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this was not the nature of St. Paul's progress, from his state of profound pharisaism, to his highest attainments in evangelical holiness ? did not his humility keep pace in its increase with every other improvement in his character? Assure yourselves there is no danger lest real repentance, either in its nature or its fruits, should take you off from living by faith in the Son of God: since the more deeply any one repents, and the greater proficiency he makes in humility, tenderness of conscience, and hatred of sin, the fuller is his conviction that “his own righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Good works indeed, as “the fruits of the Spirit,” do not deserve this degrading name: but, as they are wrought by us, so much of the evil of our fallen nature mingles with them, that, comparing them with the perfect standard of the holy law, we cannot but feel that they are no more fit to justify us before God, than filthy rags would be for our attire when called on to appear in the presence of an earthly prince. It is only impenitent pride that induces men to attempt “ to establish their own “ righteousness :" and, the more entirely this is crushed, the more fully will the sinner enter into the apostle's meaning, “I count all things but loss “ that I may win Christ, and be found in him; “ not having mine own righteousness, which is of “ the law, but the righteousness which is of God
by faith.” And did any of us feel as deep repentance, and had we made as high attainments in holiness as the apostle, we should then more resemble him in the simplicity of our dependence on Christ; and with him more feelingly say, “ The life that I live in the flesh I live by the « faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave o himself for me."
It is well known that a proud man is not easily made sensible of his obligations, even when great benefits are conferred on him ; but the humble think much of every kindness, and are thus disposed to be grateful, and to commend and look up to their benefactors. Is not then the humble penitent peculiarly prepared for receiving, with lively gratitude, the blessings of salvation ? Will he not, as he becomes more and more acquainted with the person, the love, the sufferings, and the grace of the Redeemer, be disposed more and more to admire, adore, and praise his name? Will not Immanuel be precious to his heart, and glorious in his eyes ? It cannot be otherwise ; and hence, love of Christ will keep its proportion with humility and hatred of sin. “The love of Christ con“ straineth us; because we thus judge, that if one “ died for all then were all dead ; and that he died “ for all, that they who live should live no longer “to themselves, but to him who died for them “and rose again.” Thus the humble penitent is the most astonished at the Saviour's love, when he sinks the deepest in self-abhorrence; and the language of his heart is, “ What shall I render “ to the Lord for all his benefits?" Such a view of these subjects served to form the character of apostles and martyrs; this must form missionaries, ministers, and active Christians : and not any idea of merit, any degree of self-complacency, or any mere mercenary aim at reward.
And now consider, my brethren, how these views and affections towards the Redeemer will
influence a man to act towards his fellow Christians. He can do nothing to add to the glory or felicity of his beloved Benefactor ; but believers are acknowledged by Christ as his brethren and dear relations. When the thankful penitent, therefore, sees one whom he considers as of the household of faith, he not only considers him as nearly related to himself, but as one who bears the image of his blessed Saviour, who seems thus to address him : “ Behold my mother, my sister, my brother!” “Forasmuch as ye did it to these my brethren, ye “ did it unto me.” He cannot therefore, as far as these views and principles prevail, but feel a cordial love for real Christians, and take pleasure in their society: he must be interested in their concerns, and delight in being kind to them.“ Hereby
we know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.”
The same state of mind will excite compassion and benevolence to others. Even the wicked must share in the pity, prayers, and good offices of the true penitent, who will endeavour to bring them acquainted with that Saviour in whom are all his hopes. Looking to his cross, seeing how he loved and bled for his enemies, the Christian's resentment against persecutors is softened into compassion : knowing and feeling his own need of forgiveness, he becomes habitually disposed to forgive; and thus learns “ to follow peace with “all men,” as well as to avoid giving needless offence to any
The humility and tenderness of conscience, induced by true repentance, teach the Christian, in proportion as they prevail, another very hard les
son; namely, “in honour to prefer others to him“self;" and so “to do nothing from strife and “ vain glory.” And of how much importance this is to the peace of the church, the community, and even the family, every one must be aware.
As, after death is the judgment, and to be accepted at that solemn season is the true penitent's grand concern, and as his views of sin, and of himself, lead him continually to look to Christ who was born in a stable and died on a cross ; he cannot but grow more indifferent than he was, or than others are, to the interests, distinctions, and enjoyments of this world ; and about the frown or scorn of worldly men. “ God forbid that I should
glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ;
by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto “ the world.”—This not only prepares a man for patience and perseverance under trials and persecution ; but it disposes him to active, self-denying and liberal beneficence, as far as he has opportunity and ability. In a word, there is not a single exercise of Christian affections towards God or Christ, our brethren, our relatives, neighbours or enemies, in which a truly penitent state of heart has not peculiar influence. In doing or in suffering the will of God; in receiving favours and commendations, or in sustaining injuries and reproaches, it leads to the proper temper and conduct : it puts life and fervour into our prayers, praises, thanksgivings, and every act of worship: it is especially the ground requisite to form an acceptable communicant at the Lord's table : for it has been shewn, that repentance and faith are inseparable concomitants, and aid each other's exercise; that repen
tance, or rather the Holy Spirit by means of repentance, leads the soul to Christ : and, the more he is known, trusted, and loved, the deeper hatred is felt against sin, and the more humbly we walk with God. In this manner, I apprehend, the lively Christian's character is constantly improved : and, though in heaven there will be none of the shame, sorrow, and alarm here commonly attending repentance, yet the penitent's humility and hatred of sin will for ever unite with admiring love of the Saviour, while he sings, “Worthy is the Lamb that
was slain, and hath redeemed us to God with his « blood.”
And now ask yourselves, my brethren and fellowsinners, whether you are partakers of this gracious disposition? Is this your experience, your aim, your view of yourselves, of sin, and of Christ and his salvation ? I have a confidence that if it be so with you I may glorify God on your behalf, and say “Then hath God to you also granted repentance “ unto life.” “ There is joy in heaven, among the “angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” These blessed spirits have rejoiced over you, and do rejoice over you; and, though you perhaps may now sow in tears, yet you shall at length rejoice with them : yea, God himself will “ rejoice over
you to do you good,” even for ever and ever. Therefore lift up your hands that hang down: lift up your hearts with hope and gratitude: and prepare to commemorate his love, who loved you, and
gave himself to the death upon the cross for you, and being now exalted on the throne, hath be