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the more should we abstain from whatever has a tendency to lefsen or impair it. Let us then bridle our tongue and keep a watch at the door of our lips, and banish from our heart all envy, all hatred, all bitterness and animofity against our brethren. Let us abhor and detest not only manifest lying and flandering, but likewise regard and avoid all base defamation, all harsh and severe judgments on our neighbour, as sins which can by no means be made to consist with the charity and the character of a real christian. Let us put on the bowels of compassion, friendliness, meekness, gentleness and patience, as becomes the children of God and the disciples of Jesus; bearing and forgiving one another with the most cordial affection; and so act with all men, and so judge of every one, as we should desire, in similar circumstances, that they would act by us and judge of our behaviour. But, above all things, let us clothe ourselves with charity, which is the bond of perfection.
Of Conversion from a bad course of Life.
GOD, we present ourselves before thee this day
to acknowledge our fins and transgressions. We would not conceal them, we would not attempt to justify ourselves in thy fight; we could not an. fwer thee one of a thousand. Notwithstanding all that thou hast done for us, most merciful Father, to draw us to thee by making our duty a delight, we have yet refused to obey thee, and have fwerved from thy commandments. Virtue and religion are not of so much weight with us as they ought to be with the wise, with christians; sensuality, unbelief and doubt have weakened their respect and rendered some of us indifferent towards them; the world and its deceitful, fugacious pleasures too forcibly attract our appetites and affection; we are more intent upon gratifying our intemperate passions and unsubdued desires than on rendering ourselves worthy of the glorious appellation of christians. We are thy creatures ; but rebellious and guilty crea
tures : we presume to call thee our Father ; but we are mostly disobedient, ungrateful children, who will not submit to thy chastening hand, who offend thee in thought, in words, in deeds. Neither thy benefactions nor thy chastisements have been effectual to bring about thy gracious designs upon us. Often have we vowed amendment ; but our vows yet remain unpaid. Often have we attempted to set about the performance of our good resolves; but they still remain unperformed. God, of what unfaithfulness, of what reiterated sins and transgresfions are we not guilty in thy sight! Yes, we confess them, we bewail them, we are ashamed of them. Our own consciences condemn us. How then could we subfist before thee, wert thou to enter into judgment with us; before thee, who art a righteous judge, and of purer eyes than to behold iniquity ? Lo, as criminals worthy of death, we proftrate ourselves at the foot-stool of thy mercy-feat. Spare us, o Lord, and be gracious unto us! Though we are cast out of thy fight, yet will we look again to thy holy temple. We arise and come to thee, our Father ; for though we have offended chee, thou art a father still. Thou now art feated on a throne of mercy, and wieldest a sceptre of grace. At thy mercy-seat former offenders have been forgiven, and former finners have been taken into favour. To thy ears the cry of the penitent has never ascended in vain. Thou art ever nigh to all who call upon thee in fincerity of heart. When
we tend to thee, at the first step of our return, thou stretchest out thy hand to receive us.
Remit the punishment we deserve for our fins, and deliver us from the power and dominion of them. Thou desirest not the death of the sinner, but that he should be converted and live: thou rejectest not the prayer and fupplication of those who flee to thee for succour: thou hast sent thy son into the world, that the world by him might be saved : let us also be partakers of his salvation, and for his fake forgive us all our transgressions ! - And that we may no more have the misfortune to displeafe thee, our almighty father and best friend, grant us the assistance of thy holy spirit! That it may ever operate and reside within us, dissipate all our prejudices and errors, cleanse and fanctify all our affections. Do thou eradicate from our hearts whatever is displeasing to thee; rescue us from the violence of all base, inordinate lusts and passions, let the fincere, effective desire, the earnest endeavour to please thee and to do thy will, be the governing principle of our future behaviour. Remove from us, by thy wise and kind providence, all temptations and allurements to fin; and, if we be tempted, grant that we may not fall under the temptation, but that, strengthened by thy spirit, we may conquer all and persevere to the end in our fidelity to thee. Hearken to our supplications, o merciful God, turn again to us thy propitiated countenance, no more to be intercepted or eclipsed,
for the sake of thy everlasting love, by Jesus Christ, in whose comprehensive words we conclude our prayers: Our father, &c.
LUKE XV. 18, 19
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have finned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy fon; make me as one of thy hired servants.
IT would lead us too far from the particular ap
pointment of this day, my friends, were we to enter upon a circumstantial investigation of the prejudices and errors which furnished our faviour with an occasion for delivering the parable to which our text belongs. Let it suffice in general to observe, that Christ justifies himself by it against the unjust accusations of the scribes and pharisees, who imputed it to him as a crime that he conversed with sinners, took an interest in their condition, and vouchsafed them his instruction. And how could our lord better refute the unfounded suspicion of a criminal intercourse with finners which that accusation was intended to convey, and at the same time more confound his malicious accusers, than by shewing them in several easy, beautiful and affecting parables, that nothing is in stricter conformity with sound reason, with the general sense and con