Baxter - HP BV4920 B38 1829

"King Agnppa. bclievest thou the -prophets'!· ACTS ::C\.VIYQ7

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NOTICE. The works of the Rev. Richard Baxter are distingui~hed for great energy of style, and a fervent zeal for the sah'a· tion of sinners. The present work holds a prominent rank among his publications. A rapid succession of editions has been published in various countries, and multitudes ha\·e undoubtedly been trained for heaven, whose attention was first awakened to the concerns of the soul by reading his 'Call to the Unconvertecl.' With a view to extend the circulation of so useful a work, the present edition has been stereotyped, believing that many benevolent persons will take pleasure in procuring a neat pocket edition for gratuitous circulation. Different copies have been carefully compared, and great pains taken to secure accuracy to this edition; and, to render the work more welcome to readers of the present day, in a few instauces the diction has been improved. The Discourse, entitled 'Now or Never,' which is added to the }Vork, is greatly abridged, to compress it to a size which would admit of its insertion; and the other selections from Baxter's works, which are here presented, it is believed will meet a cordial reception. Tlmt the work may continue to exert a powerful influence in favour of vital godliness, is the earnest wish of THE PUBLISHERS. Boston, Jan. 1829. l3oston......Stcreotyped by Lyman Thurston & Co.

INTRODUCTORY ESSAY. HAVING already introduced to the notice of our readers one of RrcHARD BAxTER's most valuable Treatises,* in the Essay to which we adverted to the character and writings of this venerable author, we count it unnecessary at present to make any allusion to them, but shall confine our remarks to the subj ect of the three Treatises which compose the present volume, namely, "A CALL TO THE U NCONVERTED To TURN AND LivE;" "Now oR NEvER;" -and "FIPTY REASONS WHY A SINNER OUGHT TO TURN TO GoD THIS DAY WITHOUT DELAY." These Treatises are characterized by all that solemn earnestness, and urgency of appeal, for which the writings of this much-admired author are ::::o peculiarly distinguished. He seems to look upon mankind solely with the eyes of the Spirit, and exclusively to recognise them in their spiritual relations, and in the great and essential elements of their immortal being. Their future destiny is the all-important concern which fills and engrosses his mind, and he regards nothing of any magnitude but what has a distinct bearing on their spiritual and eternal condition. His business, therefore, is always with the conscience, to which, in these Treatises, he makes the most forcible appeals, and which he plies with all those arguments which are fitted to awaken the sinner to a deep sense of the necessity and importance * ':fhe Saints' Everlasting Rest, with an Essay by Mr. J!;rskine..

lV of immediate repentance. In his" Call to the Unconverted," he endeavours to move the~ by the most touching of all representations, the tenderness of a beseeching God waiting to be gracious, and not willing that any should perish; and while he erpploys every form of entreaty, which tenderness and compassion can suggest, to allure the sinner to "turn and· live," he does not shrink from forcing on his convictions those considerations which are fitted to alarm his fears, the terrors of the Lord, and the wrath, not merely of an offended Lawgiver, but of a God oflove, whose threatenings he disregards, whose grace he despises, and whose mercy he rejects. And aware of the deceitfulness of sin in hardening the heart, and in betraying the sinner into a neglect of his spiritual interests, he divest<> him of every refuge, and strips him of every ·plea for postponing his preparation for eternity. He forcibly exposes the delusion of convenient seasons, and the awful infatuation and hazard of delay; and knowing the magnitude of the stake at issue, he urges the sinner to immediate repentance, as if the fearful and almost absolute alternative were "Now or Never." And to secure the commencement of such an important work against all the dangers to which procrastination might expose it, he endeavours to arrest the sinner in his career of guilt and unconcern, and resolutely to fix his determination on " turning to God this day without delav." There are two very prevalent delusions on this subject, which we should like to expose; the one regards the nature, and the other the season of repentance; both of which are pregnant with mischief to the minds of men. With regard to the first, much mischief has arisen from mistakes respecting the meaning of the term 1·epentance. The word repentance occurs with two different meanings in the New Testament; audit is to be regretted, that two different words could not have been devised to express these. This is chargeable upon the poverty

V of our language; for it is to be observed, that in the original Greek the distinction in the meanings is pointed out by a distinction in the words. The employment of one term to denote two different things has the effect of confounding and misleading the understanding; and it is much to be wished, that every· ambiguity of this kind were cleared away from that most interesting point in the process of a human soul, at which it turns from sin unto righteousness, and from the power of Satan unto God. When, in common language, a man says, ' I r&- pent of such an action,' he is understood to say, 'I am sorry for having done it.' The feeling is familiar to all of us. How often does the man of dissipation prove this sense of the word repentance, when he awakes in the morning, and, oppressed by the languor of his exhausted faculties, looks back with remorse on the follies and proftigacies of the night that is past? How often does the man of unguarded conversation prove it, when he thinks of the friend whose feelings he has wounded by some hasty utterance which he cannot recall? How often is 1t proved by the man of business, when he reflects on the rash engagement which ties him down to a losing speculation? All these people would be perfectly understood when they say, 'We repent of these doings.' The word repentance so applied is about equivalent to the word regret. There are several passages in the New Testament where this is the undoubted sense of the word repentance. In Matt. x..xvii. 3. the wretched Judas repented himself of his treachery; and surely, when we think of the awful denunciation uttered by our Saviour against the man who should betray him, that it were better for him if he had not been born, we will never confound the repentance which Judas experienced with that re-- pentance which is unto salvation. Now here lies the danger to practical Christianity. In the above-citeJ passage, to repent is just to regret, or to be sorry for; and thi~ we conceive to

