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breathe out the sad story of our lives in the firm accents of a fearless voice. "The publican, standing afar off, would not so much as lift up his eyes to Heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.—I tell you this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other."
Repentance must not only be sincere and just, but it must be timely;—it must take place at such a period as will enable us to make a solid, réal sacrifice of unlawful enjoyment to a sense of Christian duty. Satiety is often mistaken for repentance, and many give up the offence, when they have lost all appetite for its commission ;-change of body is mistaken for change of mind, and he who quits a vice, become unnatural to his period of life, deems himself a progressive penitent; and believes he is rece-ding from pleasure, because pleasure is receding from him.
To repent of passions, when passions are sweet and strong, has the merit of virtue, because it has the difficulty; to oppose languor,
to chain down inertness; and to vanquish imbecility, is to offer, to the Lord our God, that which costs us nothing; and to claim the kingdom of Heaven for not doing that which we cannot do.-Truly blessed is he who arrests himself in the middle career of pleasure, while he has yet numbered but few days, and a fair portion of life is still before him. God loveth the hoary hairs of the righteous; but when they who are far from the grave, when the young, the beautiful, and the strong, turn to the Lord their God in weeping, in fasting, and repentance, then is the great victory of Christ over sin; then, truly, are the ninety and nine just persons forgotten; and the joy in Heaven is exceeding great. Seriousness, in old age, we in some degree attribute to bodily causes; the early and rational repentance of a young person, disgusted with the first aspect of sin, is the most genuine and beautiful form of repentance; it affords us the example of temptation resisted when it is the strongest, apology rejected when it is the most natural, and the laws of religion respected, when the chance of atoning for their violation is the most complete. No exception from the common
course of passions can be more beautiful, no goodness more unequivocal, more useful to man as an example, and more grateful to God as a sacrifice.
If there be gradations in the rewards we are to receive hereafter, and many mansions in the house of the Father, to what heighth of excellence will he arrive, and to what eminence of reward will he attain, who sees before him half a life of progressive improvement? The work of righteousness begins with the dawn of reason, to terminate in the darkness of death; and the advanced point at which we are found, at the conclusion of our labours, must, of course, depend on the period at which they have commenced, and the vigour with which they have been prosecuted. Any repentance is better than a lasting obstinacy in sin; but it is young repentance which sanctifies an human soul here upon earth, which cleanses it from the passions of the flesh, and fills it full of sweet, holy, everlasting godliness. If the feeble efforts of old age are all we can give up to the purification of the soul, death will overtake us laboring
and toiling at the very basis of the eminence; it ought to overtake us near the summit, standing on the very confines of the first and the latter world; calm, tranquil, clear of every earthly feeling, and waiting for the hour of God, when he will call us to the dwellings of peace.
If these observations upon the necessity of a timely repentance be true, it follows, of course, that what is commonly termed a death-bed repentance, can be of no avail to the attainment of immortal salvation. Indeed, if we were not aware of what a fallacious reasoner vice is, we should be astonished that such an absurdity should enter into the mind of man; as if the sin which begins in youth, which is matured in manhood, which is cherished in old age, which destroys the moral order of the universe, infringes the clear mandates of the gospel, and scatters sorrow, and misery, throughout the world, can be atoned for by the lamentations of a being who never thought of deploring his sins till he had lost all power of enjoying them. He has seen, unmoved, for threescore years, misfor
tune, evil, and death; he has listened, in vain, to the voice of moralists, and to the precepts of the gospel; and, in a moment when the spectre of death starts up before him, he is righteous: What will he be if that spectre vanish again? What will he be if God gives him back his life? Is there any certainty that he will use that life for the glory of his maker? ---Is there any certainty that he will not forget God in health, again, as he has forgotten him before? That he will not require the same lassitude, the same anguish, and the same distress, to call him to the care of Salvation, which have awakened in him, before, a momentary feeling of religion? Such repentance can be nothing worth; if it is effectual to Salvation, all other repentance is superfluous to Salvation. Sin is made co-extensive with life; every motive to righteousness is at an end; and a little muttering of religion, a few moments before death, is the sum of piety, the definition of virtue, and the passport to Heaven.
If a death-bed repentance is enough, who would fear God in the days of their youth, and endure the greater burthen when a