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EXCEPT YE REPENT, YE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH.
ALL impenitent sinners will be punished; but not immediately. Some are distinguished, for an example to others: and if those others do not take warning, they will then be doubly guilty, and deserve a double punishment. ·
Some people of Judea had been killed at Siloam by the falling of a tower upon their heads; and others of Galilee had been cruelly aughtered by Pilate, In such cases, it was.
manner of the Jews to argue, that if any red punishment, it was a sure sign they
were sinners; and if their punishment was great, that their sin must have been great alsó. But with this they had another dangerous opinion; viz. that if a man were not punished, then it would follow, that he was not a sinner; at any rate, not so great a sinner as those that were punished. This was one way they had of justifying themselves, by comparing themselves with other men. When they told our Saviour how the Galileans had suffered; partly with defign to affront him as a supposed Galilean, and partly out of curiofity to hear what he would say, they put this question to him: "Master, what great sin had those Galileans committed, that they suffered such. things?" He does not answer to their curiosity, (which signified nothing) but he answers to their mistake; letting them know, that those men had not been chosen for punishment because they were the greatest of sinners; but to give warning to other sinners, as great or greater than themselves, that without repentance they also would certainly perish at some time or other. A tower might not fall upon their heads, to kill them in the midst of their rioting, as was the case at Siloam; neither might the sword of a tyrant slay them; yet they might be asured, they should at length perish under the venF 3
geance of God; and this vengeance had already fallen upon some as an earnest and example to
all the rest.
If you consider with yourselves what it is to perish, that is, to be lost and miserable to eternity; and that you must either perish or repent; I think you will be ready to hear what I have to offer upon the subject; and if your minds should hitherto have been careless and dead upon it, you will awake, and hear what is to be said for at some time or other you must awake; and how much better is it to be called out of your sleep by a friend, than to be awakened in the morning by the voice of an executioner, calling you to your death!
I shall have but little difficulty in making you understand what it is to repent, if you recollect the vow you made at your baptism, to renounce the world, the flesh, and the devil. These are the three enemies, which draw men into sin, and by binding them down in it with a chain, hinder their repentance. The devil tempts you to pride, envy, malice, ignorance, cruelty, falsehood, and disobedience; by the last of which, I mean rebellious undutifulness. The world tempts you to covetousness, vanity, Irsuit of pleasure, the love of shew and ce and covetousness draws you into
injustice, fraud, oppression, and extortion. The flesh tempts you to excess, self-indulgence, sloth, intemperance, greediness, drunkenness, and all such sins as turn man into a beast; the worst of beasts, and the most odious, which is the swine.
The law of God in the ten commandments, as you have been taught in your catechism, is pointed against all these sins, and, the law of God being known, conscience will be sure to tell you how and when you depart from it; and it will so often set your offences before you, that it requires very little art and skill to try and examine yourselves according to the plain rule of God's commandments. Your heart, if you listen to it, will soon tell you how you stand, in respect to the law of God on the one hand, and to your three enemies and their works on the other. To repent, is to forsake them and their works, and turn to God and his law; not in ; not in your words only, but in your hearts: for so the catechism teaches; that by repentance we do not only confess sin, but forsake it.
I am convinced, that very little teaching is wanting to shew people what it is to forsake sin, and turn to God, Our Saviour says nothing about it in the text, but supposes his meaning to be sufficiently understood; and that nothing
is wanting in his hearers, but a due consideration of the motive, which should lead all men to repentance; that except they repent, they shall perish. What a terrible word is this, if we could understand it now, as it will be understood by sinners hereafter! But, as it is said of the things which God hath prepared for them that love him, that they are such as eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it ever entered into the heart of man to conceive them, so may we say of those other things, which God hath prepared for them who do not love him, that they are such as our senses of seeing, and hearing, and conceiving, will not now enable us fully to understand. What it is to perish, can be known, so far only, as God has been pleased to reveal to us in his word, If it were possible for us to comprehend it in its full extent, the prospect might shock us to such a degree, as to strike us dead upon the spot with terror. But that would be of no use ; it is not designed to fright us out of life, but to fright us out of sin. God grant that it may have its effect! The general sense of it is contained in those words of our Saviour concern ing his sheep-I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish so that to perish,
lose eternal life; and, with that, all things ble and delightful to man. It is hard