vi ·be by far the most prevailing sense of the term in the English language. But there are other places where the same term is employed to denote that which is urged upon us as a duty-that which is preached for the remission of sins-that which is so indispensable to sinners, as to call forth the declaration fi:om our Saviour, that unless we have it, we shall all likewise perish. Now, though repentance, in all these cases, is expressed by the same term in our translation as the repentance of mere regret, it is expressed by a diflerent term in the original record of our faith. This surely might lead us to suspect a difference of meaning, and should caution us against taking up with that, as sufficient for the business of our salvation, which is short of saving and scriptural repentance. There may be an alternation of wilful sin, and of deeply-felt sorrow, up to the very end of our history-there may be a presumptuous sin committed every day, and a sorrow regularly succeeding it. Sorrow may imbitter every act of sin-sorrow may darken every interval of sinful indulgence-and sorrow may give an unutterable anguish to the pains and the prospects of a deathbed. Couple all this with the circumstance that sorrow passes, in the common currency of our language, for repentance, and that repentance is made, by our Bible, to lie at the turning point from a state of condemnation to a state of acceptance with God; and it is difficult not to conceive that much danger may have arisen from this, leading to indistinct views of the nature of repentance, and to slender and superficial conceptions of the mighty change which is implied in it. We are far from saying that the eye of Christians is not open to this danger-and that the vigilant care of Christian authors has not been employed in averting it. vVhere will we get a better definition of repentance unto life than in our Shorter Catechism? by which the sinner is represented not merely as grieving, but, along with his grief and hatred of sin, as turning from it u~to God with full

vii purpose of, and endeavour after new obedience. But the mischief is, that the word repent has a common meaning, different from the theological; that wherever it is used, this common meaning is apt to intrude itself, and exert a kind of habitual imposition upon the understanding-that the influence of the single word carries it over the influence of the lengthened explanation-and thus it is that, for a steady progress in the obedience oi the gospel, many persevere, to the end of their days, in a wretched course of sinning ' and of sorrowing, without fruit and without amendment. To save the practically mischievous effect arising from the application of one term to two different things, one distinct and appropriate term has been suggested for the ' saving repentance of the New Testament. The term repentance itself has been restricted to the repentance of mere sorrow, and is made equivalent to regret; and for the other, .able translators have adopted the word reformation. The one is expressive of sorrow for our past conduct; the other is expressive of our renouncing it. It denotes an actual turning from the habits of life that we are sorry for. Give us, say they, a change from bad deeds to good deeds, from bad habits to good habits, from a life of wickedness to a life of conformity to the requirements of heaven, and you give us reformation. Now there is often nothing more unprofitable than a dispute about words; but if a word has got into common use, a common and generally understood meaning is attached to it; and if this meaning does not just come up to the thing which we want to express by it, the application of that word to that thing has the same misleading efiects as in the case already alluded to. Now, we have much the same kind.of exception to allege against the term reformation, that we have alleged against the term repentance. The term repent~mce is inadequate-- trod why? because, in the common use of it, it ia

vili equivalent to regret, and regret is short of the saving change that is spoken of in the New Testament. On the very same principle, we count the term ref<.lrmation to be inadequate. We think that, in common language, a man would receive the appellation of a reformed man upon the mere change of his out- · ward habits, without any reference to the change of mind and of principle which gave rise to it. Let the drunkard give up his excesses-let the backbiter give up his evil speakings-let the extortioner givt:.> up his unfair charges-and we would apply to one and all ofthem, upon the mere change of their external doings, the character of reformed men. Now, it is evident that the drunkard may give up his drunkenness, because checked by a serious impression of the injury he has been doing to his health / and his circumstances. The backbiter may give up his evil speaking, on being made to perceive that the hateful practice has brought upon him the contempt and alienation of his neighbours. The extortioner may give up his unfair charges, upon taking it into calculation that his business is likely to suffer by the desertion of his customers. Now, it is evident, that though in each of these cases there has been what the world would call reformation, there has not been scriptural repentance. The·deficiency of this term consists in its having been employed to denote a mere change in the deeds or in the habits of the outward man; and if employed as equivalent to repentance, it may delude us into the idea that the change by which we are made meet for a happy eternity is a far more slender and superficial thing than it really is. It is of little importance to be told that the translator means it only in the sense of a reformed conduct, proceeding from the influence of a new and a right principle within. The common meaning of the word will, as in the former instance, be ever and anon intruding itself, and get the better of all the formal cautions, and all the qualifying clauses of our Bible commentators. ·

