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weight of responsibility which the knowledge of that Gospel has laid upon us.

Let me remind you in the outset, my brethren, of a truth-(for I think we may very safely assume it to be a truth)— which by some is overlooked altogether, and is often very insufficiently estimated by others—namely, "that the admission to the benefit of repentance at all is an act of pure favour, in the gratuitous goodness of God-on which account nothing less than his own word could be a warrant for the doctrine."-There are many, I repeat, who overlook this altogether. How comes it otherwise that we hear so much of the natural efficacy of repentance? an efficacy which does not, nor ever could have belonged to it. Nature, in fact, knows not the doctrine.-Neither natural religion, nor the systems of philosophy which are constructed with natural materials, have any thing to advance upon the subject. Any thing certain that is to say. -It is very possible, that men who without the aid of revelation, speculate upon the nature and attributes of the Godhead,

may fashion for themselves a Deity, easy, placable, ready to forgive, and plenteous in goodness and mercy.-But, then, unless wilfully blind, they will perceive that he must be a God of Justice also, one to whom vengeance, no less than pity belongeth. And it will be impossible for them to explain, upon any just principles, how the mere penitence of an offender should avail to reconcile these conflicting attributes. They may hope that pardon will be extended to the contrite-but they cannot look for it with any degree of that certainty which alone can yield consolation to the wounded spirit.

If repentance then have no natural efficacy of its own; but only such as it may please God in his mercy to attach to it-and if the knowledge of that efficacy can only be derived from the express declaration of God,-the doctrine of repentance, it is quite clear, is exclusively a doctrine of revelation, and the statement of it likely to be governed by the same plan or method, which the Almighty may have adopted in communicating other

particulars of his will to mankind. And so accordingly we find it.-In other respects the declarations of revelation have been gradual and progressive-unfolding themselves by little and little, and becoming more distinct in each particular feature, as the one grand scheme of salvation was step by step developed :-and thus it has been with the doctrine of repentance, from the first intimation of its acceptance with God, in the early Mosaic records -through the more explicit preaching of the prophets-down to the fulness and completeness of the duty as explained and required in the Gospel of Christ. Without attempting to follow exactly this gradual developement, we will now proceed to point out some of those particular features which the Gospel has added to the outline given by the law.

And in the first place, we must observe, that the repentance of the law compared with the repentance of the Gospel, was extremely defective in respect of the feeling from which it originated. The law, we know, was enforced and sanctioned

by a system of temporal rewards and punishments. The peaceful and prosperous possession of their land, was to be the reward of the people's obediencedirect and immediate chastisement, the consequence of their sin. In almost all cases, therefore, under the old dispensation, repentance arose from fear-the lowest salutary motive by which a rational being can be actuated. Men sinned. The severity of God's vengeance was denounced against them-and if they departed from evil, it was because they feared the Lord. What was that preaching of Jonah at which the Ninevites repented?" Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown 1."-Hence it was that they put on sackcloth from the greatest of them, even to the least of them, and began to ask, "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not 2?"-But this perhaps is an example not strictly in point.-Turn then to the

1 Jonah iii. 4.

2 Ibid. ver. 9.

case of Aaron, when he and Miriam had


spoken against Moses, because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married," and when Miriam had been stricken with leprosy for her sedition. Which did he think most of, the punishment or the sin ?" And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas! my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb 1?"-Examine the repentance of Ahab', of Hezekiah3, of Manasseh, of Josiah 5;-all of whom humbled themselves before God, and obtained mercy-though their contrition was occasioned only by a sense of present suffering, or a dread of threatened vengeance. Thus the Almighty says to the last of these, Josiah-" Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled

1 Numb. xii. 11, 12.


2 Kings xx. 3.

2 1 Kings xxi. 19—29. 42 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13.

5 2 Chron. xxxiv. 21-27.

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