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ing mercy, or the like; these are directly destructive of, or inconsistent with, the actings of a true repentance. A fincere penitent looks over the highest mountains, which are raised before him, by the greatness of his sins, his own misgiving heart, or the temptations of Satan, into an ocean of infi. nite goodness and mercy. Thither he will fly, and there he will hope, let his case appear never so dark, and though everything seems to make against him. And the niore lively and comfortable bis hope is, the more he is humbled and abased for his fins, and the more vigorous are his endeavours after a life of new obedience. -As repentance is a hatred of, and separation from all sin without re. serve, it must certainly be a flight from, and an ab. horrence of unbelief and despair, the greatest of all fins. And the further the soul flies from these, the more is it conformed to the gospel of Christ, and the more is it in the way of mercy. It is not therefore fufficient for the fincere penitent, to be sensible that God is infinitely gracious, and that the blood of Christ is infinitely meritorious, and that there is forgiveness with God for the greatest sin. ners, if he still maintains some referve in his mind, with respect to his own case ; but he must be like wise perfuaded, that he either already hath, or that he may obtain a personal interest in this redeeming, pardoning mercy, in order to his ap proaching to God as a father, and in order to his being in love with the ways of God, and to his serving him with cheerfulness and delight. This is not only necessary, in order to the first ex. ercise of a true repentance; but the sincere Christian will always find, that by whatever darkness, difficulty, or temptation, he is brought into a really discouraged, defponding frame, he is thereby rendered so much the more incapable of godly sorrow
for sin, of delighting in God, or of a spiritual performance of any duty of religion. We may be jealous and distrustful of ourselves; but we must not defpond and be jealous of God, if we would main. tain the exercise of any saving grace.--" I confess “ (lays the truly penitent soul) that my fins are “ like the stars in the firmament, and like the sand " on the sea-shore, for multitude ; that they are “ of a scarlet and crimfon-dye; and that it is of “ the infinite patience of God, that such a guilty .66 wretch is out of hell : But yet as great, as dread“ fully aggravated as my fins be, the merit of a " Redeemer's blood is sufficient to atone for them “all; and infinite mercy is still greater than my
greatest fins. Though my iniquities bave abound. "ed, God has encouraged me to hope, that his
grace Mall abound much more, to the returning « Linner. It must be astonishing mercy indeed, if “ I am saved; but such mercy is offered in the s gospel ; and, blessed be God, I am not excluded “ from chat gracious offer. Though I have natu. “ rally no power to comply with the terms, upon “ which pardoning mercy is set before me, yet the
gospel provides a remedy in that case allo, and I " am encouraged to trust in the Lord Jesus Chrift, “ for all supplies of grace. I will therefore caft “ my guilty foul at the footstool of a sovereign God, " and rely on infinite mercy through a Redeemer. “ I will depend upon the blood of Christ which “ cleanseth from all fin. I will constantly repair to « his fulness, that from thence I may receive even
' grace, and, in that way, I will hope “ for that blessed fentence from his gracious mouth, “ Thy fins, which be many are forgiven thee.-0 “ how will mercy, triumph over fich fins as mine! “ How great glory will God bring to the riches of “ his infinite grace in the falvation of such a finner
“ as I, if ever I am saved ! How will Heaven ring
cy, and to lie at his feet, whatever the issue be.” · So great is the difference between a legal and an evangelical repentance ; as great as between desponding fear and encouraging hope ; as between being affrighted, by a light of our sins, into an in. capacity to trust God, or serve him with delight; and being allured by his infinite mercy to seek his favour, expect forgiveness through the blood of his Son ; and to serve him with the disposition of chil. dren.
5. A legal repentance is temporary, wearing off with the convictions of conscience which occasion it; but an evangelical: repentance is the daily exercise of the true Christian. -We have too fad and numerous instances of* fuch, who will for a while appear under the greatest remorse for their fins; and yet quickly wear off all their impreffions, and return to the same course of impiety and sensuality, which occasioned their distress and terror; and thereby declare to the world, that their goodness, like Ephraim's, was but a morning cloud, and an early dew.And belides these, there seem to be some who quiet their consciences, and speak peace to their souls, from their having been in distress and terror for their fins, from their reformation of fome grosser immoralities, and from a formal course of duty. They have repented, they think, and there. fore conclude themselves at peace with God; and seem to have no great care and concern about either
their former impieties, or their daily transgressions. They conclude ihemselves in a converted itate, and are therefore easy, careless, and secure.- These máy think, and perhaps speak loftily of their expe. riences; they may be blown up with joyful apprebensions of their safe ftate, but have no impref. fions of their fins, no mourning after pardon, no groaning under the burden of a wicked heart, imperfect duties, and renewed provocations against God. 1. fear, we have too many such in the present times, who will go on flattering themselves in their own eyes, until their iniquities are found hateful. I might add, there are many that, while under the stings of an awakened conscience, will be driven to maintain a solemn watch over their hearts and lives, to be afraid of every sin, to be conscien. tiously careful to attend every known duty, and to be serious and in earnest in the performance of it. Now, by this imaginary progress in religion, they gradually wear off their convictions, and get from under the terrors of the law; and then their watchfulness and tenderness of conscience are forgot. They attend their duties in a careless man. ner, with a trifling, remiss frame of foul, while the great concerns of an unseen, eternal world are but little in their minds, and all their religion is reduced to. a mere cold formality. They still maintain the form, but are unconcerned about the power of godliness. In some such manner, a legal repentance always leaves the soul short of a real, fanétifying,
, faving change.
On the other hand, a saving evangelical repentance is a lasting principle of humble, felf-abaling, self-condemning, mourning for, and abhorrence of, all the fins which the penitent discovers, both in his heart and life. The true penitent does not forget his paft lins, and grow careless and unconcern
ed about them, as soon as he obtains peace in his conscience, and a comforting hope, that he is re. conciled to God; but the clearer evidences he obtains of the divine favour, the more he does loathe, ab. hor, and condemn himself for his fins; the more vile does he appear in his own eyes; and the more aggravated and enormous do his past fins represent themselves to him.-A sense of pardoning mercy makes Paul appear to himself the chief of finners, and speak of himself as a pattern of hope, to all that shall come after him.-The true penitent not only continues to abhor himself on account of his past guilt and defilement, but finds daily cause to renew his repentance before God. He finds fo much deadness, formality and hypocrisy in his duties, so much carnality, worldly-mindedness, and unbelief in his heart, fo much prevalence of his fipful affections, appetites, and passions, and so many foils by the fin that easily befets him, that he cannot but groan, being burdened while he is in this tabernacle. Repentance, therefore, is the daily continued ex. ercise of the Christian indeed, until he puts off mor. tality.--He will not leave off repenting, till he leaves of sinning, which is not attainable on this side heaven." Have I hope (says the penitent soul) " that God has pardoned - my fins ? What an in" stance of pardoning mercy is this ! How adorable w is that wonderful grace which has plucked fuchi
a brand out of the fire! And am I still daily of. " fending against such niercy and love ! Am Í still " so formal, lifeless, and hypocritical ! Am I yet " doing so little for him, who has done so much " for me! Ah vile, sinful heart ! Ah base ingrati. “ tude to such amazing goodness! Oh for more vic
tory over my corruptions; for more thankfulness for “ such mercies; for more fpirituality and heavenly