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not sinners, miserable sinners, then the death and righteousness of Christ can be of no avail to save us, for it was to ransom sinners from the curse that he was obedient to the demands of the law. If we are not sinners, perishing sinners, brethren, then the testimony of Heaven, which declares all have sinned, is false, and even the Psalmist himself was deceived, when he proclaimed, there is none good ; no, not one. If we are not sinners, perishing sinners, then we are called in vain to repent of our trans. gressions, and to us the exhortation of St. Paul is totally misapplied-Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead. Rejoice, happy souls, independent of the precepts of the Gospel, and purchase your salvation by a morality unsanctified by the SPIRIT or the blessing of Jesus Christ. Depart to his bar if you can, cheered by the dim taper of your worthless performances, and demand everlasting life, as the purchase of your faithless, impenitent lives !-But are we indeed conscious of having sinned but once, and that once in thought, word, or deed, against the righteous laws of God? What then is our hope! What our ground of escaping the impending penalty! If the single offence of Adam incurred everlasting death, will ours, committed in the blaze of Gospel day avoid the sentence of despair! But what must be the doom of those who have repeatedly sinned against superior light, and who, added to their neglect of duty, have polluted 80 often the powers and affections of their souls !
Can we exclaim with our hands upon our hearts, that we are not sinners, miserable sinners, in the sight of God, and that if we expire this very hour, we perish not forever the victims of his justice! Of what avail then to us will be the glitter of our morals, our estimation in society, our criminal self-deluding flattery! Though contributing much to the welfare of society, the enjoyment of our firesides, or the indulgence of our vanity; we may have done nothing, alas! for the glory of God, the interests of his Church, or the salvation of our imperishable souls. We may find that Heathen philosophers were as virtuous, and perhaps more virtuous than us; and with all the light that illumined our sky, we may deplore the awful darkness that blinded us to a knowledge of ourselves. As we dread, then, the consequence of unrepented guilt, let the
penitence of the publican be our immediate model! Here in the silence of these courts, let our souls stay behind from the glory of the Shechinah! With hands clasped in devotion, with downcast eyes, and bleeding hearts, let our cry pierce the heavens in fervent ejaculation, God! God! Be merciful to us sinners !
2. Be instructed, I intreat you, by the fervency of the publican's faith. Approaching these altars every Lord's day to offer up our devotions, we perceive not the typical sacrifices that sanctified the Jewish Temple, but we behold the altar of salvation which reveals the bleeding Lamb of Gon, and the incense of his atonement rising to Heaven in our behalf. What then are our hopes, when responding with the Church, there is no health in us, we implore heaven for mercy as miserable offenders ? On what do we found our expectations of pardon, when invoking the persons of the Trinity, we confess ourselves with the publican, to be perishing-miserable sinners! Does the prayer of faith accompany the sacrifice, or are these words uttered regardless of the sentiment, or the remedy they inculcate ? Manifest then your faith in the propitiation of Jesus Christ! Advancing as outcast rebels to the foot of the cross, let our tears flow at every step, and our confidence wax the stronger as we ponder upon the victim ! There is no other dependence but the righteousness of this Savior --no other cleansing fountain, but the fountain of His blood. If our cry for mercy be servent and sincere, we will evidence our sincerity by feasting upon the sacrifice! Here our faith will be established in partaking of these symbols, and thus our humble cry for mercy, sanctified by a holy life, shall be acceptable through the passion of the crucified MESSIAH.
