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Repentance originates in conviction of sin; is manifested by a concern of the mind, which nothing can divert; and is renewed and deepened by the word of God, which penetrates the heart, and discovers hidden depths of vanity and sin, which no words are sufficient to describe. True repentance is deep, universal, and not partial, as was the repentance of Judas; it is productive, and not barren ; it must be abiding, and not transient.
Anon. Such a repentance issues in a radical change of principles and conduct; the penitent forsakes his sins, and walks in newness of life; he begins with alacrity to run the race set before him, and delightfully proves “ that the ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and that all her paths are peace.”
Dr. Styles. " I say
that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” Luke xv. 7. What an argument and encouragement to repentance is here held out, even to the greatest of sinners! Though, like the prodigal son, they have deserted their Father, and wasted their estate in lewd and riotous courses ; yet, whenever they are willing to return to Him, to acknowledge their folly and to repent of it, He is ready to receive them, and to embrace them, with as much kindness as if they bad never offended. To this degree does the great God condescend to encourage our repentance; representing himself, and all the blessed company of heaven, as transported with joy at the conversion of a sinner, and almost setting a greater value on true repentance, than on innocence itself. And, if our beavenly Father, who bas been so infinitely offended, and so bigbly provoked by us, be so ready, so forward, so glad to receive us; is it possible that we can be such enemies to ourselves, as to be backward to our own happiness? All of us, the best of us, bave too much cause for repentance, and too many of us stand in need of that repentance which is intended by our Saviour in this text, consistiog in the entire change and amendment of our lives.
Archbishop Tillotson. " And if so be that he find it, he rejoicetb more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.” Matt, xviii, 13.
We are not to infer from this similitude that God sets more value, or looks with more complacency and admiration on one repenting sinner, than on many righteous persons who have uniformly and devoutly served him. This can never be imagined, nor would it correspond with the illustration. The shepherd does not set a greater value on the lost sheep, than he does on those that are safe; but bis joy for the moment, at the recovery of the lost sheep, is greater than he receives from all the rest, because he has regained that, and is sure of all the rest. The meaning therefore of this parable is, that God's paternal tenderness extends to all, even to the sinner
goes astray, and that he rejoices at the recovery and conversion of even the most grievous oftender.
Bishop Porteus. The repentance which issues in life eternal, is a change of mind, contrition of heart, and deep self-abhorrence.
1. A change of mind. While a sinner is in a carpal state, bis views and sentiments, his hopes and fears, his aims and motives, are directly contrary to what they ought to be. He scorns substantial blessings, and catches at shadows; he refuses the heavenly manna, and, according to the language of the prophet, feeds upon ashes; he rejects the pearl of great price, and rakes up despicable rubbish; the things of the Spirit of God, in which alone there is true wisdom, appear foolishness to him, as his imagination gilds every thing with false colours : he is pleased where he should be disgusted ; and disgusted where he should be pleased.
But in repentance a happy change takes place. He who is brought under the saving influence of divine grace, is renewed in the spirit of his mind; the eyes of bis understanding are enlightened to see the vanity of the world, the evil of sin, and the value of eternal possessions. Whatever relates to God, to Christ, and to the immortal soul, now appears in a new light.
2. Repentance is contrition of heart. “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite beart, O God, thou wilt not despise !" When the word of God is applied by the power of divine grace, the finty heart melts into tender grief, and the eyes overflow with tears. What anxious thoughts, what strong and cutting convictions, are now felt!
3. Repentance is deep self-abhorrence. Very few are willing to give glory to God, and take shame to themselves; no sooner, hową ever, does a man come to his right mind, than his self-flattering no. tions vanish; he owns that the corruption of bis nature has been pouring forth, without ceasing, streams of actual transgression, from the beginning of life to the present moment. How sincerely then can be adopt the words of the Psalmist: “My iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the bairs of my head, therefore my heart faileth me.” Psa. xl. 12,
Wbile he views his sins, be is abased and confounded with a cons sideration of their number, their greatness, and their fruits. “By grace ye are saved.” Let your constant cry be, “ Lord, save me, or I perish!" Plead for the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among the saints. Pray to be justified freely, and sanctified by thể grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a cheering truth! “Now hath God granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life.” May you rejoice in this grant, and live the rest of your life to Him who died
Repentance is absolutely necessary: without it heaven cannot be obtained, nor hell avoided.
We may here finally remark, that as this repentance is a grace of the Spirit of Christ, whatever unpleasantness there may be in its exercise, it is sweet, refreshing, and secretly pleasant to the inner
Let us not be deterred from abounding in this duty. It is not a morose, severe self-maceration; but an bumble, gracious, mournful walking with God, wherein the soul fiods rest, sweetness, joy, and peace; being rendered thereby compliant with the will of God, benign, useful, kind, and compassionate towards men.
Owen on the Hebreros,
The godly grief, the pleasing smart,
PRA Y E R.
Immediately in conjunction with repentance and turning to God is prayer. “ Christian” will now begin to breathe the atmosphere of heaven; and here also we shall observe him to be aetive. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Matt, vii. 7.
Then shall ye call upon me; and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you; and ye shall seek me, and find me, when
ye shall search for me with all your heart. Jer. xxix. 12. For the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.” 1 Chron. xxviii. 9.
As for me, I will call upon God, and the Lord shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray and cry aloud; and be shall bear my voice. Psalm lv. 16.
I will cry unto God most bigb; unto him who performeth all things for me. Psalm lvii. 2.
O thou that bearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come. Psalm
He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. Psalm cii, 17.
And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the bypocrites are ; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues, and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when tbon bast shut thy door, pray to thy Fatber which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly,
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the beathen do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking
Be not ye therefore like unto them; for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him. Matt. vi. 5--8.
Verily verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitberto ye have asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye
shall receive, that your joy may be full. John xvi. 23, 24.
Likewise the Spirit also belpeth our infirmities. For we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Rom. viii. 26.
That sighs now breath'd
Until petitions are exchanged for praise, Let it be well observed, that whensoever the Scripture speaks of prayer, whensoever it uses that term, or other terms equivalent to it, it means prayer, sincere and earnest, in the full and proper sense of these words; prayer proceeding from the heart and soul. It does not mean any particular form of words whatever: it does not mean any service of the lips, any utterance or pronunciation of prayer, merely as such ; but supplication actually and truly proceeding from the heart. Prayer may be solemn without being sincere. Every decency, every propriety, every visible mark and token of