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bittered them : the objects which you still follow with unaccountable infatuation, have lost their attraction; your pursuits are crossed with sorrow, shame, and disappointment: renounce them then for ever, exchange them for pure satisfactions and gladdening hopes of endless enjoyments; turn to God, and he will receive you, though blackened with every foul offence, and odious with accumulated iniquities: turn to him with sincere humility and true contrition, and he will receive you, take you in his arms, press you to his forgiving bosom, and cleansing you from every spot and stain, restore you to beauty, loveliness, and peace. Despise not the patient forbearance of your God, turn to him now with eager gratitude, the blush of confusion reddening your cheek, the sigh of sincere sorrow heaving your heart; nor ever more presume to provoke his just indignation. Remember that as every worldly joy will soon pass away, and life itself be shortly terminated, so must the patience of God, rejected and despised, at last consign you to the just punishment of your ingratitude. This may perhaps be the last invitation of
merciful Lord : though often provoked, he is still ready to pardon, but how long he may allow avail yourselves of his mercy, he only knows. There is yet time ; very soon there will be no
more time for you. This day, then, if you heur his voice, harden not your hearts, but be converted to the Lord, with sincerity of heart, and serve him with perseverance. Remember the words of St. Peter, The Lord dealeth patiently for your sake, not willing that any should perish, but that all should return to penance. .. The day of the Lord shall come as a thief...wherefore dearly beloved, seeing that ye look for these things, be dilige that ye may be found undefiled and unspotted to him in peace ; and account the long suffering of our Lord, salvation. (2 Pet. iii. 9. and seq.)
FOURTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST.
ON CORRESPONDING WITH DIVINE GRACE.
There shall be joy before the angels of God,
upon one sinner doing penance. Luke, xv. 10.
I ENDEAVOURED, last Sunday, to impress upon your minds a sense of God's unbounded mercy to the sinner, in soliciting, and pressing him to repentance, and represented to you, though in feeble colouring, what our loving Lord continually does, in order to save ungrateful man; on this day I intend to shew you what it is necessary that man should do on his part, that he may co-operate with the benevolent designs of his Creator, and make his election sure. For great and astonishing as is the goodness of the Almighty, in regard of sinners, his goodness alone cannot effect their salvation : man must act in concert with God, by co-operating with his graces, or he must remain unalterably fixed in sin. The Almighty must begin the work of the sinner's conversion : his grace prepares the way, enlightening him to see his duty and interest, to know the things that are for his peace, and urging and enabling him to embrace them: but unless the sinner correspond with the calls and helps of God, his conversion cannot be effected. Turn ye to me, saith the Lord of Hosts, and I will turn to you ; (Zach. i. 3.) which proves, according to the remark of the Council of Trent, that our conversion depends on our own free will, and that God cannot restore sinners to grace and virtue, unless they comply with his invitations, and co-operate with his graces. He who created us without onr concurrence, will not save us without our concurrence. It is therefore absolutely and indispensably necessary, that whoever has forfeited the friendship of God by sin, should exert himself in correspondence with the aid of heaven, should labour for his conversion. As our true shepherd, Jesus Christ, seeks the lost sheep on its first departure from the fold, nor forsakes it in its lengthened wanderings; so the sinner that is truly desirous of recovering the grace and love of Jesus, must answer his loving call, and correspond with his gracious helps, with promptitude, sincerity, and perseverance.
There are three general descriptions of sinners: the first comprises those who have but recently fallen into the guilt of mortal sin ; the second includes those whose crimes are multiplied, by repeated transgressions, and the abuse of many graces; the third comprehends those who, having persisted in a lengthened habit of sin, and the contempt of God's calls and mercies, are become hardened in iniquity, and, as it were, lost to God. But to whatever degree of guilt the sinner has arrived, if he desire the recovery of God's favor and love, he must shew a prompt obedience to the invitations of his injured Lord; he must, in good earnest, forsake his evil ways; and, never looking back, but with horror and detestation, upon what he has forsaken, press forward with steady zeal and unshaken perseverance.
0, my brethren, if your misfortune be of recent date, if you have but lately left the fold of the good shepherd, stay your steps at the first sound of his yoice; hasten back to him, who calls you to himself, and solicits your return. If you have but just experienced the misfortune of having linked yourselves with vicious companions, if you have just found the fatal consequence of an imprudent connection, if the violence of sudden temptation has surprised you, if a fatal deference to the seducements, counsel, or authority of others has pre