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They, who truly repent, 'be called according ' to God's purpose by his Spirit working in due ' season; they through grace obey the calling ;
they be justified freely; they be made sons of ‘God by adoption; they be made like unto the 'image of his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ ; ‘ they walk religiously in good works; and at length
by God's mercy they attain to everlasting felicity.?! On the other hand, they who do not repent remain under the wrath of God, and the curse of his violated law, and under the dominion of sin, in one form or other: they continue among the enemies of God, and the “children of the wicked one :" and live to “ treasure up wrath against the day of “ wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment “ of God.”
“ Then began Jesus to upbraid the cities, where“ in most of his mighty works were done ; because
they repented not.”? Probably many of the inhabitants professed to believe in him: but their faith, not being attended by repentance and works meet for repentance, was worthless, and left them exposed to the awful wo, which the merciful Saviour denounced upon them.
“ A certain man had two sons: and he came to “ the first and said, Son, go work to-day in my “ vineyard; he answered and said, I will not : “but afterward he repented and went. And he “ came to the second, and said likewise ; and he "answered and said, I go, Sir; and went not. " Whether of them twain did the will of his father?
They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto “them, Verily I say unto you, that the publicans " and the harlots go into the kingdom of God be“fore you. For John came unto you in the way " of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but “ the publicans and harlots believed him; and ye, “ when
1 Art. xvii.
? Matt. xi. 20. 24.
ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye should believe him." The publicans and harlots, who believed the testimony of John concerning Jesus, as "the Lamb of God, that taketh
away the sin of the world," answered to the first son, who said, “I will not, but afterwards repented and went." These “ entered into the kingdom of “God. But the Scribes, Priests, and Pharisees, like the other son, said, “I go, sir, but went not;" they neither believed, nor repented, nor obeyed; and therefore they did not enter into the kingdom of God, or share the blessings of the Redeemer's mediatorial authority, but remained without, among “ his enemies who would not have him to reign over thein.” Proceed we then,
II. To consider who they are that unite in rejoicing over one sinner that repenteth.
The unrestricted language, employed by our Lord, leads us to conclude that this joy pervades all the inhabitants of heaven. 6 God is love;" and they also, bearing his image, are Love: being perfectly strangers to those envies, emulations, prejudices, resentments, and selfish passions, which prevail on earth ; and which, alas! live and produce many lamentable effects (though they do not reign) even in true Christians. The perfect love of the heavenly hosts is gratified, when another,
* Matt. xxi. 28. 32.
? Luke xix. 14. 27.
and another sinner, of our fallen race, is brought to“ repent and turn to God, and do works meet " for repentance: ” and this excites more and more their admiring and grateful love of God, and animates their exalted praises, and thus even enhances their own felicity. Nor does it for a moment, or in the smallest degree, damp this benevolent joy, to recollect that each of these penitents, of an inferior order of rational creatures, born of Adam's apostate race, and perhaps of the meanest and vilest of that race, shall at length, and for ever, be equal to them, in dignity and felicity: or, even 'nearest the throne, and first in song,' as one with him, whom all “ angels worship.” Their" eye “not evil, because God is good :” they do not think that any wrong is done to them by the abounding mercy shewn to perishing sinners: nor do they disdain to welcome among them reconciled enemies and rebels. Nay, they are “ all sent forth to “ minister to the heirs of salvation."
Indeed we know but little concerning “ the “principalities and powers in heavenly places ; to “ whom is known, by the church, the manifold wis“ dom of God;" and who “ desire to look into" the things pertaining to our salvation. But one apostle speaks of “an innumerable multitude of “angels :” and another in vision“ beheld, and “ heard the voice of many angels round about " the throne ; and the number of them was ten “ thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of “ thousands."? Now among them all there is joy over one sinner that repenteth !
Ephes. iii. 9. 1 Pet. i. 12.
? Heb. xii. 22. Rev. v. 11, 12
Our curiosity is not gratified by any intimation of the manner in which the joyful event is made known unto them: but, after the express and repeated declarations of our Lord respecting it, we cannot doubt of the fact without the most criminal incredulity. The event may appear to us inconsiderable : yet, as far as we know, this alone of human affairs is thus published in the mansions of the blessed. In the parable of the lost sheep we are informed, that when the good shepherd hath “ found the sheep which he had lost, he layeth it
on his : shoulders rejoicing.” Jesus himself, who came to seek and save that which was lost," and “who, for the joy set before him, endured “ the cross and despised the shame,” rejoices over the weeping penitent; yea rejoices to exert his power and exercise his authority in bringing him home to the fold of God. “ He" then“ sees of the “ travail of his soul, and is satisfied.” * This,' he may be supposed to say,‘ is the happy effect of my agonies in Gethsemane and on Golgotha: and in this I rejoice with satisfaction and complacency.' “ A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, be
cause her hour is come: but, as soon as she is “ delivered of the child, she remembereth no more “ the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the “ world.”! Thus the loving Saviour rejoices over the penitent sinner, as part of “ the joy set before “him,” when“ he bare our sins in his own body
on the tree.”—“If then,' he says, ' I delighted to do the will of my heavenly Father, when that will involved my deepest agonies; shall I not delight
John xvi. 21.
in stretching forth
hand to complete the purpose for which I suffered?' Shall I, with disdain, spurn from my feet a single penitent, however vile in times past? Shall I not rather consider every new convert as another occasion of triumph and exultation ?
And, when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and his neighbours, saying “unto them, Rejoice with me, for I have found
my sheep which was lost.” Now who are meant by “ the friends and neighbours,” in the parable ? Surely all the friends of the divine Saviour, whether in heaven or on earth. Does he“ rejoice over the “ lost sheep, which he has found?” and will any of the “ innumerable company of angels," for instance, when thus called on, refuse to rejoice with him i These blessed spirits, when the Saviour was born, sang, “Glory to God in the highest, peace “ on earth, good-will to men :” and now, as far as their circumstances will allow, they join the concert of the redeemed, “ saying with a loud voice, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive
power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, “ and honour, and glory, and blessing." The whole plan of redemption is the object of their delightful and admiring contemplation ; they worship and adore the divine Redeemer, and they most cheerfully minister to the redeemed, even in attending a dying Lazarus, and in conveying his soul to the mansions of felicity; and they rejoice with new accessions of delight, when anotherandanother lost sinner is added to the happy number.
Is it possible so much as to conceive of any one of them as saying, “Wilt thou make this rebel,
who, having spent the prime of his life in sin and