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tion is supplied; let us thankfully accept it. But let us not rest in formality and prescription: let us call upon God night and day. When in the review of the times which we have past, any offence arises to our thoughts, let us humbly implore forgiveness; and for those faults (and inany they are and must be) which we cannot recollect, let us solicit mercy in general petitions. But it must be our constant care that we pray not merely with our lips, but that when we lament our sins, we are really humbled in self-abhorrence*; and that when we call for mercy, we raise our thoughts to hope and trust in the goodness of God, and the merits of our blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ.
The reception of the holy sacrument, to which we shall be called in the most solemn manner, perhaps, a few hours before we die, is the highest act of Christian worship. At that awful moment it will becomes us to drop for ever all worldly thoughts, to fix our hope solely upon Christ, whose death is represented; and to consider ourselves as no longer connected with mortality.-And, possibly, it may please God to afford us some con-. solation, some secret intimations of acceptance and forgiveness. But these radiations of favour are not always felt by the sincerest penitents. To the greater part of those whom angels stand, ready to receive, nothing is granted in this world beyond rational hope; and with hope founded on promise, we may well be satisfied.
But such promises of salvation are made only to the penitent. It is requisite, then, that we consider,
Thirdly, “ How Repentance is to be exercised.” Repentance, in the general state of Christian life, is such a sorrow for sin as produces a change of manners, and an amendment of life. It is that disposition of mind, by which he who stole, steals no more by which the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness, and doeth that which is lawful and right. And to the man thus reformed, it is is expressly promised, that he shall sate
* See Job, chap. xlii. verse 6.
his soul alive*. Of this repentance the proofs are visible, and the reality certain, always to the penitent, and commonly to the church with whom he communicates; because the state of the mind is discovered by the outward actions.But of the repentance which our condition requires and admits, no such evidence can appear; for to us many crimes and many virtues are made impossible by confinement; and the shortness of the time which is before us, gives little power, even to ourselves, of distinguishing the effects of terror from those of conviction; of deciding whether our present sorrow for sin proceeds from abhorrence of guilt or dread of punishment? whether the violence of our inordinate passions be totally subdued by the fear of God, or only crushed and restrained by the temporary force of present calamity ?
Our repentance is like that of other sinners on their death bed; but with this advantage, that our danger is not greater, and our strength is more. Our faculties are not impaired by weakness of body. We come to the great work not withered by pains, 'nor clouded by the · fumes of disease; but with minds capable of continued
attention, and with bodies of which we need have no | care; we may therefore better discharge this tremendous duty, and better judge of our performance.
Of the efficacy of a death-bed repentance many have disputed; but we have no leisure for controversy. Fix in your minds this decision: “Repentance is a change of the heart, of an evil to a good disposition.” When that change is made, repentance is complete. God will consider that life as amended, 'which would have been amended if he had 'spared it. Repentance, in the sight of man, even of the penitent, is not known but by its fruits, but our Creator sees the fruit in the blossom or the sced. He knows those resolutions which are fixed, . those conversions which would be permanent : and will
* There cannot be a stronger exemplification of this idea, than the conduct of the Gaoler, who uttered the question with which we com- · menced our enquiry-What shall I do to be saved ?-What a change of mind and manners was wrought in him by the power of God! Read 'Acts, chap. xvi.
receive them who are qualified by holy desires for works of righteousness, without exacting from thein those outward duties which the shortness of their lives hindered them from performing.
Nothing, therefore, remains, but that we apply, with all our speed, and with all our strength, to rectify our desires, and purify our thoughts: that we set God before us in all his goodness and terrors ; that we consider him as the Father and the Judge of all the earth; as a Father desirous to save ; as a Judge, who cannot pardon rinrepented iniquity; that we fall down before him selfcondemned, and excite in our hearts an intense detestation of those crimes which have provoked him; with vehement and steady resolutions, that if life were granted us, it should be spent hereafter in the practice of our duty *: that we pray the giver of grace to strengthen and impress these holy thoughts, and to accept our repentance, though late and in its beginnings violent: that we improve every good motion by diligent prayer: and having declared and confirmed + our faitli by the holy communion, we deliver ourselves into his hands, in firm hope, that he who created and redeemed us will not suffer us to perish. Rom. v. viii. 32. ' .
