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to a rational and right mind; and further, to a line of conduct and behaviour, leading thoroughly to a different conclusion. When the perverted faculties are brought back to their original use, when the eye that was blinded recovers its sight, something, in every respect more correct, may be apprehended from the change. When the prodigal, in the parable, came to himself, when famine, want, and personal distress subdued his haughty mind, and removed the insanity of sin, he became a man different from what he had been before. Let us observe the difficulty of his change. Even tears of penitential sorrow were in vain even when his famine pressed, his heart was hard. He would have eaten husks with swine, accepted any alleviation of his sorrow, but no man gave unto him. This was the extremity of his misery. Then, and not till then, the bounties and comforts of his father's house, the gifts of heavenly grace, and the promises of him who leaves no man comfortless, occurred to his mind, The result was, "I will arise and go to my father,"→ and he was not disappointed.
Every man sensible of religious feeling will thus far acknowledge the value of repentance. But how is it with many? How is it with that man that says, I need no repentance? or if I do, my faults are few? I am charitable and humane-I have not injured my neighbour: at all events, I am as other men are? What! no original sin! no propensity to evil! no burstings of pride, envy, hatred, malice! no secret offences-no
forgetfulness of God-no resistance of the Spirit-no rejection of the Saviour-nothing, nothing with which to reproach thyself! Therefore, my friends, you are in the greater peril. To be insensible of spiritual peace, and to be open to self-deluding prospects, makes one tremble at the precipice on which we stand. To place you in a safe state, you must retrace your steps. You must reflect, that, if you had not already had a protector, your repentance would have been as unnecessary, as it would have been impossible. A dreadful ruin would have prevented both. Here then is the turn on which salvation hangs. Not that your repentance solely, however sincere, could secure to you that final acceptance, which is indispensably necessary for your final salvation. For what can you do to merit any thing in the sight of God? Can you redeem your brother, or yourself? What is your value in the record of creation? The only reply is in the words of David:" Who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee 1.". "I am a worm, and no man," said the same prophetic David, in the person of him, who bore our sins and carried our sorrows.—“ I am a worm, and no man, the very scorn of men, and outcast of the people"." This is, indeed, the language of redemption, the language of the Redeemer. This is
1 1 Chron. xxix. 14.
2 Ps. xxii. 6.
the language of him who proclaims to the humbleminded, the year of your redemption is come. will come and save you; then the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing." This is the effectual repentance, if the merits of our sacrificed Lamb be any expiation for lost mankind. Here only shall we see the true and the right way of salvation; thus only will our tears not have been shed in vain, and thus only will our regeneration be complete. "Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout ye lower parts of the earth; break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein; for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel"."
MANY valuable subjects connected with Lenten thoughts are brought within our reach, when we arrange before us that infinite variety which our Christian dispensation affords. There is a large treasury opened by the revealed will of God, the real value of which we know not, till, by the help of the Giver of every good gift, we obtain a portion of it. An accumulation of this treasure has supported many heavy hearts through numerous scenes of misery and distress. Penitential
sorrow and deep repentance cannot impress themselves on a mind laden with the burthen of sin, and possessing, at the same time, a clear conviction of personal delinquency, without exciting the testimony of the lips, as well as the devotion of the heart. Confession of sin is of this description, and is attended with this benefit. The close, brooding, uncommunicative soul, can have no notion of the relief afforded by a plain, and open, and unreserved, avowal of our faults. The weight is removed and the heart is free; that is, so far removed, and so far free, as to give the confessor an assurance that the grace of forgiveness may be on the road to meet him. For though this be the first feeling, it is not the cure; it is only the application of a remedy, which, by God's blessing, may lead to a more prosperous event.
Of the nature and necessity of making a confession of our sins to God, (unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid) no believer, of any description, can have doubt. The Scriptures supply an infinite number of examples, which need not be repeated. But confession, though sincere, may not be effectual, because its proper object may be mistaken. As we consist of body and soul, we must acknowledge, that all sin arises from the infirmity of human nature, all consolation from the hand of God: therefore, confession can only be the beginning of true consolation, when it rests on the promises of God in Christ, that our iniquities may be
forgiven, and our sin covered. Judas felt contrition, and used confession, when he came to the High Priests, and threw down his money, and said, "I have sinned, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood 1:" but there followed no conversion; there was no faith in his Lord and Master; neither did he express any hope of forgiveness. The first two kings of Israel, in this respect, stand in contrast to each other. Saul said to Samuel, "I have offended, for I have broken and transgressed the commandment of the Lord: pardon thou my sin." When Nathan brought David's sin home to himself, he said, "I have sinned against the Lord; and Nathan said unto David, The Lord also hath put away thy sin3." The prophet Samuel could no more pardon the sin of Saul, than Nathan pronounce David acquitted from any personal authority, except what each derived from a knowledge of the revealed will of God. This is the extent of any man's judgment on similar occasions; and thus far it is confirmed by the Apostle James:-" Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another that ye may be healed." No difficulty whatever arises from the interpretation of this injunction; St. James's Epistle is general; he means this, therefore, as a general duty, and addresses the pious of every denomination. The pious minister, doubtless, is not excluded; but it in no
1 Matt. xxvii. 4.
3 2 Sam. xii. 13.
21 Sam. xv. 25.
4 James v. 16.