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forget God, to neglect Christ, and live as I did, in thoughtlessness, and unbelief !” Or is there a self-respect, that palliates its own unworthiness,-a fear of man, or a partial regard to the world's opinion, that puts you on seeking to appear to advantage in its estimation, as if ye had been wise and good, even before God had made you so ?
Certainly we are not needlessly to expose our own demerits, or make a show of our deficiencies, without discretion; or divulge to men all that we confess to God, (for in many things, unlimited disclosure would be very unwise); neither are we to use disparaging language beyond the measure of serious conviction; for to express a sorrow for sins which we do not feel, is itself sinful, and a great departure from simplicity and truth: Yet if a man pretend to have passed from a state of just condemnation to a state of unmerited pardon, and if he tell us so, with no contrition for the guilt, and with no commendation of the undeserved mercy; we cannot help entertaining a fear that he has yet one palpable mark of unregeneracy upon him,—“deceived." We might suspect a man's sincerity who was always publishing his own shame, and reiterating the story of unconverted days, without regard to any pro
prieties of time or place; but not less suspicious is the veil of obscurity which some studiously draw over the scene of unregenerate life, the least allusion to which they are vigi. lant to discourage. They do not say that they were at all times what they wish; they would have us believe they have obtained mercy : but if we ask what time, or how long they were foolish, and disobedient, and deceived ? they dislike the application of such humbling terms; and have that tenderness for " the old man,” that they would not have his foibles or his faults dragged into notice, or treated with disparagement. Now, unless “ the old man” had been the very enemy of God, and unless he had been implicated in crucifying the Lord of glory, and unless the mercy of God were illustriously displayed in the remission of his deeds; we would join in opinion with those who study perpetual concealment or palliation. But when we find a great solicitude to extenu. ate the misdoings of corrupt nature, as if it would injure religion itself to tell what irreligion has done, and as if it would dishonour free mercy to relate its triumphs; we are led to apprehend that “ the old man” yet lives in the heart; and hence the tenderness that is shown to his sins and aberrations. The inward sentiment, however, and a man.
ner of acting which expresses lowliness of mind, are the things in our estimation on which the principal stress ought to be laid, in judging if our views accord with Scripture on the survey of former unregenerate life.
How far a justified sinner ought to carry the sentiment of humiliation and self-abasement in the recollection of past evils, we cannot now examine. A vessel of mercy, and an object of redeeming love, has something whereof to glory; and if it were not so, what could raise the contrite above dejection ? But our rejoicing is only reasonable and proper, when we have renounced ourselves as only evil, and have put on Christ, and do glory in the Lord. Penitence and faith, contrition and confidence, go together in the believer's experience; and both are expressed in this confession of the prophet—“ All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." Sadness would overwhelm us to reflect how long time we were foolish, and disobedient, and deceived, were it not that the same light which convinces us of sin, makes known to us the mercy of God and the grace of a Saviour. To review his having been cast
away, is indeed painful to the mariner, but it enhances the kindness of a preserver, as well as the value of a secure condition, and makes him prize the life that was scarcely rescued from the awful peril of death. So we have sorrow in looking back to what we were as children of wrath; but when we can say, that now are we saved, praise succeeds to lamentation, and the consciousness of salvation cheers and elevates the mind. Still, however, we need nothing less than the kindness and love of God our Saviour to assure our hearts, and to wipe away tears for our folly and our sins; as the prodigal required some special honours and manifestations of regard to be paid him, in order to restore his confidence, and relieve him from a sense of self degradation, incompatible with virtue or enjoyment.
6 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said unto the servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it, and let us eat and be merry ; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.”
TITUS III. 47. “But after that the kindness and love of God our
Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us, by the washing of rege. neration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour ; that, being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eter
nal life.” That a great moral change, which is termed “regeneration," or the being born again, passes on some, is a fact established by the evidence of testimony, and by the evidence of experience. The testimony cannot be invalidated, for is is divine, flowing from knowledge infinitely free from mistake, and from rectitude incapable of deceiving.
The thing testified on the part of God in his word, is likewise a matter of experi