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wast bound, sincerely, supremely, universally? Hast thou considered it as thy highest honour, and has it been thy supreme delight, to contemplate and adore the glorious attributes of thy Creator; reverently and gratefully to trace the wonders of his providence and the riches of his mercy? Impressed with his infinite excellence, and with a lively conviction of thy dependence upon his power and thy obligations to his bounty, hast thou uniformly rendered him the tribute of homage and worship; earnestly supplicating his protection, and celebrating the displays of his goodness ? To the Almighty Father of Spirits, to him who must be worshipped in spirit and in truth, hast thou rendered not merely a cold, superficial worship, but the lively homage of thy heart? Has sacred communion with thy Almighty Father and Benefactor, in the exercises of prayer and praise, been observed not only as a public tribute, exacted by custom, extorted by a sense of decency, and at last rendered easy by habit; but has it been the exercise and the solace of thy retired hours? Has the holy principle of love to God transfused alacrity and delight into every act of obedience to him? Has it been the supreme principle, which animated every duty, which prompted sincere obedience to all his commands ? Ah, my soul, presumptuous self-love has veiled from thee thy real character. Thou hast been asserting thy rectitude on thy exemption from gross crimes, and on thy partial obe
dience to the divine commands, while thou hast been destitute of that spiritual and universal holiness which thy omniscient Judge requires. Thou hast founded thy claims to merit on thy external obedience to the laws of God, while thou hast been destitute of that supreme love to him which is thy highest duty, perfection, and happiness, and which must animate even the most exalted acts of virtue to render them acceptable in his sight.
Yes, my God, with deep humility I acknowledge the presumption which disclaimed my depravity and guilt. With deep humility, I acknowledge that thy grace has excited every emotion to goodness which animates my disordered nature. Forgetful have I been of thee, when the most powerful obligations, and the most tender motives urged my ardent love. Thou canst justly claim the sincere and universal service of my life: imperfect and partial has been my obedience. O God, when my omissions of duty thus involve me in the deepest guilt, what loud calls for the inflictions of thy justice do my actual transgressions present. My presumptuous sins rise before my dismayed conscience. O, who can disclose my secret faults! Alas, my iniquities are too many to be numbered. my God, from the impure fountain of my heart have flowed the noxious streams which have debased my nature, and swept away the vestiges of primeval glory. “Thou art found wanting,”--the sentence, marked by the fin
ger of thy holiness on the most brilliant virtues of man, confounds the pretensions of human pride. The purest seraph that treads thy courts, most holy God, renouncing all claim to merit, casts his crown at thy throne. What emotions, then, should penetrate a worm of the dust, a polluted sinner, when he approaches his Maker and Judge! Ah, though arrayed in the righteousness of the most exalted saint, when the beams of thy glory dart upon me, it will become me, imitating the abasement of the inspired prophet, to lay my hand upon my mouth, and prostrate in the dust to deplore my sins— Wo is me, for I am unclean."
Contemplate, then, O my soul, with profound humility, thy awful guilt. Consider thyself as excluded, by transgression, from that throne of glory, which, in thy state of innocence, thou wast permitted to approach. Consider thyself, while unrenewed by grace, as obnoxious to the displeasure of that God, who, from the essential holiness of his nature, must ever regard sin with abhorrence. Revolt not against the humiliating conviction of thy depravity; presume not to cast thy sins on the Being who made thee. Pure and upright thou didst come forth from his hallowed hands. But though blessed with his animating smiles, though admitted to the vision of his glory, though holding blissful communion with thy adorable Maker, wilfully yielding to temptation, thou didst transgress his com
mands. His love infinitely surpassed thy deserts. Transgression had no soloner sunk thee into the abyss of guilt, than his mercy provided the means of thy restoration. Satan had no sooner triumphed in thy fall, and cast on thee his chains, than the price of thy ransom was laid on one that was mighty-than a glorious Redeemer was provided to destroy the power of the adversary. Sin had no sooner defaced thy primitive glory, than the fountain of grace was opened to renew and console thee. Inheriting from the first degenerate Adam, a fallen and polluted nature, thou mayest derive from thy glorious Representative, the divine Saviour of mankind, pardon, holiness, everlasting life. The sacrifice of his death, as the sacrifice of an all-perfect victim, is infinite in value; and, extending its efficacy to all mankind, restores them to the means and hopes of salvation. His quickening grace diffuses through the hearts of the degenerate offspring of Adam, the cheering light which conducts to the reconciled countenance of their God, the invigorating strength which enables them to render that imperfect, but sincere obedience which his mercy will accept.
Thy guilt, therefore, O my soul, is increased by thy rejection of proffered grace. Thy condemnation is now aggravated by the impious contempt of the mercies of salvation, purchased for thee by a Saviour's merits, and pressed upon thee by the urgent entreaties of a Saviour's love. In his state of perfection, thy first parent enjoyed the exalted bliss of communion with God. But glorious as was his state, animating as were his motives to obedience, the agonies of a divine Saviour consumed as a victim to incensed justice did not display to him the awful sanctions of the law of God. The glories of the Word made
flesh, the blessings of salvation which flowed from the cross, did not swell his soul with the emotions of adoration, did not display to his astonished contemplation the surpassing condescension and love of the everlasting Jehovah. Ah, thy transgressions have cast contempt on the glories of the Son of God manifested in the flesh, to redeem thee; thy transgressions have repaid with mockery and insult the agonizing sufferings by which he atoned for thy guilt. Ah, my soul, thy sins, committed against brighter displays of glory, contemning more tremendous manifestations of divine justice, have involved thee in deeper guilt than that which crushed, under the curse of heaven, the wretched forefather of our race.
Here then, my soul, place the basis of thy repentance. Let the contemplation of thy fallen state excite penitential sorrow.
Let the view of the ruins in which sin has involved thy once glorious nature, excite the lively conviction of thy need of the renovating grace of a Redeemer. Arrayed in the garments of mercy, he came, the divine Messenger of the Father, " to proclaim liberty to the captives,