Acts xvii. 30. And the times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent.
This command is as positive as any other in the Bible. It is simple and easily understood. From its obligations there are no exceptions, made in favor of the great, the learned, the honored, the gay, the amiable, the moral. It is addressed to all men, in all climes, and in all ages of the world. It comes, therefore, to us, and is laid across our path. Repentance is here urged as the command of the Almighty. In other places it is declared to be indispensable to salvation, and we are assured that unless we repent we shall perish.
Yet men haye many objections to yielding obedience to this command of God. At one time they allege, or they would allege if they were to express the real feelings of the heart, that they have done nothing which requires repentance. They have done no wrong which they have not endeavored to repair, and <hey are conscious of no crime. They are not idolators; they have not been guilty of murder, or robbery, or fraud, or falsehood. Their lives have been upright, and why should they weep? . At another time it is said, that repentance is wholly beyond the power of man; that it is a.work which can only be performed by the aid of God; and the expression of wonder is scarce withheld that a command should be urged to do that which it is known will never be done but by divine assistance. At another time it is alleged, that the requirement is wholly arbitrary; that the terms of salvation have in themselves no intrinsic value or necessity; and that it is unreasonable that God should suspend eternal salvation on the exercise of repentance and faith. Why, it is asked, has he selected from all the exercises of min these two as those in connexion with which he will bestow salvation? Why these more than love, or hope, or joy, or zeal? Is there any such intrinsic fitness or value in sorrow and in faith in Christianity as to justify this selection as constituting the only ground of salvation? And why in this arrangement has he chosen these mere emotions of the heart in preference to a correct moral character as the conditions of his favor? Would it not he more worthy of God to make eternal life depend on virtue and benevolence';'on honesty and truth; on the faithful discharge of our duties in the family and in public life, than on regret for the pastr and on the mere exercise of faith? And why is it that he requires the man of many years and many virtues, and the youth of great amiableness and purity, to renounce all confidence in these virtues and all dependence on them, and to approach God weeping over the errors of a'life? Can he require feigned sorrow? Can there be virtue in forced and affected tears? Again it is asked, why has God made the path to •heaven a path of sorrow ?. Why must we go with the head bowed down with grief? Why has he made the road a thorn-hedge, and not planted it with roses? Are there no joyous emotions that might have been made the cohdition.of salvation ; nothing that would make the eye bright, and the heart cheerful, and the soul glad, that might have been selected of at least equal value with pensiveness and a heavy heart; with melancholy and tears? .-.••,
Such are some of the feelings that spring up in the mind when we come to men and urge upon them the duty of repentance. My desire is, if possible, to meet these feelings, and to convince you, that they are unfounded. I shall aim to show you that the requisition of repentance is not arbitrary, but that it is founded in-the nature of things, and that a man Must Repent if he will ever enter into the kingdom of God. In doing this, I shall submit to your attention a series of observations, which will have a direct bearing on the case before us.
I. In the first place, repentance is a simple operation of mind Understood by all persons, and in some form practised by all. You cannot find a person who at some time has not exercised repentance. You cannot find a child who needs to be told what is meant by being required to repent when he has done a wrong thing; and in the emotions of-a child, when he feels sorrow that he has done wrong,, and who resolves to make confession of it and to do so no more, you have the elements of all that God requires of man as a condition of salvation. You have broken the commands of a father. Jiis law was plain;. his will was clear. When the deed is performed, you reflect on what you have done. You see that his command was right; that you have done wrong by breaking his law, and have incurred his just displeasure. He has always treated you kindly; his commands have never been unreasonable; and you cannot justify yourself in what you have done. You see that you have done wrong. By a law of your nature you feel pain or distress that you did the wrong. You nesolve. that you will go and confess it, and that you will do so no more. This is repentance; and this is the whole of it. You have a friend. He has a thousand times, and in a thousand ways, laid you under obligation. He has helped you in pecuniary distress; shared your losses; attended.you in sickness; defended your reputation when attacked. "He himself, in turn, suffers. Wicked men blacken and defame his character,and a cloud rolls upon him and overwhelms him. In an evil hour your mind is poisoned, and. you forget all that he has done for you, and you join in the prevalent suspicion and error in regard to him, and give increased currency to the slanderous reports. Subsequently you reflect that it was all wrong; that you acted an ungrateful part; that you suffered your mind to be too easily influenced to forget your benefactor, and that'you have done him great and lasting injury. You are pained at the heart. You resolve that you will go to him and make confession, and that you will implore forgiveness, and that you will endeavor as far as possibfe to undo the evil. This is repentance; and this is all. Let these simple elements be transferred to God and to religion, and you. have all that is included in repentance. Be as honest towards God as you have been many a time toward a parent or a friend, and you will have no difficulty on the subject. You will see that it was neither arbitrary nor unreasonable. The difficulty is, when you approach religion you are determined to find something unintelligible, severe, and harsh, and you at once suppose that God in his arrangement is arbitrary and unkind.
