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Let Jesus Christ be our Guide : let us cast one look at Calvary, and ask, Why there the Cross was erected ? It sustains in excruciating torture the only begotten Son of God. Unlike the holy martyrs, whose souls, sublimed (so to speak) by their last agonies, are almost emancipated from their prison of clay before they quite leave it, and enjoy a sweet prelibation of that blissful presence of God, to which they will soon be introduced in its more full beauty and lustre-this holiest of martyrs, this pure and spotless Being, is overwhelmed with the tremendous consummation of his great work, and exclaims -"My God! my God! why hast thou forsaken me ?” What! does not the recollection of his past innocence sastain him in the trying hour? Is He, the Holy One of God, denied that consolation which has been so often afforded to some of His humble followers ? He cries with a loud voice, and yields up the ghost. Nature bears witness to the dignity of the Sufferer, and to the value of his death, by prodigies the most awful and portentous.
And can you, my brethren, believe that this terrible tragedy is acted merely to give Jesus Christ an opportunity of placing before his disciples an example of patient resignation and obedience to the will of God; of meek forbearance under the grossest injuries, sealing the truth of his divine mission by a martyrdom so singular and dreadful? To suppose this, is to insult God, by impeaching his benevolence and his wisdom ;-his benevolence,
by imposing so heavy a weight of suffering upon an innocent victim, when every purpose might have been answered by a death less excruciating to both body and soul ;-his wisdom, for sure it was to be expected that a death so awful, and marked with such prodigies, would naturally lead every beholder to attach to it a value infinitely above that ascribed to common martyrdom. The terrible majesty of our Saviour's death would then be calculated to lead all who became acquainted with it into the grossest error.
But, my brethren, the sacrifice of this Lamb of God had a meaning most awful and momentous : it testified, that without shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. It proved to the universe of God, the awful inflexibility of his justice; and that sin, even in this little world, this corner of his vast dominions, was such an outrage upon the economy of his government, and, if suffered to pass with impunity, would be so destructive of universal happiness, that, to atone for it, no less a sacrifice than the Son of God was necessary. This sacrifice, too, had a meaning most gracious and condescending. It testified, that such was the benevolence of God toward those who had rebelled against him, that he was willing to devise some means by which his honour might be preserved, and yet they restored to favour. Hence was Christ wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone
astray ; we have turned every one to his own way ; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. Now God can be just, and yet the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. When I say, therefore, that repentance is necessary, if we would obtain the pardon of our past sins, and the protection and favour of God, I do not mean, that it alone is necessary. To repentance toward God must be joined faith in our Lord Jesus Christ ;-the one, to teach us the greatness of our guilt by leading us to rely solely on the merits of the Saviour for reconciliation with God ;—the other, to produce within us that deep humility and self-abasement, that godly sorrow and contrition for sin, and that earnest purpose of amendment, which are so necessary to prepare us for approaching to the presence of Him who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity.”
III. Let us now, in the last place, consider the motives which should lead us to repentance. They are disclosed in our text—"Repent ye, therefore, and be converted ; that
may be blotted out.” Sincere repentance, then, regards the obliteration of guilt from the table of our own hearts, and from the book of God's remembrance. And did we, my brethren, duly appreciate these two motives to repentance, how ready and anxious should we be to exercise this chief of Christian graces! Think what it is to be freed from the dominion of sin- no more to feel the influence of those wicked passions and lusts which war against the soul ;
and which, even in the enjoyment of their most favourite objects, so far from conferring true peace on the bosom in which they reside, serve only to distract and harrass it with care, anxiety, remorse, and
Think what it is to have these enemies of our real happiness destroyed, and in their place to feel the sweet dominion of love toward God, and goodwill to man.
Repentance produces this happy change. Peace of conscience, and joy in the Holy Ghost, reign within the bosom. All is calm and cheerful. Indeed, God himself, the source of all good, condescends to occupy the heart of the truly penitent. " For thus saith the High and the Holy One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy-I dwell in the high and holy place, with Him also that is of a humble and contrite spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” And here, my brethren, we are furnished with a test of the sincerity of our repentance. Do we seek and exercise repentance, in order to purify the heart, and free it from the dominion of sin ? Do we grieve for our past and present guilt, because it is such base ingratitude against the Best of Beings ? In fine, do we sorrow for sin, because we detest it in all its shapes, however fascinatingin all its forms, however disguised so as to be taken by a corrupt world as innocent and lawful—in all its subtle and ingenious devices, seducing us to comply with certain maxims and customs of this sinful age, under pretence of rendering virtue more
lovely and attractive ;-I say, do we sorrow for sin, because we detest it in these its more refined workings, as well as in its grosser attacks upon our purity of heart and life ? Much, however, as this disinterested detestation of sin is necessary, as a constituent, and indeed prominent trait of genuine repentance; and much as we ought to be excited to this duty, that the influence of sin on our hearts may be entirely destroyed ; there is still another motive to repentance in our text, addressed to that love of our own safety and happiness, which no principle of our religion forbids us to indulge.
The expression," that your sins may be blotted out,” when compared with other similar phrases in Scripture, evidently refers to a deliverance from that punishment justly due to transgression. God, then, has been pleased to declare, that sincere repentance, which always implies a cordial faith in Christ, is necessary to save us from the wrath to come. How terrible is the danger, how tremendous the doom, to which we are exposed by sin ; and yet how simple the condition of deliverance !-repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Alas ! could we hesitate a moment to comply with this condition, did we but fully realize the importance of these words." The wrath to come ?"
Painful is the task, my hearers, with the ministers of God's word, to point to sinners the sad termination of their career of wickedness. And, sometimes, this would seem but to render more callous