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SERM, the tempers and manners of men, when, III. from a doleful depravity, wherein reason and
conscience, and all the best sentiments and affections of human nature, seem to be lost or alleep, and all the designs and pursuits of men are directed by selfish inferior appetites, or contracted vitious propensities; when, I say, from this wretched degeneracy they are recovered to the love and practice of the things that are pure, and true, and just, and venerable, and virtuous ; to seek the things that are above, to approve the good and acceptable, and perfe&t will of God, and to walk in newa, riefs of life. These representations Thew the efficacy of the gospel and the grace of God, for effecting such a change in men ; but as it is all a voluntary change, wherein their own natural powers actively exert themselves, the whole is comprehended under the duty pf Repentance. Still it is to be remember'd, that the essence of repenting, consists in pre vailing good inclinations, contrary to the evil ones which had the ascendant before, and good works directly opposite to those wicked ones of which finners had been guilty. Thus, John Baptist who first declared the coming of God's kingdom, and taught the doctrine of repentance for the remiffion of sins, when, having in general,
exhorted his hearers to repent, they asked Se RM. him more particularly what he meant by it, III. and what he would have them to do, explains it thus, Luke iii. from ver. 11. accommodating his exhortation to their various circumstances; the common people he directed, instead of outward ceremonies and forms, in which the religion of that time chiefly consisted, to abound in works of substantial piety and charity, and to give our of their plenty for the relief of their indigent fellow-creatures; the collectors of taxes, called Publicans, he exhorted to perform what was given them in charge justly and mercifully, never extorting from any man more than what the due and faithful difcharge of their trust required; and the soldiers, that they should not behave themselves insolently and oppressively, but be content with their wages. This was the Baptist's doctrine of repentance, and it may very eafily, by parity of reasons, be applied to all the various relations, circumstances, and conditions in human life. In general, let men forsake their wicked ways and unrighteous doings, and turn to the Lord, practising the virtues which are contrary to their former vices. And in particular, Let him that stole, deal no more ; let him that has been covetous,
Serm. break off his fins by sewing mercy. to the
poor ; let the lewd and voluptuous become
and the remiffion of all their fins. The prophets under the Old Testament insist
it as well as Christ and his apostles, assuring the Jews, that without it all their facrifices and other external rites would be unavailable to their acceptance with God; that indeed God was ready to forgive their iniquities; though their fins were as scarlet, and red like crimson, he would make them white as snow and wool; but it is upon the condition of their washing and making them clean, putting away the evil of their doings, ceasing to do evil, and learning to do well ll. No more taking pleasure in their former sinful courses, rigorously exacting the labours and services of the
grinding * Ephes. iv. 22, 24.
| Isaiah i. 16. 18.
grinding their faces by oppression, but SERM. dealing their bread to the hungry, and cloath- III, ing the naked |I: in short, exercising themselves universally in the works of true piety and righteousness. Sorrow for sin, and what is called contrition, humiliation for having offended God, and perverted that which is right ; the confessing of our iniquities with thame and grief, and pious virtuous inclinations, a desire to become holy as God is holy; all these are necessary to repentance, but it is a fatal mistake to imagine, that it essentially consists, and is compleated in any, or all of them ; or, that any thing will be accepted without what I have already mentioned, a thorough and effectual forsaking all fin, and turning to God, and to the practice of our duty, universally. These preparatory exercises and dispositions of the mind, arise from the reason of things, and the very frame of our nature. As
repentance is the rational exercise of the soul, wherein its intellectual and active powers are deliberately employed, what first and naturally occurs to the reflecting thoughts of a penitent, is, his former conduct; and he cannot review it otherwise than with an ingenuous remorse and self-abhorrence. When a Man confi
ders | Ifa. lviii. 7.
SERM.ders that he has done wrong, it is impossible III. to avoid a deep concern ; for it is the highest
pleasure to be justified to our selves, and the reproaches of a self-accusing heart are most painful ; and this is the best and most effectual preservative from a relapse into former follies. * Sorrow after a godly fort, as the apostle says, is naturally productive of fears and zeal, and carefulness ; fear of offending God for the future, a zeal and care to please him in all things. And as this is the true foundation of repentance, that it may be firm and stable, nothing is more necessary for us to attend to, than that our forrow be of the kind I just now mentioned, after a godly fort. There may be a grief even for fin, which is of another character ; that is, when the penal and pernicious consequences of it only are considered, especially, the disgrace and the miseries to which it exposes finners in this world. Such a sorrow is really no more than a painful sense of natural evil or unhappiness; and if sin is only considered, as the occasion of that, without entering into its moral deformity, we can never imaginę that sorrow arising thence, has any thing in it of that ingenuous remorse which is acceptable to God; or that it will produce, or in
• 2 Cor, vii. 9---ll