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Repent, and be converted, that your sins inay 66 be blotted out.”
What this repentance was which the new covenant required, as one of the conditions to be performed by all those who should receive the benefits of that covenant; is plain in the scripture, to be not only a sorrow for sins past, but (what is a natural consequence of such sorrow, if it be real) a turning from them into a new and contrary life. And so they are joined together, Acts iii. 19, “ Repent and turn about;" or, as we render it, “ be converted." And Acts xxvi. 20,“
Repent and “ turn to God.”
And sometimes“ turning about” is put alone to signify repentance, Matt. xiii. 15, Luke xxii. 32, which in other words is well expressed by “newness of life.” For it being certain that he, who is really sorry for his sins, and abhors them, will turn from them, and forsake them; either of these acts, which have so natural a connection one with the other, may be, and is often put for both together. Repentance is an hearty sorrow for our past misdeeds, and a sincere resolution and endeavour, to the utmost of our power, to conform all our actions to the law of God. So that repentance does not consist in one single act of sorrow, (though that being the first and leading act gives denomination to the whole,) but in “ doing works meet for repentance;" in a sincere obedience to the law of Christ, the remainder of our lives. This was called for by John the Baptist, the preacher of repentance, Matt. iii
. 8, “ Bring forth “ fruits meet for repentance.” And by St. Paul here, Acts xxvi. 20, “ Repent and turn to God, and do works “ meet for repentance.” There are works to follow belonging to repentance, as well as sorrow for what is past.
These two, faith and repentance, i. e. believing Jesus to be the Messiah, and a good life, are the indispensable conditions of the new covenant, to be performed by all those who would obtain eternal life. The reasonableness, or rather necessity of which, that we may the better comprehend, we must a little look back to what was said in the beginning.
Adam being the Son of God, and so St. Luke calls him, chap. iii. 38, had this part also of the likeness and image of his father, viz. that he was immortal. But Adam, transgressing the command given him by his heavenly Father, incurred the penalty ; forfeited that state of immortality, and became mortal. After this, Adani begot children: but they were “ in his own “ likeness, after his own image ;” mortal, like their father.
God nevertheless, out of his infinite mercy, willing to bestow eternal life on mortal men, sends Jesus Christ into the world; who being conceived in the womb of a virgin (that had not known mán) by the immediate power of God, was properly the Son of God; according to what the angel declared unto his mother, Luke i. 30—35, “ The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and " the power of the Highest shall over-shadow thee : " therefore also that holy thing, which shall be born of
thee, shall be called the SON OF GOD." So that being the Son of God, he was like the Father, immortal; as he tells us, John v. 26, “ As the Father hath life in
himself, só hath he given to the Son to have life in himself."
And that immortality is a part of that image, wherein those who were the immediate sons of God, so as to have no other father) were made like their father, appears probable, not only from the places in Genesis concerning Adam, above taken notice of, but seems to me also to be intimated in some expressions, concerning Jesus the Soti of God, in the New Testament. Col. i. 15, he is called " the image of the invisible God.” Invisible seems put in, to obviate any gross imagination, that he (as images used to do) represented God in any corporeal or visible resemblance. And there is farther subjoined, to lead us into the meaning of it, “ The * first-born of every creature ;” which is farther explained, ver. 18, where he is termed The first-born “ from the dead;” thereby making out, and showing himself to be the image of the invisible; that death hath no power over him; but being the Son of God, and not having forfeited that sonship by any transgressiort ;
was the heir of eternal life, as Adam should have been, had he continued in his filial duty. In the same sense the apostle seems to use the word image in other places, viz. Rom. viii. 29, “ Whom he did foreknow, he also “ did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his « Son, that he might be the first-born among many 66 brethren.” This image, to which they were conformed, seems to be immortality and eternal life: for it is remarkable, that in both these places, St. Paul speaks of the resurrection, and that Christ was “ The first-born
aniong many brethren;" he being by birth the Son of God, and the others only by adoption, as we see in this såme chapter ver. 15–17, “ Ye have received the “ Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; " the Spirit itself bearing witness with our spirit, that
