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Many striking examples of relapses into sin, present themselves to us in Holy Scripture. Some of whom recovered, some did not; but under the grace of God, all might have been renewed unto repentance, not to be repented of. David and Peter are marked instances of relapse and recovery. Solomon's case is more doubtful; though it may be presumed that he did not die in unbelief. There is nothing in the Gospel to lead the relapsed Christian to despair. A great door and effectual is open to him, and to every convert. To fall into sin is a condition of nature; to be restored to the hope of salvation is the blessing of grace. Presumption, indeed, is deprecated by every precept of the Gospel, but encouragement is given in the warmest and kindest manner, to every humble, lowly, penitent, and obedient heart. Relying on Christ, the humble and lowly are exalted, the penitent heard, and the obedient accepted. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me1." "O let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and thy judgments shall help me. I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost: O seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments"."

1 Phil. iv. 13.

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2 Psalm cxix. 175, 176.

VII.-Restitution.

RESTITUTION is practical repentance; repentance, if ever perfect, cannot be so without restitution, intended or accomplished. It is equally true, that in innumerable instances, restitution must itself be imperfect, for who can restore that, which, at that favourable moment, does not exist? But, as the Almighty will accept a willing mind, as the emblem of a broken and contrite heart, salvation may come to the house of the penitent, as it did to that of Zacchæus, when his Lord became his guest. But it must not come as a debt, or an equivalent, as a full recompense for the injury that has been committed. Balancing of accounts is no article in the Lord's Book of Life. "I gave thee all;" what then hast thou which thou canst restore? All the goods of nature, or of fortune, that thou ever didst possess, all the flowing riches, the vaulting honours, the fine qualities of mind, all the beauty and strength of thy personal frame, all were mine; "what hast thou then that thou didst not receive1?" and what hast thou that thou canst restore? To this no man can give a safe reply.

But as these valuable endowments of mind and body were given or lent as a trust, a just account of the appropriation is required. Man is an accountable creature; otherwise his whole existence would be an

anomaly. God gave him reason as a foundation of action, and he endowed him with special, spiritual gifts, and amongst others, understanding, that he might never want a true motive of action. But even these were under the direction of an unknown power, checking the will when it was going astray; and clearly showing, that he was not at liberty to misuse his reason and understanding, by perverting them to the completion of every wild desire. Natural conscience checks his unruly passions, so far as to show him, that a vessel without a rudder will inevitably perish. Doubtless, there is an obscurity in the history of savage life; but even here, a diversity of conduct shows a diversity in the application, even of natural qualities.

But reflections on what has been called natural religion, however it may be accommodated to some circumstances of life, are by no means my object, because we are not in a state of nature; and, therefore, we are not bound by that argument. A wicked Christian (I blush while I write the word) may justly be disgraced by a comparison with a well-regulated savage; but the savage offers to us no motive, or example. Happily, we are placed under a different constitution. Our birth, our education, our very climate, if I may so say, is Christian. We imbibe the faith of a member of Christ in the very first breath we draw. "Remember them that have the rule over you, who have spoken to you the word of

God: whose faith follow, considering the end of conversation 1."

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The conduct of a Christian, we must therefore assume on the most consistent principles, follows the faith of a Christian: and as we have nothing but what we have received from this source, we know to whom we are beholden for every good and perfect gift that we possess. Here, then, is the doctrine of true-restitution not merely confined to visible possessions cf whatever nature, but restoring the invisible treasures of the mind, the inward principles of the soul, to their original proprietor. True restitution, indeed, is a duty which we can only perform freely on such principles. It resides within us, and at no time should be absent from us. So valuable is it, that all other restitution is included in its compass.

The riches of the world may perhaps be restored to a former possessor; but this is only an outward act; or, it may be, the softener of an exasperated conscience-a private restoration for an open, or concealed fraud. This, under any circumstance, is a very incomplete repentance; for where is the mind, where is the broken heart that bends before the footstool of the Judge? Posthumous restitution is of the same nature-though I would not be thought to restrain restitution, under circumstances, of which no man can decide. No. Christ must first come to our house;

and Zacchæus, as a pure example, must in the spirit of religious confidence, confess and renounce his frauds. Doubtless the nerve of a man may tremble in so severe a trial, but his heart standeth fast in the Lord.

Other faults there are which require restitution where fourfold is no measure to the injured. The mind is more liable to feel injury than any outward circumstance of man's life:-what restitution can be made for personal injuries, what remedy for the loss of peace of mind? What recompense for sowing seeds of discord in a happy family? Alas! none, none. The offender may be forgiven, but the heart may be broken :--and to talk of restitution is an insult. Here pure religion is our only solace. The recompense of man has its termination; but the goodness and mercy of God, through that blessed Peace-maker between God and man, our only Intercessor and Comforter, beam with celestial brightness on the depressed and sorrowing heart. How many kind consolations do the Scriptures communicate to him, who is of a "contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones 1."

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Here, then, is true restitution, to return all we have, in faith and Gospel-truth, to him who hath entrusted to us such valuable possessions: and, as we have been, alas! faithless in our trust, to lay before him our

1 Is. lvii. 15.

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