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Divine Justice from presumption, and by Mercy from despair, he goes on in an uniform course of virtue. The worst state of life has its consolations, and death is stripped of all its terrors. He
has a FRIEND THROUGH LIFE, without
whose permission no accident can molest him, and to whose immediate presence death is but a short and easy passage.
It is, surely, the interest only of the most abandoned of creatures, to wish God out of the world. * Why, says the excellent heathen Emperor, Jhould I live in a world, undirected by a God, and unguarded by a Providence? It is the gloomiest of thoughts, and to entertain it, is either the effect of extreme corruption or deplorable ignorance.
The first wish, a man can form, is to have a conscience, as far as possible, void of offence towards God and man.
For a clear conscience is the principal source of present happiness.
It is hard to be quite at peace with one's self, when the mind labours with the remembrance of great sins. Though God has forgiven and blotted out the guilt, it is very hard for a man to forgive himself. The memory of his transgressions will be frequently rising, to cloud his hopes and embitter his enjoyments. It is with the mind, as it is with the body after some great hurt or grievous wound; every change of weather, every slight disorder, every touch and accident, affects the diseased part, and revives all the former pains. Whereas a sound mind is the source of continual comfort: it is ever healthy, and vigorous, and supports itself under all changes and accidents.
But this is a happiness, that falls not to every man's share. Where, then, persons have unfortunately gone astray, their business is to return with
all haste out of the path ©f destruction! There is no peace for the wicked eitherf here or hereafter. But if he turns from his evil ways, and seeks an acquaintance with God, he may still be at peace. Though God suffers the memory of his old faults sometimes to rise, for the sake of preserving him more steadily in the good way; yet, upon the man's sincere repentance, through the merits of Christ, he assuredly forgets his iniquities and blotteth out all his misdeeds. The returning prodigal has no more to fear than his elder brother who deserted not his father's service. .Upon his real repentance, that is (to speak intelligibly and avoid misapprehension) upon his ceajing to do evil and learning to do well and. prac* tising the contrary virtues; he may assure himself of a hearty acceptance and reconciliation with the father of spirits and live. He will be accepted in proportion to the sincerity of his reformation, and his actual progress in a good life. And if he can outstrip his elder brother in the graces of a christian life, he may even still be more highly accepted.