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and various marks of a genuine repentance, we shall content ourselves with submitting to you a series of such questions, respecting its leading features, as will enable you of yourselves, if you are sincerely disposed, to know the condition of your souls before God.
Previously, however, to addressing them to you, it is necessary that you be here put in mind of a leading principle, which too many persons among us forget or overlook; which is, that, although, doubtless, the real children of God are to be known by their fruits, repentance is not properly an outward work. It is the heart which God regards; it is the heart which must change. And as the most indulgent parent would reject with disgust the most officious respect and assiduous attentions of his child, if he knew that that child, weary of his presence, and entertaining no affection for him, served him merely from the slavish fear of incurring correction, or in order to secure a more considerable portion of the paternal inheritance; much more would God, who claims our undivided love, who " searcheth the reins and
hearts,” and “ who knows what is in man," refuse to accept a slavish worship, or the vain efforts of a heart devoid of love for him, where the creature is enthroned in the place of the Creator.
• My son,” he asks, “ give me thy heart;" _" thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;"_" the Lord seeth not as man seeth, for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart;" “and though you give all your goods to feed the
poor, and though you give your body to be burned, and have not charity,” that is to say, love in the heart, you " are nothing." It is love that God asks of his creature; it is with love that he requires to be served; it is love which makes the life of the blessed; it is love which « shall never perish.
The work of repentance, therefore, is, I repeat, within; and, to make use of the definitions of Scripture itself, it is the renewing of “ the image of God” in the heart of fallen man; it is the conversion of the heart; it is the "circumcision of the heart ;" it is the “ taking
away of the heart of stone ;” it is the obedience of the heart;" it is “the purification of the heart;" it is “the love of God in the heart.”
It might seem superfluous, perhaps, to recall, in a Christian temple, principles so obvious, and apparently so generally admitted:but, in the name of all that is most precious to you, in the name of the soul and the eternity which are yours, be careful here ; examine your heart seriously; and do not follow the example of so many unhappy persons, who, beguiled by the appearances of a reformation merely external, persuade themselves that they stand in no need of repentance, because they have received the washing of baptism, because they frequent Christian assemblies, because their conduct, with regard to men, is regular and decent; whilst at the same time their heart is, notwithstanding, secretly alienated from God; whilst the honours and the love of the world still usurp the place which ought to be occupied by the fear and the love of the Almighty; whilst the maxims of the world, the approbation of the world, the favour of the world, 'nevertheless, constitute at once their rule of life, their aim, and their recompence.
Examine yourselves thoroughly, then, My Brethren, we conjure you. Think that those awful words, UNLESS YE REPENT, YE SHALL PERISH,” proceeded from the very mouth of Him, who had foregone the glories of heaven but to descend into the abyss of your miseries, and to 4 deliver
from the wrath to come,” by the wonders of a mercy higher than those heavens, and deeper than that abyss. Think that all the learning, all the anxieties, all the splendour of this fleeting existence, are, after all, no more than pompous puerilities, com pared with that question, whereon depends an eternity before which a thousand generations are but as a day :-"Have I repented ? -Shall I be placed on the right hand or on the left ?- Am I in Christ or out of Christ ?”
Lend, then, an attentive ear to the questions which I shall now address to you :
Do you love your God ?--Is it your first ambition, your most earnest desire, to recover
the image of God in your heart,--to know and to love him daily more and more ?-Is that the source of your fears and your joys, your wishes and your griefs ?-Is sin become more and more hateful to you; and is your inclination towards it at present your heaviest burden, your most grievous infirmity ?
Do you love your God? and, like a true son, do you love the children of your “ Father who is in heaven ?" Is yours that “pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father," which consists in “ visiting the fatherless and the widows, and in keeping yourselves unspotted from the world ?" Do you love those who love not you; or do you, like the Pharisees, only love them which love you
?” Is the advent of Christ's kingdom the frequent subject of your aspirations, of your prayers, of your meditations? Do you witness with emotion, the wrongs which the ungodly inflict upon Christ's Church; and if such live, in any degree, in the enjoyment of the world's regard, do you avoid admitting them to that sort of familiarity which you would be careful not to entertain with the