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from virtue, and the joy which arises from a good conscience, to every confideration. Then the devoted servants of God appear to him the only happy men, and he would rather rank with the meanest of these than enjoy the riches of many wicked. His heart is convinced that none can enter into the kingdom of heaven, and sit down at the right hand of the Fa. ther, but they who prefer the testimony of a good conscience, the smiles of heaven, and the sentence of the just, to all the treasures of the world.
Had the penitent not been in earnest, false shame might have prevented or retarded his return. Conscious of guilt, and covered with confusion, how shall he appear before his friends and acquaintance ? I know, might he have said, the malice of an ill. judging and injurious world. The fins which are blotted out from the book of God's remembrance are not forgotten by them. Let me fly rather to the uttermost parts of the earth, retire to the wil. derness untrod by the foot of man, and hide me in the shades which the beams of the sun never pierced, than be exposed to the scorn and contumely and reproach of all around me.
But the penitent was determined and immoveable, he would not suffer himself to be diverted from his purpose. He immediately began to put it in execution. He arose and came to his father, and said unto him, “ Father, I have finned against heaven and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy fon.” I have outrageously offend. VOL. II.
el both God and thee; I have rendered myself utterly unworthy of thy parental love. Thus did he humble himself before his father. He acknowledged his past: offences, and sought no fubterfuges, no extenuations of his guilt, but confessed them for what they really were, He owned that he had forfeited all pretensions to the privileges he had before enjoyed in his father's house. He manifested a fincere remorse at his enormities, and petitioned for grace and pardon. He fubmitted himself anew to the discipline and authority of his father, promised fresh obedience to all his com. mands, and returned effectively to his duty: And in this particular consists the true repentance and conversion which God requires from man. He should confess the multitude, the greatness, the enormity of his fins; and, instead of thinking on his justification, should expose in the most submisfive humility all the circumstances that render his guilt most detestable. In the utinost dejection of soul he should prostrate himself before his sovereign judge, address himself to his justice, and acknow. ledge that he has deserved nothing but displeasure and indignation, death and condemnation. He should confess his tranfgressions to the Lord, and surrender himself to the shame and confusion which the fight of them produces in him. It should be a sensible affliction to him, that he has thus offended so good, so venerable and amiable a being ; that he has affronted his creator, his father and benei
factor ; that he has transgressed fuch righteous, such wife, such equitable laws; that he has counteracted the great end of his existence, fo depraved and degraded his nature, and so far departed from the purposes for which God created him. These confideration's should fill him with unfeigned and pungent remorse for his sins. They should force him to take refuge in the mercy of God in Christ Jesus, and to implore him for grace and pardon. They should inspire him with a profound abhor. rence of all iniquity, a mortal aversion to vice. They should strengthen him in the resolution of quitting the service of sin, and of living to righteousness; and to the execution of this purpose he should now set immediately and earnestly to work. He should effectually cease to do evil, and study to do good. He should regulate his conduct on quite other principles and rules; or, in the figurative language of the fcriptures, become a new creature. Nothing now should be of so much consequence to him, as to combat the unruly appetites and passions that have hitherto had the dominion over him, 'to fulfil the duties he has hitherto neglected, and to exercise himself in all the virtues, though never so much against his corrupt inclinations and his worldly interests. his
, my friends, this is the effential article of conversion, without which all previous sentiments and acts of penitence will be utterly vain. The unjust man must restore the property he obtained by unlawful means to its
rightful rightful owner; the unchaste, the adulterer, must burst the chains with which his lusts have bound him, mortify his desires, and cleanse himself from every defilement of flesh and spirit ; the avaricious man must reform his earthly mind, must learn to regard the treasures of the earth with a noble indif. ference, and direct his thoughts, his wishes, and desires to the things that are not seen ; the haughty must become humble, the rancorous gentle and forgiving, and the worldly must become heavenlyminded. Thus must every one abandon the perverse ways he has hitherto walked, forsake the vices and sins he has hitherto served, avoid all inducements and opportunities to them, and be perfecting holiness in the fear of God. That is what God, by the prophet requires of his people. « Wash ye,” says he, “ make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge, the fatherless, plead for the widow. Then come, and let us reafon together, faith the Lord : though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimfon, they shall be as wool.” Yes, pious hearers, if our conversion be thus constituted, if it bring forth the fruits of amendment and righteousness; then may we promise ourselves the ut. ' most advantage from it.
We learn from the parable, that the ready return of the prodigal fon was productive of the most
happy effects. He found himself not disappointed in his hopes. On the contrary, the kind reception his father gave him far surpassed his most fanguine expectations. No fooner did this tender parent defcry his son, 56 while he was yet a great way off, but he was moved with compassion towards him. He ran to meet him, fell on his neck and kissed him.” He forgot all his errors and transgressions. He immediately provided for all his wants. He restored him to his forfeited right of filiation, shewed him the most positive marks of his paternal condefcension and love, and his heart yearned over him with the liveliest emotions of satisfaction and joy.“ Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. He is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Though he dwell in the high and holy place, yet with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite. He looketh on him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembleth at his word. He is in. clined to pity and to spare. He hath no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” “Is not Ephraim my dear fon,” says God to his people, " is he not a pleasant child? Since I spake against him I remember him still; therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, faith the Iord.” As soon as the finner draws nigh unto U 3