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vation ; which he requires to be unreservedly and cordially acknowledged by every one who comes to him for pardon.
But an impenitent sinner always rejects, and generally is affronted with this preliminary of peace and reconciliation. He stands upon his vindication, and holds fast his pleas and excuses. If he allow that he has faults, he insists that he has his virtues, and expects that they should be accepted by way of compensation. He hopes also to do something more, by way of atoning for his faults; and thinks it would be hard, and indeed palpably unjust, to send him, with all his imagined good qualities, sincere obedience, and good intentions, to keep company
with thieves, murderers and prostitutes, in the bottomless pit. Such indeed is the self-love and self-partiality of mankind, that you shall find few if any, even of the vilest of characters, who have not something of this kind to plead in arrest of judgment : every man's own faults seem to himself more venial than those of other men, and his supposed good qualities and actions more estimable; and thus the sinner“ flatters himself in his own
eyes, until his iniquity be found to be hateful.” But especially this is the grand objection of the rich, the moral, and the pharisaical. These would bid high and do much, yea almost any thing but this, which is so intolerably mortifying to their selfpreference. On this ground principally numbers reject the gospel, part from Christ, and come short of salvation : as “ there is no difference ; for all “ have sinned,” all are condemned, and none can make satisfaction : all then that are saved must condemn themselves, and submit to be saved by
grace alone, through faith in the Son of God. But, while such persons proudly hesitate and object,
publicans and harlots,” being brought to true repentance, approve of this humbling method, and “ enter into the kingdom of heaven before them.”
VIII. Without repentance there can be no preparation of heart for that “holiness, without which
no man can see the Lord.”—All true Christians are “ zealous of good works,” being “ taught by “the grace of God, which bringeth salvation, to
deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to live
soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present “ world.” The Christian, indeed, is very far from perfection in good works, and therefore he cannot be justified by them ; neither does he at all depend on them : but, by his sincere obedience, his unreserved observance of Christ's commands, he proves that he is a true believer, and no 'hypocrite; he glorifies God, adorns the gospel, and promotes the real good of mankind.
But by deep repentance alone is the heart prepared for such a holy conduct. Without this there can be no “ ceasing to do evil, or learning to do “well ;” no “hating the evil, and loving the good;" no “ abhorring the evil, or cleaving to that which “ is good.” Without repentance we cannot really love God, desire his glory, reverence his majesty, or delight in his law and service. Mere moral and relative good behaviour in the world, without any due regard to God, or mere external performances in religion, may subsist without repentance; but that holiness which respects the authority of God, as Lawgiver and Judge, which springs from love to him and his commandments, and is intentionally
directed to his glory, can only be produced from a heart renewed unto repentance.
Especially that deep sense of personal unworthiness, which is peculiar to the true penitent, prepares the heart to enjoy genuine gratitude, contentment, patience, meekness, forgiveness of injuries, and love of enemies. These dispositions and duties form a very conspicuous part of the Christian character, as delineated in the sacred scriptures: but no impenitent man can really exercise these graces, or perform these duties, whatever appearances he may occasionally assume. Yet, if this be not our character and conduct, our hope is mere presumption, our profession hypocrisy: “for if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither “ will your heavenly Father forgive your trespas
ses.” So that without repentance no man can serve God here, or be saved in the world to come.
IX. Lastly, without repentance there can be no meetness for heaven.-Without a correspondent disposition, without an appetite prepared for the object, there can be no gratification. A holy heart relishes and delights in holiness, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment of a holy heaven. But he, who despises and disrelishes holiness in this world, could find no happiness in that place where all the joys are holy, and where consequently all the employments would be irksome to him. No impenitent sinner has this “ meetness for the inheritance “ of the saints in light;" because he cannot relish and delight in holiness : for, as soon as he becomes of this disposition, he must in proportion abhor unholiness, and abhor himself for his sinfulness; that is to say, he must repent of his sins.
The whole company of the redeemed are likewise represented as joining in cordial and unreserved praises unto God and the Lamb; giving all the glory of their salvation to the rich mercy of the Father, and the precious blood of the Saviour. These praises imply an acknowledgment of the justice of the sentence executed upon the ungodly : nay, they imply that those who offer them might themselves justly, and should certainly, have perished with their fellow rebels, had not Jesus interposed with his atoning blood. But could any impenitent sinner join this worship with sincere delight? Many openly arraign the conduct of the Judge in dooming sinners to eternal misery; and every impenitent heart is disposed to quarrel with this part of the divine conduct. Nor would the case be different, were it possible for a person of this description to enter into heaven : he would secretly condemn his maker for severity, in eternally punishing others for the very crimes which he himself had committed, and never repented of: he must dissent from those praises in his heart, which arise from a principle which he allows not ; namely, that distinguishing grace and atoning blood have made all the difference between him and those in hell : he could not in sincerity allow that God would have been glorious, though he had left him to perish. But there is neither hypocrisy, nor discordant voice, nor unholiness, in those happy mansions: therefore no impenitent sinner shall ever enter into them.
Because our self-love renders us so unwilling to believe this important truth ; because Satan with such artifice endeavours to draw off our attention
from it; because we are so reluctant of ourselves duly to consider it; and because the entangling pursuits and interests, the pleasures, maxims and examples of the world, have such a tendency to lull us into a fatal security in this respect; I have the more importunately laboured these multiplied demonstrations of the necessity of repentance. Surely, sinner, I have gained my point, fixed thy attention, and fully convinced thee, that thou hast cause to repent, oughtest to repent, and must either repent or perish. Surely, thy heart is by this time in some measure suitably affected with the important subject ; and thou art even now, with pressing anxiety, inquiring, 'What then is repentance ? Beseeching the Lord to assist and bless the attempt, I shall endeavour with all possible seriousness and plainness, to satisfy this inquiry.