we are the children of God. And if children, then “ heirs, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we “ suffer with him, that we may also be glorified toge“ ther.” And hence we see, that our Saviour vouchsafes to call those, who at the day of judgment are, through him, entering into eternal life, his brethren; Matt. xxv. 40, “ Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one “ of the least of these my brethren." May we not in this find a reason, why God so frequently in the New Testament, and so seldom, if at all, in the Old, is mentioned under the single title of THE FATHER? And therefore our Saviour says, Matt. xi. “ No man knoweth the 66 Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son “ will reveal him." God has now a son again in the world, the first-born of many brethren, who all now, by the Spirit of adoption, can say, Abba, Father. And we, by adoption, being for his sake made his brethren, and the sons of God, come to share in that inheritance, which was his natural right; he being by birth the Son of God: which inheritance is eternal life. And again, ver. 23, “ We groan within ourselves, waiting for the " adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body ;” whereby is plainly meant, the change of these frail mortal bodies, into the spiritual immortal bodies at the resurrection; " When this mortal shall have put on “ immortality,” i Cor. xv. 54; which in that chapter,
ver. 42-44, he farther expresses thus; “ So also is the “ resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, “ it is raised in incorruption; it is sown in dishonour, “ it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is “ raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised
a spiritual body,” &c. To which he subjoins, ver. 49, “ As we have born the image of the earthly,” (i. e. as we have been mortal, like earthy Adam, our father, from whom we are descended, when he was turned out of paradise,) we shall also bear the image of the hea. “ venly ;” into whose sonship and inheritance being adopted, we shall, at the resurrection, receive that adoption we expect, “ even the redemption of our bo“ dies ;” and after his image, which is the image of the Father, become immortal. Hear what he says himself, Luke xx. 35, 36, “ They who shall be ac“ counted worthy to obtain that world, and the resur“ rection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given “ in marriage. Neither can they die any more; for " they are equal to the angels, and are the sons of
GOD, being the sons of the resurrection.” And he that shall read St. Paul's arguing, Acts xiii. 32, 33, will find that the great evidence that Jesus was the “ Son of God,” was his resurrection. Then the image of his Father appeared in hin, when he visibly entered into the state of immortality. For thus the apostle reasons, “ We preach to you, how that the promise which “ was made to our fathers, God hath fulfilled the same “ unto us, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it 6 is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my “ Son, this day have I begotten thee.”
This may serve a little to explain the immortality of the sons of God, who are in this like their Father, made after his image and likeness. But that our Saviour was so, he himself farther declares, John x. 18, where speaking of his life, he says, “ No one taketh it from
me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay “ it down, and I have power to take it up again. Which he could not have had, if he had been a mortal man, the son of a man, of the seed of Adam ; or else had by any transgression forfeited his life.
6. For the wages
“ of sin is death :" and he that hath incurred death for his own transgression, cannot lay down his life for another, as our Saviour professes he did. For he was the just one, Acts vii. 52, and xxii. 14, “ Who knew no “ sin;" 2 Cor. v. 21, “Who did no sin, neither was guile “ found in his mouth.” And thus,
And thus, “ As by man came death, so by man came the resurrection of the dead. “ For as in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made « alive."
For this laying down his life for others, our Saviour tells us, John x. 17, “ Therefore does my Father love
me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it
again.”. And this his obedience and suffering was rewarded with a kingdom: which he tells us, Luke xxii.
His Father had appointed unto him:" and which, it is evident out of the epistle to the Hebrews, chap. xii. 2, he had a regard to in his sufferings : “ Who for the joy “ that was set before him, endured the cross, despising “ the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the “ throne of God.” Which kingdom, given him upon this account of his obedience, suffering, and death, he himself takes notice of in these words, John xvii. 1—4, “ Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father,
the hour is come: glorify thy Son, that thy Son also
may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over “ all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many " as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that
they may know thee the only true God, and Jesus, “ the Messiah, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified “ thee on earth: I have finished the work which thou
gavest me to do.” And St. Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, chap. ii. 8—11, “ He humbled himself, “ and became obedient unto death, even the death of 66 the cross.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name that is above every name; “ that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of
things in heaven, and things in earth, and things un“ der the earth; and that every tongue should confess, 66 that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Thus God, we see, designed his Son Jesus Christ a kingdom, an everlasting kingdom in heaven. But