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pain. Can there be greater madness? Can there be stronger proof of the decay of reason? Nou thing therefore but a kind of miracle can res cover the sinner from this deplorable state of phrenzy. That God, who opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf, can alone remove the mists of clouded reason. And when he is pleased to do this, by sickness or affliction, by the voice of conscience or the terrors of impends ing judgment, then the sinner comes to himself, the dead man rises, and begins to shew signs of life; the poor madman recovers his reason, and sees the circle of folly, in which his days have passed. Here then-is the first step to a recovery. But let him not think, that this coming to him self consists in a superficial review of his past life, or a few slight reflections upon his present condition. There are many, indeed, who think they are come to themselves, if they make some general reflections upon their conduct, are sorry for their irregularities, and resolve to be better, if they can, for the future. I would not dist courage any man in his design of returning to God: even the dawnings of repentance are better than the inveteracy of unfeeling guilt : but let po man deceive himself with this general and superficial sort of repentance. To come to himself to any purpose, a man must call his ways to remembrance carefully and diligently: he must uni



consider his former course of life, and compare it with the unerring touchstone of the word of God; he must not judge of his conduct lightly, or ask how it will appear in the sight of men like himself; but how it will appear, naked and undisguised, before a just God, at the last great day": he inust therefore search into the secret corners of his heart, he must drag forth to view every secret and lurking iniquity, he mụst mark every deviation from duty, and endeavour also, where he roots out a vice, to plant a virtue in its room,


This is the true work of repentance. Let me not, however, be understood, that these precau: tions are at all times necessary, or required. equally from all men. If there be a happy few, who, like the eldest son in the parable, have continued in their father's house, and never transgressed his will at any time; who have nothing to charge themselves with but sins of infirmity, 'ignorance, or surprize; to them the work of repentance certainly lies in a narrower compass, and is attended with less pain and remorse. But the prodigal, whose life has been attended with a long succession of iniquities, must pass through all the bitter stages of contrition, if he ever hopes to taste the sweet fruits of a quiet conscience and a reconciled God;



the assurance of forgiveness, and the hopes of immortality.

The first thing which comes into the mind of the prodigal, after his coming to himself, is the peace and plenty he once enjoyed in his father's house :—“ How many hired servants,” says he, “ of my father have bread enough and to spare, " and I perish with hunger !"—Hitherto he had felt no regret for leaving his father; he was happy in having got his liberty, in having no spy upon his actions; in giving a loose to all his youthful and wicked inclinations : but hunger and thirst are friendly monitors : nakedness and famine are kind instructors. · When: therefore, he found himself exposed to the winds and rain of heaven, and pierced by the sharp cravings of an unsatisfied appetite, he comes to himself; his eyes are opened, and the film of error removed, He calls to mind the tenderness of an indulgent father; he compares the happy hours he had spent under his protecting roof, where every wish of reason was supplied, with those sorrowful days he was now lingering out in poverty, disgrace, and servitude. And, in the midst of these reflections, he could not forbear envying the lot of his father's very servants, who, under the government of a mild and gentle master, enjoyed every accomịnodą. tion which the necessities of nature required, whilst he was denied the very husks which the, swine did eat:--" How many hired servants of “ my father have bread enough and to spare, " and I perish with hunger!”

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· Can there be a more natural reflection to shew us what passes in the soul of an habitual sinner, when he first begins to be sensible of his folly? So long as he is blinded by his passions and surrounded with pleasures, he neither thinks of God nor bewails the loss of the riches of his house, the pleasures and advantages of religion. But let sickness seize him, or adversity begin to rain afflictions upon his unsheltered head, then all these things rush into his mind : then grief, shame, and anguish of heart succeed the deceitful calm of sin: then he remembers the kind ness and promises of his heavenly Father; he calls to mind those happy hours which he spent in his house, when he made the law of God his delight, when he was fed with the bread of angels at his altar, and joined in the fellowship of saints.—" Those blessed days,” will the returning sinner cry, " are now past and gone! How therefore is my soul perplexed, and iny conscience tormented! What difference do I now find between the state which I once knew, and that in which I now am! Blessed are they


that dwell in thy house, and blessed is the man that putteth his trust in thee! The meanest of thy servants enjoy more peace and satisfaction than I have done in following all the corrupt inclinations of my heart. I thought by departing from thee, that I should have found liberty and happiness; but my hopes were founded upon a broken reed, which has pierced my soul. Who then will restore that peace and innocence, which I have lost by ny folly? What can speak comfort to my wounded soul? Who will assure me, that God has not forsaken me for ever, and will be no more entreated?” ,

Hearken, thou dlesponding sinner, to the voice of the returning prodigal, and from his example learn wisdom :-“ Father, I have sinned “ against heaven and before thee, and am not ( worthy to be called thy son.” He does not now think of returning to his friends and companions, or to his vices, but to his offended father. He had tried the folly of every other expedient, and therefore felt the necessity of this. Nor was his determination the hasty resolve of disappointed wickedness or jaded sensuality, but the result of conviction; after he came to himself, and knew that there was no peace to the wicked. He therefore makes no delay, but executes instantly the wise resolutions

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