I said that repentance was well understood by all persons/and practised by all. Nothing is more common on earth';—en earth onfy. The angels in heaven having never sinned have nothing of which to repent; and of course it is unknown there. Devils, though having sinned long and much, have yet felt no regret at their crime, and have never been disposed to go and ask for pardon; and there is no repentance among them. Sinners that descend from our World to the world of wo, go beyond the reach of mercy and the desire of pardon, and there is no penitence in hell. But on earth what is more common? Who is there that has not exercised repentance? Who.is there that has never felt that he has done wrong, and that has resolved that he would do so no more? No inconsiderable portion of every man's life is made up of regrets for the errors and follies of the past. No small part of the sighs and groans of the world are the bitter fruit of mistakes and crimes. No small part of the recollections of an old man are made up of remembrances of days of folly and of subsequent regret; of the indulgence of appetite and passion, and of the bitterly lamented fruits; of wrong thoughts, amLwrong words, and wrong deeds over which he has had abundant leisure to mourn. These feelings occur on the remembrance of errors, follies, crimes. They invade the mind because we feel that we have done wrong, and that vreought to have done differently. They are not arbitrary. They are the operations of the regular laws of the mind; and they are operations which a generous and noble heart would not wish to check or prevent.
If such feelings actually occur on the recollection of the past, it is natural to ask why We should not expect to find them in religion? We see repentance every where else, and manifested in every man's life. We perceive regrets at the past starting up in the minds of men of all ages and all lands; and why shall it be regarded as strange that it is required in a system of religion designed to recall the world from error and from, sin?
Further; the most deep and pungent feelings which men ever have are found in regrets for the crimes of the past. The mind no where else knows emotions so overwhelming and so torturing, as in the recollections of past guilt. And why, then, should deep emotion be deemed strange or unreasonable in religion? Why should it be regarded as fanatical that the soul should be burdened with a sense of guilt when it comes back to God? If you feel pained when you recollect that you have wounded the feelings of a friend; if your mind is overwhelmed when you think of disobedience towards a parent, whether now living or dead; if you are overwhelmed when you are made conscious that you have been guilty of great ingratitude, I ask why may we not expect that there will be deep feeling in the return of a sinner to. God.? The sins which you have committed against a friend, a parent, or an earthly benefactor, are trifles when compared with the sins which we have committed against our heavenly friend, parent, benefactor. David was guilty of two of the most aggravated offences which can be committed against human laws. That he felt the criminality of these offences as committed against man no one can doubt; but great as this consciousness of guilt was when regarded as committed against man, it was absorbed and lost when he contemplated his offence as committed against God. "Against thee, Thee Only," said he, "have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." Ps. li. 4. My wonder is not that men feel deeply when they exercise true repentance and become Christians, nor is it that here and there one is so overwhelmed as to be driven to permanent derangement. It is a matter of marvel that they feel so little; and a subject of praise and thanksgiving that in nearly every instance the divine mercy interposes, and the voice of pardon is heard speaking to the soul, before the anxious and guilty sinner sinks into despair.' .
II. My second proposition is, that God may appoint his own terms of mercy, and that man has no right to complain if he requires him to exercise repentance as a condition of salvation. This general proposition is true in relation to every thing, that God may appoint his own terms on which his favors may be enjoyed, and that man has neither the right to dictate nor complain. Health is his gift; and he has the absolute right—a right which he is constantly exercising—to state to man on what terms it may be enjoyed; and if he does not choose to comply with those terms, God will not depart from his settled laws to give him health by miracle. Life is his gift, and he has a right to say on what terms it shall be enjoyed; property is his gift, and he has a right to say to man how it may be possessed. In like manner, pardon is the gift of God, and he has a right to say on what terms it may be obtained. An offender against law has no right to demand forgiveness; nor has he any more right to prescribe the terms on which it may be obtained. Heaven is God's home; and he has a right to say to men on what terms they may be admitted to live with him. Assuredly men caDnot claim of God the right to be admitted to heaven, and to prescribe to him the terms on which he will receive them to favor there: If, therefore, God has declared that repentance and faith are the indispensable conditions on which man may be admitted to favor and to heaven, no one can complain. The only appropriate question to ask is, whether in fact he Atfs-appointed'them as the indispensable conditions. That settled, every question on the subject is at rest. '.