.ix: But, will not the original word itself throw some light upon this important question? The repenta~ce which is enjoined as a duty-the repentance which is unto salvation-the repentance which sinners un~ dergo when they pass to a state of acceptance with · God from a state of enmity against him-these are all one and the same thing, and are expressed by one and t,he same word in the original language of the New Testament. It is different from the word which expresses the repentance of sorrow; and if translated according to the parts of which it is corn~ posed, it signifies neither more nor less than a change o.frnind. This of itself is sufficient to prove the inadequacy of the term reformation-a term which is often applied to a man upon the mere change of his conduct, without ever adverting to the state of his mind, or 'to the kind of change in motive and in principle which it has undergone. It;_-Is true, that there can be no change in the conduct without some change in the inward principle. A reformed drunkard, before careless about health or fortune, may be so far changed as to become impressed with these considerations; but this change is evidently short of that which the Bible calls repentance to~ ward God. It is a change that may, and has taken place in many a minu, when there was no effectual sense of the God who is above us, and of the eter~ nity which is before us. It is a change; brought about by the prospect and the calculation of worldly advantages; and, in the enjoyment of these advan~ tages, it hath its sole rem.trd. But it is not done unto God, and God will not accept of it as done unto him. Reformation may signify nothing more than the mere surface-dressing of those decencies, and prop!ieties, .and acc?mplishments, and civil and pru~ dential duties, wh1ch, however fitted to secure a man's acceptance in society, may, one and all of the!?, consist with a heart ahenated from God, and havmg every principle and affection of the inner man away from him. True it is, such a chan~

os the man will reap benefit fi·oin, as his friends v:ill rejoice in, as the world will call reformation; but it is not such a change as will make him meet for heaven, and iil deficient in its import from what our Saviour speaks of when he says, "I tell you nay, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." There is no single word in the ;English language which occurs to us as fully equal to the faithful rendering of the term in the original. Renewedness of mind, however awkward a phrase this may be, is perhaps the most nearly expressive of it. Certain it is, that it harmonizes with those other passages of the Bible where the process is described by which saving repentance is brought about. We read of being transformed by the renewing of our minds, of the renewing of the Holy Ghost, of being renewed in the spirit of our minds. Scriptural repentance, therefore, is that deep and radical change whereby a soul turns from the idols of sin and of self unto God, and devotes every movement of the iimer and the outer man, to the captivity of his obedience. This is the change which, whether it be expressed by one word or not in the English language, we would have you well to understand; and reformation or change in the outward conduct, instead of being saving and scriptural repentance, is what, in the language of John the Baptist, we would call a fruit meet for it. But if mischief is likely to arise, from the want of an adequate word in our language, to that repentance which is unto salvation, there is one effectual preservative against it-a firm and consistent exhibition of the whole counsel and revelation of God. A man who is well read in his New Testament, and reads it with d0cility, will dismiss all his meagre conceptions of repentance, when he comes to the following statements:-" Except a man be born again, he cannot see the king- • dom of God." "Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the ~gdom of heaven." " If any man have not the

xi Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." " The carnal mind is enmity against God; and if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live." "By the washing of regeneration ye are saved." "Be not then conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your minds." Such are . the terms employed to describe the process by which the soul of man is renewed unto repentance; and, with your hearts familiarized to the mighty import of these terms, you will carry with you an effectualguarant~teagainst those false and flimsy impressions, which are so current in the world, about the preparation of a sim1er for eternity. Another delusion w-hich we ~hall endeavour to expose, is a very mischievous application of the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, contained in the twentieth chapter of the Gospel by Matthew. The interpretation of this parable, the mischief and delusion of which we shall endeavour to lay open, is, that it relates to the call of individuals, and to the different periods in the age of each individual at which this call is accepted by them. We almost know nothing more familiar to us, both in the works of authors, and in the conversation of private Christians, than when the repentance of an aged man is the topic, it is represented as a case,of repentance at the eleventh hour of the day. We are far from disputing the possibility of such a repentance, nor should those who address the message of the gospel ever be restrained from the utterance of the free call of the gospel, in the hearing of the oldest and most inveterate sinner whom they may meet with. But what we contend for, is, that this is not the drift of the parable.. The parable relates to the call of nations, and to the different periods in the age of the world at which this call was addressed to each of them, and not as we have already observed, to the call of individuals, and to the different periods in the age of each individual, at which this call is ac ·

