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to encumber and offend them. They must put it away as something inconsistent with their character, disreputable to them, and what they cannot any longer endure to have about them. This duty extends to the mind and heart. It respects the fountain of iniquity—the root of the evil-the very spring of the mischief. The judgment, the taste, the dispositions, the passions, the imaginations of the soul are to be altered. The unrighteous man must forsake his thoughts. His impure thoughts-his hard thoughts of God —his contemptuous thoughts of the people of God-his light thoughts of sin—his angry thoughts at the divine allotments—his unkind thoughts towards men—his thoughts of envy, of malice, of revenge.

All these thoughts must be suppressed and forsaken. All false refuges, all vain confidences, all spurious hopes, all false views of religion, and all empty pretences to piety must be abandoned. The unrighteous must cease to think themselves safemust cease to think they can save themselves—must cease to think the way of salvation is unreasonably straight and narrow—must cease to think that the purposes of God preclude the necessity of endeavors on the part of sinners to obtain salvation. In a word they must give up all thoughts of being saved by means of any works of righteousness, which they can do.

3. The last thing enjoined as a duty on sinners, is a cordial return to the Lord. LET HIM RETURN UNTO THE LORD. This is no outward act. Their departure and alienation from God, are the acts of the mind and heart, and this must be so too. They may go to his house, and, from Sabbath to Sabbath, mingle with his people in the visible services of devotion. They may go to his word, and read it with habitual attention and a measured interest. They may be in the habit of a formal approach to God in prayer. But none of these acts, in themselves, necessarily involves their cordial return to the Lord. The return here required, is to be like the return of revolted subjects to their sover

eign Lord. A heartfelt regret, is to mingle with their sentiments of renewed submission to his rightful control. Grief for past acts of rebellion, is to mingle with, and melt the heart into unseigned and cheerful acts of unalterable devotion to his interests and obedience to his authority. In such a return, there is no counter movement of the mind, no inward drawing back from his supreme dominion, and no concealed rebellion still lingering in the heart. It is like the return of the prodigal to his father's house. The tears of grief and joy flow together, and tell the mingled emotions of the soul. It is bitter, that they have departed from such a father, but it is sweet to return to his welcoming call. It is bitter to have thus madly reduced themselves to such a state of degradation and misery, but it is sweet to be permitted and enabled to return to a home, a restingplace, a refuge, elevated above the low pleasures, and cruel vicissitudes of earth. The return to God, to which sinners are called, is like returning to a fountain of living waters, which had been forsaken for broken cisterns that can hold no water. How would one reproach and condemn himself for having conducted so unreasunably, so foolishly, so ruinously, and hasten back with eagerness, with gratitude, and joy !

Now, does the Saviour in the text make an unreasonable demand on sinners? Does he require too much? Is it not reasonable and right, that sinners wandering from God in darkness, in sin, in suffering, should be required to return to him? Is it not right that they should forsake their way and their thoughts, and afresh give up themselves to the Infinite One? But,

II. There is encouragement presentedthere are motives suggested to induce their performance of the duty commanded. It would be reasonable, and right, and fit, that the wicked should forsake their wickedness, and seek and return to God, if no special encouragement were presented—if no good were to result to them in consequence of doing so. But infinite is the encoura agement. For if they will seek and call upon Him, as has been mentioned, they may be assured,

1. That he is near and can be found. It is needless to remark on the sense in which God is ever near, and in which it is impossible to go where he is not to be found. The scriptures have a peculiar way of speaking on this subject. A way which to some may seem unphilosophical and unintelligible. But the people of God have learned how to interpret it. God is properly said to be near, when the means and agencies by which he effects his benevolent purposes, are near-when the medium through which he is wont to communicate spiritual good, is at hand. In this sense, we are authorized to consider him ever in his word and ordinances. When the Sabbath dawns upon a sinner, he

may

know that God is near and ready, through means of its sacred avocations, to communicate spiritual good to his soul. If, as the light of this holy day breaks upon him, he will seek the Lord and call

upon
His
name,

He will be found near to listen to the earnest cry, and to send a gracious answer. Every time unconverted men ente: the house of God, they may know, that he is there in a peculiar sense, to communicate saving benefits. They may know that the time and place favor their humble pursuit of salvation.

