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repent, and sincerely ask God's assistance. “I can do all Phil. 4. 13. things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” saith the Apostle. And our blessed Lord gives the true reason why men perish in their impenitency: “Ye will not come unto John 5. 40. Me, that ye might have life.”
Jesus Christ does indeed intimate unto us the difficulty of repentance and a new life, when He commands us, “If thy Matt. 5. 30. right hand offend thee,” that is, hinder thy conversion, or cause thee to offend, “cut it off ;” but then He would never have given this direction, but that He knew we might do it by His gracious assistance, provided we ask it in sincerity. And when He assures us, that "straight is the gate and Matt. 7. 14. narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that go in thereat ;" it is not to discourage us from striving to attain eternal life, but to shew us the necessity of doing it with care and concern ; of begging God's grace constantly; and of avoiding every thing that may hinder us in the race that is set before us.
IV. I shall only mention one other hindrance of men's repentance and conversion, and that is, The hopes of repenting some time or other before they die, and so for the present laying aside the thoughts of it to any good purposes.
Now, that this is a very great delusion, and the loss of infinite souls, is plain from hence, that Christians trust to that which is not in their own power; they depend upon God's goodness, and that He will hereafter dispose their hearts more strongly to repentance; that is, they hope that God will be more merciful, the inore He is provoked; they depend upon a life, which they own to be uncertain ; they depend upon a death, which will give them timely warning to make their peace with God; and lastly, they depend upon a death-bed repentance, which no man can assure them will be accepted of God.
Now, would any man in his senses trust his soul to such uncertainties? Would any man put off his repentance from time to time, who finds by experience, that the longer he defers it, the more unwilling he is still to set about it? Would any man, who believes the Gospel, and that repentance and amendment of life are necessary to salvation, make these the least, and the last of his thoughts and business?
And now, good Christians, I have told you what are the things which generally hinder our conversion : we are called upon by the Church, and by Jesus Christ, to repent, and to turn unto God; and we find in ourselves no inclination to do
I have shewed you the causes of this indifference, that you may lay aside every weight, every thing, that may hinder you from beginning a new life. I have shewed you, that if Christians live in sins unrepented of, it is either because they have little or no regard for their souls; or they fancy their condition is better than really it is, because of some outward duties of religion which they perform; or they are frightened by the difficulties of a Christian life; or lastly, they resolve to repent when they have a more convenient season.
I might use a great many words to persuade you, that none of these things ought to hinder your conversion ; but I need not. Your own reason and consciences will tell
you, ought to be more concerned for what will become of us when we die, than for any thing that can befall us in this world; that nothing but holiness and righteousness, or a life agreeable to the laws of God, can make us fit for heaven; that no difficulties ought to affright us where Almighty God promises to assist us; and lastly, that if we repent not now, it is very uncertain whether or not we shall ever repent.
A Christian, who is convinced of the truth of these things, will not, cannot be at rest, till he has removed whatever may hinder his conversion. He will fall upon his knees, and beg of God to give him all the graces preparatory to a true repentance; which are, a serious concern for our souls, an humble opinion of ourselves; an entire confidence in God's power and goodness to help such as flee to Him for succour; and lastly, a firm resolution to do the work in its season which
God has appointed us; that is, to turn unto God, and do [John 9. 4.] works meet for repentance,“ before the night cometh when
no man can work."
May the good Lord give unto us all these holy dispositions, that, by a true and timely repentance, we may make our peace with God, and be made by Him eternally happy, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
PREACHED ON PALM SUNDAY.
THE SUFFERINGS AND DEATH OF CHRIST PRACTICALLY
EXPLAINED AND APPLIED.
1 Cor. ii. 2.
I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, See Luke
24. 46; and Him crucified.
Acts 17. 3;
Rom. 4. 25; This was the foundation of all St. Paul's sermons, as it 6.3,6;
1. ought to be of ours : this being the power of God, and the 23; 15, 3; wisdom of God, to regain the world out of the hands of Satan, Gal. 6. 14;
Phil. 3. 10; and to save souls from eternal ruin.
