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obedience from their baptism upwards; the few are those who, after their baptism, have sinned grievously, and repented, but still those few may, if St. Paul's instance be in point, rise to be as great saints as the many who, after their baptism, needed no repentance.

4. Further, it must not be supposed, because sinners have sincerely repented, that therefore they have no punishment for their past sins; and this puts a vast difference between the state of the innocent and the penitent. In this sense they never can be on a level : the one, if God so wills, is open to punishment, and the other is not; for God does not so pardon us, as not also to punish. When His children go wrong they are, in St. Paul's words, "judged." He does not abandon them, but He makes their sin "find them out." And, as we well know, it is His merciful pleasure that this punishment should at the same time act as a chastisement and correction, so that "when they are judged they are chastened of the Lord, that they should not be condemned with the world'." But still their visitation is of the nature of a judgment; and no sinner knows what kind, what number of judgments, he has incurred at the hands of the righteous Judge. I say that repentant sinners are in this respect different from innocent persons; that, it may be, God will bring punishment upon them for their past sins, as He very often does ; and it may be God's will to make that punishment the means of their sanctification, as He did in St. Paul's case. Pain, distress, heaviness, may overwhelm them, may be their portion, may be necessary for their attaining

11 Cor. xi. 32.

that holiness to which they aspire. But I am not speaking of the means by which they attain to holiness; I am not speaking of the circumstances or lot in which they are perfecting it, whether pleasant or painful; but of their holiness itself, present and to come: and I say, that the holiness to which at length they do attain, however they attain it, may be as great as that of those whose religious history has been altogether different, who have not sinned as they, nor suffered as they, nor struggled and toiled as they.

And, I will add, that it is our duty to love repentant sinners just as if they had not sinned. Those, who have never fallen as they, are not to suffer the thought of what those others were to rest on their minds, or to treat them in any degree (God forbid !) as if their approach were a pollution to them. If they are reconciled to God, surely they may well be reconciled to their brethren; if Christ condescends to be their meat and drink, surely the holiest of men need not scruple to wash their feet. I am now speaking of the inward feeling of our hearts towards them; for it is often a duty (at least for a time) to put an outward and ceremonial distinction between them and others. First, we cannot be certain, till after a while, that they are really repentant; thus the Apostles were "all afraid" of St. Paul at first, "and believed not that he was a disciple:" and next it may be necessary for their good (particularly when a Church does not enforce the discipline of penance), necessary for their good to put them under disadvantage, and for example sake. Yet all this outward distinction need not interfere with the feeling of our hearts towards them.

As we do not use unrestrained familiarity towards strangers as well as friends, or to inferiors or superiors, but only to our intimates, yet still may feel all Christian love towards them, so we surely may observe certain rules for a time, or for a permanence, towards those who have been open sinners, simply as a matter of duty, but not at all forgetting that in Christian privileges they are on an equality with ourselves, and may be, or are in the way to be, even our superiors in the kingdom of heaven. No one thing is more distinct from another than is the treating a person with distance or reserve from looking down upon him. And penitents often have actually put themselves into some new state or rank in life, which thus constituted their penance, and saved their brethren from the task of taking notice of their past sins, and enabled them to forget that they are penitents.

Now there are various reasons for insisting on this subject. One reason is thereby to enforce the following parallel truth; for if it is true that a sinner may become a saint, it is at least as true that an innocent person, who has never fallen into gross sin, notwithstanding need not be a saint. It frequently happens that repentant sinners become more holy and pleasing to God than those who have never fallen. There are a multitude of persons who go through life in a safe, uninteresting mediocrity. They have never been exposed to temptation; they are not troubled with violent passions; they have nothing to try them; they have never attempted great things for the glory of God; they have never been thrown upon the world; they live at home in the bosom of their families, or in quiet situations;

and in a certain sense they are innocent and upright. They have not profaned their baptismal robe in any remarkable way; they have done nothing to frighten their conscience; they have ever lived under a sense of religion, and done their immediate duties respectably. And, when their life is closed, people cannot help speaking well of them, as harmless, decent, correct persons, whom it is impossible to blame, impossible not to regret. Yet, after all, how different their lives are from that described as a Christian's life in St. Paul's Epistles! I do not mean different in regard to persecutions, wanderings, heroic efforts, and all that is striking and what is called romantic in the Apostle's history; but (if I must condense all I mean in one word) in regard to unselfishness. All the peculiarity of a Christian consists in his preferring God and his neighbour to self,-in self-denial for the sake of God and his brethren; according to St. Paul's words "None of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself; but whether we live, we live unto the Lord, and whether we die, we die unto the Lord; whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord's." But how many there are who live a life of ease and indolence, as far as they can-or, at least, who, far from setting the glory of God before them, as the end of their being, live for themselves, not to God! And what especially lulls their consciences in so doing, is the circumstance that they have never sinned grossly; forgetting that a mirror is by nothing more commonly dimmed than by the small and gradual accumulations of daily impurities, and that souls may silently be overspread and choked up with mere dust, till they reflect back no portion of

the heavenly truths which should possess them. And thus, while they dream life away, others who started with them, first, being overtaken by pride or passion, fall into sin, and lose their way; and then are shocked and terrified, and manage to regain it, and run forward impetuously, and pass by them; and the last become first, and the first last.

I have also enlarged on this subject, for the sake of those (now many they are !) who are conscious to themselves that they have, by wilful sinning, lost the fulness of that blessedness which baptism conveyed to them. Oh, happy they, who have not this consciousness, yet without on that account ceasing to be watchful and fervent in spirit! O my brethren, make much of your virginal state, if you possess it, and be careful not to lose it; lose not the opportunity of that special blessedness, which none but they can have who serve God from their youth up in consistent obedience. What is passed cannot be recalled. Whatever be the heights of holiness to which repentant sinners attain, yet they cannot have this pearl of great price, not to have sinned. No true penitent forgets or forgives himself: an unforgiving spirit towards himself is the very price of God's forgiving him. Yet still, though sinners never can be to themselves as if they had not sinned, though they cannot so rid them of their past sins, as to be sure that those sins will not, in the words of Scripture, find them out, and bring retribution upon them; yet, as regards the love of God and of their brethren, in this respect, they are, on their repentance, in the condition of just persons who need no repentance. Let this comfort and

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