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exercise self-denial, or to sacrifice their temporal interests for their Lord and Saviour? Let them not hesitate between duty and interest: the calls, though apparently opposite, are indeed the same: if we sacrifice any thing for the Lord, he will repay us an hundred-fold. If we will lose our lives for his sake, we shall find them: but if we will save them here, we shall lose them in the eternal world.] 2. The careful and worldly-minded Christian

[If the Jews, whose principal rewards were of a temporal nature, were taught not to place their affections on earthly things, how much less should we! It is really a disgrace to Christianity, when persons who profess godliness are as anxious after this world as those who have no prospects beyond. Yet how common is this character! Happy would it be for them if they would study our Lord's sermon on the mount; and learn from the very birds of the air to live without anxiety for the morrowi. Not that they should neglect their earthly business, whatever it may be: but, in the habit and disposition of their minds, they should be content with such things as they have,” and realize the prayer which they profess to approve, “ Give us day by day our daily bread!”]

3. The fearful and unbelieving Christian. [On the command being given respecting the observance of the sabbatical year, some are represented as asking, “ What shall we eat the seventh year?" Now thus it is with many Christians, who are anticipating evils, and questioning with themselves what they shall do under such or such circumstances? and fearing, that, if they proceed in the way of duty, they shall not be able to stand their ground. But the answer to such persons is, “Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.” We have no right to anticipate evils; at least, not so to anticipate them as to distress ourselves about them. All that we need to inquire, is, What is the way of duty? True, to carnal minds we may appear to act absurdly, and to thwart our own interests: but the path of duty will always be found the path of safety. God is the same God as ever he was: and, if he call us to exercise faith on him, he will never disappoint us. Justly did Jesus reprove his disciples for fearing, when they had him in the same vessel with them. Let us remember, that he is embarked with us, and that they who trust in him “shall not be ashamed or confounded world without end."]

4. The humble and believing Christian

[Did you ever, when exercising faith in God, find yourself disappointed of your hope ? Did he ever leave you or forsake

i Matt. vi. 25—30.

you? If the command have appeared formidable at a distance, have you not always found that your strength was increased according to your day, and that His grace was sufficient for you? Have you not found also, that, though your obedience might be self-denying, it has always been productive of happiness? In short, are you not living witnesses of the truth and faithfulness of your Lord? Go on then, and be examples of a holy self-denying obedience. Prefer the performance of duty before worldly prospects, how lucrative soever they may appear; and let it be seen in you, what it is to “ live by faith on the Son of God, who has loved you, and given himself for you.”]

CXLIII.

GOD'S PROMISES TO PENITENTS. Lev. xxvi. 40–42. If they shall confess their iniquity, and

the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; and that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies ; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.

WE are apt to feel a jealousy respecting the divine mercy, as though a free and full exhibition of it would cause men to make light of sin. But the inspired writers seem never apprehensive of any such effects. In the passage before us God has set forth his promises to his people, if they should continue obedient to them; and the most tremendous threatenings, in case they should become disobedient. Yet even then, though he foreknew and foretold that they would depart from him and bring upon themselves his heavy judgments, he told them, that, if even in their lowest state they should return to him with humiliation and contrition, he would restore them to his favour, and to the land from whence they should have been expelled. What encouragement the pious Nehemiah derived from these declarations, may be seen in the prayer he offered ; in which he reminded God of them, and sought the accomplishment of them to his

nation in a season of deep distressa. May the contemplation of them be attended with similar effects to our souls, while we consider, I. What is that repentance which God requires

We find in the Scriptures a great variety of marks whereby true repentance may be known: but we shall confine our attention to those which are set forth in the text. It is there required, 1. That we should acknowledge our guilt

[Our fathers' sins, as well as our own, are just grounds of national humiliation: in the repentance that is purely personal, our own sins, of course, are the chief, if not the exclusive, sources of sorrow and contrition. But our sins should be viewed in their true light, not as mere violations of our duty to man, but as acts of hostility against God. Sin is “a walking contrary to God,” or, in other words, a wilful, persevering, habitual opposition to his holy will: nor do we ever appreciate our own character aright, till we see our whole lives to have been one constant scene of rebellion against God --- Even adultery and murder, though so directly militating against the welfare of society, were considered by David as deriving their chief aggravations from this source; “ Against Thee, Thee only, have I sinnedb."]

