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greatly offended against the divine Majesty? We may not, indeed, have been guilty of any of those crimes for which the laws of human society inflict punishment—any of those gross and flagrant offences which are followed by a forfeiture of the esteem and confidence of the world at large. But our consciences may readily point us to numberless cases, in which we have violated the precepts, and incurred the severe displeasure of the Most High. The very best of us have sinned enough, and more than enough, to render hell our due. The utmost suffering that Omnipotence could impose upon us, would not exceed our deserts. Let us, then, look back upon our past career. Let us think of our transgressions. Let us contrast the mercies we have enjoyed with the life we have led. It is in this way that our affection for Him to whom we owe our pardon, will gather additional intensity, and we shall become more and more devoted to his honour and glory. Yes, Christian brethren, we shall thus realize, that much, very much has been forgiven us, and shall, therefore, be constrained to love much.
The passage on which we have now been meditating is fraught with encouragement to penitent sinners. It teaches us, as we have already remarked, that the gospel proffers a free and an ample forgiveness to all who really feel their need of a Saviour, and promptly apply to him for mercy. There is no human culprit, whatever may be his character and condition-widely as he may have strayed from rectitude and purity-deeply as he may have sunk in corruption-who has it not in his power, by repentance and faith, to obtain the full remission of his offences, and, what is still more important, such a renovation of his moral nature, as shall render him a fit companion for the virtuous in this world, and an heir of honour, glory and immortality in the next world. Yes, contrite transgressor,
you have no occasion to despond. Jehovah's arm is not shortened, that he cannot save his ear is not heavy that he cannot hear. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
We have said, that the gospel proffers free and ample forgiveness to all penitent sinners. We must not, however, omit to add, distinctly and emphatically, that it proffers such forgiveness ONLY to penitent sinners. For those who regret not their violations of the divine law, and who, consequently, determine to live in time to come, just as they have lived in time that is past, it reveals no pardon-it holds out no prospect, but that of perpetual banishment from the presence of God, and the joys of heaven. Believe us, dear hearers, you must either repent of your sins, or else go to hell, and be miserable there for ever. This language may sound harsh; but if we know our own heart, we speak it affectionately. We are persuaded, that it involves a truth, of which it is essential to your highest and dearest interest, that you should be fully and deeply convinced. Wo to the man who deludes and ruins himself with the hope, that the Bible is a lie, and that there is no future suffering for the impenitent! It were an easy task to show, how repugnant is such a notion to the dictates of reason, and the decisions of Scripture. But arguments would be lost upon him who is fool enough to suppose that Jehovah will make no distinction between them that serve him, and them that serve him not-that thieves and drunkards and revilers and extortioners shall inherit the kingdom of heaven-whoremongers and adulterers God will not judge. We repeat it, dear hearers, that you must either repent, or be wretched throughout eternity.
The gospel presents no other alternative. And O! remember that it is in your own power to do, or to be, which you please. You are just as free to repent, as you are to continue impenitent. There is no obstacle to your repentance, unless, indeed, a preference for sin be accounted such. And what is a preference for sin but impenitence itself? Yes, you can repent, if you will; and, therefore, the language of God to you this day is, "Turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?"
ZECHARIAH XIII. 1.
"In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness."
OUR text is a prophetical reference, peculiarly distinct and emphatic, to the mediatorial work of Christ. We are here pointed, in a manner too plain to be mistaken, to that blood which was shed on Calvary, for the expiation of human guilt. The passage thus contemplated, suggests reflections of an interesting and important kind.
It implies, that it was necessary for God to make some provision for the salvation of men-to devise a method by which they might be recovered from "sin and uncleanness." The natural condition of every human being is marked by moral defilement. The soul, which originally proceeded from the Creator's hand in a state of puritybright with the lustre of virtue-glowing with the fair imprint of the divine image,—is now soiled, and stained, and polluted. We do not, indeed, say that it retains no traces of what it once was. We believe the contrary. We can see in man many an indication of primitive rectitude. There is undoubtedly much in the endearments of domestic life-much in the kind offices of friendshipmuch in the disinterested exertions of benevolence-and much in the varied intercourse of business, to convince the sober and candid observer, that the fall has not utterly destroyed that exquisite workmanship which he who formed it pronounced good. But man, though conscience
points his view with unerring certainty, to the broad distinctions of right and wrong, and compels him on many occasions to be just and benevolent-is still a fallen and depraved being. He does not love, he does not fear, he does not serve, his Maker as he ought. While transient emotions of a devotional sort, may now and then arise in his bosom, it is indubitable, that the prevailing state of his heart is characterized by a settled aversion to the divine authority and laws. He delights not to contemplate the holiness of Deity. He recoils from the thought, that Jehovah is immaculate in all his perfections, and equitable in all his proceedings-a Being in whose sight the very heavens are comparatively impure-one who weigheth actions, and will by no means clear the guilty.
It was necessary, then, that some provision should be made by God for the restoration of our race to original purity. The stains of sin must be washed out from the soul, before the human being can enjoy the favour of his Maker, and become happy under the moral government of the High and Holy One. We do not now say, that it was necessary for Jehovah to resort to the very plan of salvation which the gospel unfolds. We shall not take upon us to assert, that it was incompetent to a Deity whose wisdom and power are both unbounded, to contrive an expedient different from the one which he has actually adopted for the recovery of our fallen world. The assertion has, indeed, been made by well-meaning writers; and it is no unusual thing to hear addresses from the pulpit, in which the same ground is assumed. But the judicious thinker will not venture to limit the omnipotence of God, in any case which does not clearly involve a contradiction. He will not presume to affirm that the infinite mind was driven to such a state of diffi