xii cepted by them.* It is not true that the labourers who began to work in the vineyard on the first hour of the day, denote those Christians who began to remember their Creator, and to render the obedience of the faith unto his Gospel with their first and earliest education. It is not true, that they who entered into this service on the third hour of the day, denote those Christians, who after a boyhood of thoughtless unconcern ahout the things of eternity, are arrested in the season ofyouth, by a visitation of seriousness, and betake themselves to the faith and the following of the Saviour who died for them. It is not true, that they who were hired '* To render our argument more intelligible, we shall briefly state what we conceive to be the true explanation of the parable. In the verses preceding the parable, Peter had stated tlte whole amount of the surrender that he and hi s fellow disciples had made by the act of following after J esus; and it is evident, that they all looked forward to some great and temporal remuneration-some share in the glories of the Israelitish monarchy-some place of splendour or distinction under that new government, which they imagined was to be set up in the world; and they never conceived any thing else, than that in this altered state of things, the people of their own country were to be raised to high pre-eminence among the nations which had oppressed and degraded them. It was in the face of thi s expectation, that our Saviour uttered a sentence, which we meet oftener than once among his recorded sayings in the New Testament, "Many that are first shall be last, and the last sltall be first." The Israelites, whom God distingui,shed at an early period of the world, by a revelation of himself, were first im·ited in the doing of his will (whi ch is fitly enough rcpresrmted by working in his ~ineyanl) to the possession of hi s favour, and the enjoyment of his rewards. Thi s offer to work in that peculiar vineyard, where God assigned to them a performance, and bestowed on them a recompense, was made to Abraham :;md to his descendants at n very early period in hi story; and a succession of prophets and righteous men were sent to renew the offer, and the communication>' from God to the world, followed the stream of ages, down to the time of the utterance of this parable, And a few years afterwards, the same offers, and the eame

xiii on the sixth and ninth hours, denote those Chrig..' tiart.;, who, after having spent the prime of their youthful vigour in alienation fi:om G~d, ar:d perhaps run out some mad career of gmlt and profligacy, put on their Christianity along with the decencies of their sober and established manhood. Neither is it true, that the labourers of the eleventh hour, the men who had stood all day idle, represent those aged converts who have put off their repentance to the last-those men who have renounced the world when they could not help it-those men who have 'put on Christianity, but not till · they had put on their wrinkles-those men who have run the varied stages of depravity, from the frivolous unconcern qf invitations, were addressed to another people; and at thi3 late period, at this eleventh hour, the men of those countries which had rtever before been visited by any authoritative call from heaven, had this call lifted up in their hearing, and many Gentiles accepted that e':erlasting life, of which the Jews counted themselves unworthy. And as to the people of I srael, ·who valued themselves so much on their privileges-who had tumed all the revelations, by which their ancestors had been honoured, into a matter of distinction and of vain security-who had ever been in the habit of eyeing the profane Gentiles with all that contempt which is laid upon outcasts, this parable received its fulfilment at the tjme when thesP. Gentiles, by their acceptance of the Saviour, were exalted to an equal place among the chiefest favourites of God; and these Jews, by theit• refusal of him, had their name rooted out from among the nations-and those first and foremost .in all the privileges of religion, are now become the last . Now this we conceive to be the real design of the parable. It was designed to reconcile the minds of the disciples to that part of the economy of God, which was most offensive to their hopes and to their prejudices. It asserted the sovereignty of the Supreme Being m the work of dispensing his calls and hi s favours among the people whom he had formed. It furnished a most dec i ~ ivc and silencing reproof to the J ews, who were filled wrth envy against the Gentiles; and who, even those of them that embrac~d the Christian .profession, made an obstinate struggle agamst the admission of those Gentiles into the church on equal terms with themselves ,

XIV a boy, and the appalling enormities of misled and misguided youth, and the deep and determined worldliness of middle. age, and the clinging avarice of him, who, while with slow and tottering footsteps he descends the hill of life, has a heart more obstinately set than ever on all its interests, and all its sordid accumulations, but who, when death taps at the door, awakens from his dream, and thinks it now time to shake awav his idolatrous affections from the mammon of unrighteousness. Such are the men who, after having taken their full swing of all that the world could offer, and of all that they could enjoy of it, defer the whole work of preparation for eternity to old age, and for the hire of the labourers of the eleventh hour, do all that they can in the way of sighs, and sorrows, and expiations of penitential acknowledgement. What! w.ill we offer to liken such men to those who sought the Lord early, and who found him? Will we say that he who repents when old, is at all to be compared to him, who bore the whole heat and burden of a life devoted throughout all its stages to the glory and the remembrance of the Creator? Vvho, from a child, trembled at the word of the Lord, and aspired after a conformity to all his ways? Who, when a young manJ fulfilled that most appropriate injunction of the apostle, " Be thou strong?" W ho fought it with manly determination against all the enemies of principle by which he was surrounded, and spurned the enticements of vicious acquaintances away from him; and nobly stood it out, even though unsupported and alone, against the unhallowed contempt of a whole multitude of scorners; and with mtrepid defiance to all the assaults of ridicule, maintained a firmness, wh1ch no wile could se.duce from the posts of vigilance; and cleared his unfaltering way through all the allurements of a perverse and crooked generation. Who, even in the midst of a most withering atmosphere on every side of him, kept all his purposes unbroken, and all his delicacies

