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bauched to have passed the slippery season of youth, and to be established in life; the gamester, by one successful throw, to have recovered his desperate finances; the dissipated and luxurious to have secured a peaceful retreat for the remainder of his days to each of these the long anticipated hour of amendment, the opportune leisure for religion has, at length, arrived; but where, alas, is the disposition, where the necessary strength of resolution ! How rare, and, I had almost said, how miraculous, is the instance of a change !

The danger of delay, even if we suppose this uncertain leisure and inclination to be secured, is inconceivably heightened, when we consider, further, the nature of repentance. It is a settled change of the disposition from vice to virtue, discovered in the gradual improvement of the life. It is not a fleeting wish, a vapoury sigh, a lengthened groan. Neither is it a twinge of remorse, a flutter of fear, nor any temporary and partial resolution. The babits of a sinner have been long in forming. They have acquired a strength, which is not to be broken by a blow. The labour of a day will not build up a virtuous habit on the ruins of an old and vicious character. You, then, who have deferred, from year to year, the relinquishment of a vice; you, if such there be, wbo, wbile the wrinkles are gathering in your foreheads, are still dissatisfied with yourselves, remember, that amendment is a slow and laborious process. Can you be too assiduous, too' fearful, w.ben you consider, how short the opportunity, and how much is required, to complete the work of reformation, and to establish the dominion of virtue ?

It is impossible to dismiss this subject, without considering a common topic, the inefficacy of a death-bed repentance. It is to be feared, thai cbari. ty, wbich bopeth and believeth all things, has sometimes discovered more of generous credulity, than of well-founded hope, when it has laid great stress, and built much consolation, on the casual expressions and faint sighs of dying men.

Far be it from us to excite suspicion, or recal anxiety in the breast of surviving friendship, or to throw a new shade of terror over the valley of death ; but better, far better, were it for a thousand breasts to be pierced with temporary anguish, and a new horror be added to the dreary passage of the grave, than that one soul be lost to heaven by the delusive expectation of effectual repentance in a dying hour. For, as we have , repeatedly asked, what is effectual repentance? Can it be supposed, that, where the vigour of life has been spent in the establishment of vicious propensities, where all the vivacity of youth, all the soberness of manhood, and all ihe leisure of old age, have been given to the service of sin, where vice has been growing with the growth, and strengthening with the strength, where it has spread out with the limbs of the stripling, and become rigid with the fibres of tbe aged, can it, I say, be supposed, that the labours of such a life are to be overthrown by one last exertion of a mind, impaired with disease, by the convulsive exercise of an affrighted spirit, and by the inarticulate and feeble sounds of an expiring breath? Repentance consists not in one or more acts of contrition; it is a permanent change of the disposition. Those dispositions and habits of mind, which you bring to your dying bed, you will carry with you to another world. These habits are the dying dress of the soul. They are the gravecloths, in which it must come forth, at the last, to meet the sentence of an impartial judge. If they were filthy, they will be filthy still. The washing of baptismal water will not, at that hour, cleanse the spots of the soul. The confession of sins, which bave never been removed, will not furnish the conscience with an answer towards God. The recepHon of the elements will not then infuse a principle

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of spiritual life, any more than unconsecrated bread and wine will infuse health into the limbs, on which the cold damps of death have already collected. Say not, that you have discarded such superstitious expectations. You have not discarded them, while you defer any thing to that bour, while you venture to rely on any thing but the mercy of God 10ward a heari, holy, sincere and sanctified, a heart, which loves Heaven for its purity, and God for his goodness. If, in this solemn hour, the soul of an habitual and inveterate offender be prepared for the residence of pure and spotless spirits, it can be only by a sovereign and miraculous interposition of omnipotence. His power_we pretend not to limit. He can wash the sooty Ethiop white, and cause the spots on the leopard's skin to disappear. We presume not to fathom the counsels of bis will; but this we will venture to assert, that if, at ibe last bour of the sinner's life, the power of God ever interposes to snatch him from his ruin, such interposition will never be disclosed to the curiosity of man. For, if it should once be believed, that the rewards of beaven can be obtained by such an instantaneous and miraculous change at the last hour of life, all our ideas of moral probation, and of the connexion between character here and condition bereafter, are loose, unstable, and groundless, the nature and the laws of God's inoral government are made, at once, inexplicable, our exhortations are useless, our experience false, and the whole apparatus of gospel means and motives becomes a cumbrous and unnecessary provision.

What, then, is the great conclusion, which we should deduce from all that we have said of the nature of babit, and the difficulty of repentance? It is this. Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. If you are young, you cannot be gin too soon; if you are old, you may begin 100 late.

Age, says the proverb, strips us of every thing, even of resolution. "Tomorrow we shall be older; tomorrow, indeed, death may fix his seal for ever on our characters. It is a seal, which can never be broken, till the voice of the Son of man shall burst the tombs, which enclose us. If, then, we leave this place, sensible of a propensity, which ought to be restrained, of a lust, which ought to be exterminated, of a babit, which ought to be broken, and rashly defer the hour of amendment, consider, I beseech you, it may, perhaps, he merciful in God to refuse us another opportunity. It may be a gracious method of preventing an abuse, which will only aggravate the retribution, which awaits the impenitent. Make haste, then, and delay not to keep the commandments of God; of thai God, who has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from bis way, and live.

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SERMON XIII.

MATTHEW x. 32.

WHOSOEVRR SHALL CONFR88 MB BEFORE MEN, HIM WILL I ALSO CONFESS BEFORK

MY FATHER, WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.

No man can read the discourses of our Saviour with his disciples, without observing, how frequently he insists upon the necessity of courage and fortitude in bis followers. Never was a leader less studious to conceal the difficulties and dangers of the service in which his adherents were to engage ; and never was the fidelity of disciples more severely proved, than was the fidelity of the first converts at the commencement of our religion. With only twelve constant companions Jesus began his preaching. Their dispositions, as various as their employments and capacities, were all to be trained up for a perilous service. There was Matthew, called unexpectedly from the profits of a lucrative trade ; Peter, ardent, confident, ambitious, but inconstant; John, affectionate, gentle, amiable, but unenterprising ; Thomas, slow to believe, quick to doubt, and curious to examine; Judas, dark, designing, covetous and treacherous; with several others, who joined themselves to Jesus, full of indefinite hopes, and solicitous to share in the

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