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suaded that there is a change wrought in them for the better. And this, not on account of any worldly considerations (for that is the repentance of heathens); but because they now perceive, that sin is an offence to God; that the laws of God are just and good, and that men are highly guilty before God who break them; that therefore they think themselves bound in duty and gratitude to strive with all their might to keep the commandments of God, and by this means to gain His favour, and such dispositions as may fit them for heaven.

I have already shewn you, good Christians, that the first step to repentance is to know, and be sensible of it, that we are by nature subject to all manner of wickedness ; and that our nature must be changed before we can hope for any communion with God, or by Him to be made happy.

I will now shew you how this must be done : our blessed Saviour Himself will direct you: "Come unto Me, all ye that (Matt. 11. labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest;" that is, If you are so sensible of your sad estate as to be

weary

of it, and in earnest desire to become new creatures, by faith in Me you shall be forgiven what is past, and by My spirit ye shall be enabled to put on the new man, which after God is (Eph.4.24.] created in righteousness and true holiness: that is, this great change is to be wrought only by faith in the Son of God, who died for us, to assure us of the sincere love of God for His poor creatures; and that He is thoroughly reconciled to them, if they will lay hold of the means He has proposed to them (in His Gospel) for their conversion; which are,-1st, a firm faith in the power of God. 2ndly; earnest prayer to God for light to see what is evil in us, and for strength to overcome and root it out. And 3rdly; a sincere endeavour to do what we are able to do: for God seeing us really desirous to please Him in what we are able, will not let us want grace to overcome all our corruptions, till at last we have recovered the image of God, the new man.

In short, and to be as plain as possible, THE END OF RELIGION is, to make men more perfect and happy than they are by nature; that God may take delight in us, seeing us in some good measure, restored to His own likeness.

In order to this, the Christian religion proposeth to us Jesus Christ, as having by His meritorious death and passion

SERM. obtained eternal redemption for all such as should repent, and LXIII

turn to God, and do works meet for repentance; that is, God is pleased, for Christ's sake, to overlook the untowardness of our nature, and to make trial of us while we continue in this world, whether we will endeavour to regain such dispositions to virtue and holiness as may fit us for heaven.

In order to this, we are, by baptism, received into Christ's family, where we have His protection, the assistance of His Holy Spirit, and all other means pecessary to make us new creatures ; for a new creation we must be made, as ever we hope to be saved.

Now, all such as lay hold of this mercy, and strive sincerely [2 Cor.7.1.) to perfect holiness in the fear of God; such as resolve to walk

worthy of so great a favour; who, being truly sensible of their own weakness, depend entirely upon God's grace, and ask it most earnestly; who, knowing the dangers they are exposed to, do therefore walk warily, that they may avoid the temptations and snares of the devil; who, when they have

done amiss, are sorry for it, and strive with all their might Tit. 2. 12. to do so no more, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, taking Phil. 1. 27. care that their conversation be such as becomes the Gospel of Matt. 6. 33. Christ, subjecting their wills to the will of God, seeking first

the kingdom of God, and His righteousness.

Whoever has, by the grace of God, brought himself to live after this manner, may very truly be said to be a new creation, and as such acceptable to God, and worthy to be made by Him eternally happy.

By this time, I hope, good Christians, you see, that your everlasting welfare depends upon the sincerity of your repentance; that not only great and crying sins are to be repented of, but our very nature is to be changed, before we can hope to be approved of God; that no degree of sorrow, no outward signs of mortification or self-denial, will profit us, where there is not an inward conviction and conversion of the soul to God; that we mock God, and deceive ourselves most wretchedly, when we confess our sins without a full purpose of leaving them, and living better for the time to come; that a Christian's life is a state of repentance, in which he must always be getting the mastery over his corruptions, and labouring daily to grow better ; that to defer our repentance to the last, is to depend upon a miracle for our salvation, and a miracle which we have no reason to believe God will work for us, since we have provoked Him all our days to leave us to our own hard and impenitent hearts when we come to die.

Lastly, I hope by this time you are convinced, that repentance is not so much a command as a privilege, and the greatest favour that ever God offered to mankind. It is plain the Jews thought so: “Then hath God also to the Acts 11. 18. Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” A favour which they thought God would never have vouchsafed a people of whom they had the meanest opinion.

But God, you see, has granted even to us Gentiles this mighty favour. Let us then not abuse this glorious privilege; let us not be bold to break the laws of God, because He has afforded us a remedy,

It is true indeed, that when God affords men time to repent, when He gives them grace to do so, when they live to bring forth fruits meet for repentance; these are all invaluable blessings. But still it is to be considered, that it is better not to sin, than after to repent. The father's answer to his eldest son ought to be well considered by those that will be making experiments, how gracious God may be to them upon their repentance : "I never disobeyed at any (Luke 15. time thy commands.” “Son,” saith the father, “all that 29, 31.] I have is thine."

The ways of sin are extremely dangerous, and true repentance is a work so laborious and irksome, that nothing but the hopes of salvation, with the assistance of God, cou courage any man to go through with it; and yet it is no burden, but a favour, since by it we escape eternal misery, to which no trouble ought to be compared.

To conclude: and let me once again admonish you, That the design of religion is, to turn men from darkness to light; that all hopes of pardon are vain and deceitful, when amendment of life does not follow; and that that repentance is not like to continue long, which is not accompanied with most hearty prayers to God for the continuance of His grace.

And be persuaded, good Christians, to believe, that it is because men are not truly converted, that they look upon

SERM. the Christian religion as a burden rather than a blessing, XLIII.

and the happiest state a man can choose.

The reason is plain : they repent (as they call it) of their sins, without changing their affections; they hug that very sin in their heart, which custom or fear makes them renounce with their lips; and then it is no wonder that they hate that religion which obliges them to hate what they are resolved to love.

In one word ; let us not separate conversion from repentance, nor think we have made our peace with God, until we have pronounced a righteous judgment upon ourselves; and until we can say with truth, by the grace of God, my heart is changed as well as my outward behaviour; I hate, avoid, and pray against, those sins which formerly I loved and run headlong after; I now feel the blessing of being freed from the slavery of sin, which therefore I am resolved to resist all the days of my life. Then repentance would be counted a favour, and religion a state of liberty, and Jesus Christ our best friend, and His Gospel our safest rule, and His yoke easy, and His burden light.

Which God grant we may all experience to our present and everlasting comfort, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

SERMON LXIV.

PREACHED IN LENT.

THE CAUSES OF IMPENITENCY; AND WHAT IT IS WHICH

HINDERS OUR CONVERSION.

Heb. xii. 1, 2.

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which does 80 easily See Isa.

beset us ; and let us run with patience the race that is set before Matt. 5. 29. us, looking unto Jesus, the author (or beginner] and finisher of our faith ; who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Good Christians ! the Church now calling upon us all to repent, to turn unto God, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance, I cannot think of a more proper subject to edify both you and myself, than to consider, what it is which hinders men's repentance and conversion, and makes them generally so unwilling to set about a work, which every body acknowledges to be so very necessary; that knowing the causes of our impenitency, we may, in good earnest, strive to remove them, and prevent that ruin which will most certainly follow, if we are not converted, and if our sins are not blotted out. (Acts 3.19.) Or, in the words of the text, “Let us lay aside every weight,” all worldly and carnal considerations, "and the sin that does so easily beset us ;” that which does most hinder our conversion; "and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” And that we may be encouraged to do so, let us “look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God;" whose example, if any thing, will engage us to set

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