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Acts iii, 26.
God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to

bless you, in turning away every one of you
from his iniquities.
The demands of God upon a sinner for a holy
life, and a change of heart, can never be agree-
able subjects of reflection to the majority of
hearers. Preferring as they do, those views
of religion which are compatible with self-
indulgence, the requisition of a stricter godli-
ness, though enforced by the power of eternal
sanctions, will be heard continually with increas-
ing pain. Yet the case is too urgent to admit
of our qualifying any of the commandments of
God, or of withdrawing divine truth because it
is offensive: for whether we will hear, or
whether we will forbear, the word of God re-
mains unchangeably the same, Except ye be con-
verted ye shall all perish. However, the scrip-
tures having described the happiness of con-
version as well as the difficulty of it; we gladly
follow where they lead, and will, therefore, de

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our endeavor to prove that according to the statement of the text, it is a blessing to be turned away every one of us from our iniquities. But let us first offer some preparatory remarks on this passage.

And first, there can be no reasonable objection to the use of the word conversion, and to speak of converted and unconverted persons, in reference to baptized christians: for we find the word (that is, one literally synonomous to it, as any will know who are acquainted with the language from which the word conversion is borrowed) is used in the text by St. Peter, while he is addressing, not the professors of a false religion, to whom the word is by some confined, but those whom in the previous verse be styles children of the covenant which God made with their fathers. The same privileged persons in a former part of this sermon also be thus calls upon, Repent ye und be converted. If Jews in possession of the seal of the first covepant of God, had need to be converted from their iniquities, no reason can be assigned why persons who have the seal of the second covenant may not have need to be converted from theirs. We are not restricted to the use of a particular word when the thing intended may be so variously expressed, but it is right that none should deceive themselves by fancying the word unconverted does not belong to them, because they are Christians nominally: for secondly,

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This conversion from iniquities is not that reformation of life which human efforts can produce, the necessity of which is not disputed; but it is really a divine mysterious renovation of our inward nature: for the word expressing it is active in its signification; he will turn away every one of you from his iniquities; the agent is also brought into view, Christ, or God operating by a risen Savior, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless

you,

in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Let it be next observed from the text that conversion has to do with more persons than the immoral, unless St. Peter was so uncharitable as to brand with the stigma of immorality the whole of his audience, many of whom were undoubtedly like St. Paul, who was, touching the righteousness of the law, blameless, (perhaps St. Paul was amongst them) or were

like thó Pharisee in the parable, who was no adulterer, unjust, extortioner, but fasted twice in the week, and gave alms of all that he possessed; yet St. Peter calls on all to be converted. Under the shelter of the Apostle's authority then we may be permitted to address the great mass of christian hearers as persons who have need to be turned away every one from his ini

, quities: to suppose that every man, till changed by grace, has his iniquity, his favorite system

pleasure, between which and his heart a paration must be made before he can see

It shall not be a course of dissipation, or i gross sensuality, but a life the most common,

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e.

consisting of business and amusement combined; adopted by him because it suits his interest or inclinations, and persisted in whether it accords with the will of God or not. To shew that a conversion from such courses, apparently so harmless, to a life of strict holiness and simple obedience is a real blessing, is one part of our present object; afterwards it will be made to appear how this blessing is communicated by Christ's resurrection.

First, then, a conversion from sin to holiness is the happiness of man. He will bless you in turning away every one of you

from his iniquities. While then we continue in iniquity, there is no happiness.

This is true, there are many sins in which there is no pleasure at all. It cannot be alleged, without great absurdity, that there is any pleasure annexed to the sin of profaneness, ridiculing religion, censuring God's laws, words, or works, no one having ever pretended that these things had any tendency to promote his health, or increase his estate. To wrong others in their reputation by slander, or disturb their peace by contention has no proper tendency to promote our own honor or peace, but the contrary. Yet, if there be some sins in which there is pleasure, it must be said that there is no pleasure in nature peculiar to sin: that is, which may not be had in the way of duty: for what are commonly called unlawful pleasures are nothing else but pleasures in themselves, lawful and useful, but procured by

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This conversion from iniquities is not that reformation of life which human efforts can produce, the necessity of which is not disputed, but it is really a divine mysterious renovation of our inward nature: for the word expressing it is active in its signification; he will turn away every one of you from his iniquities; the agent is also brought into view, Cbrist, or God operating by a risen Savior, God having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities

. Let it be next observed from the text that conversion has to do with more persons than the immoral, unless St. Peter was so uncharitable as to brand with the stigma of immorality the whole of his audience, many of whom were undoubtedly like St. Paul, who was, touching the righteousness of the law, blameless, (perhaps St. Paul was amongst them) or were like thô Pharisee in the parable, who was no adulterer, unjust, extortioner, but fasted twice in the week, and gave almg of all that he possessed; yet St. Peter calls on all to be converted. Under the shelter of the Apostle's authority then we may be permitted to address the great mass of christian hearers as persons who have need to be turned away every one from his iniquities: to suppose that every man, till changed by grace, has his iniquity, his favorite system of pleasure, between which and his heart a separation must be made before he can see life. It shall not be a course of dissipation, or of gross sensuality, but a life the most common,

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