« IndietroContinua »
must share in the pity, prayers, and good offices of the true penitent, who will endeavour to bring them acquainted with that Saviour, in whom are all his hopes. Looking to his cross, seeing how he loved and bled for his enemies; the christian's resentment against persecutors is softened into compassion : knowing and feeling his own need of forgiveness, he becomes habitually disposed to forgive; and thus learns to follow peace with all men, as well as to avoid giving needless offence to any.
The humility and tenderness of conscience, induced by true repentance, teach the christian, in proportion as they prevail, another very hard lesson; namely, “in honour to prefer others to him“self; and so to do nothing from strife and vain “glory.” And of how much importance this is, to the peace of the church, the community, and even the family, every one must be aware.
As, after death is the judgment, and to be accepted at that solemn season is the true penitent's grand concern, and as his views of sin, and of himself, lead him continually to look to CHRIST who was born in a stable, and died on a cross: he cannot but grow more indifferent than he was, or than others are, to the interests, distinctions, and enjoyments of this world; and about the frown or scorn of worldly men. “God forbid, that I should "glory, save in the cross of our LORD JESUS; by
" whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto " the world.”—This not only prepares a man for patience and perseverance under trials and persecution; but it disposes him to active, self-denying, and liberal beneficence, as far as he has opportunity and ability. In a word, there is not a single exercise of christian affections towards God or CHRIST, our brethren, our relatives, neighbours, or enemies, in which a truly penitent state of heart has not peculiar influence. In doing, or in suffering, the will of God; in receiving favours and commendations, or in sustaining injuries and reproaches, it leads to the proper temper and conduct: it puts life and fervour into our prayers, praises, thanksgivings, and every act of worship: it is especially the ground requisite to form an acceptable communicant at the Lord's table : for it has been shewn, that repentance and faith are inseparable concomitants, and aid each other's exercise; that repentance, or rather the HOLY SPIRIT by means of repentance, leads the soul to CHRIST: and the more he is known, trusted, and loved; the deeper hatred is felt against sin, and the more humbly we walk with God. In this manner I apprehend, the lively christian's character is constantly improved: and though, in heaven, there will be none of the shame, sorrow, and alarm here commonly attending repentance; yet the penitent's humility and hatred of sin will for ever unite with admiring love of the Saviour, while he sings, “Worthy is the LAMB that was slain, and “hath redeemed us to God with his blood.”
And now ask yourselves, my brethren and fellowsinners, whether you are partakers of this gracious disposition? Is this your experience, your aim, your view of yourselves, of sin, and of Christ and his salvation? I have a confidence, that if it Þe so with you, I may glorify God on your behalf, and say “ Then hath God to you also granted re“ pentance unto life”-“There is joy in heaven, < among the angels of God over one sinner that " repenteth :" these blessed spirits have rejoiced over you, and do rejoice over you; and though you perhaps may now sow in tears; yet you shall at length rejoice with them: yea, God himself will rejoice over you to do yoụ good, even for eyer and ever. Therefore lift up your hands that hang down: lift your hearts with hope and gratitude; and prepare to commemorate his love, who loved you, and gave himself to the death upon the cross for you, and being now exalted on the throne, hath bestowed on you repentance unto life; and pray always, that you may repent more, and believe more, and bring forth more and inore the genuine fruits of repentance and faith.
It may, however, be asked, what is he to do who once thought he repented, but amidst the business
and bustle of the world, has lost his convictions and seriousness; and knows not to which company he belongs, the penitent or the impenitent? I would answer, that in such a case, no stress what, ever should be laid on past experience; all must be begun anew; and such a person must come as a sinner to Christ for repentance and remission of sins, and all the blessings of salvation, even as if he had now for the first time heard of his name.
In like manner so far as doubts prevail in any one, on whatever ground it may be, whether he have repented or not, he should earnestly beg of God to grant him true repentance; and to give him to know that his repentance is sincere. Whatever tends to benumb the conscience, to veil eternal things from his view, to lessen his sense of the evil of sin, or to restore him to impenitent self-complacency; he ought by all means carefully to avoid. Let such a man shun the bustle of company: let him retire into his closet, redeem time for reflection, search the scriptures, pour out his heart in prayer; and, waiting on the Lord in this manner, he will not wait in vain.
Once more, permit me to add a parting word to to some whom, perhaps I may never more address; who hear the word of God, and probably profess to believe it, yet nevertheless are conscious that they live without repentance, or fruits meet for repentance. Let me then once more solemnly testify, that if you live and die without repentance, even without this repentance which I have described; without submission to God, humiliation before him, renouncing and hating sin, cordially welcoming salvation by Christ, and walking in newness of life; you will most certainly perish, and that for ever. May God then, of his abundant mercy, grant unto you also, and to all present, repentance unto life eternal !