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flame first kindled in your hearts burn always with a pure and steady blaze? If not, then I can hardly excuse even you from the necessity of daily repent
I know that yours must be a repentance very different from that required in the text. The soul that is truly converted to God, and finds its peace in the blood of Jesus Christ, repents for the failures which it finds in its daily requirements of duty. But this is the repentance of a child who really loves its parent, and loves its duty. The repentance of others is the repentance of a rebel, of an ingrate, of a foe. But even you, children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, I cannot excuse you the necessity of that repentance which is the renewal of your souls unto holiness; that progressive sanctification, which makes your light of peace and hope and joy, shine brighter and brighter to the perfect day. You, I am persuaded, will not dispute the matter. Your hearty concurrence in these views I have. You decline being considered as taking the ground that you need no repentance, and I pass on to others.
There are only two grounds which you who are careless and unconcerned can plead; they are as follows: 1. You have never sinned. And, 2. You owe to God no responsibility. Now, my friends, if you are ready to take these grounds, then I have only this to say. If there is one of you who is willing to take the first, and declare you have never sinned, and are not sinning against God, then I have the painful duty of calling your attention to these passages of Scripture—“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us;' and in the next verse but one—“If we say we have
not sinned, we make him a liar.” Here, my
Here, my friends, the Apostle makes you stand on the fearful alternate, either God is untrue, or you are liars. And the other passage is—“Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost; thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.” I leave you with these testimonies. If there is one of you who is willing to take the second ground, viz: that you owe to God no responsibility, then I have nothing to say to you; you are beyond the reach of my argument. As none but the fool can say there is no God, and he would be as great a fool who argued with him, so none but one bereft of reason can say that he owes to God no responsibility; and none but one bereft of reason would take the argument against him. There are but these two grounds on which you can challenge to yourselves, my unconverted friends, your exemption from the necessity of repentance, and say you have no need of it.
Now, suffer me to place before you the dilemma in which you stand. If
stand. If you are not willing to take the ground that you need no repentance, why do repent? You will be forced, by the very process the argument, to deny your need, or to convict yourselves in the presence of God, of refusing to do that, the necessity of which you feel and acknowledge. Choose you either alternative? It is a most fearful choice. And how many of you, dear brethren, are just in this state of dreadful self-condemnation! Your need of repentance you concede. Your actual repentance you refuse. The difference between the man who denies his need of repentance, and one who acknowledges it, while he refuses to repent, is this. One will sink to hell with a lie; the other
with a self-condemning truth. Brethren, your situation, as careless and unconcerned, is appalling. It will be found “a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” I beseech you now to repent. Delay not.
PARABLE OF THE PRODIGAL SON.
LUKE XV. 32.
It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was
dead, and is alive again ; and was lost, and is found.
THERE is nothing more natural, and nothing more common and obviously proper, when a person is engaged in conversation, than to interrupt the current of that which may be didactic or argumentative, and introduce some narrative, either true or imagined, for the purpose of illustration. Every one knows, that frequently during the most interesting conversations, some incident is brought in to enforce what is said, and even the best public speakers do this for the self same purpose. Now if a person in conversation introduces a relation, call it a parable or allegory, or let it be a fact, or what you will, you at once perceive that by it he intends to illustrate the subject on which he is speaking. Suppose, for instance, I were conversing with any one of you on the danger of delay, and I were to tell you the story of
a young man who was suddenly cut off in the midst of his resolutions of amendment, you would comprehend that I gave this incident for the purpose of enforcing and illustrating the danger of delay. You would never think that I told it for the purpose of illustrating some subject which entered into neither of our thoughts at the time. No. Now, brethren, it is from not attending to this simple, obvious principle, that so many of our Saviour's parables are misunderstood and grievously misrepresented. We take up an idea, we are pleased with it, we look round for something which may confirm us in our favourable opinion. We perhaps seize on a parable, and then easily imagine it was meant to help us out; we then turn and twist it, and knock off some inconvenient parts, supply others, and make it fit any thing we please. The parable from which my text is taken has suffered greatly from injustice of this kind. I have heard, and you have heard, all sorts of doctrines, and all sorts of duties inculcated from it, sometimes no more connected with it than with the principles of gravitation. I have sometimes heard truth, and sometimes the most terrible falsehoods, founded on this parable. I have known it made to give right, and often wrong directions in the conduct of life; and all not probably with any intention to do injustice to the parable, but just because men would not adopt the obvious principle, that when our Saviour used an illustration, he used it on the subject on which he was speaking. To recur to a remark I just now made, suppose I should give a relation of the young man who died suddenly in the midst of resolutions, and had no time to carry out his plans of amendment and devotion to God; and this, while I