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tial pleasures, for want of a spiritual taste to render them palatable. His unholy dispositions would embitter the felicities of that blessed state, and turn its satisfying joys into an occasion of sorrow and lamentation to his soul. All, then, who would be “inade meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Saints in light",” must pray that their hearts may be “renewed in righteousness and true holiness, “ without which no man shall see the Lord."
11. Nor is it likely that the society of heaven would be more agreeable to an unregenerate man, than the worship in which they engage. If in this life the wicked and carnal feel the presence of good men a restraint from which they are glad to be freed, and their conduct a reproach too hard to be borne, how much would this dislike be increased by a sight of the blessed God, and of Christ, and of the angels who excel in holiness? A contemplation of beings so perfectly wise and good, would at once render sinners completely miserable, by manifesting their own guilt and defilement. These considerations decidedly prove the necessity of regeneration, to prepare men for God's service here, and for the endless fruition of his glory hereafter.
12. The eternal sorrow which they will endure, who die without the new birth unto righteousness, should stimulate all to seek it, as a blessing necessary to their happiness, in life, death, and through alleternity. Does Christ, the infallible Judge of angels and of men, declare, that “except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of Godo” How awful, then, is the condition of the unregenerate! Even now, as unbelievers, the wrath of God abideth continually on them? But how deplorable will their condition be, when the sentence of the violated law shall be executed against them! Then the avenging angel will “cast the unregenerate into outer darkness, where is weeping and gnashing of teetho;" for it is the unalterable purpose of heaven, that “the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the people who forget God".". Who can fully describe the intense sufferings which unrenewed men will endure in being expelled from paradise ? Isit not dreadful to be deprived of an everlasting existence in a state which affords the most satisfying bliss ?. Is it not dreadful to be obliged to exchange the smiles of God, and the communion of angels and happy spirits, for the society of devils and wicked beings, confirmed in hatred to the righteous government of the Lord ? Is it not dreadful to endure the everlasting wrath of God, incensed against their crimes? Is it not dreadful to lose possession of the joy and peace of the elect; and to have their breasts filled with malignant passions, and pierced with unutterable anguish, by the reflection of having foolishly sacrificed endless felicity, for the gratification of “the pleasures of sin, which are but for a season?"
m Col. i. 12. * Heb. xii. 14. . John iïi. 3. Pib. 1836.
13. You, then, O unregenerate souls ! who are strangers to the divine life, think of the danger to which you are now exposed, and of the irreparable loss which you will hereafter sustain, if you die without a total renovation of your nature. quire not a clean heart, and a right spirit,” you must forego the crown of glory, to inherit “ shame and everlasting contempt“.
Let, then, your natural desire of happiness prompt you to seek the blessing with all due earnestness of
Mat. xxv. 30. * Psalm xi. 17. • Heb. ix. 25. 'Psalm li: 10.1
Dan. xii, 2.
mind. It is indeed the province of God to change the heart, and turn the wrong current of the affections; yet it must not be forgotten, that his Spirit generally performs the work by the use of instruinents and means prescribed by himself. A sense of your inability to renew your own souls should produce the same effect upon you, as incapacity to accomplish a desirable object would in any other case; namely, induce you to solicit help from those who are able to assist you.
Implore, then, most sincerely, the blessing from the Lord, who is ready to bestow it on them who seek it with all their heart". Beg of Him to instruct you in the spiritual nature of regeneration, and to make you solicitous to obtain it; that, being renewed in the spirit of your mind,“ you may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God”;' and thus be prepared to dwell in his blessed kingdom for ever and ever. au Jer. xxix. 13.
* Rom. xii. 1, 2.
Luke xiii. 3. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. John the Baptist, the precursor of Christ, who came“ to prepare his way before him, and to make his paths straight," was commissioned by God to preach “repentance for the remission of sins.” And when our Saviour appeared as the light and instructor of the world, he began his Divine mission by declaring, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent ye, and believe the Gospel.” During the whole course of his ministry, he strongly insisted on the necessity of " that godly Luke iii. 3, 4.
Mark i. 14, 15.
sorrow which worketh repentance unto salvation." And in his farewell address to his Apostles, just before his ascension, they were directed to preach repentance and remission of sins in his name, among all nations." A doctrine sanctioned and enforced by such high authority must be of the greatest consequence to mankind; and, therefore, is deserving of the utmost attention.
To place the subject in a clearer light, it will be requisite to contrast a true with a false repentance ; that, by an impartial examination of ourselves, we may be able to determine, whether we have obtained
repentance unto life,” or continue, to this moment, impenitent and unbelieving. Such an examination is by no means unnecessary, when we see what light and mistaken notions prevail respecting this Christian doctrine, and how easily many, who are totally ignorant of its nature, flatter themselves they have experienced it.
True evangelical repentance, however, may be as, clearly distinguished from all those false
appearances which faintly resemble it, as the genuine coin of the realm may be discriminated from that which is spurious ; the mere counterfeit being, in both instances, destitute of the intrinsic qualities which are essential to that which it imitates.
1. False repentance springs entirely from a dread of punishment. When conscience begins to accuse a sinner, and to terrify him with impending destruction; and when he hears the word of God, saying, “ The wages of thy sin is death ;" he will sometimes feel much distress, shed many tears, make resolutions and promises of amendment, and, for a short time, renounce the sin which has been the cause of • Cor. vii. 10.
Luke xxiv. 47. • Acts xi. 18.
so much fear and pain. But no sooner is the storm over, which raised these apprehensions of wrath, than the false penitent is easy, and again works iniquity with greediness, till some fresh alarm 'revives his fears, which again produce the same effects. In this way, many sin, and repent, till their hypocrisy receives its just reward. Thus Pharaoh was apparently softened, whilst the vengeance of God was ready to fall upon his head, but the moment the threatened judgments were suspended, he hardened his heart, and acted more daringly than before'.
True repentance, though often accompanied by terror, always issues in real conversion to God. Many sincere penitents, whose life and conduct have been most exemplary after their conversion to God, have first cried for mercy, like the jailor at Philippi, for fear of being lost for ever. It is not safe, then, to conclude that you have not taken one right step in the road to heaven, because you have turned to God from fear of deserved wrath: let it only excite you to pray, that checks of conscience, and reformation from mere şelf-love, which are no certain proofs of genuine repentance, may terminate in what unquestionably are. The, certain marks and signs of true repentance are, an unreserved and sincere confession of sin, humility on account of it, and unfeigned sõrrow for it; a deep and lasting hatred to sin, a total abandonment of it, and a desire to make full restitution to those whom our iniquities have injured, from an abiding conviction of the dishonour which they have done to God, and from a consciousness that, before we turned to him, the ruling tempers of our hearts have been base and detestable, The humble penitent, when he“ remembers his
| Exod. ix. 34.