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what warm and exalted affections of heart, ought the one to be done and the other received? A feeling fenfe of fin, of our own vilenefs and unworthinefs, lies at the foundation of every faving confeffion; so an heart full of love and gratitude is the leaft return which ought to be made for pardon and forgive nefs. The riches and plenitude of grace is only feen by a proper apprehendion of the odioufnefs, deformity and turpitude of fin. Suppofe an impenitent finner pardoned and forgiven without any fenfe of his fins, it would be fuch a contradiction to reafon and common fenfe, that he, himself, would deem it an abfurdity; and the impropriety of it would fo forcibly ftrike his mind, that he would reject the offer with disdain. Was pardon offered to the inhabitants of hell, it would be defpifed. It is remarkable of the rich man in the flames of torment, though he asked for water to cool his tongue, yet he neither confeffed his fins, nor requefted forgiveness. Hell will never be induced to confefs its fins, therefore pardon will never enter there.

Now let us all be exhorted before it be forever too late, to come to a full and free confeffion of our iniquities. We have no time to lofe. If we confess not now, we will not hereafter. This is the only pace allowed us for repentance and confellion; for there is no wifdom, device, repentance or confef fion, or parden in the grave, to which we are fast haftening.

Now is the accepted time, now only is the day of falvation." Confefs not as fome who continue in fin; they confefs their fins and inftantly return to them. This is not confeffion, but hypocrify and mockery. Such a confeffion is adding infult to injury. Let our confetion be attended with a departure from all iniquity. Let our text ever fill us with love, praise and gratitude. « If we confess our fins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our - fins."


The favour and patronage of God, the fupport of man in afflictions.

Palms xlvi. 1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

RELIGION is the only true refource of man in all his diftreffes. How great are the alterations heavy afflictions will often produce for a time, even upon the most heaven-daring finners? The haughty Ahab, who had fold himself to work. wickednefs, in the day of trouble behold him humbling him. felf, renting his clothes, fafting and mortifying. How will diftreffes change the moft hardened wretches into cringing hypocrites? But what can be expected from a religion founded folely in, and caufed by the troubles of this life? Let the cause be removed, and the effect ceafes. How many on beds of fickness and pain, will pray, repent and weep, and feem to be very religious; but let the rod be removed, and they are no better than ever. Thus natural evil, however dreadful, cannot of itself effect the cure of moral evil; it may be, and often is, employed by God for this purpofe; but then it is

accompanied with the fpecial operation of his grace, and by this the cure becomes effectual and lafting.

Real religion is a conftant reafon for calmnefs, compofure, and ferenity of mind under the greatest afflictions. Thus a truly religious man poffeffes a measure of self enjoyment in the most deplorable circumstances that can happen. The highest and most complicated diftreffes cannot rob him of inward tranquility. He has always a ready and fure resource in God, who cannot fail him. A religion wrought in the heart by the spirit of grace, founded upon and directed by the revelation of God, will never be totally deftitute of fome reviving hope and confidence in heaven. This leads the good

man, amidst the ftorms of the world, to commit himself unto and reft unmoved in God.

There is a fecret virtue and power in religion that bears the mind above diftreffes, fuccours it in trials, and confoles it in forrows. Very different from that is the religion created by a panic dread of damnation, produced by the pains of ficknefs, or fupported by the hourly expectation of dying; relief from dread, and deliverance from painful apprehenfions, will caufe fuch a religion to vanifh like the morning cloud and the early dew. But pure and undefiled religion leads to an abiding truft in God, to follow the path of duty, and to maintain an unfhaken ferenity under the foreft trials and most gloomy afpects of divine providence. This is the bluffing of the good man, and the fruit of vital christianity. "The name of the "Lord is a strong tower into which the righteous run and "are fafe." "God is our refuge and ftrength, a very prefent help in trouble." As tho' the Pfalmift had faid, When the righteous are pursued by an enemy, God is a refuge of fafety to which they may flee; when oppreffed with troubles God is their strength, on whofe almighty arm they may ftay themfelves; when in grievous diftrefies and afflictions, he is a fure,

certain, and all-fufficient aid; he is never far from his people, but in the moft perplexing difficulties not only a help, but in all adverse circumstances, a very prefent help; a help accommodated to every cafe, and ready in every exigence.

In difcourfing on thefe words we fhall,

First, make a few obfervations on the common troubles and unavoidable evils of this life, from which good men are not exempted.

Secondly, fhow that the favour and patronage of God is their great fupport, refuge, ftrength and help, under all calamities and evils of every kind.

As to the firft, Were there no fin to merit evil, nor any Being concerned to inflict it, yet no wife man could promife himself much from the things of this world, all which are empty, uncertain, tranfitory, and mixed with bitter afflictions. Man when full and at ease, standing on high ground, on heaps of honors, on piles of offices and dignities, is only a proud, vain and unthinking thing; man in his beft ftate is altogether vanity. What then is he when overwhelmed with difgraces, mortifications and difappointments, and furrounded with every fpecies of evil, calamity and diftrefs. Without religion, better not to be. Thus when Solomon had confidered all the oppreffions and fore evils done under the fun, he exclaimed, “ I "praised the dead which are already dead, more than the "living which are yet alive; yea, better is he than both they, "which hath not yet been, who hath not feen the evil work "that is done under the fun." What fignifies a little glittering and momentary fhow in this world, when all is anxiety and foreboding fears within, lowering clouds of divine judgments impending over the head, involved in painful difficulties round about, and nothing in profpect but anguish and horror unut

terable? Of what real utility is it, to ufe prophetic language "For a land to be full of filver and gold, and no end of their "treasures, for a land alfo full of horses, neither any end of "their chariots; when it is full of idols," and no end to their wickedness, and they are expofed to the infuriated wrath of an incenfed Jehovah? Calamities and diftreffes are fome.. times employed by God, for the awakening and converfion of finners, but they are abfolutely neceffary and expedient in the wisdom of providence for the difciplining of faints, training them up in virtue and holiness for the felicities above, even the eternal reft.

It is an afflicting truth, that good men are too much glued to the world, too fond of present interefts and prefent enjoy ments, and are far from having fully learned that rule of the gofpel," Be not conformed to this world." Therefore their Heavenly Father, finds himself obliged on various occafions to imbitter their outward comforts, to remove the props they are apt to lean upon, to involve them in perplexities, that they may be more weaned from the world, be brought to walk more closely with God, and breathe more ardently for the state of the bleffed. Hence it is that the peo ple of God are often embroiled in great tribulations, and frequently judgments begin at the house of God, therefore he "turns his hand upon them, and purely purges away their "drofs, and takes away all their tin." If this be the allotment of the righteous, what must be the fate of those who obey not the gofpel? "If the righteous fcarcely be faved," and make their escape through awful perils, and as it were through the fire, "Where hall the finner and ungodly "appear?"

Having dropped thefe few obfervations, I pafs on to the


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