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pel, he will still have his heart and affections rivetted to the world, and pursue it as the object of his chief desire and delight. If he should make conscience of opposing all open actual sins; yet he little regards the sins of his heart,-silent envy, secret pride, self-preference, unbelief, or some such heart-defiling sins. To finish his character; whatever progress he may seem to make in religion, his heart is still estranged from the power of godliness, and, like the Laodiceans, he is neither hot nor cold.

If we proceed to take a view of the character of a true penitent, it is directly contrary to this. He finds indeed (as has been observed) continual occasion to lament the great imperfections of his heart and life, and accordingly seeks renewed pardon in the blood of Christ. But though he has not already attained, neither is already perfect, yet he is pressing towards perfection. He is watching and striving against all his corruptions, and labouring after further conformity to God in all holy conversation and godliness. He does not renounce one lust and retain another; or satisfy himself with devotional duties, whilst he undervalues scrupulous honesty and unfeigned benevolence: he cannot rest till this is his rejoicing, the testimony of his conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, he has his conversation in the world. All the workings of his mind, as well as his external conduct, fall under his cognizance and inspection; and his daily exercise and desire is to approve himself unto him who knows his thoughts afar off. His reformation extends not only to the devotion of the church, but to that of his family and closet; not only to his conversation, but to his tempers and affections, and to the duties of every relation he sustains among men.

His repentance brings forth its “meet" fruits, heavenly-mindedness, humility, meekness, charity, patience, forgiveness of injuries, self-denial; and is accompanied with all other graces of the blessed Spirit.

* It is the desire of my soul (saith the true penitent) to refrain my feet from every evil way, and walk within my house with a perfect heart. I know I have to do with a God that trieth the heart, and hath pleasure in upright

even

ness; I would therefore set the Lord always before me. I know that my heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, for which I am humbled in mine own eyes; but yet my desire is before the Lord, and my groaning is not hid from him. I can truly say, that I hate vain thoughts, but God's law do I love. O that God would give me understanding that I may keep his law, and observe it with my whole heart. I would serve God without any reserve, for I esteem his precepts concerning all things to be right, and I have inclined my heart to keep his statutes always even unto the end.”

3. Once more, False repentance basely yields to the fear of man; whilst true repentance is full of boldness and courage for God. Thousands, in obedience to the calls and warnings they have received, begin seemingly to repent; but, loving the praise of men, and not being able to endure the contempt and revilings of the hypocritical and profane, for their attachment to God, turn aside from the holy commandment. Their own family, the

persons with whom they are connected, or on whom they depend, must at all hazards be respected and pleased. No sinful ways therefore must be condemned with abhorrence, that

risk the favour of those who can do them so much service or injury in the world.

The true penitent, on the contrary, will carefully avoid every temptation to past offences, and

occasion that might endanger a relapse. He will not dissemble, he will not conform so far to the world as to be found where temptation appears in its most inviting forms; and where the studied end of the assembly or amusement is such as diverts the thoughts from God and eternity. In like manner for conscience sake he will forego temporal advantages; and break through the ties even of sweetest friendship, and of nearest kindred, rather than be drawn back by either, into his former neglect and contempt of duty. He will walk circumspectly, with a godly jealousy over all things and persons connected with him, lest any of them should prove a snare or a hindrance to him in the way to eternal life, now opened before his eyes. It is his stedfast purpose, lose or suffer what he may, to wage eternal war with the prevailing errors and favorite sins that abound in the world, and to say to all

every

may

the insinuating advocates for them; “ Depart from me, ye wicked, I will keep the commandments of my God."

In short, in these important particulars lies the difference between false and true repentance. The former is only an external reformation, destitute of all the graces of the blessed Spirit: the latter, a change of the heart, will, and affections, as well as of the outward conversation; a change which is attended with all the fruits and graces of the Spirit of God. False repentance aims at just so much religion as will keep the mind easy, and calm the awakened conscience : true repentance aims ever to walk before God in an humble, watchful, believing frame of soul. The former will obey the law and command of God just as far as the world will permit without persecution or reproach: the latter, with an invincible regard to the glory of God, is willing to go through evil report and good report, content with the approbation of God, let men think or say what they please.

CHAPTER XX.

