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vation; when we are descending fast to wards a state of perdition. It is not the judgment of an erroneous conscience: that is not the case I mean. It is rather a want of conscience, or a conscience which is never exerted; in a word, it is an indifference and insensibility concerning religion, even in the midst of seeming and external decency of behaviour, and soothed and lulled by this very circumstance. Now, it is not only within the compass of possibility, but it frequently, nay, I hope, it very frequently comes to pass, that open, confessed, acknowledged sins sting the sinner's conscience: that the upbraidings of mankind, the cry, the clamour, the indignation, which his wickedness has excited, may at length come home to his own soul; may compel him to reflect, may bring him, though by force and violence, to a sense of his guilt, and a knowledge of his situation. Now I say, that this sense of sin, by whatever cause it be produced, is better than religious insensibility. The sinner's penitence is more to be trusted to, than the seemingly righteous man's security. The one is


roused from the deep forgetfulness of religion, in which he had hitherto, lived: good fruit, even fruit unto life everlasting, may spring from the motion which is stirred in his heart. The other remains, as to religion, in a state of torpor. The thing wanted, as the quickening principle, as the seed and germ of religion in the heart, is compunction, convincement of sin, of danger, of the necessity of flying to the Redeemer, and to his religion in good earnest. They were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do ?" This was the state of mind of those who first heard the Gospel; and this is the state of mind still to be brought about, before the Gospel be heard with effect. And sin will sometimes do it, when outward righteousness will not: I mean by outward righteousness, external decency of manners without any inward principle of religion whatever. The sinner may return and fly to God, even because the world is against him. The visibly righteous man is in friendship with the world: and the "friendship of the world

is enmity with God," whensoever, as I have before expressed it, it sooths and lulls men in religious insensibility.

But how, it will be said, is this? Is it not to encourage sin? Is it not to put the sinner in a more hopeful condition than the righteous? Is it not in some measure, giving the greatest sinner the greatest chance of being saved? This may be objected and the objection brings me to support the assertion in the beginning of my discourse, that the doctrine proposed cannot, without being wilfully misconstrued, deceive or delude any. First, you ask, is not this to encourage sin? I answer, it is to encourage the sinner who repents; and, if the sinner repent, why should he not be encouraged? But some, you say, will take occasion, from this encouragement, to plunge into sin. I answer, that then they wilfully misapply it: for if they enter upon sin intending to repent afterwards, I take upon me to tell them, that no true repentance can come of such intention. The very intention is a fraud: instead of being the parent of true repentance, is itself to

be repented of bitterly. Whether such a man ever repent or not is another question, but no sincere repentance can issue, or proceed from this intention. It must come altogether from another quarter. It will look back when it does come, upon that previous intention with hatred and horror, as upon a plan, and scheme, and design to impose upon, and abuse the mercy of God. The moment a plan is formed of sinning, with an intention afterwards to repent, at that moment the whole doctrine of grace, of repentance, and of course this part of it amongst the rest, is wilfully misconstrued. The grace of God is turned into lasciviousness. At the time this design is formed, the person forming it is in the bond of iniquity, as Saint Peter told Simon he was, in a state of imminent perdition; and this design will not help him out of it. We say, that repentance is sometimes more likely to be brought about in a confessed, nay, in a notorious and convicted sinner, than in a seemingly regular life ; but it is of true repentance that we speak, and no true repentance can proceed from a previous intention to repent, I mean an

intention previous to the sin. Therefore no advantage can be taken of this doctrine to the encouragement of sin, without wilfully misconstruing it.

But then you say, we place the sinner in a more hopeful condition than the rightequs. But who, let us inquire, are the righteous we speak of? Not they, who are endeavouring, however, imperfectly, to perform the will of God; not they, who are actuated by a principle of obedience to him; but men, who are orderly and regular in their visible behaviour without an internal religion. To the eye of man they appear righteous. But if they do good, it is not from the love or fear of God, or out of regard to religion that they do it, but from other considerations. If they

abstain from sin, they abstain from it out of different motives from what religion offers; and so long as they have the acquiescence and approbation of the world, they are kept in a state of sleep; in a state, as to religion, of total negligence and unconcern. Of these righteous men the pro many; and, when we compare


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