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and toiling at the very basis of the eminence; it ought to overtake us near the summit, standing on the very confines of the first and the latter world ; calm, tranquil, clear of every earthly feeling, and waiting for the hour of God, when he will call us to the dwellings of peace.
If these observations upon the necessity, of a timely repentance be true, it follows, of course, that what is commonly termed a death-bed repentance, can be of no avail to the attainment of immortal salvation. Indeed, if we were not aware of what a fallacious reasoner vice is, we should be astonished that such an absurdity should enter into the mind of man; as if the sin which begins in youth, which is matured in manhood, which is cherished in old age, which destroys the moral order of the universe, infringes the clear mandates of the gospel, and scatters sorrow, and misery, throughout the world, can be atoned for by the lamentations of a being who never thought of deploring his sins till he had
of enjoying them. He has seen, unmoved, for threescore years, misform
lost all power
tune, evil, and death; he has listened, in vain, to the voice of moralists, and to the precepts of the gospel ; and, in a moment when the spectre of death starts up before him, he is righteous : What will he be if that spectre vanish again? What will he be if God gives him back his life? Is there any certainty that he will use that life for the glory of his maker? ---Is there any certainty that he will not forget God in health, again, as he has forgotten him before? That he will not requirethe same lassitude, the same anguish, and the same distress, to call him to the care of Salvation, which have awakened in him, before, a momentary feeling of religion? Such repentance can be nothing worth ; if it is effectual to Salvation, all other repentance is superfluous to Salvation. Sin is made co-extensive with life; every motive to righteousness is at an end; and a little muttering of religion, a few moments before. death, is the sum of piety, the definition of virtue, and the passport to Heaven.
If a death-bed repentance is enough, who would fear God in the days of their youth, and endure the greater burthen when a lesser weight would suffice ?.“ My hour is not yet come ; I have many years before me in which I may forget my God, and follow the devices of my heart ;-it will suffice if I weep,
and fast, and pray, in the days when I am well-stricken in years;—let those praise God who are drawing near unto him ; I will be happy and sensual while I am young ; and reserve the gloom of religion for sickness, and old
Such are the state of principles which the doctrine of a death-bed repentance naturally produces ; it is a doctrine founded upon convenience, not upon truth; it makes the duty of repentance more easy; but it makes it utterly useless ;-it is calculated to reconcile every one to the precepts of the gospel ; and to frustrate every purpose for which the gospel was given to mankind.
This subject of repentance is of such importance, and such extent, that I must reserve what more I have to say upon it to another time; and I shall be satisfied, at present, with the endeavour I have made, to impress upon this congregation the
necessity that repentance should be sincere, early, and just; that the resolution which gives it birth, should be strong enough to prevent relapse ; that it should be soon enough to make the sacrifice to the religion of Christ, real and valuable ; and that it should inspire that spirit of restitution, or compensation, which is the best evidence to prove, that our repentance is sincere, and the best means to ascertain that it 'is useful. It was to teach these truths that the warning voice was first heard in the wilderness j it was to rouse, and it was to save, that the Baptist spoke in the solemn stillness of the forest, and said,That the time was short, that the day was coming,--that the fan would soon drive the chaff on the floor,--that one was near at hand, the hem of whose garment he dare not touch, nor loose the latchet of his shoe. My brethren, the time is still short,the day is still coming, ---the fan is still ready for the chaff,---and he is not far off, whose garment the prophet dare not touch, nor loose the latchet of his shoe.---Remember, then, the frailty of human life,