XV untainted. Who, with the rigour of self-command, combined the softening lustre which a pure and amiable modesty she~s over the moral complexion of him who abhors that which is evil, and cleaves to that which is good, with, all the energy of a holy.determination. Can that be a true interpretatiOn, which levels this youth of promise and of accomplishment, with his equal in years, who is now prosecuting every guilty indulgence, and crowns file audacity of his rebellion by the mad presumption, that ere he dies, he shall be able to propitiate that God, · on the authority of all whose calls, and all whose remonstrances he is now trampling? Or follow each of them to the evening of their earthly pilgrimagewill you say that the penitent of the eleventh hour, is at all to be likened to,him who bas given the whole of his existence to the work and the labour of Christianity? to him who, after a morning of life adorned with all the gracefulness we have attempted to describe, sustains through the whole of his subsequent history such a high and ever brightening example, that his path is like the shining light, which shineth more and more unto the perfect day; and every year he lives, the graces of an advancing sanctification form into a richer assemblage of all that is pure, and lovely, and honourable, and of good report; and when old age comes, it brings none of the turbulence or alarm of an unfinished preparation along with it-but he meets rleath with the quiet assurance of a man who is in readiness, and hails his message as a friendly intimation; and as he lived in the splendour of ever-increasing acquirements, so he dies in all th~ r~diance of anticipated glory. ·~ This mterpretation of the parable cannot be sustained; and we think, that, out of its own mouth, a condemnation may be stamped upon it. Mark this peculiarity. 'The labourers of the eleventh hour are not men who got the offer before, but men who for the first time received a call to work in the vineyard; and they _may therefore well repres~nt the - ,_

XVI people of a country, who, for the first time, received the overtures of the Gospel. The answer they gave to the question, \Vhy stand you so long idle? was, that no man had hired them. We do not read of any of the labourers of the third, or si.'Zth, or ninth hours, refusing the call at these times, and afterwards rendering a compliance with the evening call, and getting the penny for which they declined the offer of working several hours, but afterwards agreed, when the proposal was made, that they should work one hour only. They had a very good answer to give, in excuse for their idleness. They never had been called before. And the oldest men of a Pagan country have the very same answer to give, on the first arrival of Christian missionaries amongst them. But we have no part nor lot in this parable. We have it not in our power to offer any such apology. There is not one of us who can excuse the impenitency of the past, on the plea that no man had called us. This is a call that has been sounded in our ears, from our very infancy. Every time we have seen a bible in our shelves, we have had a calL Every time we have heard a minister in the pulpit, we have had a call. Every time we have heard the generous invitation, "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye unto the waters," we have had a solemn, and what ought to have been a most impressive, call. Every time that a parent has plied us with a good advice, or a neighbour come forward with a fi·iendly persuasion, we have had a call. Every time that the Sabbath bell has rung for us to the house of God, we have had a call. These are all so many distinct and repeated cal!s. These are past events in our life, which rise in judgment against us, and remind us, with a justice of argument that there is no evading, that we have no right whatever to the prtvileges of the eleventh hour. This, then, is the train to which we feel ourselves directed by this parable, The mischievous interpre-

:x.vii tation which has Qeen put upon it, has wakened up our alarms, and set us to look at the delusion which it fosters, and, if possible, to drag out to the light of day, the fallacy which lies in it. We should like to reduce every man to the feeling of the alternative of repentance now, or repentance never. We should like to flash it upon your convictions, that, by putting the call away from you now, you put your eternity away from you. We should like to expose the whole amount of that accursed infatuation which lies in delay. W e, should like to' arouse every soul out of its lethargies, and · giving no quarter , to the plea of a little more sleep, and a little more slumber, we should like you to feel as if the whole of your future destiny hinged on the very first movement to which you turned yourselves. The work of repentance must have a beginning; and we should like you to know, that, if not begun to-day, the chance will be less of its being begun to-morrow. And if the greater chance hru:? failed, what hope can we build upon the smaller ?-and a chance too that is always getting smaller. Each day, as it revolves over the sinner's head, finds him a harder, and a more obstinate, and a more helplessly enslaved sinner, than before. It was this consideration which gave Richard Baxter such, earnestness and such urgency-in his" Call." He knew that the barrier in the way of the sinner's return, was strengthened by every ah of resistance to the call which urges it. That the refusal of this moment hardened the man against the next attack of a Gospel argument that is brought to bear upon him. That if he attempted you now, and he failed, when he came back upon you, he would firid himselfworking on a more obstinate and uncoii].plyiug subject than ever. And therefore it is, that he ever feels a-; if the present were his only opportunity. That he is now upon his vantage ground, and he gives every energy of his soul to the great point of making the most of i~. . He will put up with none of your evasiqns. He ~

