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« and abhor all the occasions of them.
And as " they did before give themselves to uncleanness “ of life, so will they, from henceforward, with “all diligence give themselves to innocency, “ pureness of life, and true Godliness."
Such is the description which our church gives of true repentance. God grant that all her members may consider it, and be brought to the experience of it! For God “forgives the “ sins of them (only) who are penitent.” If this extract should be the means of recommend. ing the excellent homilies from which it is made to a more general perusal, the transcriber's labour will have been usefully employed, even though no good effect should flow from his own thoughts on this or any other of the collects. Were these admirable sermons of our reformers better known, those who call themselves churchmen would be able to distinguish the genuine system of doctrines which forms our national creed from the cobweb theories of some modern theologues.
We proceed to consider the prayer which is founded on the preface we have reviewed. We beg that God would "create and make in us “ new and contrite hearts."
The new and contrite heart which we implore from God, is that spirit of penitence which is before declared to be essential to the forgiveness of sins. The importance which is assigned in Scripture to repentance is a loud call on us for fervour of intreaty when we pray for it. the main subject of the sermons which were delivered by the antient prophets. ''John the Baptist dwelt chiefly on the same topic. (Matthew iii. 2.) Our Lord Himself enforced its necessity, and explained its nature. (Mark i. 15.) and
when He gave to His Apostles their commission, after His resurrection from the dead, this was its tenour, “That repentance and forgiveness of (sins should be preached in His name among “ all nations.” And when the Apostles began to preach, they obeyed their Lord's command by exborting their hearers to “ repent and be “ baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus, for “ the remission of sins." (Acts ii. 38. ji. 19. XX. 21.) Repentance is moreover declared by the lips of eternal truth to be essential to salvation. (Luke xv. 3, 5.) Surely then it becomes us with seriousness of mind to investigate its properties, attentively to consider its features, and earnestly to beseech God that He would “ create and make in us new and contrite “ hearts.”
A penitent heart is “a new and contrite heart," for it is a thorough change of sentiments and affections wrought in a sinner through grace, whereby he is enabled to turn from all sin unto God. It is essentially distinguished from a mere outward reformation of conduct, though the latter is an invariable consequence of the former, A penitent heart is therefore frequently called a new heart, because it is newly produced, had no previous existence, and is totally different from the state of will and affections which before prevailed.
A penitent heart is also called a contrite heart, because it is bruised and broken by'a sense of its sin and danger. Repentance is preceded by Godly sorrow. (2 Cor, vii. 10.) The sorrow which God's Spirit produces in the soul, and which effectually leads to God, differs widely from the sorrow of the world," which “ worketh s death." The latter arises either from the experience or apprehension of temporal inconvenience or suffering, such as the loss of reputation, ease, health, or property, or, perhaps, from the slavish dread of eternal punishment for sin. But the former is an ingenuous grief for sin, because it is displeasing to God and dishonours Ilim. The language of David is that of every true penitent, “Against thee ONLY have I sin. “ ned.” (Ps. li. 4.) And it is worthy of remark that the contrite Psalmist wrote this after God had pronounced his pardon by the mouth of Nathan, so that it did not arise so much from terror of conscience as from love to God and His holy law. Though there were no devil to terrify, no hell to torment, and no Judge to condemn, yet the true penitent would sincerely mourn for his sins.
A “ new and contrite heart," is a heart converted to God, from whom mankind have universally departed in consequence of the fall, so that they hate God and avoid His presence. But when, under a sense of damning guilt, the revelation of mercy reaches the heart, the sinner returns to his offended Lord with a hope.of pardon and acceptance through Christ Jesus, saying,
Father, I have sinned against Heaven and a before thee, and am no more worthy to be - called thy son.”
A new heart is a heart converted from ALL sin. There may be many partial turnings in the human mind, but it is only when a man turns from all sin, that he becomes a true penitent. A person may turn from one sin to another. A profligate, who has spent his fortune, and feels the inconveniences which his sin hath brought on him, may apparently reform, and from a spendthrift become a niggard, and yet
be as distant as ever from true repentance. Or a man's besetting sin may leave him, while his heart remains unrenewed. A drunkard may break off his habits of intoxication and practise sobriety, because his constitution is ruined or his means of sinful indulgence are exhausted. A lewd person may become externally chaste, when debilitated by age or worn out with disease. But every one must perceive that in these instances there is no change of heart. A man may also abandon many corrupt practices and yet continue a slave to some favourite vice, as Herod did many things gladly under the influence of the Baptist's admonitions, but could not part with his beloved Herodias. Here then arises abundant matter for serious examination of our own souls, and a strong argument for fervency of spirit in imploring “ new and con“trite hearts."
For a new and contrite heart is the effect of Divine influence on the mind accompanying the Divine word. It is a new creation. God only can “ give to men repentance to the acknow
lerging of the truth.” (2 Tim. ii. 25.) If man could make himself a penitent, the promise of God would be absurd, “ A new heart 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 a heart of “ flesh.” (Ezek. xxxvi.- 26. See also chap. xi. 19. Eph. ii. 10. 2 Cor. v. 17.) No man by the efforts of unassisted nature can express from his own eye a single tear of Godly sorrow. This therefore is the language of all truly penitent souls, “ After that I was turned, I re“ pented; and after that I was instructed, I “smote upon my thigh; I was ashamed, yea
66. even confounded, because I did bear the re“ proach of my youth.” (Jer. xxxi. 19.) In the production of the new and contrite heart the Spirit of God however employs means. He makes use of the gospel of the grace of God. No man can truly hate sin till he loves God, and no man can love God till he believes in Jesus Christ. Repentance therefore, in the order of nature, is the effect of faith; according as it is written, “ They shall look unto me, whom they have pierced, and mourn." All true Godly sorrow and its gracious effects spring from a sight
our crucified God. The law of God, though it is not the proximate cause of repentance, yet prepares the way for it by shewing us our sin and our danger; and under the horrors of this discovery it leaves us, There it left Cain and Judas. It is the gospel displaying the love of God in Christ Jesus, which, by suggesting the hope of mercy, opens the springs of holy grief and self-abhorrence. Jesus looked on Peter after his unhappy fall, and then Peter went out and wept bitterly. It was a look of tender compassion that pierced him to the very soul. Some of the fathers have said, that Peter never afterwards to the day of his death heard a cock crow without shedding tears at the remembrance of his sin. If a skilful surgeon attended. a patient afflicted with a dangerous wound, to which he was hindered from making a proper application by an accretion of proud flesh, in order to effect a cure he would first remove the obstruction and lay open the wound. It is not this mode of operation, indeed, which effects the cure; but it is a necessary preparation for the application of a healing salve. Legal terrors can only awaken the mind : it is the gospel