If we may illustrate great things by small, and appeal to men for the propriety of this to their own doings, I would observe that God is dealing with you in this respect just as you deal with your fellow-men. You have a house. It is your castle; your home. , No one has a right to come there without your consent. You will admit no one to your dwelling, or. to your table, Ot to intercourse with your sons and daughters, who does not choose to comply with the reasonable conditions which you may choose to have observed—whether they be" such merely as society has chosen to appoint in general, "or such particular conditions as you may think good order in your house requires. Why complain of God if he does the same thing? You are a parent. A child violates your commands. Do you rtot feel that you have a right to prescribe the terms on which he may obtain your forgiveness? Do you not feel that pardon is yours, to bestow or withhold as you shall choose? You have a friend; or there is one Who was your professed friend. He has greatly wronged you. The offence is undeniable; it is admitted. Do you not feel that you have a right to prescribe to him the terms on which he may be admitted to your favor and enjoy your friendship again? And if you should require that he should express regret, and confess the wrong, and repair the evil, would you think that he had a right to complain of you? And would you think it a sufficient answer to this if he should say, that he had no power to do it, or that you might have planted the path of return with flowers rather than with thorns? How obvious the answer that it would be as easy to make the confession, as to do the wrong, and that as to the llioms in the case, he planted them by his own wrong-doing, and not you. And since we every where claim the right to say on what terms those who have injured us may again be permitted to partake of our favors, why should we complain of our Maker if the same thing occurs under his government? . • , .
The proposition, therefore, that God has a right to appoint his own termsof favor cannot be disputed. If repentance be one.of the conditions., he has a right to say that this is indispensable to obtaining, his favor. You deem it an incumbrance, a clog, a hindrance to your return. But even if it were so,-the question would be whether it would not still be wise to accept of salvation cumbered with temporary sorrow here in the hope of eternal glory hereafter, or whether it would be best to perish forever because God had appended such a condition to the offer of life. My remarks under this head tend to this, that even if the appointment were wholly arbitrary, God has a right to make it, and man has no right to complain.
III. My third proposition is, that when wrong has been done among men, the only way to obtain again the favor of those who have been injured is by repentauce. No man who has done evil in any way can be restored to forfeited favor but by just this process of repentance—by a process involving all the elements of grief, shame, remorse, reformation, confession, that are demanded in religion. Let lis recur to some of the former illustrations.
Yon are a father. A child does wrong. He violates your law; offends you; treats you with disrespect or scorn. He goes abroad and represents your government at home as severe, and gives himself up to unbridled dissipation. Regardless of your commands and of your feelings, he becomes the companion of the dissipated and the vile; and with those companions wastes vthe fruits of your labors. . Towards that son you cherish still all a father's feelings; but I may appeal to any such Unhappy parent to say whether he would admit him to the same degree of confidence and favor as before without some evidence of repentance. You demand that he should express regret for the errors and follies of his life; you demand evidence that will be satisfactory to you that he will not do the same thing again; you require proof that he will be disposed by a virtuous life to repair as far as possible, the injury which he has done you; and the moment you hear him sincerely say, " Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am not worthy to be called thy son," that moment you are ready to go out and nieet him, and to throw your arms around his neck and to forgive him.—You have had a friend. You thought him sincere. But he betrayed you; and in feeling, in property, in character you have been made to suffer by him. I ask any man whether he can receive such a friend again to his bosom, and press him to his heart, without some evidence of regret at what he has done, and some proof that he will not do it. again? You cannot do it. You cannot force your nature to do it. The sea might as well break over the iron bound shore, or the river flow back and again climb up the mountain side where it leaped down in cascades, as for you to do it. You will convince yourself in some way that he Re&rets what he has done, and that he will not do it again, or~you can never receive-him again with the confidence of a friend. Your nature is .as firm on this point as the everlasting hills, and is, in this respect, but the counter-part and the image of God, who does the same thing.— In like manner it is with those who have committed offences against a community. Of the man who has been guilty of theft, burglary, arson, or forgery, and who has been sentenced and punished for these offences, the community demand evidence that he has repented of the crime, and that he purposes to do so no more, before it will admit him again to its favor. If you go into his cell and find him alone on his knees before God confessing the sin; if you see in him the evidence of regret and sorrow that it was done ; if you believe that the reformation is entire and sincere, the community will again receive him to its bosom, and will forgive and forget the past, and he may rise to public confidence, and even to affluence and honor. But if none of these things are seen; if he spends the years of his sentence sullen and hardened, and profane, and without one sigh or tear, he is never forgiven. He may have paid the penalty of the law, but he is not forgiven;—and he goes forth to meet the frowns of an indignant community, to be watched with an eagle eye,and to be excluded all his life from the affections and confidence of mankind. Universally it is true that where an offence has been committed and there is evidence of repentance, the offender may be restored to favor; where there is no regret, shame, the curse of man and of his Maker alike rest upon him.
