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so hard, that none but the Spirit can break it: Ezek. xxxvi, 26, 27. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within
Q. In what act doth all true repentance begin?
A. It begins in a true sight and sense of sin, and the danger and misery we are in by sin ; Acts ii. 37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their hearts, &c. Q. Why doth God work such a sense of sin and misery?
A. He doth it to make Christ desirable in the sinner's eyes, that be may fly to him; Matt. ix. 12, 13. But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learu what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
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Q. Is the sigbt of sin sufficient to repentance ? A. No; there must be an apprehension of mercy and forgiveness with God, or else no man can sincerely repent; Rom. ii. 4. Not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance. And this
mercy must be discerned in and through Christ; Zech. xii, 10. And they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for hiin as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.
Q. Wherein doth repentance chiefly consist?
A. It consists in real inward sorrow for sin, as committed against God; Psa. li. 3, 4. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight, &c. A loathing of ourselves for it; Ezek. xxxvi. 31. And shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations. And of our best duties as sinful and insufficient things; Isa. Ixiv. 5, 6. We are all as an un
, clean thing; and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags, &c.
Q. Wherein else dolb it consist?
A. In turning from sin, as well as grieving for it; Isa. lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man bis thoughts,
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and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Prov. xxviii. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper : but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy:
Flavel's Exposition of the Assembly's Catechism,
If, by repentance, you mean an ingenuous sorrow for our transgressions, nothing is so likely to break the stony or melt the icy heart, as these doleful effects of sin. Let us imagine ourselves present at Calvary, and standing by the cross. See! the innocent, the amiable, the illustrious Saviour, hangs on a tree !-a tree, torturous as the rack, and ignominious as the gibbet! See! his face is foul with spitting, and bis back torn with the scourge! His veins stream with blood, and his heart is wounded with anguish! There he hangs, abandoned by his friends, reviled by his enemies, and forsaken even by his God. Can we reflect that we, even we were the cause of this inconsolable misery; and not feel remorse in our consciences, or sorrow in our minds? Can we reflect, that for us, even for us, he bore this amazing torment; and not smite our breasts, ør be pained at our very souls?
If, by repentance, you mean a thorough renunciation of all ini. quity; no motive is so effectual, to divorce the heart from every abominable idol, and divert the feet from every evil way, as an attentive consideration of our Redeemer's death. Whose indignation does not arise against the infamous wretch that betrayed the blessed Jesus? Who is not ready to detest those envenomed tongues that accused him; and those barbarous bands that crucified him? Yet our lusts were more guilty in this respect than, Judas or the Jews. Our lusts and evil deeds were the principal actors in this deepest of tragedies. How then can we caress, how can we entertain, yea, how can we endure those execrable iniquities, which were the betrayers and murderers of the Prince of Life ? “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree;" not that we might be emboldened to repeat them ; but incited to abhor them, and induced to forsake them-that, in our practice and our aifections, we should be averse, be even “ dead to sin,"
Fatally he errs,
The repentance of the Gospel is formed of the hatred of sin, sorrow for it, a disposition to confess it to God, and resolution to renounce it. From this definition it is manifest that evangelical repentance is the direct removal of sin from the soul of the sipner. By the hatred of sin, which it includes as a first principle, the soul is withdrawn from the practice of it; by the sorrow, it is warned of the danger and evil of returning to it again; by the confession of it to God, the soul is brought into near, full, and most endearing views of the glorious goodness of its heavenly Father, in forgiving its iniquities, and most happily prepared to watch, and strive, and pray that he may offend him no more; by its resolutions to forsake it, the penitent is fortified against future indulgences, and prepared to assume a life of filial obedience. In all these things we cannot, I think, avoid perceiving that evangelical repentance is the direct and the only means of removing sin originally from the heart, and consequently from the life of a moral being; and that thus it is absolutely necessary to prepare men for obedience to the law of God, and a general conformity to his character and pleasure. To such beings as we are, it is therefore indispensable, if we are ever to become the subjects of real and enduring happiness.
The difference between true and false repentance is as great as that between the running of water in the paths after a shower, and the streams which flow from a living fountain. A false repentance has grief of mind and bumiliation only for great and glaring of
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fences; or, until it supposes pardon for them obtained. True repente
Brookes. Not that repentance and reformation procure the j.ardon of sin, or are the causes of it; for forgiveness is entirely owing to the free. grace of God and blood of Jesus Christ; but, inasmuch as that is only manifested and applied to repenting and converting sinners, and who are encouraged to repent, and turn to the Lord from the promise of pardon ; it is incumbent on them, and is their interest so to do, that they may have a discovery of the remission of their sing by the blood of Christ.
Gill's Exposition, Acts jii. 19. There is no coming at the fair haven of eternal glory, without sailing through the narrow strait of repentance.
Dyer. It is true, that if you truly repent, you are forgiven; but it is as true, that true repentance is the first conversion of the soul from sip to God, and leaveth not any man in the power of sin. It is not for a man, when be bath bad all the pleasure that sin will yield him, to wish be had not committed it, (which he may do then at an easy rate,) and yet to keep the rest that are still pleasant and profitable to his flesh. If thou have true repentance, it hath so far turned thy heart from sin, that thou wouldst not commit it, if it were to do again, though thou hadst all the same temptations; and it hath $o far turned thy beart to God and boliness, that thou wouldst live a holy life, if it were all to do again, though thou badst all the same temptations as afore against it ; because thou hast not the same heart. This is the nature of true repentance. Such a repentance, indeed, is never too late to save ; but I am sure it never comes too
Nothing is of greater importance to the children of men than the doctrine of repentance. It is a doctrine in which we are deeply interested, and personally concerned ; for without repentance there
can be no salvation. Upon this, in connexion with other graces, our eternal happiness depends, not in point of merit, but in point of method ; " repentance towards God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” are essential to the being of a Christian. The doctrine of repentance was preached by the Redeemer himself, when he first entered upon bis public ministry; and this doubtless would not have been the case, if it bad not been of the utmost importance: “Repent ye, for @kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And when he afterwards sent his disciples, and commanded them to preach the gospel, to every creature, it is said that they went out and preached every where that men should repent. The same command is still binding upon his ministers. The doctrine of repentance is as important now, and it is as necessary that it should be inculcared, as it was during the Saviour's ministry upon earth. We are commanded to preach it in your hearing, and it affords me peculiar pleasure that I have an opportunity of doing it on the present occasion. Knowing, therefore, the terrors of the Lord, let me persuade you to flee from the wrath to come. Repentance is not only connected with your bappiness, but the neglect of it involves your utter ruin, Ponder the words of the text, and let the impenitent sinner tremble: it is the declaration of the Son of God, of him who is your present witness, and who will finally be your impartial judge; “ except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
True repentance is a saving grace, whereby a sinner turneth from his sins, and returns to God with full purpose of heart and sincere endeavour to walk in newness of life,
Every true penitent is apprehensive, as of his own guilt, so of that grace and mercy of God in and through Jesus Christ. Repentance unto life ariseth from true faith in Christ; for when we are assured of God's infinite mercy, and the all-sufficiency of Christ's merits, then are we encouraged to turn from our sins to God, in hope of pardon; and deep apprehensions of the love of God in Christ, will work such returns of love to him, as will bring forth a fear of ofa fending and care to please him, which is true evangelical repentance.