Imatges de pÓgina

his own right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins unto Israel.” Hence' we learn, that repentance is the gift of God; and that it is the work of God will appear clear, not only from his word, but also from considering its nature. “ Then will I pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication; and they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for her first-born."

Here true repentance begins, when the spirit of grace and supplication is poured out upon us, the happy consequence will be, that we shall begin to pray, and by that means obtain help from the Lord.

It is commonly said, that repentance is a godly sorrow for qur past sins, attended with an utter hatred and an abhorrence of them, and a fixed determination, through the help of God, to forsake and abandon them for ever. Supposing this to be a just description of its nature, does it not follow, that it is the Spirit of God which shines upon the mind, so that a discovery is made of the exceeding sinfulness of sin in general, of its odious and detestable, yea, of its diabolical nature, and of our own sinfulness in particular? By this light we see how the mind and conscience are defiled : the mind by original depravity, so that we are altogether carnal, unholy and unclean; and the conscience by our actual transgressions, so that we stand guilty before God. While we attentively read or hear the word of God, we see the very picture of our own soul, as it is drawn by the hand of the Holy Ghost himself; and as we read or hear, he inwardly tells us, “ Thou art the man !" So that the more we read or hear, the more we are condemned, and the more deeply we are humbled before the Lord on account of sin.

It is the Spirit of God also, who awakens our conscience, and gives us to feel, as well as to see our sinful and guilty

“.will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh, and will give you an heart of flesh.”. Here the Lord hath promised to take away that spiritual insensibility which sin has brought upon us, so that our minds may be suitably affected with divine things; and in particular, that we may be properly affected with the consideration of our own guilty, sinful, and helpless state. Here then, as we see how greatly we have dishonoured God, so we are ashamed and deeply humbled before him on account of it; sensible how vile we are in his sight, and that we have made ourselves the objects of his just displeasure : We are distressed, we weep and mourn


before him, and our minds are filled with earnest desire to bę delivered out of this wretched and miserable condition. He who feels that heavy load of guilt which lies upon his conscience, must know, at the same time, that except he is mercifully delivered from it, he shall be everlastingly miserable: And he who sees how defiled by original depravity he is, will see, at the same time, how necessary it is that a real change should be wrought in his heart, so that it becomes natural to such a person to hate sin, which has been the cause of his present distress, and to desire and seek to the God of all grace, that he may deliver him out of his unhappy condition.

Thus it appears, that it is in the strength of the Lord God, that we break off our sins by repentance, return unto him with our whole heart ; and it is the one desire of our soul to be received into the favour and family of God, that we may enjoy a clear sense of his love towards us,

2. It is by the strength of the Lord God that a truly penitent sinner is enabled to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ; and this every such person is deeply sensible of: For however clearly he may see, or however deeply he may feel, his lost and ruined state ; however lively his desires after salvation are, or however deep and painful his convictions of the want of it; however diligent he may be in waiting upon God, in all his appointed ways, in order to obtain salvation : Add to all this, however clear his views are of the willingness of God to saving returning sinners, and of his mercy and love in Christ Jesus ; yet he feels, that he can no more believe of himself, or by any power he now feels in himself, than he can touch the highest heavens with his right-hand : He sees Christ, as the Apostle speaks, evidently set forth as crucified before his eyes;" but it must be by the strength or by the power of God, that he is enabled to believe on him, and to experience redemption and salvation brought into his own soul. It is the Lord who proclaims liberty to the captives, and who opens the prison to them that are bound. . David was sensible, yea, deeply sensible of this, when he offered up that earnest prayer to God, “I found trouble and heaviness; then called I

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the of the Lord, O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul :" So likewise king Hezekiah, “ Mine eyes fail with looking upwards, I am oppressed, O Lord, undertake for me.” And we shall find all the penitent sinners, of whom we have any account in the word of God, so satisfied that they could not deliver themselves, and so fully convinced that none but God could deliver them, that they are constantly represented as deroutly praying to God for deli


verance, or what is the same thing, for that strength which we contendi for.

3. By the strength of the Lord the Christian is enabled both to do and to suffer the will of God, from the beginning of his spiritual journey to the end. “ All our sufficiency, saith the Apostle, “iş of God;” and having a proper sense of this, we are led to wait upon him in his own appointed ways, that the promise may be fulfilled, and we may receive fresh supplies of strength from above. From a deep sense of our own weakness, and of our inability to do that which is well-pleasing in the sight of God, we desire spiritual assistance; and finding that our infinitely kind and gracious God hath promised to communicate this strength to us, we draw near unto him for this end, that he may fulfil his promise : And he is faithful and true to his word; “ Our strength is renewed as the eagle's," as David speaks, and every part of our duty is not only rendered practicable, but also truly delightful: The commandments of the Lord are no longer grievous unto us. Did we only walk with God, and live as near to him as we ought, we should, no doubt, be so strengthened with might; by his Spirit, in our inward man, that'we should be enabled to run, without any degree of weariness, , in the narrow way which he hath set before us, and should go from strength to strength, till favoured to appear before the God of gods in Sion. We should not esteem any part of our duty difficult, much less impossible ; but having the life of God in possession, our souls would be like the chariots of Aminadab, and we should chearfully run up to Horeb, the holy mount of God.

