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MATTHEW III. VERSE I.
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
IN last discourse, upon my this subject I endeavoured to shew, that a spirit of justice and sincerity, proved by abstinence from the sin, were necessary to repentance; and that repentance, to be efficacious to salvation, should be begun at an early period.
After this endeavour to shew what is meant by a christian repentance, I shall
proceed to state those causes from which repentance commonly originates, and those means by which it may be fertilized into Christian righteousness. The use of this will be, that, by impressing on our minds those circumstances from which amendment usually proceeds, we shall labor to produce them, if they are events within our own power, and cherish them as the choicest gifts of God, if they are not.
Repentance in after-life, most commonly, will be found to proceed from a good, moral, and religious education, in youth. When once the rules of the gospel are inculcated in childhood, and its beautiful morality firmly fixed in the mind, we are not to consider them as lost, because they are not always practised in the season of levity and passion ;---they are best seen in their revival, after a long suspense, when they scare the voluptuary from his revels, when they make the thoughtless think, and the bold tremble, and the godless pray; when the seed, which seemed dead, shoots forth into an harvest; when the dry wood
becomes green with life, and glorious with
Providence has provided a source of repentance, in those events which warn us of the vanity of the world, and admonish us to prepare for that kingdom which is near at hand:-to watch over the gradual waste of life; to minister to the last sickness; to mourn over friends that perish, and children that are snatched away; these things teach us all to repent; they are lessons to which every ear is open, and by which all hearts are impressed. We remember how probable it is that every succeeding year will be marked by some fresh loss ;-that parent, and husband, and child, and friend, may all perish away, and leave
us a wreck of time in the feeble solitude of
age. Then it is that the views we take of human life are serious and solemn; then, we feel that godliness is the one thing stable, and unshaken by time and chance; then, we listen to the warning voice, which cries,-Repent ye, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.
In truth, the warnings to repentance
are not few; such are the adverse blows of fortune, sudden poverty, disappointed ambition, any circumstance which, by weakening our dependance upon outward objects, and by driving us to seek for comfort, and support, from our inward feelings, teaches us to derive our happiness from its pure, and legitimate source.
The feelings of bodily decay often lead to repentance; it happens, fortunately for man, that he is not called out of the world in the vigor of health, not by a sudden annihilation, but by a gradual destruction of his being; every blunted sense, and every injured organ, admonish him that it is drawing near; and, when it does come, death has only the shadow of a man to subdue. Listen, then, to these warnings of a merciful God;-when the ear is slow to receive sounds,-when the eye has lessened its range, when the nerve trembles,—
when the red blood of youth and strength is gone,-when the proud body of man is
bent down,-listen to these warnings of a merciful God; sanctify the frail and depart
ing flesh. Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is indeed at hand.
Providence has provided a source of repentance in those great events which astonish the world, and some share of good springs up from the very midst of devasta-. tion. When the judgments of God are out upon the earth-when a pestilence rageswhen a conqueror exterminates, thoughts of men become solemn, and every countenance gathers its portion of sorrow ;— then, no man doubts of the shortness of life, when he beholds death making his meal, not of one, or two, but of thousands, and tens of thousands ;-then, no man is unmindful of human weakness, when he sees how the fairest creations are broken into dust;—then, all feel the vanity of human wishes, and human designs, when they behold the arts, the arms, the industry of nations, overwhelmed by an Omnipotent destroyer, and their heritage tost to the children of blood.
Such are the times and seasons in which we now live, when every year in