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« mindedness! How often have I been mourning “ my infirmities; and must I yet have cause to
mourn over the same defects! How often pur“ suing and designing a closer walk with God; but « what a poor progress do I yet make, save in de. “ fires and endeavours!-How would the iniqui“ties of my best duties separate between God and
my soul for ever, had I not the Redeemer's me. “ rit to plead! What need have I, every day to “ have this polluted foul washed in the blood of “ Chrift, and to repair to the glorious Advocate “ with the Father, for the benefit of his intercef. "sion !-Not a step can I take in ny spiritual pro.
gress, without freth fupplies from the fountain of “grace and strength; and yet how often am I “ provoking him to withdraw his influences, in “ whom is all my hope and confidence ! 0 wretched
man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body “ of this death.”—Thus the true penitent goes with his face Zion-ward, mourning as he goes. And thus in his highest'attainments of comfort and joy, will he find cause to be deeply humbled before God, and to wrestle with him for renewed pardon, and new supplies of strengthening and quickening grace.
The difference between these two sorts of peni. tents is very apparent. There is the same diffe. rence, as between the running of water in the paths after a shower, and the streams flowing from a living fountain of water ; a legal repentance lasting no longer than the terrors which occasion it ; but an evangelical repentance being a continued war with sin, till death sounds the retreat.-Once more.
6. A legal repentance does at most produce only a partial and external reformation; but an evange. lical repentance is a total change of heart and life, and universal turning from fin to God.--As some
particular more gross iniquities most commonly lead the way to that distress and terror which is the life of a legal and insincere repentance, fo a reformatiop of those fins too frequently wears off the im. pression, and gives peace and rest to the troubled conscience, without any further change.-Or at best, there will be fome darling lufts retained, some right hand, or right eye spared, some sweet morfel rolled under the tongue.--If the legal penitent be afraid of the sins of commillion, he may ftill live in the omission or careless performance of known duty. Or if he be more forward in the duties of God's immediate worship, he may still live in acts of injustice, strife, and uncharitableness towards men. -If he fhews fome zeal and activity in the service of God, he will 'yet (perhaps) have his heart and affections inordinately glued to the world, and pursue it as the object of his chief desire and delight. -If he makes conscience of all open, actual sins, he yet little regards the sins of his heart, but lives in envy, malice, pride, carnal-mindedness, unbelief, or some other such heart-defiling fin.-To finish his character, whatever seeming progress he may make in religion, his heart is not right with God, but is still going after his idols, ftill estranged from vital christianity and the power of godlinels. Like Ephraim, he is as a cake not turned, neither bread nor dough ; or like Laodicea, lukewarm, neither hot nor cold.
If we proceed to view the character of the fincere penitent, it is directly contrary to this. He finds indeed (as has been observed) continual occa. sion to lament the great imperfections of his heart and life, and accordingly seeks renewed pardon and cleansing in the blood of Christ. But though he has not already attained, nor is already perfec7, he is yet prefsing towards perfection. He is yet watching, striving against all his corruptions ; yet aiming at, and endeavouring after, further conformity to God, in all holy conversation and godliness.--He is never fatisfied with a partial reformation, with external duty; or with any thing short of a life of vital piety.--He does not renounce one lust, and retain another, content himself with first table duties, in the neglect of the second ; nor quiet himself in a life of mere formal godliness ; nor can he reft, till he rejoices in the testimony of his conscience, that in fimplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wifdom, but by the grace of God, he has his conversa. tion in the world. All the actings of his mind, as well as his external conduct, fall under his strictest cognizance and inspection ; and he is awfully care. ful to approve him felf to him who knorys his thoughts far of: --His reformation extends not only to the devotions of the church, but of his family and clo. fet; not only to his conversation, but to his thoughts and affections; not only to the worship of God, but to the duties of every relation he fuftains among inen; and, in a word, his repentance produces heavenly-mindedness, humility, meeknefs, charity, patience, forgiveness of injuries, self-denial, and is accompanied with all other fruits and graces of the blessed Spirit.-" It is the desire of my soul (says " the fincere penitent) to keep the way of the “Lord, and not wickedly to depart from my God, " I would refrain my feet from every evil way, " and walk within iñiy house with a perfect heart. " I know I have to do with a God who trieth the “ heart, and hath pleasure in uprightness; I would “ therefore set the Lord always before me, and “ ferve him with a perfect heart and with a willing “ mind. I know that my heart is deceitful above “ all things, and defparately wicked. I know that “ mine iniquities are ascended over mine head, for " which I am bowed down greatly, and go mourn
“ ing all the day long. But yet my desire is be. “fore the Lord; and my groaning is not hid from " him.-I can truly say, that I even hate vain
thoughts, but God's law do I love. O that God “ would give me understanding, that I may keep “ his law, and observe it with my whole heart !-" I would be for God without any reserve; for I " esteem his precepts concerning all things to be
right, and I have inclined my heart to keep his “ statutes always, even unto the end."
To conclude, herein lies the great difference be. tween a legal and an evangelical repentance : The one is an external reformation only, deftitute of all the graces of the blessed Spirit. The other is an internal change, a change of the heart, of the will and affections, as well as of the outward conversation ; a change which is accompanied with all the fruits and graces of the Spirit of God. The one aims at just so much religion as will keep the mind easy, and calm the ruffles of an awakened conscience. The other aims at a holy, humble, watchful, and fpiritual walk with God; and rests in no degree of attainments whatsoever.
Thus, Sir, I have given you a general view of the difference between a legal and an evangelical repentance. You have not demanded this of me out of mere curiosity, or as a matter of speculation only, but in order to the exercise and practice of a repentance unto life, not to be repented of.
You should therefore remember who is exalted at God's right hand, to give repentance, as well as forgiveness of fins. Remember that you must de. pend only upon the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and must accordingly lie at his footstool, to have this great and important change wrought in your heart.-And therefore, since you depend upon the mere sovereign grace of God in Chrift, for the re.
newing newing influences of his Holy Spirit, you should be the more importunate in your cries to him, in the language of Ephraim, turn thou me, and I Mall be turned, for thou art the Lord my God.
You should endeavour to review your past sins, and as particularly as you can, acknowledge them before God with all their heinous circumstances and peculiar aggravations; and you should with peculiar ardour of foul wrestle with him for pardon and cleansing in the blood of Christ.
You should endeavour to see and be affected with the fin of your nature, as well as of your practice, of your heart as well as of your life ; and with constant fervency cry to God for a new heart and a right fpirit, for victory over your corruptions; and for grace to approve yourself to God in a life of new obedience, as well as for pardon and reconciliation to him.
You should be daily calling yourself to an account for your daily sins and imperfections, and daily confelling and lamenting them before God, that you may never have so much as the sms of one day un. repented of.
Though it be impossible, that you can be suffi. ciently humbled before God, under an abasing sense of your great fmfulness, unworthiness, and ingratude to him, yet remember that faithful saying, which is worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came to save finners - Do not dishonour the infi. nite merit of the Redeemer's blood by being afraid to trust to it for pardon and sanctification. Do not dishonour the infinite compassion of the divine nature, by calling into question his being as ready to grant, as you heartily to seek pardon and forgive. ness of all your fins, how many and great foever they be.Be therefore humbled, but not discou. raged. While you lament your fin and imperfec