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Almighty's wrath, saying, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die,”* yet, on the other, have they abundant words of comfort to cheer and to encourage the dejected spirit, when they assure us that God “ will be merciful to their unrighteousvess, and their sins and their iniquities will be remember no more ;'* and declare that " when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.”+
But, my brethren, in this, as well as in all other exercises of devotion, it is not mere empty and unmeaning words only which God requires of his real disciples, but that entire dedication of the heart with all its affections which shall lead to corresponding actions and a change of life ; and we cannot be too often reminded, that “not every one that saith unto him Lord, Lord,” is therefore truly Christs, but “he that doeth the will of his father which is in heaven."I Accordingly, we find in the concluding part of the Confession one of the earliest statements of that doctrine, so distinctly pervading the whole of the Liturgy of our church, which enjoins that faith and practice, belief and obedience, should be closely united with each other. And we ask “our merciful Father to grant, for * Heb. ix. 12. + Ezek. xviii. 27. Matt. vii. 21
Christ's sake, that we may hereafter live a life of godliness,” that is, a course of uninterrupted devotion to God; of “ righteousness," that is, one of honesty and charity towards our neighbours; and “soberness,” that is, in the proper regulation of our own conduct by rules of temperance and humility of heart; to the justification of the ways of God, and “ the glory of his holy name.”
Thus, when, in the service of the church, we have gone through the form of confession, we have not performed a mere udmeaning ceremony whose benefits are to pass away with the passing words that fall from our lips. We ask, and I would that all who join in that service would think more often and more deeply of it, we ask infinitely more than this. We ask, in the spirit of those scripture words which declare that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,”* we ask, I say, that such- the great object of the gospel — may be fully attained in us. We askand Oh! that that petition may be ever realized in us !- that we may not have come to the house of God in vain. That we may depart from it, not only happier, but better men. That we may take with us, when we leave it at each returning sabbath, new grace, new spiritual-mindedness, new strength of resolution to amend our lives. That we may go on increasing in grace as we increase in years. That the blessing of heaven may rest upon us always; and that, in all our thoughts, words, and actions, and in "whatsoever we do, we may do it all to the glory of God.”*
* Titus ii. 11, 12.
ON THE LITURGY.—THE ABSOLUTION.
2 Cor. v. 18, 19. All things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation : To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
In these words there are two important doctrines insisted on by the apostle; First, That God hath reconciled the world to himself by Jesus Christ; that is, for the satisfaction which his Son hath made, God is ready to forget our offences, and to pardon and absolve the penitent sinner; and, secondly, That His ministers are appointed