1 Pet. 1. Every one of the apostles and evangelists, who have writ- 3, 4. ten our Lord's life, have given us a very particular account of the manner of His evil treatment, His sufferings, and of His death. Now, these are all read in the daily service of this week, as full of instructions, and proper to prepare us for the blessed Sacrament appointed to be administered on Sunday next. Whereby we learn what our Lord suffered, in order to obtain our pardon, and to restore us to the mercy and favour of our offended God.
When you hear the Gospels read,-how our blessed Lord was betrayed, and used, and crucified, by the merciless Jews, -you are naturally led to wonder and blame that people's malice, their wickedness, and injustice.
When we are informed, that one of His disciples, who had been with Him for so long a time, had seen His miracles, and heard His blessed discourses, could be tempted to betray Him for any consideration whatever; that so great a number of men of learning, and supposed piety, should meet and con
SERM. trive how to take away the life of an innocent person, to en
courage false witnesses, and to persuade the people to pray for the life of a murderer, instead of the life of one who had done so much good among them : then we are led to blame His judge, who had declared over and over again, that he found no fault in Him, and yet at last condemned Him: and lastly, we are amazed that any people could be so cruelly barbarous, as to mock a man, and use him so spitefully, who had never done them harm, and at a time when his life was at stake, or when he was suffering a most painful death.
These, I say, are the thoughts which are most in our minds when we read the mournful account of our Saviour's sufferings.
This was not the great design of leaving these things upon record; but to let us see what treatment our sins deserve ; how abominable sin is in the sight of an holy and just God, who suffered His own Son to be thus treated, when He had put Himself in the place of sinners, in order to procure their pardon; and lastly, to convince sinners what they must expect whose sins are not pardoned by the merits and sufferings of Jesus Christ.
These, I say, and such thoughts as these, should be in our minds when we read or hear the circumstances of our Saviour's sufferings; which I am now going to set before you, for your edification.
The leading men of the Jews, having been often reproved by our Lord for their errors, their pride, their hypocrisy, and other vices, were resolved to take the first fair opportunity to put Him to death. Now Satan very soon offered them this opportunity; for Judas, having been reproved by our Lord for his covetousness, and for envying the loss, as he thought it, of some valuable ointment which a pious woman had poured on our Saviour's head and feet, Satan put it into his heart to betray his Master to His enemies, for which he received a sum of money.
See what covetousness and resentment will lead men to, even to the greatest sin that ever was committed by man!
Our blessed Lord foresaw all this, and retired with His disciples into a garden, to prepare Himself for that usage and
death which He saw approaching. In this place His mind was struck with something so terrible, that He declared that His soul was sore troubled, even to death. What it was that amazed Him, and made Him so exceeding sorrowful, no mortal man can tell. We can only be sure that it was something dreadful beyond imagination, since it forced Him to sweat great drops of blood falling to the ground.
In this distress and agony our Lord has taught us how to behave under the greatest afflictions ; and especially when our death approaches : to beg of God to deliver us from all our spiritual enemies, to send His angels to strengthen us, and at the same time to submit ourselves entirely to God's will and disposal in the very words of Jesus Christ, not my (Luke 22. will, but Thine be done.
And now, our Lord, knowing that it was God's will that He should die, went to meet those that came to take Him. Judas was their leader, who, that they might not mistake their man in the dark, went to Jesus, and, as he had promised them, kissed Him. This our Lord suffered with patience; which will be an everlasting reproach and condemnation to such as pretend to be His followers, and yet will not bear the sight of one that hath offended them.
While the rest were going to seize Him, Peter drew his sword to defend his Lord and Master from the rude multitude; which his Lord would not suffer, telling him, that if he had a mind to escape their hands, God, upon His prayer, could send Him twelve legions of angels, instead of His twelve disciples, to rescue Him out of their hands.
He is now led as a sheep to the slaughter. Let us follow Him in our minds and spirits, and we shall see what treatment (as we are sinners) every soul of us deserves.
And first, they bind Him as a malefactor, then lead Him to the high-priest's palace, where, even before He is tried, He suffers all the scorn, and contempt, and ill usage, that a rude and barbarous people could put upon Him. To add to His trouble, now, all His disciples had forsaken Him for fear of the like evil usage.
All the priests and rulers being met in council, and having sought for false witnesses, such as might take
might take away His life, they set Ilim before them; and the witnesses not agreeing