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repentance absolutely necessary ? This demands your serious attention, though every thing else should be neglected. The soul is too precious to be risked for the poor trifles of a day. It is useless to gather riches and honours; for if you bad whole kingdoms in your possession, they could not deliver you from death. If you continue impenitent to the last, all the angels of heaven, should they wish it, could not save you from hell. Woe unto you, if God withdraw the beams of his favour! Every creature will then forsake you. The heavens will reveal your iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against you. The want of penitence, after we have sinned, provokes God more than the sin itself. Has the thought of this ever yet seriously affected you ? O, may you be smitten to the heart, with a conviction of your sin and danger! May you be plucked as a brand out of the burning, by the arm of Sovereign grace! O, cry earnestly-cry unceasingly, “ Lord, I have been ignorant and sensual, as a beast before thee! I have been a stubborn rebela hateful monster! Turn thou me, and I shall be turned ; save me, and I shall be saved. Why am I yet spared, when thousands, less guilty, have been cut off in their sins ? Lord, enter not into judgment with thy servant ; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Had I been swept away into the fiery oven of thy wrath, it would have been nothing more than I have deserved. Have mercy upon me, have mercy upon me, and blot out my sins. Give me thy good Spirit, to soften the soil of my heart, that the in. corruptible seed of truth may take root there, and bring forth an hundred fold.
2. Repentance is universally necessary.
Do not think what has been said applies to none but blasphemers, thieves, and murderers. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. The infection has struck deep, and spread wide. Sin is a disease equally dangerous, whether it works secretly within, or breaks out into odious irruptions of vice. Therefore God, saith the apostle, hath now commanded all men every where to repent. There is not one, come to years capable of seeing the difference between good and evil, who has not sinned against God. We behold a great many different opinions, tastes, and pursuits among men ; but all are transgressors, and need repentance. I shall, therefore, address myself to the profligate and pre-. sumptuous; the negligent and careless; the selfrighteous and hypocritical.
1. I address myself to the profligate and presumptuous.
Is it asked, whom do I mean? I reply, do
you profane the Sabbath, and spend those hours,
ways, wilfully and obstinately, then, you are presumptuous sinners. You can neither plead ignorance nor surprise, and therefore are left without excuse.
Heaven from above, and conscience from within,
And yet you rush upon those rocks, against which so many have made shipwreck before your eyes! O, think what would be you cordition, if you were instantly seized by the strong hand of death! llow could you appear before your Maker and Judge: Know you not, that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God ? Be not
deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind ; nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkardø, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. Is it possible to be guilty of such things, and not know it? And can you bear any of these black marks upon your characters, and not shudder at the sight of them?
Perhaps you boast, that you never pretended to any religion. “ Whatever we be, we are not canting hypocrites. We scorn the pitiful tricks of base cowards. Away with all weak scruples ; we can bravely despise them; and, dashing through difficulties, enjoy our frolics, in spite of death and destruction.” Let me teil you, the difference between a hypocrite and a reprobate is only like that which there is between a thief and a robber : they are both detestable. According to the striking words of Boston, a conscience seared as with a hot iron, is a sure presage of everlasting burnings. Who hath hardened himself against God, and prospered? Who can raise a defence that will shield him from the flaming bolts of the Almighty? If we sin wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin ; but a fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery in
dignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Heb. x. 26. Who made Cain a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth ? Gen. iv. 14. Who made Pashur a terror to himself and to all his friends ? Jer. xx. 4. Who struck Belshazzar with horror, while he was feasting with his thousand lords ?- That God, to whom vengeance belongeth; who reserveth wrath for his eneinies. I have read of a wicked man, who, when warned of hell, said, I will believe it when I come thither! But to what use will it be to believe there is a hell, when it is too late to escape from it? A daring and hectoring spirit cannot save you. Though you should imagine you have made a covenant with death, and with hell an agreement, so that the one shall not seize, nor the other claim you, what security can they afford ?—the same that you would have of an estate, held by a lease written upon the sands of the sea shore, till the coming of the next tide! When the overflowing scourge shall come, your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand. Isa. xxviii. 15.
Many persons, while they are full of health and spirits, make light of religion, who yet, in a time of sickness, find all their confidence fail. Mr. Hervey went to visit, on his death-bed, a