xviii will consent to none of your postponements. He will pay respect to none of your more convenient seasons. He tells you, that the matter wit~1 which he is charged, has all the urgency of a matter m hand. He speaks to Jrou with as much earnestness as if he knew that you were going to step into eternity in half an hour. He delivers his message with as much :, s9lemnity as if he knew that this was your last meeting on earth, and that you were-never to see each other till you stood together at the judgment-seat. _ He knew that some mighty change must take place in you, ere you be fit fiw entering into the presence of God; and that the time in which, on every plea of duty and of interest, you should bestir yourselves to secure tllis, is the present time. This is the distinct point he assigns to himself; and the whole drift of his argument, is to urge an instantaneous choice of the better part, by telling you how you multiply every day the obstacles to your future repentance, if you begin not the work of repentance now. Before bringing our Essay to a close, we shall make some observations on the mistakes concenling repentance which we have endeavoured to expose, and adduce some arguments for urging on the consciences of our readers the necessity and importance of immediate repentance. - 1. The work of repentance is a work which must 1)e done ere we die; for, ua less we repent, we shall all likewise perish. Now, the easier this work is in our conception, we will think it the less necessary to enter upon it immediately. We will look upon It as a work that may be done at any time, and let us, therefore, put it otr a little longer, and a little longer. We will perhaps look forward to that retirement fiom the world and its temptations which we figure old age to bring along with it, and f:1.lling in with the too common idea, that the evening of life is the appropriate season of preparation for another world, we will think that the author is bearing

xix too closely and too urgently upon us, when, in the language of the Bible, he speaks of" to-day," while it is ca1Jed to-day, and will let us off with no other repentance than repentance "now,"-seeing that ngw only is the accepted time, and now only the day of salvation, which he has a warrant to proclaim to us. This dilatory way of it is very much favoured by the mistaken and very defective view of repentance which we have attempted to expose. We have some how or other got into the delusion, that repentance is sorrow, and little else; and were we called to fix upon the scene where this sorroW' is likel7 to be felt in the · degree that is deepest and most overwhelming, we would point to the chamber of the dying man. It is awful to think that, generally speaking, this repentance of mere sorrow is the only repentance of a deathbed. Yes! we will meet with sensibility deep enough and painful enough ther&-with regret in all its bitterness-with terror mustering up its images of despair, and dwelling upon them in all the gloom of an affrighted imagination; and this is mistaken, not merely for the drapery of repentance, but for the very substance of it. We look forward, and we count upon this-that the sins of a life are to be expunged by the sighing and the sorrowing of the last days of it. We should give up this wretchedly superficial notion of repentance, and cease, fi·om this moment, to be led astray by it, The mind may sorrow over its corruptions at the very time that it is under the power of them. To grieve because we are under the captivity of sin is one thing-to be r&- leased from that captivity is another. A man may weep most bitterly over the perversities of his moral constitution; but to change that constitution is a different affair. Now, this is the mighty work of repentance. He who has undergone it is no longer the servant of sin. lie dies unto sin, he lives unto God. A sense of the authority of God is ever present with him, to wield the ascendency of a great wa:;;ter.. principle over all his movements--to call forth

XX evtl y purpose, and to carry it forward, through all the opposition of sin and of Satan, into accomplishment. This is the grand revolution in the state of the mind which repentance brings along with it. To grieve because this work is not done, is a very different thing from the doing of it. A deathbed is the very best scene for acting the first; but it is the very worst for acting the second. The repentance of Judas has often been acted there. We ought to think of the work in all its magnitude, and not to put it off to that awful period when the soul is crowded with other things, and has to maintain its weary struggle with the pains, and the distresses, and the shiverings, and the breathless agonies of a deathbed. 2. There are two views that may be taken of the way in which repentance is brought about, and whichever of them is adopted, delay carries along with it the saddest infa.tuation. It may be looked upon as a step taken by man as a voluntary agent, and we would ask you, upon your experience of the powers and the performances of humanity, if a deathbed is the time for taking such a step? Is this a time for a voluntary being exercising a vigorous control over his own movements? When racked with pain, and borne down by the pressure of a sore and overwhelming calamity? Surely the greater the work of repentance is, the more ease, the more time, the more freedom from suffering, is necessary for carrying it on; and, therefore, adcliessing you as voluntary beings, as beings who will and who do, we call upon you to seek God early that you may find him-to haste, and make no delay in ·keeping his commandments. The other view is, that repentance is not a selforiginating work in man, but the work of the Holy Spirit in him as the subject of its influences. This view is not Qpposite to the former. It is true that man wills and does at every step in the business of his salvation; and it is as true that God works in "' him so to will and to do. Take this last view of it then. Look on repentance as the work of God'~

xxi Spirit in the soul of'man, and we are furnished witti a more impressive argument than ever, and set on higher vantage for urging you to stir yourselves, and set about it immediately. What is it that you propose? To keep by your present habits, and your present jndulgences-and build yourselves up all the while in the confidence that the Spirit will interpose with his mighty pow€r ofconversi.on upon you, at the very point oftime that you have fixed upon as convenient and agreeable? And how do you conciliate the Spirit's answer to your call then? Why, by doing all you can to grieve, and to quench, and to provoke him to abandon you now. Do you feel a motion towards repentance at this moment? If you keep it alive,, and act upon it, good and well. But if you smother and suppress this motion, you resist the Spirit-you stifle his movements within you: it is what the impenitent do day after day, and year after year-and is this the way for securing the influences of the Spirit at the time that you would like them best? When you/are done with the world, and are looking forward to eternity because you cannot help it? God says, "My Spirit will not always strive with the children of men." A good and a free Spirit he undoubtedly is, and, as a proof of it, he is now saying, "Let whosoever will, come and drink of the water of life freely." He says so now, but we do not promise that he will say so with efiect upon your deathbeds, if you refuse him now. You look forward then for a powerful work of conversion being done upon you, and yet you employyourselves all your life long in raising and multiplying obstacles against it. You count upon a miracle of grace before you die, and the way you take to make yourselves sure ofit, is to grieve and o~end him while you live, who alone can perform the muacle. 0 what cruel deceits will sin land us in! and ho:v artfully it pleads for a " little more sleep, and a little more slumber; a little more folding of the hands to sleep." We should hold out no longer, llW ]nake not su~h an abuse of the forbearance of J

