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We are not to infer from this similitude that God sets more value, or looks with more complacency and admiration on one repenting sinner, than on many righteous persons who have uniformly and devoutly served him. This can never be imagined, nor would it correspond with the illustration. The shepherd does not set a greater value on the lost sheep, than he does on those that are safe; but his joy for the moment, at the recovery of the lost sheep, is greater than he receives from all the rest, because he has regained that, and is sure of all the rest. The meaning therefore of this parable is, that God's paternal tenderness extends to all, even to the sinner that goes astray, and that he rejoices at the recovery and conversion of even the most grievous offender, Bishop Porteus.

The repentance which issues in life eternal, is a change of mind, contrition of heart, and deep self-abhorrence.

1. A change of mind. While a sinner is in a carnal state, his views and sentiments, his hopes and fears, his aims and motives, are directly contrary to what they ought to be. He scorns substantial blessings, and catches at shadows; he refuses the heavenly manna, and, according to the language of the prophet, feeds upon ashes; he rejects the pearl of great price, and rakes up despicable rubbish ; the things of the Spirit of God, in which alone there is true wisdom, appear foolishness to him, as his imagination gilds every thing with false colours: he is pleased where he should be disgusted; and disgusted where he should be pleased.

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But in repentance a happy change takes place. He who is brought under the saving influence of divine grace, is renewed in the spirit of his mind; the eyes of his understanding are enlightened to see the vanity of the world, the evil of sin, and the value of eternal possessions. Whatever relates to God, to Christ, and to the immortal soul, now appears in a new light. 2. Repentance is contrition of heart. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise!" When the word of God is applied by the power of divine grace, the flinty heart melts into tender grief, and the eyes overflow with tears. What anxious thoughts, what strong and cutting convictions, are now felt!

3. Repentance is deep self-abhorrence. Very few are willing to give glory to God, and take shame to themselves; no sooner, however, does a man come to his right mind, than his self-flattering notions vanish; he owns that the corruption of his nature has been pouring forth, without ceasing, streams of actual transgression, from the beginning of life to the present moment. How sincerely then can he adopt the words of the Psalmist: "My iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me." Psa. xl. 12, While he views his sins, he is abased and confounded with a consideration of their number, their greatness, and their fruits. "By grace ye are saved." Let your constant cry be, "Lord, save me, or I perish!" Plead for the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among the saints. Pray to be justified freely, and sanctified by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a cheering truth! "Now hath God granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life." May you rejoice in this grant, and live the rest of your life to Him who died

for you.

Repentance is absolutely necessary: without it heaven cannot be obtained, nor hell avoided.


We may here finally remark, that as this repentance is a grace of the Spirit of Christ, whatever unpleasantness there may be in its exercise, it is sweet, refreshing, and secretly pleasant to the inner man. Let us not be deterred from abounding in this duty. It is not a morose, severe self-maceration; but an humble, gracious, mournful walking with God, wherein the soul finds rest, sweetness, joy, and peace; being rendered thereby compliant with the will of God, benign, useful, kind, and compassionate towards men. Owen on the Hebrews,

The godly grief, the pleasing smart,

The meltings of a broken heart,
The seeing eye, the feeling sense,

The mystic joy of penitence.


14th Link.

Immediately in conjunction with repentance and turning to God is prayer. "Christian" will now begin to breathe the atmosphere of heaven; and here also we shall observe him to be active. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you." Matt. vii. 7.

Then shall ye call upon me; and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you; and ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jer. xxix. 12.

For the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever." 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.

As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud; and he shall hear my voice. Psalm lv. 16.

I will cry unto God most high; unto him who performeth all things for me. Psalm lvii. 2.

O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. Psalm lxv. 2.

He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. Psalm cii. 17.

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the bypocrites are ; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward,

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. Matt. vi. 5-8.

Verily verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you.

Hitherto ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. John xvi. 23, 24.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Rom. viii. 26.

That sighs now breath'd

Unutterable, which the spirit of prayer

Inspir'd, and wing'd for heav'n with speedier flight
Than loudest oratory.

What wondrous grace! who knows its full extent!

A creature, dust and ashes, speaks with God;
Tells all his woes, enumerates his wants,

Yea, pleads with Deity, and gains relief!
'Tis prayer, yes, 'tis "effectual fervent prayer,"
Puts dignity on worms- -proves life divine-
Makes demons tremble-breaks the darkest cloud,
And with a princely power prevails with God!
And shall this privilege become a task?
My God forbid! pour out thy Spirit's grace,
Draw me by love, and teach me how to pray.
Yea, let thy holy unction from above
Beget, extend, maintain my intercourse
With Father, Son, and Spirit, Israel's God,
Until petitions are exchanged for praise.



Let it be well observed, that whensoever the Scripture speaks of prayer, whensoever it uses that term, or other terms equivalent to it, it means prayer, sincere and earnest, in the full and proper of these words; prayer proceeding from the heart and soul. It does not mean any particular form of words whatever: it does not mean any service of the lips, any utterance or pronunciation of prayer, merely as such; but supplication actually and truly proceeding from the heart. Prayer may be solemn without being sincere. Every decency, every propriety, every visible mark and token of

prayer may be present, yet the heart not engaged. This is the requisite which must make prayer availing; this is the requisite which must make it that which the Scripture means, whenever it speaks of prayer. Every outward act of worship, without this participation of the heart, fails; not because men do not pray sincerely, but because, in the Scripture sense, they do not pray at all. I fear that many understand and reflect little upon what they are about, upon the exceedingly great consequence of what they are asking, when they pray to God, as we do in our liturgy, to "cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit," to " give us increase of grace," to grant that his Holy Spirit may, in all things, direct and rule our hearts."



Desire first, and pray next; and remember, that desire is the soul

of prayer.



may term secret prayer the invisible light of the soul in the bosom of God. Out of this heavenly closet rises Jacob's ladder, whose rounds are all of light: its foot stands upon the basis of the covenant in thy heart; its top reaches the throne of grace.

A weeping countenance, and a wounded spirit, are most beautiful prospects to the eye of heaven; when a broken heart pours out repenting tears, like streams from the rock, smitten by the rod of Moses's law in the hand of a Mediator.

David gave himself to prayer; in the Hebrew it is, "but I-prayer." A Christian is all over prayer; he prays at rising, at lying down, and as he walks; like a prime favourite at court, who has the key to the privy stairs, and can wake his prince by night. Such as are truly converted have no need to pray by a prescribed form; they have the Spirit of God to assist and enable them; and they need not drink of another's bucket, who have the fountain themselves to go to. Lee's Sermon on Secret Prayer.

Prayer is the offering our desires to God in the name of Christ. Now, as the desires, the native, genuine desires of a truly Christian heart are the main part of internal religion; so the actually presenting them to God, and that frequently in this duty, hath a manifest tendency to strengthen these springs of action, and to promote


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