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pf salvation, yielded to the influences of that grace to, which he had hitherto been a stranger, and surrendered himself to a call which had never been made before. The apostles, in the course of their ministry, converted Jews andGentiles. They converted the Jews, by proposing to them an idea, which was new to them, the Lord of glory, whom they with wicked hands had crucified and slain. They converted the Gentiles, by working miracles, in proof of their divine commission, and by preaching the doctrines of salvation to them, which they had never heard before.
But what new methods can we attempt with you? Is there any motive to repentance which hath not already been urged upon you? Is there one avenue to the heart which has not already been tried, and which has not already been tried in vain? Shall we address ourselves to your conscience, to give you the alarm? But alas! you have often heard its voice, you have often disregarded its voice, and by efforts too successful, have lulled it into a profound sleep. Shall we address ourselves to your hopes, by describing to you the joys of heaven, the rivers of pleasures which are at God's right hand, the happiness of the blessed, the triumphs of eternity? All these have been already presented to your eyes, and to all these you have preferred the enjoyments of an hour. You have sold your birthright to immortality for a sordid gratification, and you now only mind earthly things. Shall we endeavour to alarm your fears, by setting before you the horrors of hell, the worm that never dies, the rire that is never quenched, everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power? These have been traced out to you an ^hundred times, and you have learned the fatal art of freeing yourselves from the fears of there. Shall we implore you by the grace of the Gospel, and by the tender-mercies of the God of Peace? But alas ! you have undervalued his mercy, you have turned hisgrace into wantonness. Shall we set before you the image of a Saviour d^ing on the cross for the redemption of the world? But alas! a crucified Redeemer hath been often preached to you, the memorial of his sacrifice hath been renewed in your sight, and after all, you have counted his blood as a common thing; you have looked upon the Son of God suffering on the cross with as much unconcern as the Jews of old, when they cried out," AwaY with him, away with him!"
In the third place, By long delaying, your conversion may become altogether impossible.
Habit, says the proverb, is a second nature: and indeed it is stronger than the first. At first, we easily take the bend, and are moulded by the hands of the master; but this nature of our own making is proof against alteration. The Ethiopian may as soon change his skin, and the leopard his spots; the tormented in hell may as soon revisit the earth; as those who have been long accustomed to do evil, may learn to do well, Such is the wise appointment of Heaven to deter sinners from delaying their repentance. When the evil principle hath corrupted the whole capacity of the mind; when sin, by its frequency and its duration, is woven into the very essence of the soul, and is become part of ourselves ; when the sense of moral good and evil is almost totally extinct; when conscience is seared as with a hot iron; when the heart is so hard that the arrows of the Almighty cannot pierce it; and when, by a long course of crimes, we have become what the Scripture most emphatically calls, " vessels of wrath fitted for destruction ;"-—then we have filled up the measure of our sins; then Almighty God swears in his wrath that we shall not enter into his rest; then there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, but a fearful looking for wrath, and indignation, which shall devour the adversary. Almighty God, weary of bearing with the sins of men, delivers them over to a reprobate mind, when, like Pharaoh, they;survive only as monuments of wrath; when, like Esau, they cannot find a place for repentance, although they seek it carefully with tears; when, like the foolish virgins, they come knocking, but the door of mercy is for eVer shut.
Further, let me remind you, my brethren, that if you repent not now, perhaps you shall not have another opportunity. You say you will repent in some future period of time; but are you sure of arriving at that period of time? Have you one hour in your hand I Have you one minute at your disposal? Boast not thyself of to-morrow. Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Before to-morrow, multitudes shall be in another world. Art thou sure that thou art not of the number? Man knoweth not his time. As the fishes that are taken in an evil net, as the birds that are caught in the snare, so are the sons of men snared in an eril hour. Can you recal to mind none of your companions, none of the partners of your follies and your sins, cut off in an unconverted state; cut off, perhaps, in the midst of an unfinished tyebauch, and hurried with all their transgressions on their head, to give in their account to God the Judge of all? Could I shew you the state in which they are now in; could an angel from heaven unbar the gates of the everlasting prison; could you discern the late companions of your wanton hours overwhelmed with torment and despair; could you hear the cry of their torment which ascendeth up for ever and ever; could you hear them upbraiding you as the partners of their crimes, and accusing you as in some measure the cause of their damnation '.—Great God! how would your hair stand on end! how would your heart die within you! how would conscience fix all its stings, and remorse, awaking a new hell within you, torment you before the time! Had a like untimely fate snatched you away then, where had you been now? And is this the improvement which you make of that longer day of grace with which Heaven has been pleased to favour you? Is this the return you make to the Divine goodness for prolonging your lives, and indulging you with a longer day of repentance? Have you in good earnest determined within yourself that
you will weary out the long-suffering of God, an3 force destruction from his reluctant hand?
I beseech, I implore you, my brethren, in the bonds of friendship, and in the bowels of the Lord; by the tender mercies of the God of Peace; by the dying love of a crucified Redeemer; by the piecious promises and awful threatenings of the Gospel; by all your hopes of heaven and fears of hell; by the worth of your immortal souls, and by all that is dear to men; I conjure you to accept of the offers of mercy, and fly from the wrath to come. "Behold, now is the ac"cepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation." All the treasures of heaven are now opening to you; the blood of Christ is now speaking for the remission of your sins; the church on earth stretches out its arms to receive you; the spirits of just meft made perfect are eager to enrol you amongst the number of the blessed ; the angels and archangels are waiting to break out into new alleluiahs of joy on your return; the whole Trinity is now employed in your behalf? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, at this instant call upon you, weary and heavy laden, to come unto them that ye may have rest un* to your souls!
Luke Xv. 18.
/ will arise and go to my Father.
THE parable of the prodigal son is one of the most beautiful and affecting pieces of composition which is anywhere to be found. The occasion on which it was spoken, and the persons to whom it was addressed, are well known to you. Dropping, therefore, what was peculiar at the first narration, I shall consider it as representing in general the return of sinners to God by true repentance.
Such a return is not a single act in the Christian life; it is the habitual duty of every man who is subject to infirmities and defects. For such is the weakness of human nature in this imperfect state, such is the strength of temptation in this evil world, that frail man is often led astray before he is aware. Alas! in our best estate we are but Returning penitents; and to the last hour of this mortal life we stand in need of amendment.
We may observe the following steps in the return of the prodigal to his father's house ; first, His restoration to a better mind, by means of consideration. "When he came to himself, he said, How many hir"ed servants of my father's have bread enough, and
to spare!" Second, Ingenuous sorrow for sin, accompanied with faith in the Divine mercy. "Father, "I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee." Third, A resolution to return to a sense of duty. "I "will arise and go to my father." And, fourth, His Vol. ii. It r