So too, whenever they open the book of God, they may be assured, that God is near and ready to manifest himself graciously to their souls. Indeed, so long as they are seriously concerned to find God, He will not continue to disappoint their desires. So long as the gospel is preached to them, so long it will not be in vain fo: them to seek Him, and to call upon Him.

But, there are seasons of His more special presence, when His Spirit is made, in a more signal manner, to attend the means of grace. At such times, there is every possible encouragement to seek. These are emphatically the times, when he may be found by the wicked. When the unconverted feel their minds in any measure impressed with a conviction of their spiritual wants—when it seems to them peculiarly desirable to become partakers of saving mercy-when their friends and acquaintances are espousing the cause of God, and coming to enjoy pledges of forgiving love,—they may know, that the patience of God is waiting on them, that His word is calling them, and that His Spirit is striving with them. Then may they know, that if they seek the Lord, they may find him—that if they call upon Him, He will be near to listen, and to grant their requests. In view of such considerations as these, do not the words of the Saviour in the text, address themselves with singular emphasis—with irresistable force and urgency to every impenitent person in this assembly?SEEK YE THE LORD, WHILE HE MAY BE FOUND, CALL YE UPON HIM WHILE HE IS NEAR.

2. Another motive to obedience to the direction of the text, is the promise of the divine mercy. LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY, AND THE UNRIGHTEOUS MAN HIS THOUGHTS, AND LET HIM RETURN UNTO THE LORD, AND HE WILL HAVE MERCY UPON HIM. What encouragement is here presented. It may be safely said, that all is here promised, that a truly converted sinner can ever desire or need. Mercy is a union of love and pity, manifested in relieving the suffering of the poor and miserable. Sinners are emphatically poor and miserable. They have little else than their sin, and that is the fruitful source of a deep wretchedness of soul. Now, for God to love, and pity, and relieve such, is enough, one would suppose, to inspire with purposes of obedience, the most distant wanderer from him. Will God in very deed have mercy upon me? it would seem each sinner must be ready to say, then will I seek him, then will I call upon him, then will I abandon my evil ways and thoughts, and turn unto him. God will treat no sinner who does thus, as he deserves, but will have compassion on him, and bring him out of misery, and train him up for glory. He will give to

every such person the only thing that can cure their wretchedness. He will give them the renewing and sanctifying influences of His Holy Spirit. The dominion of sin over their souls, shall be weakened and finally extinguished. No longer at war with him, no longer enemies to him by wicked works, peace shall begin its eternal reign in their bosoms. The joy of salvation shall prevail, where, but recently, nothing but the most gloomy forebodings of endless suffering found a place. What a motive, then, is here for sinners to return to God. He delights in mercy. The misery of sinners is especially the object of his mercy. He will frown upon none that seek to return to him.

But his pity will prompt the proffer of aid to strengthen, and of hope to cheer them, as soon as they begin to return. When he was a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.

3. God will abundantly pardon every sinner that truly returns to him. To pardon sinners, is so to remit their sin or to remove their guilt, that the threatened curse shall not come upon them—that the just punishment shall not be inflicted. As soon as any one really returns to God, all his sin is thus forgiven. Some of the consequences of past transgression may follow, but the greatest evil of it, its merited future punishment, will not follow. There is something more than this implied in the promise here. God will ABUNDANTLY PARDON. Or, as it is sometimes read, he will multiply pardons. He will pardon the greatest sinner. No one, who has a heart to return to the Lord, need to fear that his sins exceed the measure of the divine forgiveness. It is not possible that they should. Although they have become innumerable in extent, and extremely aggravated in character, a disposition to submit to God, may assure every one, that all his wickedness is so removed, that its guilt shall not bring down the slightest retributive punishment in the coming world.

To the returning ng

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