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remedy? Oh, blessed be God! a remedy has been provided. “Let the wicked man forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and turn unto God; and He will have mercy upon him and abundantly pardon." Let us turn to our God in the spirit of penitence, and we may be assured of a ready and merciful reception ; for “there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth ;” and never did the voice of suppliant plead in vain for mercy and forgiveness.
And what is penitence? I answer, that, as expressed to us in the language of the New Testament, its most closely literal equivalent in English is, a new spirit ;-a spirit whose feelings, desires and aims, are changed; which no longer sees in sin the portal to gratification, the way to enjoyment, the path of pleasure, the object of desire ; but something to be loathed, detested and shunned; something to be shunned more carefully than a foul, contagious disease ; something to be avoided more cautiously than death. This is the essence of the new spirit. Wherever it exists, it will always be accompanied by sorrow for sin ; humiliation ; earnest appeals to Divine Mercy for forgiveness and for aid ; reparation of evils occasioned to society by the transgressions that are passed away ; and a course of holiness and purity corresponding with the altered feelings and convictions of the soul. This is repentance; this is that change which it is the object of the gospel to produce ; that change which causes angels and archangels to unite their voices in tones of gladness and of joy when from their seats of bliss they witness it below; that change which at once obtains the favour and the free forgiveness of the most merciful Father for his once erring but now repentant child.
My friends, let us not forget the deep personal inte est which we have in this subject. Our sinfulness and weakness we cannot deny even to our own hearts ; and if we could, “God is greater than our hearts, and knoweth all things;" our secret faults “ are in the light of his countenance.” Unless we experience God's forgiving mercy, we are lost! And his forgiveness is promised only to the penitent. To the persevering offender it could not be extended without infringing upon his holiness and justice. Such mercy would not be a perfection, but a weakness. To expect such mercy at the hands of our Heavenly Father, would be to invest Him with the characteristics of earthly folly and caprice; to make Him such an one as we ourselves ; nay, such an one as we frequently reprove and censure. Our only hope, therefore, lies in repentance and its accompanying and resulting fruits. And shall we forfeit this our last and only hope? Shall we pass by this gracious message, or allow it to pass us by unnoticed and disregarded ? Shall we continue in those sins and vices, for which it may be that our conscience has long since found us out, and frequently reproached us; nay, for which we are perhaps at this moment suffering the pains and agonies of a wounded spirit? Shall we continue in this state of spiritual desolation and death, exposed to the evil of sin itself, and to all the evils which it produces ? No! By all our better feelings, which, though for a time suppressed, can never be altogether eradicated,—by the essential glories of the nature with which God has invested us,—by the lofty aims of the high destiny for which he has designed us,-let it not be so! Your hearts respond to this adjuration ; you are resolved to renounce your sins : yes, I feel it: it is the determination of
souls that you will repent. · You will abandon your transgressions, and flee to the bosom of
mercy and acceptance! But when? Oh, my brethren ! let me press it home upon you : “Now is the accepted time; now is the day of salvation." Defer not for a day, defer not for an hour, defer not for an instant, the commencement of that work on which your
depends. Say not that you have not time. It requires but a moment to begin : and the work when well begun is accomplished already. And if you have not time now, when will you have time? Say not that you have not strength to make the change at present. You have strength, if you have but the will to put it forth. God has furnished you with strength ; and you know it well; and it is an ungrateful denial of his good gifts to say you have not the strength which He has afforded. And if you have not the required strength now, when and how is it to come? Is it when years of sin and the long practice of guilt shall have tied and bound you in the chain of evil habit, and your vices shall have become part and parcel of your very being ? Say not that you will repent at some more convenient season! Before that convenient season arrives, your bodies may be mouldering in the silent grave, “ where no device nor work is found;" and your spirit may have entered on a new state of untried existence, into which nothing but its dispositions and its works can accompany it. If you would
escape the greatest of all evils, the evil of sin, and its dismal consequences here and hereafter, repent, repent this very day—this very hour.
hour. And thus, and thus only, can you apply to yourselves the consolation contained in the assurance, that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth !"
The angels that surround the throne of God contemplate, with the intense interest of celestial sympathy, the resolution which you are now about to form. Oh! let it be such as will make them more blessed and happy than even the possession of the heaven in which they dwell! Your Saviour, who lived and died for you on earth, and intercedes for you in heaven, conjures you by his wounds, his agonies and sufferings, to accept the mercy which he died to place within your reach. The Almighty and Eternal One, the God and Father of all, implores you by all your dearest interests, --by all his plans and purposes of love,-not to reject that forgiveness which He has again and again, by all the methods of providence and grace, besought you and intreated you to accept. Oh ! let not such an hour pass by and leave behind it nought but misery and disappointment! Accept the mercy of your God, “and let there be joy in heaven !"
VAIN THOUGHTS AND WORTHY THOUGHTS.
BY THE LATE REV. GEORGE ARMSTRONG, B.A.
(OCTOBER 12, 1856.)
[My first sermon since May 18, 1856,-my last prior to the resignation of my ministry at Lewin's Mead, consequent on the illness which this effort to resume and maintain my position in a day or two after produced, and which left me no alternative but to retire from duties to which my health was no longer equal. Thus it has seemed good to my Heavenly Father !—G. A.]
“Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”
I HOPE to shew a connection between these words of the elder and the later Scriptures, in the process of what I am
about to say.
I shall endeavour to contrast “vain thoughts" and worthy thoughts; and, out of the fact itself of being able to think, to educe some reflections on the gift of life, and some corresponding meditations on its objects, its duties, and its sequel.
An old theme! Yet, like the garments of Israel in the wilderness, not easily or soon worn out. An old theme! Yet, like the everlasting hills, and the rivers of God which diversify and enrich each visible section of this outspread earth, ever fresh, ever fair, ever instructive and suggestive.