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“ weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the
Our Lord, in a parable, describes a father directing
did the will of his father ?” There could be no possibility of returning an evasive answer; therefore, although it was to their own condemnation, yet they could not but confess the obedient son was the
person who did that will. From which acknowledgment unavoidably resulted this inference; the son, who disobeyed, could not be called a dutiful son, for he had not done his father's will. The application of their open judgment and implied sentence to us Christians, may be made in these words ; if after we have entered into the Gospel covenant, and solemnly engaged to observe its precepts to the utmost of our power, we knowingly and wilfully break our promises by leading an habitual life of sin, so long as we continue thus transgressing we cannot be pronounced disciples faithful to our Lord, and as such, humbly trust to be accepted by him with approbation speaking peace to our souls.
The justice and equity with which retribution shall he dispensed at the final judgment, demonstrate how erroneous must be a persuasion that actions of Christian goodness are unnecessary.
What are the explicit declarations of our Lord ? They are these, “ The Son “ of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his “ angels, and then shall he reward every man according
" to his works.” * “ The hour is coming, in which all “ that are in the graves shall hear his voice and come
forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrec“ tion of life ; and they that have done evil, unto the “ resurrection of damnation.”+ Thus, hopes of recompence for well doing are encouraged ; and fears of punishment for evil doing are excited ; it cannot then be immaterial to the result of our faith, whether we are earnest to be righteous, or whether we are abandoned to wickedness. In His wisdom and in His solicitude that all should repent, our Lord would not have sanctioned His doctrines by such opposite expectations, if in the end there should be no difference of Divine procedure, in approbation of right, in disapprobation of wrong
conduct. There will be difference. Our Lord, who came to reveal the will of God, hath solemnly pronounced that discrimination shall be made between those who have, and those who have not laboured to do what they know is required of them ; and the happiness or the misery which he foretells, will most assuredly be awarded to each of us; certainly with merciful compassion for our natural and unavoidable frailties, yet not without consideration of that de. gree,
in which we have either exerted our utmost endeavours for the attainment of holiness, or in which we have obstinately and wilfully persisted in the commission of crime and sin.
It is recorded of the Bercans, that on the preaching of St. Paul they examined the Scriptures. Their object in so doing was to ascertain if his doctrines agreed with what they read in their sacred writings. We have imitated the Beræans in appealing to the Gospels. Our design was to learn, if the tenor of our Lord's exhortations would warrant St. Peter in admonishing Christian converts to testify their faith by suitable obedience. We have selected from our Lord's discourses sufficient to convince us, that they did justify St. Peter in his preceptive manner of writing. And we may pronounce St. Peter to have been a true disciple of his heavenly teacher, a faithful Apostle to those for whom he intended his Epistles. He takes frequent occasion for introducing and placing in a strong light the great and leading facts of Christianity; he is anxious that his brethren should not rest satisfied with barely admitting and assenting to those facts; he presses it on them to make those extraordinary circumstances, which were incident to the ministry and exaltation of our Lord, the grounds, motives, and reasons, for stedfast perseverance in the reformation begun, and for conscientious observance of Christian precepts and duties.
When for the sins of the world our Lord had made that atonement, through which alone we hope for salvation ; when He had risen from the dead, and was preparing for return to that state of glory, from which He had descended for the merciful purpose of redeeming mankind; He thus commissions his Apostles : “ Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the “ name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy “ Ghost; teaching them to observe all things, what“ soever I have commanded you.". Now, among the duties required and proclaimed by our Lord with a warning voice, what were the first? They were these : -“Repent and believe the Gospel.” + Strictly, then, did St. Peter comply with the injunction and will of our Lord, when in his preaching, even more forcibly than in his writing, he urged the very same points,
• St. Matt. xxviii. 19, 20.
considering both to be indispensable. At the commencement of his ministry, he speaks thus : Repent “ and be baptized every one of you, in the name of “ Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins.” We do not advance far in the Acts of the Apostles, before we find St. Peter thus exhorting :
Repent and be “converted, that your sins may be blotted out.”+ How are we to interpret the word “ Repent,” but by making it mean this? — “ Under a deep sense of our Lord's
authority, and firm belief that the declarations made
by him will surely be accomplished ; under a sincere “ wish to do what the Lord hath commanded, and an “ anxious hope to avoid what He hath forbidden ; our “ hearts must be sorry for past transgression; our “ minds be disposed to follow what is good; evil
thoughts must be abhorred; inordinate desires must “ be repressed; sinful practices must be renounced “ with utter aversion ; and we must prove by our out“ ward behaviour, that we are thus contrite, that we “ are thus changed, that we are thus influenced, in our “principles, in our inclinations, in our habitual pro
pensities.” Those, to whom the compassionate forbearance of God prolongs existence in this world; those, to whom are vouchsafed opportunities for demonstrating by their actions the real state of their souls must not conceive themselves to have thoroughly “re“pented,” until they have attained these Gospel requisites.
Repentance, then, originates in Christian faith, which leads to obedience, showing itself by works. Hence, in the example of the truly penitent, whether for sins committed, or for duties neglected, are seen faith and works inseparably connected. It was, therefore, with
perfect and correct understanding of Scripture doctrines, that among the beautifully composed, although brief prayers, which are styled “ Collects,” the compilers of our Liturgy introduced the following:
“ Lord! we pray Thee that Thy grace may always prevent and follow us, and make us continually to “ be given to all good works."*
“ Lord! we beseech Thee to keep thy househoid “ the church in continual godliness; that through Thy
protection it may be free from all adversities, and devoutly given to serve Thee in good works.”+
“ Stir up, we beseech Thee, O Lord! the wills of “ Thy faithful people, that they plenteously bringing « forth the fruit of good works, may of Thee plenteously " be rewarded.”
It may here, perhaps, be tacitly asked, “Do you “ then trust to your works?
Do you depend on works “i for salvation ?” That such presumption is far from us, we may not only with confidence aver, but can by demonstration clearly prove.
Where the heart is sincere, the thoughts of man are known by his language. What is our language on occasions most serious, most solemn ? When for the purpose and observance of habitual devotion, on the return of each morning and close of each day, we are entirely withdrawn from the sight of men, and appear in the presence only of Almighty God! our supplication is this: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive “ them that trespass against us.” When we are assembled together for congregational worship, with a deep sense of our own transgressions, with an earnest
* Collect for 17th Sunday after Trinity. + Collect for 220 Sunday after Trinity. I Collect for 25th Sunday after Trinity: