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violent, the passions of men push them forward ; they will not be restrained by the voice of reason and philosophy. On these occasions, men will reply to such an instructor, " Who gave thee a commission to teach and reform the world? Did the voice of heaven come to thine ears? Who invested thee with authority and dominion over the mind? Who appointed thee instructor of the nations, and legislator of the moral world?" The heathen teachers could pretend to no such authority. But Jesus of Nazareth was invested with a divine commission. He descended from heaven to teach the will of God upon earth. He performed miracles in confirmation of his religion. He set the seal of heaven to the doctrines which he taught, and guarded the laws which he established with the sanction of rewards and punishments. Such was the difference betwixt a human teacher and a prophet of the Lord; and such ought to be the difference betwixt the lives of heathens and the conduct of Christians. What signifies the superior excellency of your religion, unless its superiority appear in your life? What avails the light to you, if ye continue to walk in darkness. Unless ye repent, it had been better for you that the kingdom of God had never come amongst you. If ye still walk in the region and shadow of death, it had been better that the day-spring from on high had never risen over your benighted land. The heathens shall rise up in judgment against you, and shall condemn you. It shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment for the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, those cities of sin, those monuments of the vengeance of God to all succeeding times; it shall be more tolerable for these, than for those wicked Christians, who have disregarded the voice which spoke from heaven; who have profaned that blessed name by which they were called; and who, by their obstinacy and impenitence, have counted the blood of the covenant wherewith they were sanctified an unholy thing.
A second motive and encouragement to repentance, is the hope and prospect of success. Before the introduction of Christianity, when the world lay in darkness as well as in wickedness, a sense of guilt burdening the conscience, and a dread of future punishment as consequent upon that guilt, drove the nations to a variety of expedients, in order to avert the vengeance of heaven, and make an atonement for their sins. Hence various rites and ceremonies were instituted. Hence so many sacrifices were offered up, and so much blood was shed. Reason indeed could have told them that these means were unavailable; that the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer, could never take away sin. But reason could not assure them, that any other means, that even their repentance would be effectual to that end. Here Revelation steps in to our aid. The- Gospel assures us, that the wrath of God is not only averted from men, that He is not only reconciled, but also that he is a God in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The gate of mercy is set open by the blood of Jesus, and an inheritance that is incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, is promised to all those who sincerely repent of their sins, to all who believe and obey the Gospel. He that confesseth and returneth, shall find mercy. The sacrifices of God are a broken heart and acontrite spirit; a broken and a contrite heart the Lord will not despise. Thus 'saith the high and lofty One that inhabited) eternity, "whose name is Holy, I dwell in the high and holy "pace, with him also that is of a humble and a con"trite spirit, and who trembleth at my word." Seeing then that the favour of God, and all the blessings of the new covenant, arc promised to true repentance, will you by your impenitence and unbelief, cut yourselves off from these blessings ? When such strong consolation is offered, will you not fly for refuge to the hope set before you ? When heaven is opened for your reception, will you refuse to enter in? When the fruits of the tree of life are presented to you, will you not put forth your hand, and take and eat, and live for ever.
