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vailing name of Jesus; in humble faith, and fervent desires of finding mercy and grace through him.
Here again we may learn the standard of true excellency. The most shining characters, which genius hath selected to immortalize, have commonly been illustriously mischievous; and the unqualified admiration, with which they are often mentioned, exceedingly misleads inexperienced youth. But God is Love; and the more we resemble and imitate him in this endearing attribute, the greater real excellency we unquestionably possess. Let us then be “followers of God,” and “ walk in love," after his pattern, in all "the various displays of it which have been considered: then we shall certainly be known and approved as his children, and found meet for the eternal inheritance of his heavenly kingdom.
Finally, if we be conscious of having “fled for re. fuge to lay hold on the hope set before us” in the gospel, let us receive the trials allotted us, as the wise and holy appointments of divine love; let us not judge of the Lord's dispensations by our feelings or reason. ings, but by his holy word: and let us submit to his will, whatever he may withhold, take away, or inflict;
; assured that he manages all our concerns in that manner, which is most conducive to our eternal interests, and best suited to illustrate the riches of his paternal liberality.
ACTS, xxvi. 19, 20.
Whereupon, O'king Agrippa, I was not disobedient
to the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
The propriety and address of St. Paul's speech before Agrippa, Festus, and that august assembly, in whose presence he stood as the prisoner of Jesus Christ, have been generally admired: but the faithfulness and courage, with which lae pleaded the cause of the gospel, are perhaps still more deserving of our attention. He paid no court to his illustrious auditors: he attempt. ed not to ingratiate himself with thern, or even to shun their contempt or aversion; while he used the most effectual means of convincing them, not only that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but that faith in him was absolutely necessary to salvation, and that all men without exception ought“ to repent, and turn to God, and “ do works meet for repentance."
Having given a brief narration of his own miraculous conversion, he produced his commission to preach the gospel to the Gentiles; “I have appeared unto thee,” says the divine Saviour, -"to make thee a minister and " a witness, both of these things which thou hast seen, " and of those things in the which I will appear unto “thee: delivering thee from the people and the gen“ tiles, to whom now I send thee; to open their eyes, " and to turn them from darkness to light, and from “ the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive
forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them “ which are sanctified, by faith that is in me. Where
upon,” says the apostle, “ I was not disobedient to " the heavenly vision, but shewed,” first to the Jews and then to the gentiles, “ that they should repent and “ turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.' In doing this, “ he was not disobedient to the heaven. “ ly vision:" for in his view of Christianity, these practical subjects perfectly accorded with the doctrines of faith and grace. The several Christian graces may, and should, be distinguished, as they have their appropriate nature and use; but they cannot be separated in the person who possesses them. For instance, an impenitent believer, and an unbelieving penitent are ideal characters: true faith is a penitent faith, and true repentance is believing repentance: yet the nature and use of repentance and faith should plainly be distinguished. This will appear more evidently, while from the text we take occasion to consider,
I. The importance of the subject, as it appears from the scriptures.
II. Certain things which are implied in it.
III. The peculiar nature of repentance and turning unto God.
IV. And lastly. The works meet for repent.
I. Let me call your attention, my brethren, to the importance or prominence of this subject, as it appears from the scriptures, especially from the new Testament.
John the Baptist was the predioted forerunner of the Messiah, who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, when he came in human nature among his ancient people the Jews: but how did he execute his important office? He came preaching, “ Repent ye, " for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Let me intreat your serious attention to this circumstance: notwithstanding the advantages of that favoured nation, with all their notions and form of godliness; there was no order of men, no religious sect, no individual whatever, that did not want repentance, as a preparation for welcoming the Messiah, and sharing the blessings of his spiritual kingdom. Insomuch, that the Baptist said to the Pharisees, as well as to the Sadduces, “ O “generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee " from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits “ meet for repentance: and think not to say within
yourselves, We have Abraham to our father*. » Not long after, our Lord himself condescended to preach the gospel ; and he too said, “ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When the apostles went forth at his command, they “preached every
* Matt. üi, 7-10.
where that men should repent:” and it appears from part of his discourse to the seventy disciples, that they were charged with the same commission; for he said on that occasion, “ Woe unto thee, Cho“razin, woe unto thee, Bethsaida; for if the mighty “works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which “ have been done in thee, they had a great while ago "repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes."*
Does our Lord say in one place, “ The Son of
man came to seek and to save that which was lost?" He elsewhere explains it, “I came not to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Does the good Shepherd rejoice and call his friends to rejoice with him, when he has brought home the lost sheep? “ So likewise is there joy in heaven,” even “ among " the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth:” and when the prodigal, returning to his father, was graciously welcomed, all the family was called on to rejoice; “ for this, my son, was lost and is found, was “ dead and is alive."
On the other hand Christ“ upbraided the cities, in “ which his mighty works had been done, because " they repented not.” He told the people, “ that the
men of Nineveh would rise up in judgment with " that generation and condemn it; because they re
pented at the preaching of Jonas: and behold
a greater than Jonas is here.” He warned the Jews that “ except they repented, they would all likewise
perish.” And he summed up the reasons of his gentleness to notorious sinners, and his severity in re
* Luke, x. 10-14,