2. That we should justify God in whatever judgments he may inflict

[Though we think ourselves at liberty to "walk contrary to God,” we do not consider him as at liberty to “walk contrary to us," but murmur and repine if at any time he punish us for our iniquities. But whatever judgments he may have inflicted on us, we must say, “ Thou hast punished us less than our iniquities deserved ("--- We should even view his denunciations of wrath in the future world as no more than the just desert of sin; and be ready to acknowledge the justness of the sentence, if we ourselves be consigned over to everlasting misery on account of our sins --- I know that, when we consult only our proud reasonings on the subject, it is hard to feel entirely reconciled to the declarations of God respecting it: but a sight of sin in its various aggravations will silence us in a moment, and compel us to cry out, “Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments a!”]

3. That we should be thankful for any dispensation that has been the means of “humbling our uncircumcised hearts”—

a Neh. i. 5-9. Ps. li. 4. «Ezra ix. 13. a Rev. xvi. 7.

(This is one of the most decisive evidences of true repentance. Nothing but real contrition can ever produce this. We may submit to afflictive dispensations with a considerable degree of patience and resignation, even though we have no just view of our guilt before God: but we can never be thankful for them, till we see that sin is the greatest of all evils, and that every thing is a mercy which leads us to repent of sin. Till we are brought to this, we can never be truly said to “ accept the punishment of our iniquity." We must accept it as a fatherly chastisement, a token of love, a blessing in disguise: we must say from our hearts, “ It is good for me that I have been afflicted"---]

These marks sufficiently characterize the repentance which God requires. We now proceed to mark, II. The connexion between that and the exercise of

mercyIt is strange that any should imagine repentance to be meritorious in the sight of God. Our blessed Lord has told us, that obedience itself can lay no claim to merit; and that “ when we have done all that is commanded us, we should confess ourselves unprofitable servants.” Who does not see that an acknowledgment of a debt is a very different thing from a discharge of that debt; and that, if a condemned criminal be ever so sorry for his offences, and acknowledge ever so sincerely his desert of punishment, his sorrow cannot cancel the debt which he owes to the laws of his country; much less can it give him a claim to great rewards? It is not then on a ground of merit, that God pardons a repenting sinner. Nevertheless there is a connexion between repentance and pardon: there is a meetness and suitableness in the exercise of mercy towards the penitent; 1. On God's part

[Repentance glorifies God, as much as any action of a creature can glorify him. It expresses an approbation of his law, and of the penalties annexed to it: it exalts the goodness and mercy of God, by the hope which it entertains of ultimate acceptance with him. There is not any perfection of the Deity which repentance does not honour ---- Hence Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord God of Israel, and make confession unto him."]

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2. On the part of the penitent himself

[If a man were pardoned without repentance, he would feel little, if any, obligation to God: and would be ready to commit the same iniquities again, from an idea that there was no great enormity in them. But when a person is truly penitent, he admires and adores the riches of that grace that is offered him in the Gospel --- and, having tasted the bitterness of sin, he is desirous to flee from it, as from the face of a serpent - --]

Hence it is that so great a stress is laid on repentance, in the text: “ If they be humbled, then will I pardon:" then I can do it consistently with my own honour; and then will they make a suitable improvement of the mercy vouchsafed unto them. It will be profitable yet further to inquire into, III. The ground and measure of that mercy which

penitents may expect

[The expressions in the text are very peculiar. Thrice is mention made of that covenant which God made with Abraham, and renewed with Isaac and Jacob. And wherefore is this repetition used, but to shew that that covenant is the ground and measure of all God's mercies towards us? As far as it related to the Jewish nation, it assured to them the enjoyment of the promised land. But it relates also to the spiritual children of Abraham; and assures to them all the blessings of grace and glory. It is that covenant whereby God engaged that “in Abraham's Seed should all the nations of the earth be blessed.” Of that covenant Christ was the Mediator and Surety. He undertook to fulfil the conditions of it, that we might partake of its benefits. These conditions he did fulfil: “ he made his soul an offering for sin ;” and now claims the accomplishment of the promise, that " he should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied." This covenant God remembers on behalf of penitent transgressors; and all his engagements contained in it he will perform. It is not because penitents deserve mercy, that he will impart it to them, but because he has promised it in that covenant: and for the very same reason will he impart unto them all the blessings of salvation. All the riches of his glory shall be given them, because they lay hold of that covenant, and look to him to approve himself faithful to his own engagements -----] As an IMPROVEMENT of this subject, we would suggest

to you two things! 1. Be thankful that you are yet within the reach of mercy,

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