A third motive to repentance is the assistance of the Spirit, which the Gospel offers. Christianity is called the ministration of the Spirit. The effusion of the Holy Ghost on the day »f Pentecost upon the Apostles, which enabled them to speak all languages, and to work miracles, was extraordinary, and intended to cease with that age. But the heavenly Comforter still abides with all the disciples of Christ, to guide them into all truth, and incline them to the practice of every duty. The prophet Zechariah, foretelling the-glory of the latter days, or times of the Messiah, says, "It shall come to pass in those days, "that I will pour out upon the house of David, and "upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of "grace and of supplications, and they shall look u"pon me whom they have pierced, and they shall "mourn and be in bitterness." The Spirit of grace and of supplication then poured out abundantly, shall impress men with sorrow and contrition for their sin } shall incline them to renounce their former sinful ways, to repenc of their past transgressions, and to walk in newness of life. This operation of the Divine Spirit upon the mind, does not impel men to action by mechanical influence, and obstruct the exercise of their natural powers. The grace of God does not turn man into a machine. It drawsshim, as the Scripture happily expresses it, with the cords of love, and with the bands of a man. It acts in such a manner as is adapted to the powers of a rational being, and to the liberty of a free agent. When such gracious aids arc offered to us, when the Spirit of God strives in order to reclaim and reform us, it must be a high aggravation of our wickedness to resist his operations, and by our hardness and impenitence of heart, to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. What more could the good husbandman have done to his vineyard than he has done? He calls upon you to repentance by the voice of nature ; he calls you by the voice of reason ;• he calls you by the voice of providence ; he calls you fey the' voice which spake from heaven: He sends down his Holy Spirit to second these Divine calls, to help your infiriniries, to enlighten your darkness, to strengthen your feeble powers, and to work in you both to will and to do that which is his good pleasure. Not only does he prepare the crown of glory, but he also assists you to fight the good fight* and to finish your course, that you may obtain that crown. Not only does he open the heavens to receive you, but he also stretches out his hands to conduct you thither. And if, after all, you resist his Holy Spirit; if you counterwork his saving plan ; if you defeat the efforts bf mercy, the labours of Heaven used for your recovery, your guilt is upon your own head, your ruin is owing to yourselves, with your own hand you push yourselves over the brink into the pit of utter perdition.
In the fourth place, as an inducement to repentance, consider the cross of Christ, who suffered the punishment due to our sins. How ojreat must be the evil of sin, and how strong the obligation for us to repent of our sins, when such a sacrifice was recpJired in order to expiate our guilt, and atone the wrath of Heaven. Burnt-offeringsj thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of oil, the first-born offered up for the transgression, the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul, could not suffice. The Lamb of God could alone take away the sin of the world. Look then on him whom thou hast pierced, and mourn. Every groan that he utters, every rear that he sheds, every drop of blood that he pours, calls thee to repentance. View him stretched-out on the cross, groaning under the pains of death, inclining his blessed head, and addressing his last words to you, " Sinners, behold your Saviour! behold him who was persecuted by Satan and by wicked men; behold him who was forsaken by God; behold this head which was. crowned with thorns; behold these hands which were nailed to the tree; behold this side which was wounded with the spear; behold the blood that flows from every part;
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sinner, it was shed for you!" Canst thou, Oman! behold that scene without emotion? Canst thou continue impenitent in the practice of those sins, which brought thy Saviour to that painful and ignominious death?
Lastly, It is another motive to repentance, that God "has appointed a day in the which he will judge the "world," as is mentioned in the verse following the text. That the soul of man survives the body, that there is a state of rewards and punishments beyond the grave, has been the general belief among all nations. Testimonies of this truth every where abound. Whether we turn to the east or to the west; whether we consult the history of ancient or of modern times; whether we listen to the accounts of the old world or of the new, we are presented with proofs and evidences of this important doctrine. How this opinion' came to be so general,.as to form an article in the popular creed of all nations, is a question of some difficulty. To those who have no guide but the light of nature, and who have no supernatural aids to assist the efforts of their own understanding, the arguments on both sides seem to be so equally balanced, that, upon principles of reasoning, it is almost impossible to come to any determination. But, in all inquiries concerning human nature, we ought to attend to the heart more than to the understanding. Almighty God hath endowed us with a sense of moral good and evil. He hath placed within us a principle of conscience, which passeth judgment upon human actions, approving the good, and condemning the bad. This tells us, that in the Divine administration it ought to be well with the righteous and ill with the wicked. In confirmation of this. we see, that by the original appointment of Heaven, and in the daily course of Providence, there is no peace to the wicked; and that they have great peace who love the law of the Lord. At the same time, we frequently observe in the course of human affairs, that the lot of the wicked falls to the righteous. We see ma