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ed. For in the celestial house where the righteous dwell for ever, are many mansions; and in that new heaven, the habitation of the saints, one star differeth from another star in glory. How far inferior, then, will be the future glory of the deathbed penitent, who has only to offer the tears of contrition, the supplications of a wounded spirit, and the desires of a soul which pants for mercyto that bliss which will be awarded to him who early forsook the ranks of the ungodly, and enlisted under the banner of his God and Saviour; who early took up his cross, to follow his divine Lord and Master; who early commenced that good fight, which terminated in complete victory over a sinful world, in the full attainment of grace and holiness; and for which, therefore, there is laid up the most splendid crown of glory!
Persevere, then, young Christian, with increasing fidelity and ardour, in thy warfare ; for thou shalt increase thy future reward. Redouble thy diligence, aged saint; for the term of thy probation is nearly closed. Renounce without delay, 0 sinner! thy sinful course; for every moment's delay diminishes that bliss which, by patient continuance in well-doing, thou mayest secure : and a few days or hours, at the close of life, devoted to God, can at best obtain for thee bút a distant view of that glory which, in its full radiance, fills with unutterable ecstasy the spirits of the blest.
Alas! that any should rest their immortal interests on a death-bed repentance. We do not declare this repentance impossible; on the contrary, we declare it is possible, through the extraordinary mercy and grace of God; and therefore we encourage and soothe the contrition and sorrow of the dying penitent. But still a death-bed repentance is inexpressibly difficult-eminently hazardous -and recompensed, at best, with only imperfect rewards. Will any, then, rest their eternal happiness on a death-bed repentance ? That repentance may never como: some sudden accident may in a moment cut asunder the tie that unites you to life; disease may instantly terminate your mortal existence; delirium, seizing your departing spirit, may render you incapable of reflection, of resolution-even of one prayer for mercy. Oh! fatal delusion! that has placed the interests of eternity on a death-bed repentance—which never comes.
Beloved brethren, oh! defer not to this uncertain, this hazardous hour—this hour of solicitude, of weakness, of pain, of agony-the work of repentance. Employ the season of health, of strength, of vigour, in this difficult, this arduous, but this indispensable work. Let your death-bed be the scene, not of your tears, your anguish, your conflicts; but of your praises, your joys, your triumphs. Then have recourse to your God- not as your Judge, to be appeased—but as your Father already reconciled. Then have recourse to your Saviour, not solely to shelter you from the tempest of the divine displeasure, but to support
and conduct you through the darkness and trials of this dread hour, to the light and glories of eternity.
Oh, brethren! delay not until the last moment; sue for mercy, lest the door be shut.
THE PETITION OF THE PENITENT..
LUKE Xvü. 13
God be merciful to me a sinner.
The language of the publican is the language which the church daily puts into the mouths of her members during this season devoted to extraordinary exercises of humiliation and penitence. Not that she considers repentance as only an occasional duty, to be discharged only at a particular period : it is a duty of constant obligation-the paramount business of life. To confess, and to forsake our iniquities, are duties, from which, at no period, we shall be exempt, until the body of sin being destroyed, we shall shine for ever in the garments of holiness, as the angels of God.
But what is thus at all times obligatory upon us, the church enjoins more particularly at certain sea
The various graces and duties of religion should be exhibited in our uniform character, and in the daily tenuur of our lives, But their vigour would abate, and they would be in danger of total decay, did we not, at certain periods, by more than ordinary attention, brighten their lustre and infuse into them new strength.
The emotions and the holy resolutions of repentance demand, therefore, at stated periods, an extraordinary portion of our thoughts and of our
time. The season which immediately precedes the commemoration of the death of Christ as an atonement for sin, is most judiciously devoted, by our church, to extraordinary acts of humiliation
and penitence. Directing our view to those sins • which were the cause of those bitter sufferings and
death of the Son of God, as the representative of our guilt, to the commemoration of which the present season is designed as a preparation, she enjoins on her ministers to weep, as it were, between the porch and the altar, and to say~"Spare thy people, good Lord, spare them, and let not thine heritage be brought to confusion.” Calling on her members humbly and faithfully to review the sins which
may have corrupted their souls, and involving them in guilt, insulted the majesty of their Almighty Sovereign and Judge, and exposed them to his just displeasure—she warns and entreats them to turn unto the Lord with all their hearts, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning; and with deep and lively penitence to offer the humble prayer of the publican—" God be merciful to me a sinner.”
This should be the language of contrition.
Penetrated with contrition for his offences, the penitent should implore mercy.
He must believe that God is merciful, or it would be in vain to utter the petition.
And he should form resolutions of a new and holy life, or his contrition would be feigned, and his faith presumptuous.
Thus, then, the state of penitence is a state of £ontrition, of faith, of holy resolution.
"God be merciful to me a sinner!" is the lan
guage of every sincere penitent; and it should be the language of contrition-contrition for having offended his God for having contemned the mercy of his Saviour--for having corrupted his own soul --for having contributed to corrupt the souls of others.
Contrition for having offended his God—who, infinitely holy and infinitely good, demanded his adoration-who, infinitely just and infinitely powerful, claims his deepest reverence-who, the only source of perfection and felicity, is worthy of the liveliest homage of all intelligent creatures—the Almighty Being who made him ; on whom he is dependent; who constantly preserves him, and bestows on him all his enjoyments; and to whom he is to render an account. This God-to whom he is bound by the strongest and the closest ties of duty, of love, of gratitude, and of everlasting interest—he has offended, by transgressing laws, in themselves most reasonable; in their consequences most beneficial ; producing purity, peace, unspeakable consolation-laws, to enable him to obey which, the necessary strength was afforded, and which are enforced by the highest sanctions—happiness without end; misery eternal. And he has transgressed not only occasionally, not only by surprise, not only when assailed by powerful temptation, but deliberately, and perhaps in some cases habitually. Ah, brethren! who is there that has not sinned—that has not done the things which he ought not to have done, and left undone the things which he ought to have done! And yet the cares of the world, its business and its pleasures, so occupy men, that there are few who reflect that this is their sinful condition that there is a God whom