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and the wrath of God denounced against it,Serm.
which is principally intended for the admo- IV.
nition of christians, that they do not fall in-
to such fin; yet a reserve for the repentance
of those who are so guilty is not obscurely
infinuated. The apostle Paul refers to a
fact of this fort which happened among the
Corinthians. One, and probably a teacher
of no inconsiderable character, was guilty
of such fornication as was not named even
among the Gentiles, * that a man should have
bis father's wife. Because the example was
of a very infectious nature, and highly re-
proachful to christianity, it was necessary
that it should be censured with a peculiar
severity ; accordingly, the apostle, by virtue
of his extraordinary miraculous power, de-
livered the offender to satan, meaning, that
some uncommon temporal judgment was
inflicted upon him. But what was the in-
tention ? was it that he should be immedi.
ately overwhelmed and swallowedup in reme-
diless ruin? no, but for + the destruction of
the flesh, that the

spirit might be saved in the
day of Jesus Christ. That is, that the fin-
ner might be restored to a good state, and
the hope of eternal life by repentance. And,
VOL. I.

G therefore, 1. Cor. v. I. + 1. Cor. v. 5.

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SERM. therefore, when the punishment had its due IV. effect in the humiliation and repentance of

the offender, the apostle exhorts the saints at Corinth to comfort him as a penitent, and receive him again into their fellowship. In the epistles to the seven churches of Apa, Revel. chap. 2 d, and 3 d, some are charged, with great defection, and the divine displeasure is denounced against them, they are threatned with the removal of their candlefick out of its place, and other punishments; but still

upon

the supposition of impenitency; and it is expresfly declared, that if they did repent, their destruction should be prevented. Nay, some of the most notorious tranfgrefsors, who seduced the servants of Christ into grossly immoral practices, are threatned indeed with death, but it it is, except they repent. The apostle Peter himself is an example for the encouragement of offending disciples of Christ to repent; thro' fear he denied his master before men, for which sin his master pronounces a severe punishment; but he obtained mercy, having with deep sorrow for his sin returned to a better

nind and better resolution, which he testified thro' the whole course of his after life, and even at his death.

There

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There is, therefore, repentance also grant-SERM. ed even to them who professing christianity IV. have deliberately and presumptuously finned against its laws; and their repentance is of the same kind with that which the gospel defcribes in the case of converted infidels : a thorough forsaking, and purging the conscience from dead works, to serve the living God, sprinkling the hearts from an evil conscience, and washing the body with pure water. Let them never imagine that their condition is any thing the better for their having been christians before the committing of their iniquities, and that from thence there remains 'any foundation of hope for them ; their habitual course of wickedness utterly inconsistent with integrity, forfeits the christian character, and with it all claim to the privileges of the gospel covenant. Their state is that of a total alienation from God; and their conversion to him, that it may be sincere and acceptable, muft be attended with an entire change of difposition and conversation, from evil to good: As David in his penitential exercises, after the most heinous transgression of his life, addresses God, not only with a deprecation of his displeasure for that particular offence,

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nor

SERM.nor indeed, only, with a defire and purpose IV. of amending it, but with the utmost foli

citude that he might be wholly renewed ; in the same manner as a new convert to religion would do, after an universally profligate and abandoned life according to his lufts in ignorance, * create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me. Nay, if there be any difference, it is this, that the repentance of such sinners ought to be peculiarly remarkable and conspicuous, as their iniquities have been accompanied with peculiar aggravations; and, especially, let it be remembred, that nothing can be to them a satisfying evidence of their fincerity, but an effectual amendment, an intire, resolved, abstinence from their former iniquities, and the steddy exercise of the cons

ori I come, in the next place, to lay before you the gospel motives to repentance. But, before I enter upon them, it may not be amiss to consider a little the reasonableness of the thing itself, and its agreeableness to our natural sentiments. We have indeed this invaluable advantage by the gospel revelation, that it adds new and very powerful

inducements

trary virtues.

* Plalm li. Io.

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inducements to our obeying the eternal and SerM.
immutable laws of God; but still the first IV.
consideration which takes fast hold on the
minds of men, is, that the things which
those laws injoin are excellent and right
things, most becoming a reasonable nature,
and tending to its perfection, and its highest
self enjoyment.

Now, I think it will appear to every at-
tentive person very rational and fit, that we
should undo what we have done amiss;
that if we have gone into any wrong course,
we should not persevere in it, but upon con-
viction abandon it; that we should renounce
our errors, and if we have done iniquity,
resolve that we will do it no more; that is,
that we should repent. It is true, indeed,
that repentance is not directly contained in
the original obligation of the law of nature,
for it primarily injoins what is good without
supposing the case of a departure from it;
but in the event of fin, it imports a plain
consequential obligation to forsake it, and
return to our duty, as being that only which
we can reasonably do in such circumstances,
and whereby we can only have hope to-
wards God, or be approved by ourselves.

But,

!

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