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selves to their own destruction, it is ours. to remind them of the immutability of the divine judgements, and admonish them in the words of the prophet, that 6 God is not a man that He should lie, " or the son of man that He should
repent; hath He faid, and shall He " not do it? or hath He spoken, and “ shall He not make it good ?" The causes which justify a man in changing his purposes, can never exist with regard to the divine counfels. We see but in part, we know but in part, an unforeseen alteration of circumstances therefore, may render a change in human measures not only proper, but even necessary. But all events past, present, and to come are equally manifest before the eyes of Him to whom we must render account; under His government therefore, nothing unforeseen can happen: Do ye meet with great temptations to transgress the laws He has given you?
He forefaw the difficulties with which you would have to struggle, when He imposed the restraint: and if He then judged it not too great to be imposed, how shall He now deem it too strict to be enforced? The very exertions we are called on to make in performing the duty that is laid upon us, form perhaps the ground of that great reward which is set before us: and power to make them, He will never withhold from those who are sincerely inclined to use it.-Again, the determinations of men sometimes fail through want of ability to carry them into effect: but in the course of the divine operations this can never come to pass ; His power is unbounded as His truth is fixed; “ He hath pur“ posed, who shall disannul it? His hand " is stretched forth, who shall turn it “ back?” Being thus therefore infinitely superiour to all failure of either wisdom, or power, it remains, that in Him there can be neither variableness nor shadow of turning.
While the doctrine of the text may be thus certainly deduced by reasoning on the perfection of our all glorious Creatour, it may be collected too by a mode of arguing better adapted to the lefs exercised minds of the bulk of mankind, from the general course of God's government of men. Every man who has willingly yielded to temptation, knows how loudly conscience threatens us with the evil consequences of any transgression we are knowingly about to commit: and finners do in fact generally suffer the consequences thus threatened by that which is truely the monitor of our divine judge residing in our breasts. For the natural consequences which our heavenly Father has attached to the different courses of vice, do not appear in any
considerable number of instances to be withdrawn on the prayers and tears of those, who dare the danger of them, 'till they begin to feel the evil. Men continue to be tormented by the diseases. arising from intemperance, long after they have ceased from excess, and sincerely bemoaned their folly and their sini: being guilty of it. The infamy of falsehood, the evils of ambition cease not to pursue even those who repent of ever having offended in those points. So certainly in the common course of things is suffering attached to transgreslion, that with regard to the menaces of conscience, nature seems to teach us the same leffon, as the prophet does concerning the immediate word of God; " and also the Strength of Israel “ will not lie, nor repent; for He is not " a man that He should repent."
But if the threatenings on sin be thus regularly executed, and men so seldom
avoid suffering for their transgressions, " Whereto (perhaps ye would now alk) " serveth repentance, and what is the 66 benefit of it?” Much, every way.-It, in the first place, certainly prevents the aggravation of punishment even in this life; since the guilt of him who ceaseth from sin is certainly not so great as that of the man who continues to commit it: while it no less certainly rescues the truely penitent from final condemnation hereafter ; since we have the promise of the Lord himself, that " When the wicked man turneth away “ from his wickedness, and doeth that “ which is lawful and right, he shall 66 save his soul alive." And even the common consequences of transgression may in some cases (for I spake of them as overtaking men generally only, not universally) be rendered lighter on the sincere repentance and humble supplications of the sufferer; while at all events,