The condition, without which forgiveness is not to be obtained, is, that we forgive others. There is always a danger lest men fresh from a trial in which life has been lost, should remember with resentment and malignity the prosecutor, the witnesses, or the judges. It is, indeed, scarcely possible, that with all the prejudices of an interest so weighty, and so affecting, the convict should
* See 2 Cor. chap. v. verses 14, 15.
+ I would have this expression to be particularly attended towhile, as a dying man, and with all possible sincerity of soul, I add, that if I could wish to declare my faith, I know not of any words in which I could do it so well, and so perfectly to my satisfaction, as iu the Communion service of our Church: and if I would wish to confirm that faith, I know not of any appointed method so thoroughly adapted Bo that end as participation in that communion itself. See particula:ly in this service, the Exhortation, Confession, prayer beginning We do not prefume, &c -Cansecration and prayer after receiving, O Lord and heavenly Father, &c.-- Convicts should diligently and repeatedly read over this service before they communicate,
think otherwise than that he has been treated in some part of the process with unnecessary severity. In this opinion he is perhaps singular, and therefore probably mistaken. But there is no time for disquisition : we must try to find the shortest way to peace. It is easier to forgive than to reason right. He that has been injuriously or unnecessarily harrassed, has one opportunity more of proving his sincerity, by forgiving the wrong, and praying for his enemy.
It is the duty of a penitent to repair, so far as he has the power, the injury which he has done. What we can do, is commonly nothing more than to leave the world an example of contrition. On the dreadful day, when the sentence of the law has its full force, some will be found to have affected a shameless bravery, or negligent intrepidity. Such is not the proper behaviour of a convicted criminal. To rejoice in tortures is the privilege of a martyr'; to meet death with intrepidity is the right only of innocence, if in any human being innocence could be found. Of liim whose life is shortened by his crimes, the last duties are humility and selfabasement. We owe to God sincere repentance; we owe to man the appearance of repentance. - We ought not to propagate an opinion, that he who lived in wickedness can die with courage. If the serenity or gaiety with which some men have ended a life of guilt, were ' unfeigned, they can be imputed only to ignorance or stu
pidity; or, what is more horrid, tỏ voluntary intoxication: if they were artificial and hypocritical, they were acts of deception, the useless and unprofitable crimes of pride unmortified, and obstįnacy unsubdued.
There is yet another crime possible, and, as there is reason to believe, sometimes committed in the last moments, on the margin of eternity: men have died with a steadfast denial of crimes, of which it is very difficult to suppose them innocent. By what equivocation or reserve they may have reconciled their consciences to falsehood, if their consciences were at all consulted, it is impossible to know: but if they thought that when they were to die, they paid their legal forfeit, and that the world had no farther demand upon them; that, therefore, they
mighty might, by keeping their own secrets, try to leave behind them a disputable reputation; and that the falsehood was harmaless, because none were injured:--they had very little considered the nature of society. One of the principal parts of national felicity arises from a wise and impartial administration of justice. Every man reposes upon the tribunal of his country, the stability of possession, and the serenity of life. He therefore who unjustly exposes the courts of judicature to suspicion either of partiality or error, not only does an injury to those who dispense the laws, but diminishes the public confidence in the laws themselves, and shakes the foundation of public tranquillity.
For my own part, I confess, with the deepest compunction, the crime which has brought me to this place; and admit the justice of my sentence, while I am sinking under its severity. And I earnestly exhort you, my fellow prisoners, to acknowledge the offences which
country that confidence in public justice, without which there can be neither peace nor safety.
As few men suffer for their first offences, and most convicts are conscious of more crimes than have been brought within judicial cognizance, it is necessary to enquire how far confession ought to be extended ? Peace of mind, or desire of insturction, may sometimes demand, that to the minister whose council is requested, a long course of evil life should be discovered:-but of this every man must determine for himself.-To the public, every man before he departs from life, is obliged to confess those acts which have brought, or may bring unjust suspicion upon others, and to convey such information, as may enable those who have suffered losses to obtain restitution.
Whatever good remains in our power, we must diligently perform---We must prevent, to the utmost of our power, all the evil consequences of our crimes. We must forgive all who have injured us.We must, by fervency of prayer, and constancy in meditation, endeavour to repress all worldly passions, and generate in our minds that love of goodness, and hatred of sin, which