IV. My fourth proposition is, that in the actual course of events under the divine administration, it is only in connexion with repentance that forfeited favors can be recovered. I do not mean to say that repentance will always repair the evil of the past; that it will .restore to a man the money which he has squandered by dissipation; that it,will recover the health which has been lost by vicious indulgence, or that it will recall to life the man that has been murdered. But my meaning is, that if a man who has done wrong is ever restored in any measure to the forfeited favor of God it will be in connection with repentance. A process of repentance, similar to that required by the Christian religion, is inevitable, and unless that exist, the-forfeited favor can never be regained. A man has wasted his health and property by intemperance. He was once in comfortable circumstances ; saw around him a happy family; was respected and beloved; enjoyed health, and was rising to affluence. He yielded to temptation, and all is now swept away.— Peace has fled from his dwelling, and his wife sits in poverty and in tears, and his children are growing up in idleness and vice, and he is fast hastening to a drunkard's grave. Is there any way, now, by which health, and domestic peace, and property, and respectability may be recovered? There is. But how? By this course. He will reflect on his sin and folly. He will feel deeplypained at the evil he has done. He will lament that course of life which has taken comfort and peace from his dwelling. He will resolve to forsake the ways.of sin, and will abandon forever the intoxicating bowL He will reform his life, and become sober, industrious, and. kind— and health may again revisit his frame, and peaee his family, and his. farm will again be fenced, and ploughed, and sown, and the rich harvest will again wave in the summer sun. But this is the very way in which God requires the sinner to come back to himself He requires him to reflect on the past; to feel as he ought that he has pursued a guilty course; to break off his transgressions, and to lead a different life. . Why should it be thought more strange in religion than in the actual course of events? .-.'.-.-.
The same is true of a gambler. He has been led on by the arts of temptation .till he has lost his all. He had received a competence as the heir to a wealthy father. Now it is all gone. From one step to another he has been, drawn into temptation with amazing rapidity, till he is now stript of all, and is penniless, and is ready to give himself up to despair. Is there any way by which he can emerge from this depth of woes, and become a man of respectability and property again? There is one, and but one way. It is a straight and a narrow path—like that which leads to heaven. It will not be found by treading on in the blighted and parched way in which he is now going. It will be by the following process. He will reflect on the folly and the guilt of his course. He will feel pain and.regret at the remembrance of that sad hour when he yielded to temptation. He will mourn in the bitterness of his soul over that dark day. He will resolve that he will never enter a gambling room again, and that he will devote his life to a course of steady industry and virtue;—and the confidence of his fellow-men he may regain, and God will bestow on him wealth and respectability. But this is substantially the way in which a sinner is to return to God. This is repentance.
So in respect to indolence, vice, dissipation, crime in all forms. If men ever turn back these evils; if they ever arrest this descending curse; if they ever escape from the withering and blighting influence which pursues the wicked-, itmtist be in connexion with Tepentance. If there is no evidence of repentance and reform, that withering and blighting influence will pursue the individual over sea and land, to the end of the world and to the end of life. He can never escape the curse of violating the laws of heaven until he gives evidence of sincere sorrow for what he has done. But the moment that is done, the avenger ceases to pursue him; friends come again around him; and he finds peace in his own bosom", and in every man he finds a friend.
