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$0 divine, so gracious, to agony and death? Can we ever forgive ourselves ? Can we ever feel an indignation too intense against our crimes? Can we ever feel a zeal too vehement, or a revenge too determined, against those iniquities which have pierced the Prince of life? Can we conceive too vivid an impression of the guilt of sin which made such a sacrifice necesa sary? Can we be too much abased and confounded, when we consider our present ingratitude, coldness, and perverseness, after all the grace we have experienced? Can we be too indignant at ourselves for still harbouring and cherishing the traitors and enemies of Christ? Can we weep and lament too bitterly over those sins, or hate and detest them too deeply, which caused our Saviour to grieve, lament, and die i
And will not such a repentance COURT PRIVACY AND SOLITUDE? Yes, my brethren, if our sorrow can endure a witness, it is not profound enough. The presence even of the most beloved friend would be a painful interruption. We may sin in company, but we must repent alone. Peter denied his Lord with many around bim, but he went out in order to weep bitterly. All deep emotions shun publicity. A man may act a part, and wish to be seen acting it; but when he repents, he goes into his closet, and when he has shut his door, he prays to his
Father in secret. The temper of the world is entirely opposed to that of spiritual mourning. The world calls for company and amusements : privacy suits the broken heart. There it can utter its sighs. There it can commune with its injured Lord. There it can learn its misery, its hope, its duty-The land shall mourn, every family apart, and their wives apart.
If these things then be so, if the Spirit of God is the author and source of true repentance, if a humble sight of the Cross is the chief means which he employs in producing it, and if the consequence of both is unaffected mourning for sin; then let me observe,
I. TO THE SINCERE CHRISTIAN,
THE CHRISTIAN LIFE. It is not a duty which concerns him merely in his first turning to God, but one which requires his utmost vigilance through every step of his progress to heaven. As long as he is a sinner, he must mourn for sin. As long as he must owe his salvation to that mysterious cross on which his iniquities have nailed the Prince of peace, so long must he look to it with ingenuous and poignant grief. As long as he is adding to his former transgressions, fresh sins of infirmity, fresh marks of ingratitude, fresh omissions of duty, he must
renew his mournful confessions. As long as he is deriving from the pierced’ Saviour additional and increasing supplies of consolation, pardon, and strength, he must look to him with deeper feelings of obligation and a more acute and penitential sorrow.
In this way will he further learn the conNEXION OF REPENTANCE WITH THE HOPES AND PRIVILEGES OF THE GOSPEL.
THE GOSPEL. Repentance and grief for sin are perfectly consistent with a free remission, a gratuitous justification, and a simple and exclusive reliance on divine mercy. Nor are they less accordant with holy joy, peace, and triumph in the Saviour. In fact, they prepare for the one, they accompany and strengthen the other. Repentance, learnt at the cross of Christ, is that very lowly state of heart, which alone can welcome properly a free salvation; whilst every other disposition of mind will misunderstand, reject, or abuse it. Nor can any other grace prepare for solid and permanent joy in believing.
Need I say, then, how strictly the EXERCISE
CIRCUMSPECT CONDUCT? What, when it teaches us that every sin pierces the Saviour? when it embitters evil in the very source and spring of it, and shows it surrounded with its most hideous consequences; when it creates and cherishes a new and holy temper of
mind? No. I need not dwell on this point. We do not want the doctrine to be expounded ; we.need only the practice of it to be confirmed. We want only more copious supplies of the Spirit of grace and supplications, we require only more near and affecting views of the Cross ; we need only deeper impressions of grief for those sins which crucified the holy and innocent Saviour ; and then, whilst we see our misery and yet our remedy in the tragical scene, we shall have both the disposition and ability to live, not unto ourselves, but unto Him that died for us and rose again.
I only add here, that the DUTY OF FERVENT PRAYER TO GOD FOR THE CONVERSION OF THE Jews, is obviously to be deduced from our subject. The prediction of the text in its most glorious import respects them, and should animate us, under every discouragement, to those perseveriog supplications, as well as those prudent and zealous efforts, wbich may, perhaps before we are aware, lead to their return to their Saviour and their God. The same Spirit of grace and supplication which we need for ourselves, is all that is necessary to subdue their unbelief,'fix them in humble contemplation of their pierced’ Lord, and bring them to mourning and bitterness of spirit for him.
But I cannot close the discourse without observing
II. TO THE UNGODLY AND IMPENITENT, that if any subject can show them their 'OBLIGATION to repent, and affect their hearts with a desire to do so, it is the one we have been reviewing.
Consider YOUR OBLIGATIONS TO REPENT. Remember that it is your sins which have pierced the blessed Immanuel—those sins in which you are now living. Remember that till you repent and forsake them, you are crucifying the Son of God, as it were, afresh. Every act of luxury and impurity, of excess and debauchery, of pride and vanity, of fraud and covetousness, of hypocrisy and self-conceit, of formality and indifference, is a new insult to the crucified Saviour. And yet you are loving and delighting in these sins, which, if you were real Christians, you would mourn over and abhor. You have never prayed fervently to God for salvation. You have never seriously thought of the nature of repentance.
You have never looked with one feeling of compunction to the Lord of life, whom you bave nailed to the cross. You have never mourned for having brought him there. To other objects you have looked and looked again. For other calamities you have been in bitterness time after time. But to the bleeding Saviour you have never turned your eye. For the sufferings of Calvary you have never shed a tear. You call yourselves Christians, but what have you ever said or