xxii God: we will treasure up wrath against the day of wrath if we do so. The genuine effect of his goodness is to lead to repentance; let not its effect upon us be to harden and encourage ourselves in the ways of sin. We shou ld cry now for the clean heart and the right spirit; and such is the exceeding freeness of the Spirit of God, that we will be listened to. Ifwe put off the cry till then, the same God may laugh at our calamity, and mock when our {car cometh. S. Our next argument for immediate repentance is, that we cannot bring forward, at any future period of your history, any considerations of a more prevailing or more powerfully moving influence than those we may bring forward at this moment. We tan tell you now of the terrors of the Lord. We can tell you now of the solemn mandates which have isj3ued fi·om his throne-and the authority of which is upon one and all of you. we can tell you now' that though, in this dead and darkened world, sin appears but a very trivial affair-for every body sins, and it is shielded fi·om execration by the universal countenance of an entire species lying in wickedness- yet it holds true of God, what is so emphatically sail! of him, that he cannot be mocked, nor will he endure it that you should riot in the impunity of your wilful resistance to him and to his warnings. We can tell you now, that he is a God of vengeance; and though, for a season, he is keeping back all the thunders of it fi:om a world that he would like to reclaim unto himself, yet, if you put all his expostulations away fi·om you, and will not be reclaimed, these thunders will be let loose upon you, and they will fall on your guilty heads, armed with tenfold energy, because you have not only defied his threats, but turned your back on hi:; offers of reconciliation. These are th"e arguments 'by which we would try to open our way to your consciences, and to waken up your fears, and to put ihe inspiring activity of hope into your bosoms, by ]ayinz before you those invitations which are' address....

e<.l to the sinner, through the peace-speaking blood of .Jesus, and, in the name of a beseeching God, to win your acceptance of them. At no future period can we address arguments more powerful and more affecting than these. If these arguments do not prevail upon you, we know of none others by which a victory over the stubborn a~d uncomplying will can be accomplished, or by wh1ch we can ever hope to beat in that sullen front of resistance ·wherewith you now so impregnably withsfand us. We feel that, if any stout-hearted sinner shall rise from the perusal of these Treatises with an unawakened conscience, and give himself to an act of wilful disobedience, we feel a'3 if, in reference to him, we had made our last discharge, anJ it fell powerless as water spilt on the ground, that cannot be gathered up again. ~re would not cease to ply him with our arguments, and tell him, to the hour ofdeath, ofthe Lord God, merciful and gracious, who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should turn to him, and live. And ifin future life we should meet him at the eleventh hour of his dark m~d deceitful day-a hoary sinner, sinking under the decrepitude of age, and bending on the side of the grave that is open to receive himeven then we would testify the exceeding freeness of the grace of God, and implore his acceptance of it. But how could it be away from our minds that he is not one of the evening- labourers of the parable? We had met with him at former periods of his existence, and the offer we make him now we made him then, and he did what the labourers of the third, and sixth, and ninth hours of the parable did not do-he re;jected our call to hire him into' the vineyard; and this heartless recollection, if it did not take all our energy away from us, would leave us little else than the energy of despair. And therefore it is, that we speak to you now as if this was our last hold of you. \'Ve if on your present purpose hung all the preparatwns of your future life, and all the rewards 'Or all the horrors of your coming eternity. We will

xxiv not let you ofl' with any other repentance than re-- pentance now; and if th!s be refused now, we cannot, with our eyes open to the consideration we have now utged, that the instrument we make to bear upon you afterwards is not more powerful than we are wielding now, coupled with another consideration which we shall insist upon, that tfte subject on which the instrument worketh, even the heart ofman, gathers, by every act ef resistance, a more uncomplying obstinacy than before; we cannot, with these two thoughts in our mind, look :fiwward to your future histoty, without seeing spread. over the whole path of it the iron of a harder impenitency-the sullen gloom of a deeper and more determined alienation. 4. Another argument, therefore, for immediate repentance is, that the mind which resists a present call or a present reproof~ undergoes a progressive hardening towards all those considerations which arm the call of repentance with all its energy. It is not enough to say, that the instrument by which repentance is brought about, is not more powerful to-morrow than it is to day; it lends a most tremendous weight to the argument, to say further, that the subject on which this instrument is putting forth its efficiency, will oppose a firmer resistance to-morrow than it does to-day. It is this which gives a significancy so powerful to the call of "To-day while it is to-day, harden not your hearts;" and to the admonition of " Knowest thou not, 0 man, that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance; but after, thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up wrath against the day of wrath and reveiation of the righteous judgments of God? " It is not said, either in the one or in the other of these passages, that, by the present refusal, you cut yourself off from a future invitation. The invitation may be sounded in your hearing to the last half hour of your earthly existence, engraved in all those characters of free and gratuitous kindness which mark the beneficent religion of the New Testament.

