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increasing with the length of time, until your salvation shall be as hopeless as if you were this day to be cut off in your impenitence? Is there no fear that God may depart from those who refuse so long to draw near unto him? Is it certain that he will afford the same assistance to the very last, however obstinately it may have been rejected hitherto, which he offered at the beginning? Or if He is ready to afford it, that the sinner will be in an equal capacity to avail himself of it? May not the heart become at length like the beaten way-side, so hard that the seed which falls upon
it will but lie on the surface, and so be liable to be snatched away by the devil, the moment that it is sown? The Spirit of God, you say, is equal to any work, however great. Most true; but if you wilfully increase the magnitude of that work, is it for you to presume upon the superior assistance which you will have thus rendered necessary? Doubtless “ with God all things are possible," and He could, in an instant, convert the most hardened sinner into the most pious Cbristian; but the question with us is not what He can do, but what his word gives us reason to hope that he will do; and you have heard from those Scriptures, from which alone we can have any information concerning the method of his dealings with man, what danger
there is that the heart may be hardened in final and hopeless impenitence.
It is dreadful to imagine the possibility of such a state ; and may it, through God's help, be far from every one of us! A speedy repentance is our only security against it; but of this we may be quite certain, that no true penitent will ever be rejected ; of this we may be quite certain, that as long as the wicked can forsake his ways, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and can turn unto the Lord, He will have mercy upon him, and will abundantly pardon him.” He who gives the heart to repent, and the power to turn to God, is still 6 willing to save.”
He would not even “ begin that good work,” if He had “shut up his loving kindness in displeasure," and did not still “ wait to be gracious.”
Therefore, let no man despair, who feels any emotion of that “godly sorrow, which leadeth to repentance ;
for if he sincerely repents, it is not the multitude, or the enormity of his former sins, that will exclude him from the mercy of God; if he anxiously desires to return, it is not the distance, that he has wandered from him that will quench the affection of his Father's heart; it is enough that he repents and returns; “dead,” though he was, “ in tres
passes and sins,” it is enough that he is alive again;" “ lost ” though he was, and gone far astray, it is enough that he is “found; all the past is pardoned and forgotten; his “transgressions are blotted out like a cloud, and like a thick cloud his sins;” whatever they were, he has at last found his way to the bosom of that Saviour, who has paid their penalty, and to whom whosoever cometh, he shall in no wise be cast out.
PARDON PROMISED TO FORSAKEN SIN.
ISAIAH lv. 7.
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
ALTHOUGH the text on which I last addressed you, comprised the words which I have now read, yet my discourse was almost wholly confined to a subject suggested by the verse which precedes them,—“ Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found, call ye upon him while
words, which, as I observed, certainly imply that it is possible to seek the Lord when he may not be found, and to call
him when he is afar off; and I endeavoured to prove
he is near ;
this truth to you, from other passages of Scripture, calculated to excite the fears of men, which represent that obstinate sin and impenitence may provoke even the God of mercy and compassion to abandon them in this world, and to punish them eternally hereafter. You may have thought my observations too severe; you may have thought it inconsistent with the character of him, to whom, by his office, is committed the “ ministry of reconciliation,” that he should address you in the language of hostility and vengeance; perhaps it may have seemed, that since the very word “ Gospel ” signifies" good news, a preacher of it should not have so departed from the design of his appointment, as to become the bearer of evil tidings; that a sentence of condemnation did not sound well from the lips of a publisher of salvation, and that the sword of war ill suited those hands which should have borne the olive branch of peace; in short, that I should have acted more in accordance with the
purpose of my commission, if I had abstained from all such alarming topics, and studied rather how to comfort and encourage you, by speaking of love, and mercy, and forbearance, and pardon, and eternal life. And most happy should I be, could I think that there was no occasion ever to use any other language in this place; most happy,