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ly willing to renounce them, and seriously endeavor to reform them.
You think, agreeably to your gloomy system, that God doth indeed pardon some crimes, but that there are some which he will not pardon ; that he sometimes pardoneth hatred, but that he will never forgive murder: that he sometimes pardoneth sins of infirmity, but that he will never forgive sins of obstinacy; that he pardoneth idle words, but that he will never forgive blasphemies: But God's thoughts are, that he will abundantly pardon ; that he will pardon murder as well as hatred; and sins of obstinacy as well as sins of infirmity ; provided you be sincerely willing to renounce them, and seriously endeavor to reform them.
You think, consistently with your melancholy system, that God may perhaps pardon the sins of a few days, or of a few months, or of a few years;
but that he cannot forgive the sins of ten, or twenty, years, or of a whole life : But God thinks, he can abundantly pardon; that he cannot forgive the sins of ten years, or of twenty, or of a whole life, as well as the sins of one day, or of one month, or of one year; if you be sincerely willing to renounce them, , and seriously endeavor to reform.
Your thoughts are that God pardoneth the sins of those whom he hath not called into churchfellowship, nor distinguished by particular favors : But the thoughts of God are, that he will abundantly pardon ; that he will forgive sins committed under the mosaical dispensation as well as those committed under the dispensation of nature, those committed under the gospel, as well as those committed under the law, or before the law; if you be sincerely willing to renounce, and seriously endeavor to reform them. It is not I, it is the prophet, it is God himself, by the prophet, who attests these truths :
Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him he is near. 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 ; and to our God, for HE WILL
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. If
you sincerely forsake, and seriously reform. them. Have you not been surprized at the frequent repetition of this clause? This clause, however, is the ground of all the promises we make to you on God's part. The chief design of the prophet is to produce obedience to God, and in this we would wish to unite this whole assembly. Deprive the text of this clause, and the rest of the words are not only false and unwarrantable, but contradictory, to themselves, and injurious to that God, whose mercy we have been publishing. We have no consolation for a melancholy man, who is resolved to persist in his sins. We have no remedy against despair, when the despairing man refuseth to renounce those crimes, the remembrance of which causeth all his distress and despair.
You slanderers, you false accusers, you pests of society, God will abundantly pardon you. Yea, though you have been wickedly industrious to poison the purest words, the most harmless actions, the holiest intentions, yet you ought not to despair of the mercy of God; for his thoughts are not as your thoughts, nor his ways as your ways.
He will forgive all your sins, if you sincerely forsake, and seriously reform them; if you do justice to the innocence you have attacked, and repair the reputations you have damaged.
You unjust, you oppressors, you extortioners, you who, as well as your ancestors, have lived on the substance of the wretched, and who are about to transmit an accursed patrimony to your posterity, God will abrindantly pardon. you: yea, though you have made a sale of justice, negotiated the blood of the miserable, betrayed the state, and sold your country, yet you ought not to despair of the mercy of God, for his thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are his ways your ways.
All these sins he will forgive, if you endeavor seriously to amend them; if you lay aside those equipages, and retrench those sumptuous festivals, which are the fruits of your own, and of your parents, oppressions and extortions.
You sick, you dying people, who cannot think of your momentary life without thinking of those sins, which you have been perpetually committing, and in the multitude and magnitude of which your thoughts are lost, God will abundantly pardon you. Though no other time remains to conciliate your souls to God than the last days of a dying illness, the slight remains of a departing life, yet you ought not to despair of the mercy of God, for his thoughts are not as your thoughts, neither are his ways as your ways. He will forgive all your sins, if you sincerely forsake, and seriously reform them ; if you be animated not only with the fear of death and hell, but with a sincere desire of returning unto the Lord; if you do not make your pastor an accomplice in your sins; if you do not forbid him the mentioning of some of your sins ; if you do not prevent the removal of that vail, which yet hides a great part of your turpitude from you; in a word, if
you willingly fall in with all the ways of repentance and reparation, that may be opened to you.
I conclude with the clause, that I have so often repeated and which I again repeat, (and woe be to him who forgets it! woe be to him who, by bis perseverance in sin, rendereth his compliance impossible !) if you sincerely forsake, and seriously endeavor to reform and repair them. I give you a subject to meditate for the conclusion of this discourse, (a very terrible and alarming conclusion for those who have the madness to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness,) Jude 4. this subject, which I leave with you to meditate, is, What degree of punishment in bell will be inflicted upon such men as despise the mercy that we have been describing?
grant you may never be able to answer this hy your own experience! Amen.