3. Let then the publican's prayer be breathed from every tongue and bosom. Would that every eye that meets mine were cast to the earth in tears ! that the sigh of contrition was melting every heart, and subduing the rebellion of every hardened soul! But what is the reason that though this prayer be so frequently repeated, it finds us publicans in form, but pharisees in heart? Is it not owing to our neglect of THE ALMIGHTY, to our carnal attachments and our supreme relianceon the world? Instead of seeking the ordinances of grace, do we not rather fly to the diversions of gaiety—the bustle of society, and the distractions of our worldly concerns ? Approach rather, I intreat you, with the publican, the mercy seat of God! Here he is present to hear your prayers, relieve your wants, console your sorrows, and strengthen your infirmities. Here forget that you breathe for any other object but God, for any other joy but the bliss of your salvation. While the taper of life yet glimmers in its socket, cry aloud for MERCY, as the vilest of transgressors. Mercy, believe me, is the dearest of all blessings. What would the condemned criminal bestow, could the sweet tones of mercy enliven his hopeless dungeon? The sinner, alas! I realize in his case. I look beyond his postponements, his neglects, his multiplied rebellions, to that closing hour that shall number him with the departed! I follow his trembling spirit, awakening from his last sleep, and summoned, dreadful thought to the left hand of CHRIST's bar! Then how loud will the cry of mercy be heard from his agonized breast ! How would he give worlds to approach this day, with the publican, this altar of mercy, and manifest bis penitence in the lowliest of frames !
Spared then as we are, fellow mortals, let us raise before God, the hunible cry, and prepare for that day, when mercy shall outweigh worlds. Before we leave these courts, decide, piously decide, whether ours has been the prayer of the unrenewed pharisee, or whether we shall depart to our homes, justified with the spirit of the publican. Let the young resolve to mortify their hearts with the publican, and live alone for that mercy which can only sweeten their enjoyments! Let the worldling determine to lay aside his coldness and worldly lasts, and take refuge in due season beneath the shadow of the cross! Resolve, faltering mourner, to hasten to the altar of thy Savior, and receive that blessing which the publican has realized! Persevere in thy prayers, thou devoted servant of Jesus Christ! Thy crown is glittering through the fountain of thy tears. While the worldling approaches unconcernedly this consecrated altar-stand thou in trembling sorrow at a distance from thy God! While thy grief declares the purity of thy penitence, and thy heart is breaking forth in the ejaculation of the publican-Jehovah is even now listening to thy devotion, and will have mercy upon thee a sinner, by virtue of the sacrifice here displayed. GOD! BE MERCIFUL TO THEE, A SINNER! Amen, and Amen!
THE PUBLICAN'S PRAYER.
What was the cry which louder rang
Through Judah's halls of yore,
It was a sinner's heart-felt cry-
A rebel, wandering soul from Thee !
And laid before the throne,
It was a lowly sinner's prayer,
LORD on me!
The stain and guilt of sin,-
It was the publican's big tear
A sinner pierced with misery!
Amid earth's shaded toys,
It was the penitent's calm trust
LORD on me!
Such be the cry and prayer of all !
Such be our faith and tears!
THE RIGHTEOUS FLOURISHING :
BY THE REV. JOHN GRIGG,
Psalm xcii. 12.-" The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree."
Were a certain king to pardon his rebel subjects on cor.dition that they would lay aside their arms and yield to his authority; were he further pleased to accept their sincere repentance in lieu of perfect obedience, and regard them in the light of those who had never revolted from his service, it is plain that his acceptance of their duty was a mere act of undeserved mercy, which merely considered as obedience what was only a feeble endeavor to altain it.
Previous to original sin, righteousness was the perfect conformity of man to the revealed will of JEHOVAH, for in the image of God created he him. But now, being all of us rebels against him, and morally unable to keep the Divine precepts, he has extended to us all the promise of reconciliation provided that we submissively return to our allegiance, and strive by the aid of his grace to conform to the requirements of his Gospel. As the faith of Abraham was counted unto him for righteousness, although his character was polluted by much infirmity and error, so the Gospel proclamation declares that faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ, accompanied by sincere though imperfect obedience, justifies all his followers, and entitles them to the appellation of holy and righteous persons. Therefore, declares St. Paul, being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our LORD Jesus Christ. Now this reckoning of Jehovah must be just, for, since the righteousness of man is the conformity of his will and passions to the particular law which he is under, so if the judge who has competent authority sees fit to adapt his laws to the imperfection of his creatures, and decide that they have conformed to their observance, though in many respects they have fallen