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rected to heaven, for the attainment of that evangelical repentance which is the only passport to purity and peace, to the mercy of thy Redeemer, to the favour of thy God.
Examine, then, faithfully, my soul, the characteristics of thy repentance. Recall to view the properties of this evangelical grace. Recollect, there are counterfeits of repentance, by which many flatter and fatally deceive their own hearts. Ah, when God, inflexible and holy, sits in judgment on the soul, he will institute a scrutiny which will confound the hopes of the hypocrite. Holy Spirit, repentance is thy gift--quicken its holy exercises in my soul.
That thou mayest, in the awful day of retribution, escape the condemning judgment of God, investigate now, my soul, faithfully and seriously, the characteristics of thy repentance.
It is not sufficient that thy repentance should be founded solely in an awful apprehension of divine wrath. In a certain degree, and within certain bounds, an apprehension of the infliction of divine justice due to sin, is not only necessary to call forth the conviction, the sorrow, and the zeal of the penitent; but it is also the powerful principle which corrects the fervours of love, and which may at times animate the obedience of the confirmed Christian. For that exalted fear of God, which lies at the foundation both of the contrition of the penitent and the homage and duty of the Christian, in some degree arises from a lively and awful impression of the inflexible justice of God, of the wrath which will overwhelm the contemners of his laws. What emotions of reverence should confound a worm of the dust, a polluted sinner, when he contemplates that holiness and justice, which encircle the throne at which he is to receive his eternal doom! Into the emotions of penitence, therefore, an apprehension of divine wrath, arising from the view of the justice, holiness, and power of God, and of our guilt and demerit, may justifiably enter. But when it is the sole, or even the dominant principle, it destroys the purifying and consoling efficacy of repentance. For a repentance which is founded only on an apprehension of divine wrath, is selfish and disingenuous in respect to its motives ; it will also be feeble and superficial in its sacrifices and in its services. When uninfluenced by other more ingenuous and noble motives, a repentance characterized by the fear of divine wrath regards only the consequences of sin as incurring punishment, and keeps out of view its more aggravated characteristics, its ingratitude, its baseness, its criminality. This kind of repentance, therefore, may very well comport with an insensibility to the deformity of sin, and to its guilt as the violation of the law of God, the just and holy Judge of the world. A penitent, influenced only by an awful apprehension of divine wrath, will be earn estly anxious to avert the penalties of sin, but will not be solicitous to avoid the commission of it. Cherishing his sinful passions, he will merely aim at those partial sacrifices, at that superficial obedience, by which he hopes to elude the sentence which God will pronounce on the presumptuous sinner. Unaffected by a sense of the evil of sin, and devoted to licentious enjoyments, he would riot in sensual indulgence, did not the apprehension of divine indignation arrest his guilty passions. His soul still retaining its aversion to holiness and virtue,—his is the repentance of unsubdued guilt, of terrified remorse: like the repentance of condemned spirits, who, trembling under the chains of hell, and consumed by its fires, seek a suspension of their torment, only to hurl their vengeance against the throne of heaven! Oh! what an insult is this base repentance to God, whom its slavish fears regard as a merciless tyrant; and who, it impiously supposes, will be satisfied with that hypocritical expression of sorrow which is extorted by the terrors of his justice! How unworthy is this degenerate repentance of the devout communicant, who, in the sufferings of his Saviour, portrayed in the emblems of the altar, beholds an excitement to the most lively and ingenuous sorrow!
It is not even enough that repentance should be founded on a view of the evil of sin as destructive to the purity and peace of the soul.
The purity and peace of the soul are inseparably connected, by the constitution of human nature, and by the appointment of God, with obedience to his laws. Obedience to the decrees of the infinite source of perfection and power constitutes the harmony of the universe. Obedience to the will of the eternal fountain of intelligence and goodness constitutes the bliss of those countless myriads of spirits who encircle the throne of Jehovah, adoring his transcendent glory. Only in a conformity to the image, and in a sincere obedience to the will of his eternal Lawgiver and Judge, will man find pure and perfect bliss. All the powers of his nature tend to the eternal fountain of perfection as the centre of their enjoyment. In proportion as they are exercised upon God, as they are regulated by his will, and as they are enlivened by the siniles of his favour, will be the happiness of man in the present life, and his capacity for the fruition of the blissful presence of his God in the life to come.
When, therefore, thou dost consider, 0, my soul, that by disobedience to the laws of God, thou hast forfeited thy claim to his favour; and that, in departing from the infinite source of perfection and goodness, thou hast forsaken the “ fountain of living waters, and hast sought to gratify thy desires at the unsatisfying “ cisterns" of worldly pleasurewhen thou dost contemplate the disorder in which sin has cast thy once perfect powerswhen, convicted and alarmed, thou dost consider the infamy, the guilt, the misery which attend the indulgence of unholy passionsthou dost behold the most powerful motives to deep humiliation, to lively sorrow. But, even here, the glow of contrition is tarnished by the selfish principle by which it is excited. Transgression has destroyed thy peace, has cut thee off from the divine fountain of felicity, has debased thy powers, has blasted thy enjoyments. Dishonour, misery, and destruction, are the fruits of thy sinful course. Here there is not a motive to repentance which does not terminate in self, which does not draw all its force from a regard to thy own welfare. Ah, if indeed the consequences of sin involved only thy own purity and peace, motives drawn from these considerations would constitute the sole springs of thy repentance. But thy transgressions have defied the authority, and have contemned the mercy of thy God and Saviour. There are, therefore, motives to contrition still more noble—motives more worthy of those ingenuous emotions with which the penitent should commemorate, in the holy supper, the infinite love of his Redeemer.
Thy penitential sorrow, therefore, should be founded on a deep sense of the evil of sin, as a presumptuous contempt of the righteous authority
Consider that, as the infinite source of perfection, power, and goodness, he justly claims the homage of the universe. Consider that his omnipotent hand sustains and governs all things; himself the sovereign Lord of nature. Consider that the object of that dominion which he exercises over the world, is the ad