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our own degeneracy, and be penetrated with the sense of his unmerited goodness; nor let this humility of mind and devout disposition forsake us in our intercourse with society; in our behaviour to one another, and our daily and ordinary pursuits. “ I will give thanks unto the Lord,” says the pious king, “ with my whole heart; secretly, among the faithful, and in the congregation :” “ secretly,” in the solitude and silence of the closet, in the retired chamber, and on the nightly bed; “ among the faithful,” with my believing family, my household, my upright and valued friends ; "and in the congregation,” the general assembly of the Church of Christ; whence fervent prayer and praise shall ascend to the throne of grace, breathed in unity of the Christian spirit, and in the bond of social peace. And if we are truly sincere in our petitions, and resolutely forsake our iniquities, “ God will bless us, and show us the light of his countenance, and be merciful unto us”—sinners though we have been–frail and faulty though we are. He will bless us “ with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places”—“ He will show us the light of his countenance, " in the face of Jesus
Christ;" “ and be merciful unto us,” in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment, through the all-prevailing mediation of our unchanging High Priest, “ who ever liveth to make intercession for us.”
THE PENITENT THIEF.
LUKE, CHAP. XXIII. VER. 42, 43.
Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom ! And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee,-to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”
More than seven hundred years before the birth of our Saviour, this memorable (and, to the people to whom the prophecy was addressed, inexplicable) circumstance was foretold by Isaiah, respecting their victorious and triumphant Messiah,“that he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death." Thus it stands in our received version; but it has been more happily translated by a very learned prelate, who formerly presided over this diocese,—“ his grave was appointed with the wicked, but with the rich man was his tomb." This, doubtless, is more correct than the common reading, and certainly more closely corresponds with the actual event. As he was “numbered with the transgressors” by an unjust sentence, he was consigned to the same ignominious end. Crucified between two thieves, with them He would, probably, have shared one common and ignoble grave, had not the counsellor of Arimathea obtained permission from Pilate, to inter the body in his own sepulchre. Thus was the rejected King of the Jews with the rich in his tomb, though appointed to the grave of the wicked.
I shall not now dwell upon the proof arising out of this remarkable fulfilment of prophecy, as it is my present object to explain a passage, which, though it has been often discussed, and very clearly elucidated, is still referred to, and urged by many, as establishing the efficacy of a late and unproductive repentance; and operates as a kind of opiate to the conscience, lulling too many into treacherous repose, to the extreme peril, if not to the absolute perdition, of their immortal souls.
Falsely accused by the malicious priests and rulers, vilified by the fickle and ignorant populace, and basely condemned by an unprincipled
judge, the divine Founder of Christianity is led forth from the hall of judgment to Mount Calvary, and suspended on the cross between two common malefactors. The event is recorded by all the Evangelists; but St. Luke alone particularizes the different behaviour of the two robbers. The one, with the gross unprincipled effrontery of an obdurate offender, upbraids in taunting language the degraded Messiah, and scoffs at his pretensions to that distinguished title—“ If thou be Christ, save thyself and us." The other, conscious of iniquity, awakened to repentance, and struck with conviction, rebukes his unfeeling associate, acknowledges the justice of their fate, and implores from his dignified fellow-sufferer mercy and acceptance—“ Dost not thou fear God, seeing that thou art in the same condemnation ? and we, indeed, justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds, but this man hath done nothing amiss : and he said unto Jesus,-Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom.” To this earnest supplication, the Lord, whose power he had recognised, returns this gracious reply—“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise.”
Before I enter on the discussion of this most