XXV . But the present refusal hardens you against the power and tenderness of the future invitation. This IS the fact in human nature to which these passages seem to point, and it is the fact through which the argument for immediate repentance receives such powerful aid from the wisdom of experience. It is this which forms the most impressive proof of the necessity of plying the young with all the weight and all the tenderness of earnest admonition, that the now susceptible mind might not turn into a substance harder and more uncomplying than the rock which is broken in pieces by the powerful application of the hammer of the word of God. The metal of the human soul, so to speak, is like some material substances. If the force you lay upon it do not break it, or dissolve it, it will beat it into hardness. If the moral argument by which it is plied now, do not so soften the mind as to carry and to overpower its purposes, then, on another day, the argument may be put forth in terms as impressive-but it falls on a harder mind, and, therefore, with a more slender efficiency. If the threat, that ye who persist in sin shall have to dwell with the devouring fire, and to lie down amid everlasting burnings, do not alarm you out qf your iniquities ii·om this very moment, then the same threat may be again cast out, and the same appalling circumstances of terror be thrown around it, but it is all discharged on a soul hardened by its inurement to the thunder of denunciations already uttered, and the urgency of menacing threatenings already poured forth ·without fruit and without efficacy. If the voice of a beseeching God do not win upon you now, and charm you out of your rebellion against him, by the persuasive energy of kindn.ess, then let that voice be lifted in your hearing on some future day, and though armed with all the power of tencl~rness it ever had, how shall it find its entrance into a heart sheathed by the operation of habit, that universal law, in more impenetrable obstinacy? If~ with the r / 3

earliest dawn of your understanding, you have been offered the hire of the morning labourer and have refused it, then the parable does not say that you are the person who at the third, or sixth, or ninth, or eleventh hour, will get the offer repeated to you. It is true, that the offer is unto all and upon all who are within reach of the hearing of it. But there is all the difference in the world between the impression of a new offer, and of an ofler that has already been often heard and as often rejected-an offer which comes upon you with all the fiuniliarity of a wellknown sound that you have already learned how to dispose of, and how to shut your evm-y feeling against the power of its gracious invitations-an offer which, if discarded from your hearts at the present moment, may come back upon you, but which will have to maintain a more unequal contest than before, with an impenitency ever strength · ening, and ever gathering new hardness from each successive act of resistance. And thus it is that the point for which we are contending is not to carry you at some future period of your lives, but to carry you at this moment. It is to work in you the instantaneous purpose of a firm and a vigorously sustained repentance; it is to put into you all the freshness of an immecliate resolution, and to stir you up to all the readiness of an immediate accomplishment-it is to give direction to the very first footstep you are now to take, and lead you to take it as the commencement ofthat holy career, in which all old things are done away, and all things become new-it is to press it upon you, that the state of the alternative, at this moment, is " now or never"--:it is to prove how fearful the odds are against you, if now you suffer the call of repentance to light upon your consciences, and still keep by your determined posture of careless, and thoughtless, and thankless unconcern about God. You have resisted to-day, and by that resistance you have acquired a firmer metal of resistance against the power of every future warning that may be

xxvii brought to bear upon you. You have stood your ground against the urgency of the most earnest admonitions, and against the dreadfulness of the most terrifying menaces. On that ground you have fixed yourself more immovably than before; and though on . some future day the same spiritual thunder be made to play around you, it will not shake you out ofthe obstinacy of your determined rebellion. It is the universal law of habit, that the feelings nre always getting more faintly and feebly impressed by every repetition of the cause which excited them, and that the mind is always getting stronger in its active resistance to the impulse of these feelings, by every new deed of resistance which it performs; and thus it is, that if you refuse us now, we have no other prospect before us than that your cause is every day getting more desperate and more irrecoverable, your souls are getting more hardened, the Spirit is getting more provoked to abandon those who have so long persisted in their opposition to his movements. God, ·who says that his Spirit will not always strive v.-rith the children of men, is getting more offended. The tyranny of habit is getting every day a firmer ascendency over you; Satan is getting you more helplessly involved among his wiles and his entanglements; the world, with all the inveteracy of those desires which are opposite to the will of the Father, is more and more lording it over your every affection. And what, we would ask, what is the scene in which you are now purposing to contest it, with all this mighty force of opposition you are now so busy in raising up against you? What is the field of combat to which you are now looking forward, as the place where you are to accomplish a victory over all those formidable enemies whom you are at present arming with such a weight of hostility, as, we say, within a single hairbreadth of certainty, you will find to be irresistible? 0 the bigness of such a misleading infatuation ! The proposed scene in which this battle for eternity is to be fought, and this victory for the crown ofglory is to