V, The necessity of repentance could not be avoided by any arrrangement whatever.. It must exist whenever there is returning love to God; and had it not have been required in a formal manner as a condition of salvation, still it would have been true that no sinner would ever have returned from his ways and come back to God, without exercising repentance. ." ■
A moment's reflection will satisfy any one of this. The law of God requires Love to him as to the supreme rule of life. That law man has violated; and the gospel requiring repentance meets him as a sinner, and requires him to return to the love of God. Now no alienated man can come back to this love of God without regret that he wandered away from him. To return to my former illustration. A child is bound to love his father. He fails to evince the love which he ought to, and becomes disobedient. Can that child be brought back from the state of alienation, and have his bosom glow with love, with no regret that he .has not showed that love before? Can he now look on the excellence of his father's character, and the reasonableness of his laws, and feel no regre that he has not always loved him, and obeyed him? Can he took over that long; dark period, which has passed in alienation, and feel that he had done no wrong, and experience no self-condemnation? It could not be. Not thus is the human heart made; and he who has ever come back from alienation to love has returned with regret and tears.
Love is the grand principle on which God intends to bind all worlds in harmony. It is the central virtue whose influence is radiated over all others. God might have governed the universe by terrors, and by flames, and by the dread of stripes, and by chains, and adamantine walls. But he designed to make love the great principle of his administration every where, and it was presumed that this was enough. It is enough. If in a family you can secure proper love between a husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters, it is enough. You may lay aside your rod, and dismiss your system of terrors. . If in a neighborhood you can secure love—the love of one neighbor for another, it is enough. There will be no brawls; no law-suits; no heart-burning*. If in a nation you can secure love it is enough. . If there is the love of country in every bosom leading all to a readiness to defend that country's rights; if there is the love of law, and justice;, if there is the love of a people towards their rulers, and of rulers for their people, it would be enough. You might shut up your prisons, and dismiss your judges'and.juries, for there would be universal harmony. And so among the nations. If there were every where the love of God and man; if there reigned in every human bosom the love of a brother and of human rights; you might dismantle your forts, and disband your armies, and'the sword might be left to rust in the scabbard, and the ship of war be left to decay on the stocks. In his government, God intends that this, principle shall have the ascendency ahd shall rule. It will be the same principle in the bosoms of angels and of men. It will bind the most lofty spirit of the skies to his throne, and the most humble among the saints on earth—like the mighty law which binds planets in their orbits, and which bids the floating particle of dust to seek the.centre. Had this bye been always shown, there would have been no sin, no crime, no war, no death. ... k
But it has not been shown always on earth. The impenitent sinner has never had the Jove of God in his heart. He has been, and he is, an alienated being. This he knows; and this he feels in that moment when he is pondering the question whether- he shall return to God. Every man knows that he has not loved God as he ought to have done, and the impenitent man may see, if he will see, that from the first dawn of his being to the present moment he has not put forth one single expression of genuine love to his Maker. Now if this alienated being comes back to God, it will be only by repentance. He will, he must feel regret at this long and wasted period of his life which has been spent in estrangement from God. He will look with deep emotion on the many mercies which his Maker has conferred on him; or with amazement on the fact that to this moment he has abused them all. No man ever yet passed from hatred to love without experiencing regret, remorse, and sorrow at his former course of life, and without passing through a process similar to that which God requires of the returning sinner. And no man ever did, or can return to God from whom he has been alienated without feeling and expressing regret that he has wandered, and without a purpose to do so no more. At the remembrance of his sins and of the abused mercies of God; at the view of the goodness which has kept him in all his wanderings, and especially of the mercy which sought him in the gift of a Saviour, and of the death of the Redeemer for these very sins, he must feel and weep, and he cannot return without bitter regrets that he abused so much love and slighted so much mercy. Returning love, and a sense of God's goodness will be attended with sorrow of heart that he ever wandered, and with a full purpose to do so no more:—and this is repentance. How could God be willing to admit the wanderer to his favoT unless he were willing to do as much as this?
I might add that it would be impossible for a man to be happy in heaven unless he had repented of the errors and follies of the past. The man who has injured you— could he be happy in your family unless he had repented of the wrong done, and obtained your forgiveness? Were you ever happy in the presence of the man that you had wronged until you confessed it and obtained pardon? Your whole nature is against such a supposition, and it can never be. The deepest misery that we can well imagine would be to be doomed to live forever with those whom we have wronged; to feel that they knew it; to be reminded of it every time we caught their eye, and yet to be too proud or wicked to confess it and ask for pardon: and how then could an impenitent sinner be happy in the presence of a much injured Saviour, and of a God of abused mercy forever and ever?