But if the strength of the Lord be so necessary for us, that we may chearfully do the will of God; then it will be much more abundantly .so, to enable us to suffer his will. ' Many and various are the trials of the present life, and sometimes they are exceeding great, very painful, and distressing; but see that he therein offers us a sufficiency of strength for all

6. Should occasions, and we should never be discouraged, but should constantly witness the truth of that word," My gracę is suficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." It was in this strength that the Apostle Paul so greatly gloried, when writing to the believing Romans. " In all these things we are more than conquerors:

. It was in this strength, that all those great and eminent saints and servants of the Lord, mentioned in the 11th of the Hebrews,

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gained those wonderful victories which the Apostle speaks of; and in this strength it was that all the martyrs and confessors of the Lord Jesus Christ were enabled to go chearfully to prison and to death, for his sake. Whatsoever the Lord may call

us, either to do or to suffer, if we only look to him for strength, we shall not labour in vain, but we shall be properly qualified for our work, for he will not send us a warfare at our own cost; but will gird us with strength unto the battle, and we shall do valiantly in his name. In consideration of this we may chearfully sing,

“In the strength of God I rise,

" And run to meet my foe;
« Faith the word of power applies,

“ And lays the giant low:
“Faith in Jesu's conquering name,

“ Slings the sin-destroying stone,
“ Points the word's unerring aim,

" And brings the monster down."

Secondly, How does the Lord, in the general, convey this strength to us? With respect to this, we may say as our blessed Lord did, “ The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell from whence it cometh or whither it goeth ; so is every one that is born of the Spirit:" For this strength cometh not with outward observation ; but being spiritual, it is certainly given in an invisible manner: And yet if we attend to the word of God, and seriously consider his general method of dealing with those who worship at his feet, we shall be able to understand as much of this mystery as it is necessary for us to know, in order to our present and eternal happiness.

How then does the Lord convey this strength to impenitent unconverted sinners, so that they may arise and return to him? He generally does this, when such persons are found among his own people, hearing that word of truth which his ministers are authorised to publish in his name : For it seldom happens when the people of God assemble together to worship him in public, but there are found among them those who may be said to be stout hearted, and far from righteousness; others, like Gallio, who care for none of those things; and, generally speaking, impenitent sinners, of all descriptions. For this reason the Lord saith to every faithful minister, “Lift up thy voice like a trumpet, cry aloud and spare not; shew unto the house of Israel their transgressions,


and unto the children of Judah their sin.” That is, seriously and solemnly warn impenitent sinners of their sin and danger, endeavour to make them sensible of their wretched and miserable condition, use every argument in your power in order to prevail with them to return to the Lord by true repentance: Hence the Prophet cries out, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die Seek ye the Lord, while he may be found, and call


him while he is near.” So likewise the Apostle, Awake thou that sleepest, and Christ shall give thee light;" and again, “ The times of ignorance God winked at; but now coinmandeth all men every where to repent.'

We therefore may safely follow these great examples, and solemnly warn all who attend upon our ministry, to turn unto the Lord by repentance, and to seek for mercy and grace at his hand : But when this is done in the name of the Lord, agreeable to his holy word, shall such persons reply,“ Why do you speak to us as if you believed that we have power to repent and return to God, when you know, in your conscience, that we have no such power; we are poor, helpless, wretched sinners, and we can never return to God till he is pleased to visit us, and enable us to do it :" To these it may be answer.. ed, the Lord can never mock his poor, helpless creatures : When he, by his ministers, warns you of your danger, it is in order that you may be made sensible of, and escape it; and when he calls upon you to repent and turn to him, he intends to give you power so to do. He attends the ministry of his word with divine light and power at the same time, that it may open the eyes of the blind, and awaken the consciences of the careless and secure : Hence we are told, that " the word of the Lord is as an hammer, and as a fire, which breaketh the rocks in pieces." So likewise it is

So likewise it is “ quick and powerful, piercing to the dividing asunder of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Accordingly we find, by experience, that impenitent sinners, while hearing the word of the Lord, are made to feel the convincing power of the Divine Spirit which attends it. Light shines into their benighted minds, and the power of God penetrates their inmost souls; the fallow ground of their heart is broken up, and they begin to fear and tremble, to weep and mourn before the Lord. The word of the Lord takes such hold of their minds, that they forsake sin, and begin to enquire, “What must I do to be saved?” The arrows of divine conviction stick fast in their hearts, and it may be, for a time, the poison of them so drinks up or bows down their spirits that they go niourning all the day long, and their

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