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to himself, he fees the folly of his ways, he repents, he resolves, he amends. Such a change of life we: can easily conceive. In his former situation, he knew not what he did, he was transported by passion, he went headlong down the torrent. But when once he began to reflect, he found that that was the criti. cal moment of life, which, if he had neglected, his return would have been more difficult. In his former situation, he went forward in the path which seemed right in his own eyes, without looking back. He did not act against the admonitions of conscience, he did not think at all. But if, after his eyes were opened to discern the state of wretchedness and guilt into which he had fallen ; if, after this, he had returned to folly again, it would have been much more diffi. cult to restore him by repentance. Let this then be your conduct; whenever you come to the knowledge of your fins, whenever you perceive any thing amiss in your lives, seize the favourable moment, as the proper time to reform.
What is it, I beseech you, that you do by delaying? You allow corruption time to strengthen and fortify itself; you give temptation double force, by yielding to it, not from surprise, but with deliberate consent; you weaken the power of conscience, that check which God appointed to you in your evil courses; and, with your own hand, you throw obstacles in the way of your conversion. You now see you are finful and undone ; you now refolve to repent and amend; you are now setting out in the path which leadeth to life; you are not far from the kingdom of God. But if you resolve and perform not; if, when you are once engaged, you draw back; you
then fly off from the path of life to the way of destruction; you throw yourself farther from the king. dom of God than if you had never set out. At once, then, at once make your escape from the allurements of fin; break the chains by which you are held ; cut off all the avenues and approaches to the fin that be. fets you'; give no time to the enemies of your soul to collect their strength; by faith and repentance now enter on the way that opens into the heavens; when you say, with sincere purpose of heart, “ I will " arise and go to my Father," in that moment arise and go to thy Father; now is the accepted time, now i is the day of salvation.
In the second place, By delaying, your converfion will become extremely difficult.
Thou sayest, О man! that thou wilt repent in some future period of time; but thou knoweft not the danger of such a resolution. It is amazing to think with what ease we can impose upon ourselves. In spite of all his boasted wisdom, man is more simple than the beast of the field. Do you consider, my friends, that delaying from day to day, and from year to year, that postponing the work of your salvation to some future period of time, is little better than a fixed determination that you will never begin it at all? Do you reflect, that the time to come, if it ever comes, will be the same to you then, that the present time is to you now? There will occur the . fame difficulties to deter you, the same pleasures to allure you, the same dangers to terrify you. Objects will then be as present, and strike the senses as strongly, as ever; and the time of reformation will still be tomorrow. Nay, it will then be more diffi
cult to be saved than it is now. You will have mõte fins to repent of; more bad habits to subdue ; a more corrupted nature to put off. It is a remarkable fact, and deferves your most serious attention, that, among all the conversions recorded in Scripture, there is not one of a sinner who delayed his repentance. Among all the returning penitents there mentioned, there is not one in the situation of a Christian, who daily hears the Gospel without its having any effect upon his life. Zaccheus, upon hearing Jesus Christ proclaim the glad tidings of 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 and Gentiles. 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 flain. 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 al: ready 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 fuccessful, have lulled it into a profound sleep. Shall we address ourselves to your hopes, by descris 'bing 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 birth-right to immortality for a fora did gratification, and you now only mind earth. ly things. Shall we endeavour to alarm your fears, by setting before you the horrors of hell, the worm that never dies, the fire that is never quenched, ever: lasting 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 them. 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 his grace into wantonness. Shall we set be: fore you the image of a Saviour dying on the crofs for the redemption of the world ? But alas ! a cruci. fied Redeemer hath been often preached to you, the memorial of his facrifice hath been renewed in your fight, 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 converfion may become altogether impossible. · Habit, fays the proverb, is a second nature; and indeed it is stronger than the first. At first, we ea. fily 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 food
change his skin, and the leopard his spots; the tor mented 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 wife appointment of Heaven to deter finners from delaying their repentance. When the evil principle hath corrupted the whole capacity of the mind; when fin, by its frequency and its duration, is woven into the very efsence of the soul, and is become part of ourselves; when the sense of moral good and evil is almost totally extinct; when conscience is feared 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 fins; 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 look. ing 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 will not have another opportunity. You say you will repent in fome future period of time; but are you sure of arriving at that period of time? Have you one hour