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the advantage of abjuring it. A certain portion of time, indeed, and a certain gradation in improvement, must be allowed to the infirmities of our nature; and that repentance is not unacceptable to God where there is progress in righteousness. Whichever of us all can look back at the time past with the pleasing certainty that he has acquired a greater power over any one bad passion; that his virtuous resolutions are more constantly observed; that the habit of doing good, and saying good, and thinking good, are growing stronger and stronger in his heart; the repentance of that man is a repentance which leads to salvation, and he is becoming more fit for the kingdom of Heaven, as he approaches nearer to it.
Sincere repentance consists not only in abstaining, but in justice, in making restitution, or compensation for the injuries we have committed against our fellow creatures. These are dies from which no lapse of time, and hardly any alteration of circumstances, can ever exempt us. It is never too late to do justice; if we die without doing it, the gates of God's mercy are shut against
us, and we can have no benefit from the
If the danger of not restoring should.
alarm us, there is something in the pleasure of restitution which may allure us; it eases our shoulders from the burthen of sin, it appeases the restless anger of conscience, and renders the mind cheerful and serene ;— if it takes away the stalled ox, it dissipates hatred; if it leaves the dinner of herbs, they are seasoned with content. Did any man, who had overcome the first difficulty of doing justice, ever repent of the effort he had made?-Did he ever say, my feelings of guilt were better than my feelings of innocence.-I am disappointed by righteousness, and I wish to reclaim the wages of sin which I have unadvisedly refunded? Death, says the son of Sirach, is terrible to him who lives at ease in his possessions; but death is tenfold more terrible to him who lives in misery amid his possessions, with the consciousness that he ought never to have enjoyed them; that, year after year, he has been reaping the fruits of injustice; that the time is now gone by in which he might have pacified both God and man; and that nothing remains, but a sorrow which
no repentance can prevent, and which no time can cure.
If restitution is impossible, compensation is almost always in our power,-a compensation proportioned to our means. There is hardly any man so intrenched in happiness that he is utterly inaccessible to acts of kindness. Any signs of humble benevolence, any real contrition of the heart, towards an injured person, God will accept; if it is the only compensation which accident enables us to make. The sin which God never will
forgive, is that cold and barren penitence, which is only sorrowful because it cannot reconcile the feelings of virtue with the profits of crime. I allow that it is difficult to do justice, that it is difficult to compensate, and difficult to restore; but one great effort is less costly than a thousand moments of remorse ;-it is better to do that violence to your feelings, which every subsequent moment will convert into a more powerful source of happiness, than to retain any object of your desire, which every moment will convert into a more powerful
cause of reproach. The fruits of fraud and injustice are your's as a diseased limb is your's, for pain and for weakness, not for enjoyment health does not make it an auxiliary; but adhesion makes it a burden. If the life which God gave has left it, my hand is no hand to me; and if riches, and honor, and power, and every earthly blessing, are not founded upon righteousness, which is their health, and their life, they are not blessings, but burthen, and anguish, and disease, and death.
I have, hitherto, principally insisted upon the necessity of justice, as an ingredient of sincere repentance; but there can be no very sincere repentance without sorrow. Indeed, unless the evils, and apprehensions, to which sin gives birth, are so powerfully impressed upon the mind as to fill it with sadness, there is little security for that part of repentance, which consists in action.--Much is due, also, to the offended Majesty of Heaven; we must not confess our impurities to God with an unshaken spirit; we must not lift up an undaunted face towards his throne, and