God's righteous judg-

mients,

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SERM.ments, and immediately entering upon the III. actual performance of it ; no more fashioning

ourselves according to the former lusts in ignorance, but as he that hath called us is holy, becoming holy in all manner of conversation *

To convince us of this, which I take to be a point of very great moment ; let us, first, consider the express declarations of scripture concerning it. The apostle Paul discoursing of godly sorrow, and certainly none can have a better character, it comprehends every good qualification of sorrow for fin) says I, it worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of ; not that it is repentance unto falvation, for he maketh a plain difference as between the means and the end ; the occasion or preparation and the effect. Besides, in a great many other passages, a pious and virtuous life, a persevering obedience and patient continuance in well doing, is the condition of our obtaining eternal life; which indeed is contained in repentance, but not in forrow, confession of sin, or good inclinations. On the other hand, a vitious character and wicked behaviour, disqualifies men for the kingdom of God, whatever their griefs, humiliations, and pious desires,

and 1 Pet. i. 15 +2 Cor. vi. 10.

*

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and purposes may be. The t adulterer, the SERM•
forcerer, the railer, the covstous, the drunk- III.
ard, shall not inherit the kingdom of God,
tho' they should often with deep humility
and regret confess their fins, and in their con-
fessions and griefs incline and resolve to alter
their course of life ; yet they do it not, but
it happens to them according to the proverb,
as St. Peter expresses it, || The dog is turned
to his own vomit again ; and the fow that was
washed, to her wallowing in the mire.

I think no attentive person can doubt but
this is the doctrine of the holy scriptures
upon the head of repentance ; at least, that
a virtuous course of life, ordering our con-
versations aright, being undefiled in the way,
walking in the law of the Lord, doing no
iniquity, and keeping God's precepts diligently,
is absolutely and indispensably necessary to
our being blessed in enjoying the favour of
God. It is a wonder that any christians
should have gone into other sentiments, fome
even in speculation and opinion, many more
in the secret fond presumption of their hearts,
not supported by any avowed principle, ima-
gining that humiliation, and contrition, and
ineffectual purposes of amendment, would
at last be sufficient to their acceptance with
--VOL. I.

F

God. ti Cor. Via 93 1 2 Pet. ii. 22%.

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