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repentance and his holy Spirit ;' cry in the language of Ephraim, “ Turn thou me, and I shall be “ turned ;” and beg of him to take away the heart of stone, and to give the heart of flesh. Meditate also continually on the sufferings of Christ, the dignity of the sufferer, and the exhibition which God hath made to us, in that great transaction, both of his holy hatred of sin, and of his compassionate love of sinners. This is the most effectual cure for a hard heart and an unfeeling conscience. “I will pour upon them the Spirit of
grace and supplication, and they shall look on “ me whom they have pierced, and mourn."!
But remember that life is uncertain ; and that God, whom thou provokest, especially by impenitence, is the arbiter of thy life and death. The Holy Ghost saith, “ To-day, if ye will hear his “ voice, harden not your hearts.”
hearts.” Even if days should be prolonged, you may be given over to final obduracy; and continuance in sin will be sure to increase the anguish of repentance, should you at last, by a miracle of mercy, be plucked as a brand out of the burning. Above all, my fellow sinners, beware lest
be deceived with a false repentance; for nothing so effectually hardens men in impenitence. Some transient convictions, fears, and sorrows; some partial reformation ; a new creed, sect, or form of religion ; enthusiastic joys and comforts, or delusive fancies of visions and revelations; frequently satisfy men's consciences and fill them with spiritual pride, while their hearts remain un
Even if your
! Zech. xii. 10.
changed, the root of sin unmortified, and no works are found meet for repentance !-Beware also of the partial despairing repentance of Judas; of the temporary repentance of king Saul; of the extorted repentance of Pharoah; and of the case of him who was “ almost persuaded to be a Chris“ tian.”—Nor let it be imagined, that repentance and conversion to God are confined to the beginning of a religious profession : for, as long as we continue sinful and prone to depart from the Lord, they must constitute our habitual practice, form the dispositions of our hearts, and influence all our tempers and our conduct.
On the other hand, let not the contrite mourner for sin despond. Remember, poor trembling penitent, that “there is joy among the angels of “ God over one sinner that repenteth.” Yea, the Lord of angels “ sees of the travail of his soul and “ is satisfied.” Only beseech Him that thy repentance may be genuine, and thy conversion entire : thus thou wilt surely find that he is “ ready to “ forgive and plenteous in mercy;" and ere long thou wilt joyfully sing, “ O Lord, I will praise “ thee; though thou wast angry with me, thine
anger is turned away and thou comfortest me." For “ they that sow in tears shall reap in joy." “Let then the hearts of those rejoice that seek “the Lord.”
Finally, my Christian brethren, while you are careful in other respects“ to do works meet for
repentance," let me exhort you to enter into the spirit of the gospel by using every means and encouraging every endeavour, to bring sinners to repentance; and to welcome every penitent with
cordial joy and affection, as Ananias did the converted persecutor, “ Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus “ hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy “ sight.” Thus you will manifest the excellency of your principles, and be honoured as instruments in promoting that cause for which the divine Saviour came into the world and shed his blood
upon the cross; and all men will know that true disciples.
you are his
2 CORINTHIANS V. 17.
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old
things are passed away ; behold, all things are become new.
The dangers to which the church at Corinth was exposed, from plausible false teachers, obliged the apostle to use such methods of re-establishing his authority, as he apprehended might be misunderstood and censured : he therefore says, “Whether
we be beside ourselves it is to God, or whether “we be sober it is for your cause.”—The zealous servants of God have constantly been slighted and despised, as “ beside themselves ;" nay, the Son of God, the perfection of wisdom and excellency, was involved in the same charge, even from his friends and relations as well as from his enemies. The apostle therefore would not be greatly disquieted when Festus said, “ Paul thou art beside “ thyself, much learning doth make thee mad," nor even when his Corinthian converts concurred in the same sentiment.
* But,' says the apostle, ‘Both the ardour that ‘gives occasion to such imputations, and the wis• dom which regulates its effects, spring from regard to the glory of God, and affectionate longing
' 2 Kings ix. 11. Jer. xxix. 26, 27. Hos. ix. 7.
Mark ii. 21. John x. 20.
' after your souls : “ For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all then were all dead; and that he died ' for all, that they which live should not hence
forth live unto themselves, but unto him which * died for them and rose again. Wherefore hence• forth know we no man after the flesh,
yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more." Even the brethren or nearest friends of Christ himself, according to the flesh, might not be regarded by the apostles in dispensing instructions, reproofs, censures, or encouragements; but they were constrained, by love to him who had died for them, to do all things with unbiassed impartiality. In like manner, no ties of blood, friendship, or even gratitude, must influence the servant of Christ, in the discharge of his pastoral office. In this respect even relations, benefactors, and patrons must be disregarded, if we would approve ourselves to be indeed the genuine successors of the apostles in the sacred ministry. Therefore,” saith St. Paul, “ if any man be in Christ he is a new creature : old
things are passed away ; behold all things are “ become new : and all things are of God who hath
reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ.”
The text suggests the following subjects to our consideration,
I. The apostle's description of a real Christian ; “If any man be in Christ :”
II. The change which every real Christian has experienced ; “ He is a new creature :"
III. The effects of this change; “Old things are “ passed away ; behold, all things are become new.'