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to be explained by our belief in an over-ruling Providence, guilt is brought to light. Years may go by, and a great crime cease to be talked about; and all clue to the perpetrator seem to be lost, when, at length, in some least expected manner, the discovery is made, and justice is done, and the blood is avenged.
And so is it with lesser crimes as well. We may think ourselves secure—but the eyes of the Lord are in every place—the evil act is noted in His book-to be brought against us, if not in this world, yet assuredly in the next, in that day when He will judge the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.
Lastly, let us notice, very briefly, Cain's punishment. He was a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth—he was hid from the face of God-and God set a mark upon him.
Surely a terrible but well deserved doom-typical of the sinner's doom in all after time. For that which is told us of Cain, is true, in a degree, of every great transgressor.
The wicked man's life is a life of restlessness and disquiet. A life on which no bright beam from heaven ever shines—a life without hope—full of panic feara life as of one cut off from God's presence—without Him, and without His grace in the world!
O, my brethren, may such a life never be ours ! May we have grace to flee from evil, and do the thing that is good! May we attend more and more to the message of our Master, and love one another, as He gave us commandment! All the other commandments meet in this one-For he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour-love worketh only good-love is “the very bond of peace and of all virtues”-He that loveth not, knoweth not God : for God is love !
FIRST SUNDAY IN LENT.
THE GOODNESS OF GOD A MOTIVE TO REPENTANCE,
RoMANs II. 4.
Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance,
LENT, my brethren, is the season for repentance, the special period of the year in which our Church seeks to awaken in us a deep sorrow for sin, and the need we have to break its yoke from off our necks. Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent, in a solemn but too much neglected service, sets before us our duty at this time, which is, that we should one and all, return to the Lord our God with all contrition and meekness of heart, bewailing and lamenting our sinful life, acknowledging and confessing our offences, and seeking to bring forth worthy fruits of repentance.
I do not say that we should perform this duty at no other time. A Christian will feel that repentance is a work that must employ a great deal of his time, he will never think it safe to let many months, many weeks, goby without remembering his ways ; without sorrowing in secret for his sins; without steadfastly purposing to lead a new, and better life. Each time he comes to the Lord's table he will assuredly examine himself, whether he repents him truly of his sins. Nay, I might say more—at the close of each day of our life we shall if we are wise, make that same examination, we shall never lie down to sleep at night without an act of repentance towards God; we shall look back ere we take our rest, into what we have done, or left undone since the morning, we shall seek out our trespasses, and bring them with self-condemnation before our Maker, and plead to be forgiven for Jesus Christ's sake.
I repeat the confessing and forsaking of sin, which is repentance, is not a thing to be done once for all, and then got rid of, but rather the life long business of creatures so weak and corrupt as we are, who many times a day in thought, word, and deed, offend against the laws, and go contrary to the will of Him Whom it is our duty, and Whom we have promised to obey. Still for this very reason, because we are weak; because we are inclined to evil, and disinelined to good ; because we find it irksome to us, to be ever calling our sins to remembrance ; because we shrink from the pain, and mortification of humbling ourselves before God, and so I fear for the most part omit the daily examination of our lives—for this very reason, the use of this season of Lent is so valuable. Now, whether we like it or not, we must in some way or other be confronted with our sins. The services of our Church-the collect which we repeat during the whole of the forty days, the often mention of repentance, of the wages of sin, of the great judgment in sermons, are as it were so many warnings to us, not to delay the work in our own souls, so many calls to us to repent, to lay the axe to the root of our besetting sins, to trifle no longer with the day of grace; not to despise the goodness, and patience, and long suffering of God when He calleth us mercifully to amendment.
And this brings me back to my text-There we have the true and only safe ground on which to invite you to repent—the goodness of God—His forbearance-His longsuffering—His inexhaustible kindness—It is this that leadeth thee to repentance. I think, my brethren, that if we could understand something of this—if we could bring home each to his own heart—how kind God is to ushow patient He is with us—how long He bears with our provocation-how rich He is in mercy and loving-kindness, we should—the hardest and most careless of us be won to a better mind; we should be constrained as it were by a strong inward drawing of our heart, to come unto Him, who deals so lovingly with us, to leave off those evil habits by which He is injured, to cast away our ungodliness and to give up ourselves to His service, to be ordered and governed by His Holy Spirit seeking ever afterwards His glory, and serving Him daily in our vocation with thanksgiving.
Would that I could help by any words of mine today, to bring about at least in some of you such a result! Would that any here present who in times past have been despisers of the riches of God's goodness, and forbearance, and long suffering, seeing their error might continue in it