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itself into our minds? what struggles; what watch fulness; what backslidings; what disappointments; what defeats, what unhappiness it has cost us; and if it be thus difficult to get rid of even an innocent though unprofitable habit, what must it be in the case supposed in my text-in the case of our besetting sins! How tenfold more difficult must it be for a confirmed sinner-a wicked man, (in the strongest sense of the word,) to turn away" from his wickedness that he hath committed,"-his own selfacted wickedness,-so entirely identical with himself as to be called his own wickedness, because it is part and parcel of his being: how difficult must it be for such a one as this to turn so completely away, that he may do that which he hath so long left undone, viz. "That which is lawful and right!" Such a man has not to struggle with one bad habit, but with a multitude; not with one evil spirit, but with many. For nothing is more certain, than that one evil habit, unless resisted and got the better of betimes, is the fruitful parent of many more; and though if at the beginning a man strive against his weakness, he will (by God's help) be victorious over it, yet the chance of his success is greatly lessened when, by reason of his self-indulgence, he has strengthened the hands of the enemy, and admitted Satan, not by one avenue, but by many, to enter in and take possession of his soul.

When such is the miserable situation of a sinner; when his whole character is defiled by vice, so that all his thoughts, words, and wishes are only to do evil, will it not be asked of him, in the language of the prophet, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ?" Can it be possible for one so saturated and steeped in wickedness to alter for the better? Is he not beyond the bounds of repentance? The Bible, my brethren, encourages us to hope that he is not. The things which seem impossible to human power are possible to God, and however improbable his amendments may appear, God's mercy forbids us to despair; for what says the prophet Isaiah ? Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." But one prayer uttered in earnest from a smitten conscience: but one struggle, the desperate struggle like that of a parting soul, and the work of penitence may have begun, even in the heart of the most notorious offender; that work so begun, may by God's mercy and grace, be carried on until he that was possessed by a legion of devils-he, whose whole life was torn and distracted by the violence of his passions-shall be healed; brought by the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the teaching of His Spirit, to a right mind, and so at the

last find a place on the right hand of God, and be reckoned amongst those for whom there is no condemnation, because they are in Christ Jesus. "When the wicked man turneth away" seriously, resolutely, and with all his strength, "from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive;" because, continues Ezekiel," he considereth and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die."

Lay up these words in your minds, and look upon them as God's voice, calling you to repentance. Lay them up, and reflect upon them day by day, that you may be quickened in the work that is before you, while as yet there is time; before the Lord come out of His place to visit the wickedness of such as dwell upon the earth; then, in that day, it will be too late; then is the time for justice; now is the season of mercy; therefore, my brethren, take heed betimes, while the day of salvation lasteth; repentance admits of no delay, and what is more, it admits of no end. While we remain on earth we are daily offending against God, and daily stand in need of His forgiveness; our whole life must be one long course of repentance; the moment we cease to repent, we cease to remember that we are sinners, and conse

quently we lose sight of Him who alone can save us from our sins.

It is not then without a good reason that our Church begins her service with these words; it is not without a true care for our souls that she meets us at the very threshold of the house of prayer, with a declaration of our corruption, and of our wickedness, and an announcement of God's marvellous loving-kindness towards us, telling us that "if we turn away from the wickedness that we have committed, and do that which is lawful and right, we shall save our souls alive."

May we never lose the benefit of her instruction; may we never come into these courts but with reverence and godly fear, with humble and contrite hearts; as sinners who stand in need of pardon; with a deep sense of our own unworthiness, and yet with a stedfast faith in God's promises made to us in His Beloved Son: for in such a frame of mind we should surely come hither for our profit, we should surely (by His blessing) find that which is indeed above all price and value; that peace of mind, and rest to a troubled conscience, which God, by the mouth of His minister, promises, and pronounces to all them who truly repent, and unfeignedly believe His Holy Gospel.

"Let the wicked," says Isaiah, in a passage exactly parallel to the one in the text, "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 him."

Little Hadham, 1846.

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