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. 351 from the dominion of sin. If he feels not this conviction, and cherishes not this defire; it cannot with truth be affirmed that he repents. If he labours under the con
viction of guilt and the dread of punish· ment; yet is no farther solicitous to be
livered from the dominion of sin than in proportion as he discerns that penal consequences are the attendants of transgresion : fin is not hated for its own fake, is not abhorred as odious to God: there is no love of holiness in the heart, no scriptural repentance. If he entertains a feeble and unmeaning desire to be preserved from the power of fin for the future; yet ad. mits not a deep impression of his actual guilt ; feels no acute compunctions, no serious uneasiness, in the recollection of the years during which he has lived without God in the world : he is in his own estimation whole, and has not perceived his need of a physician; he is in his own eyes righteous, and has not regarded the call of Christ to repentance. Unless both the conviction and the desire are riveted in his bosom; he repenteth not. The Scripture, which denounces vengeance against all who are impenitent, gives him not a title to take comfort. Its promises presuppose
true repentance. As yet therefore they belong not to him. Is he anxious for consolation ? Let him hear the voice of the Apostle: Repent, and be converted, that tby jins may be blotted out. Then may he fubmissively hope with filial faith, that even in the existing scene of trial the times of refreshing fhall come from the presence of the Lord.
But if by the result of his enquiry he is authorised humbly to confide that the conviction and the desire, not irrationally and unfcripturally separated, but co-existing in sober and cordial union, decidedly characterise the habitual frame of his soul : he is, in other words, authorised to confide that God has bestowed upon him the gift of repentance; and is warranted in apply. ing to himself the scriptural promises made to the penitent. He falls under our Saviour's description of those that mourn ; and may therefore trust in the hope of being comforted. He labours and is heavy laden : and may therefore be assured that Christ is ready to give him reft. His heart is broken and contrite : he may therefore rely that it is a heart which Thou, O God, wilt not despise. His is the godly forrow that worketh repentance : therefore may
he be assured that, if he continues the servant of Jesus, it will terminate in salvation.
III. Unequivocally and repeatedly and prominently as these truths stand forth in the word of God; many an individual under the overwhelming influence of dejedion is deterred, and deterred in different cases by different views, from profiting by their consoling import.
Sometimes the desponder argues thus : « God is a God of mercy: but mercy has “ its limits. Inferior offenders may be “ blessed with forgiveness: but how can I “presume to nourish hope? So many are “ the years during which I have lived not “ unto Christ but unto myself; to sensu“ ality, or to pride, or to vanity, or to “covetousness, or to dissipation, or to fome “ other flagrant sin; warm as to worldly “ objects, dead to religion; maintaining a “ form, it may be, of godliness, but deny“ing the power thereof: so ample have “ been the offers, so abundant the opportu“ nities, of religious instruction and edifi“cation which I have slighted and abused; “ so loud the warnings of Providence to “ which I have refused to listen; so signal
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“ and special the mercies which my hard“ ened heart has withstood: so long have “I finned, and with fuch aggravations, “ that even by a most merciful God I am * juftly abandoned to despair." Abandoned to despair! Does not the voice of God proclaim in the Scriptures that upon true repentance all fins fall be forgiven unto the fons of men ; that the blood of Christ cleanseth from all fin; that though your fins be as fcarlet, they fall become white as fnow? Have you not heard, do you not believe, the universal invitation, the unlimited pro-, mise, of your Saviour : Come unto me, all who labour and are heavy laden; and I will give you rift.-Him that cometh unto me, whoever he may be, whatever he may have been; I will in no wise cast out?" Is not the parable of the prodigal fon a practical illustration and establishment of these truths ?
“ But, alas !” another fufferer replies, 66 the very first words which you cited as “ proclaimed by the voice of God are con“ nected by the same voice with others « which feal my destruction. All fins shall be “ forgiven unto the fons of men, and blafphea “ mies wherewitlisoever they shall blaf“pheme. But is there not an exception sub
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“ joined? He that shall blaspheme against “ the Holy Ghost bath never forgiveness. “ Behold the sin, the unpardonable sin, “ with the commission of which my terri“ fied conscience charges me. I know that “ on the nature of this sin considerable ob“ fcurity rests. I know that by some in“ terpreters the guilt is restrained to the “ crime of those self-convicted opposers, “who ascribed to the power of Satan the “ miracles of the Son of God. I know that " by others it is scarcely extended beyond " that obdurate malignity, which defied " the extraordinary wonders wrought " through the effusion of the Holy Ghost " in the days of the Apostles. But do you “ 'not admit that the sin may be perpetrated “in modern times? And if it has been “ perpetrated by me; is not my despond“ence judicial, incurable, the prelude of “ damnation?" That the sin may be perpetrated in modern times shall not be denied. That it has not been perpetrated by you is an indisputable truth. Together with deep and abiding conviction of guilt do not you also cherish a rooted and earnest desire to be delivered through the Lord Jesus Christ from the dominion no less than from the punishment of sin? Then A a 2