In view of the positions which I have endeavored to defend in this discourse, I may remark,
1. That Christianity is not an arbitrary institution. Its requirements are founded in the nature of things. It would have been impossible to save sinners, or to have made them happy, without repentance—and Christianity has simply said that. It has appointed nothing arbitrary; nothing unmeaning. It has demanded that which must exist; which does exist in all similar circumstances; and which would have occurred in the case of every sinner coming back to God even if it had not been formally required.
2. Evil is often done by representing the operations of the mind in religion as in their nature essentially different from mental operations on other subjects. . As a mere operation of mind, how can repentance in religion differ from repentance exercised towards an injured parent or friend? The mental operation is simple and easily understood, and all are familiar with it. Who is there here who has never repented of any thing that he has done? Who that has not confessed a wrong? Who that does not now feel that he has much to regret in the past, and that there is much which he ought to confess? Be as honest toward God as you have been toward a parent, lover, or friend, and you would have no difficulty on the subject of repentance. It would be easy to be understood, and your difficulties would all soon vanish. Yet when you approach religion, you expect and desire to find every thing cold, repulsive, unreal, arbitrary, and impossible—and are unwilling to believe that religion is the most simple of all things, and that it is in entire accordance with all the laws of the human mind. What is needful is to bring the whole subject of religion back to "the simplicity that is in Christ;" to take away the technicalities of the " schools," and to see that in simplicity it is adapted to children; in sublimity and power it is in accordance with the laws which govern the highest intellects on earth or in heaven.
3. Repentance is not beyond the proper exercise of the power of man. Every man practices it. Every child repents. Every one has at different times felt regret at something that he has done; has made confession; has resolved to do so no more; has turned from the evil course. This is repentance; and no one in such a case has resorted to any plea that it was impossible or that it was unreasonable. It is only in religion that we hear that it is unreasonable, and that it is beyond a man's power. But why should it be Mere more than elsewhere? Why easy any where else; why impossible there? The answer is simple. It is, that men wish to find an excuse for not repenting; and regardless of any reflections on the character of their Maker, rather than forsake their sins, they charge him with requiring that which is impossible, and coolly say that they have no power to obey his commands. Every where else it is easy in their view to repent, here they say it is impossible, and is only to be done by the Almighty power of God.
4. It is the sinner who is to repent. It is not God who is to repent for him—for God has done no wrong. It is not the Saviour who is to repent for hirn—for he has violated no law. It is not the Holy Spirit that is to repent— for how can that blessed Agent feel sorrow, and why should he? My impenitent friend, it is your own mind that is to repent; your own heart that is to feel regret; your own feet that are to be turned from the evil way; your own lips that are to make confession. I know that if ever done it will be by the aid of God the Holy Ghost; but I know also that You Are Yourself to be the penitent, and that this is a work that cannot be done by another. That very heart that has sinned must feel; those very eyes that have looked with delight on forbidden objects must weep; and those lips that have been false, profane, or impure, must make confession. I will add here, that God is willing to impart to you all the grace which is needful to enable you to repent if you are willing, for he has "exalted Christ Jesus to give repentance and the remission of sins." With his offered and promised grace you can never allege before him that repentance was wholly put beyond your power.
5. Finally, it is right and proper to call on men to repent of their sins. If they repent when they have wronged a friend, or violated the laws of a parent; if repentance is an operation of mind with which all are familiar; if it is not beyond the proper reach of the human faculties; and if the sinner himself is actually to feel sorrow and make confession, and if you have in fact violated the law of God, then it is right to call on you to repent at once.— This command, then, I lay across your path to-day, and call on you to repent of all your sins, and to make confession unto God. It is a. command reasonable, proper, easy, imperative;—and I end as I began by saying that it is as positive as any other in the Bible; that it is simple and easily understood; that it is addressed to all, and that there are no exceptions made in favor of the great, the learned, the honored, the gay, the amiable, the moral. We shall all alike die; and when we come to die it will be one of the sincerest wishes of our souls that we had honestly yielded obedience to All the commands of God; one of the sincerest wishes of our hearts that we had confessed and forsaken our sins before we were called to stand at the awful bar of our final Judge.