THE UNIVERSAL OBLIGATIONS OF REPENTANCE, AND

DIRECTIONS TO ATTAIN IT.

If the word of God were received with that degree of deference which is so justly due to it, there would be no necessity for stating more than the simple declaration of Scripture which requires all men to repent, in order to shew the universal obligation of true repentance.

But, alas! it is too common to form our judgment of duty from the general practice of a careless world, or from hasty and erroneous conceptions of the nature of virtue, rather than from the oracles of truth. In direct contradiction to the Scripture declarations, it has been a prevailing opinion, that those alone need repentance, whose abominations every eye can see, whose lewdness or drunkenness, dishonesty or profaneness, are open and excessive. Ignorant of the natural depravity and apostacy of the

See Prayer the 8th.

whole human race from God, or proudly prejudiced against this doctrine, the world supposes that much evil must actually be practised, before a total change of heart and life can become absolutely necessary.

To speak more particularly; a young gentleman, who has been sober and dutiful to his parents, well esteemed abroad, and commended at home, kept by the affluence of his station from the temptation of doing what is accounted base before men, is apt so to over-rate his own sober conduct, as to suppose he has no occasion for any godly sorrow or trouble of mind in the view of his own transgressions. He is apt to conclude that you degrade his character, by calling him to the exercise of serious repentance.

In the same manner, a young lady, born to inherit wealth, educated to be affable and polite, to love peace and harmony, cannot be guilty of any thing the world calls sinful, except by doing violence to all the restraints of modesty, decency, and character. Of consequence, self-pleasing thoughts of her own innocency and goodness hold a firm possession of her mind. She cannot believe that it is necessary for a person of her good character to feel shame and sorrow for sin, and a broken contrite heart, or to seek after any such change as scriptural repentance means.

But notwithstanding the attempts of many celebrated and learned advocates for the innocency of such amiable characters, the Scripture, which must prevail at last, as the only true standard of what is excellent,—the Scripture “ has concluded all under sin.” It is therefore a most certain truth, that sober, decent, and dutiful as you may be in the eyes of parents, relations, and friends; yet if you are ignorant of any divine change, and a stranger to those inward effectual workings which constitute Scripture repentance, you are far from being in a state of innocency or safety: a charge of great guilt stands in full force against you,—a charge which makes repentance as absolutely needful for you, as if your iniquities were of a more glaring kind. This charge shall now be made good.

Let it then be supposed, that you are a young person, in the eyes of the world lovely in your whole deportment;

Do you

let it be supposed that not a relation or a friend sees any thing in you to be amended; yet consider, O much-admired youth! how your heart is affected towards Him who made, preserves, and blesses you; from whose bounty you have received all those endowments, the cultivation of which makes you the agreeable person you are. fear and do you love him? Do you make conscience of employing your time, your talents, your influence, as he has commanded you to do? Are you afraid of conformity to the manners and tempers of the world, and jealous of friendship with it as enmity against God? Do you hear his word with reverence, and in the solemn time of prayer labour to check every impertinent vain thought? Are you restrained in your conversation by his law, from giving into that fashionable way of discourse, which at once indulges and strengthens pride, sensuality, or covetousness? Are

you

desirous to live in subjection to God, and careful to inform yourself what he would have you to do? Is your dependence continually upon the Lord Jesus Christ for righteousness and strength?

If conscience witnesses against you that you are a stranger to such intentions and tempers, (and thus it does witness, unless you have truly repented,) then, however admired, however in reality more serious and sober than those of your own age, certainly your whole life has been sin and provocation, perpetually repeated : because it has been entirely under the guidance of a depraved mind. Your study and aim has been to please yourself, and to please men, whilst the holy will of God and his honour have scarce had any place in your thoughts. In the midst of all the decent regard you have been paying to every one about you, God has cause to complain that he only has been treated by you with dissimulation and neglect, if not with scorn. But now, if the fact really be so, that you have dissembled with God, neglected and despised him; is it not a vain plea against the necessity of repent

say

that you are innocent of the common vices of youth, and have an unblemished character ? For is not this charge of sinfulness in your behaviour towards the Most High God, sufficiently comprehensive both in the eye

of reason and Scripture to prove the necessity of your feeling deep humiliation and self-abhorrence? Does

ance, to

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