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or minds: “ Behold, I was shapen in wick“ edness, and in sin hath my mother con" ceived me." These declarations of holy writ are confirmed by what we see in the world around us, and what we feel in our own hearts. God forbid, however, that we should deny there is much virtue and piety among mankind; and many instances, both in public and private life, of men who humbly endeavour to fulfil their duty as christians, by living to the glory of God, and good of their fellow-creatures: but still we must say, that these are but few, compared with the world at large ; and they are no exceptions to the great fact, of all mankind being guilty before GOD; be. cause they themselves will readily allow, that they have had much to do, in conquering their evil passions, wrong inclinations, and false opinions; and that it is by the grace of God alone, that “they are what they “ are.” So that the general picture which mankind presents to us, is a very dark one ; deeply tinged with vice, folly, and vanity; so much so, that if we were to look at the world at large, without noticing those who have been awakened to their duty by the “ power of the gospel;” we should be compelled to acknowledge that David's representation of it is undeniably true.
* There is none righteous, no, not one. “ There is none that understandeth, there " is none that seeketh after God.
They " are all gone out of the way; they are " altogether become unprofitable; there is
none that doeth good ;, no, not one.” It is true, indeed, that we often hear the universality of human guilt denied by worthy and well-meaning people; who are great advocates for the dignity of human nature ; and who think that this doctrine does injustice and dishonour to that noble creature, who was originally formed " in the image " of God." They say, that there are num. bers in the world, (and, probably, flatter themselves with the idea of being among them,) who, from their youth up, have led blameless and innocent lives; who have never done or wished harm to any one; but tried, to the best of their power, to fulfil their duty, and make themselves useful in their generation : And how, say they, can guilt be imputed to such persons as these? or with what reason can a corruption of pature be attributed to characters, wbo have never shewn any marks of it in their lives and conversation ? But, my brethren, the proofs of the fall of man, and the consequent corruption of bis nature, are not to be sought for in the outward behaviour
alone. They sometimes lie deeper, and are not to be found, but by looking into the secret recesses of the heart. Here, I think, we cannot fail of discovering them; for, let me ask those who doubt or deny the doctrine before us, whether, after they have looked narrowly into their hearts, they have not perceived some marks of original natural depravity in them. Have their passions never tempted them to do that which is wrong? Have their desires never been for a moment directed to improper objects? Have their motives of action never been selfish and interested? Have their affections never been engaged in improper, vain, or foolish pursuits? Have their hearts, in short, never been estranged from God, and fixed upon the world? If to these questions they can conscientiously answer in the negative, we may then fairly allow them, that they do not shew the marks of the fall of man, of the corruption of his nature, and the universality of human guilt ; and, consequently, that with them repentance is not a necessary duty. But if, on the other hand, they are obliged to confess, that, however specious the appearance of the outward man may be, the inner one has not been thus pure and perfect; they may then assure themselves, that they are not exceptions to
that original sin, which stains the whole human race, nor exempted from that repentance which the sinner must fulfil, if he wish to save his soul. No! my brethren, the mortifying, the humiliating truth is, that every soul of man is more or less a sinner; and that the prophet's description embraces, without exception, our fallen race: “ The " whole head is sick, and the whole heart * is faint. From the sole of the foot, even “ unto the head, there is no soundness in “ it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrify“ing sores."
Having thus proved the necessity of repentance, I will now shew you, in what true repentance consists. The source and evil of all sin, my friends, lie in the heart; for out of it, as our Saviour tells us, “ proceed evil " thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, “thefts, false witnesses, blasphemies, which “ are the things that defile a man." It is clear, therefore, that the first step in true repentance must be a deep sorrow, and a thorough change in the heart, this fountain of outward action; and a purification of its thoughts, wishes, and affections.
Cir “ cumcise the foreskin of your beart,” says Moses, in his exhortations to the backsliding Israelites. “ Turn unto me, saith the “ LORD,” by the prophet Jocl, to the hypocritical Jews, “ with all your heart ; and is rend your heart and not your garments, " and turn unto the Lord yonr God." Our blessed Lord's discourses, and the speeches and epistles of his apostles, are full of admonitions to the same effect; all tending to assure us, that there can be no repentance unto salvation, unless there be a deep contrition for, and a hatred of, past sin in the hearts; its plagues diligently sought out; its wishes, desires, and inclinations purified; and its affections spiritualized. This first step in repentance, the change and amendment of the heart, will naturally lead to that next, and last step, which compleats the work of repentance,-an improvement in the life and conduct. When John the Baptist preached “ the baptism of repent« ance for the reinission of sins," he did not content himself with saying to the multitude,
repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is “at hand;" but added, " bring forth, there“fore, fruits worthy of repentance ;" let your lives manifest that your hearts are changed; and shew forth your real sorrow for sin, by going and sinning no more. Of this description were the several instances of repentance recorded in scripture. When David, in the matter of Uriah the Hittite, sinned greatly against the LORD; as soon as