Imatges de pÓgina
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in his penitential Psalm. Nor is any repentance genuine and saving, but what implies this apprehension and sense of the great evil of sin. Hence the apostle Paul describes that repentance which he testified and urged wherever he preached, as being repentance toward God.

4. It ought further to be observed, respecting the object of repentance, that it is not some one sin only, but all sin. I mean all one's own sins. Not that whenever a sinner truly repents, he repents of every sinful act, and omission, which he has ever been guilty of in the whole course of his life, particularly considered. This is impossible. Not half of these is any one able to recollect. But what I mean is, that a true penitent repents of all his sins in general; and of every instance of iniquity in particular, as far as he can remember it, and is conscious of its being such. If in any one thing a person remembers to have done wrong, and does not repent of it, this is a certain evidence that no part of his repentance is genuine. It is the doctrine of the apostle James, "Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all:" because the same divine authority that forbids one sin, equally forbids another also. And for the same reason it holds true, that if a man should seem to repent of all his known sins but one, while of that he hath no repentance, he doth not truly repent of any.

5. In explaining the object of repentance, it ought to be particularly observed, that original sin must be repented of, as well as actual sins.

By original sin, I do not mean the act of Adam in eating the forbidden fruit; but the sinfulness of our nature, which we brought into the world with us. A man, though he may feel humiliation and shame on account of the wicked conduct of another, who is nearly related to him, or from whom he proceeded;

yet it seems naturally impossible that one should have all the feelings, which are implied in the proper idea of repentance, on account of any besides his own personal sins. But I see no difficulty in supposing that a person may as truly repent of heart-sins, as sins of life; and of a depraved nature, as well as of evil thoughts, volitions, and desires. And that David's repentance was thus deep, we are plainly led to believe by his confession, Psal. li. 5," Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me." It is also evident that Solomon considered a conviction and sense of depravity of nature, as being essential to that repentance, without which a sinner can have no reasonable hope of pardoning mercy. This appears evident from his prayer at the dedication of the temple, recorded in the eighth chapter of the first book of Kings. "What supplication," says he, "shall be made by any man, or by all thy people Israel, who shall know every man the plague of his own heart, and shall spread forth his hands toward this house; then hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and forgive." And indeed, it seems plainly impossible that a person should have that self-abasement and self-condemnation which true repentance implies, merely from seeing the evil of particular actions, or transient exercises, without having a sense of that depravity of his nature, which alone can constitute a permanently wicked character.

Having considered what sinners must repent of, we will next make some inquiry concerning those exercises and affections of heart, which are implied in true repentance. These are, sorrow, shame, selfcondemnation, hatred of sin, and sincere purposes to forsake it, and desires to be delivered from it.

1. True repentance implies grief and sorrow for one's sins. David says, Psal. xxxviii. 3-6, “There is no soundness in my flesh because of thine anger,

neither is there any rest in my bones because of my sin. For mine iniquities are gone over mine head; as a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.-I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long." And ver. 18, "I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin."

2. Shame, is essential to true repentance. Psal. xliv. 15, 66 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me." Jer. xxxi. 19, "Surely after that I was turned, I repented, and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth." And chap. iii. 25, We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us; for we have sinned against the Lord our God."

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3. Self-condemnation is implied in true repentance. See Lev. xxvi. 41, "If then their uncircumcised heart be humbled, and they then accept the punishment of their iniquity; then will I remember my covenant," &c. See also 1 Cor. xi. 31, " If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged." Thus the penitent thief upon the cross condemned himself, saying to his fellow, who scoffed at Christ, "Dost thou not fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation ? and we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our evil deeds." Every sinner who truly repents, is brought to see the justice of God in condemning him, and heartily to approve of the sentence of condemnation passed upon him.

4. True repentance implies hatred of sin, and turning from it in heart, with a sincere desire and fixed purpose to keep the divine law for the time to This seems to be what the apostle means by it, when he says, "Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation, not to be repented of." He is

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there telling the Corinthians what he had heard of the good effects his former epistle had had upon them. In the following verse he says, "For behold, this self same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal.” In vain is that repentance which does not imply a sincere desire and fixed purpose of amendment; or which is not followed with a lasting reformation.

As to the motives and principles of true repentance, I observe,

1. That it doth not proceed merely from a slavish fear of punishment. A disobedient servant will profess to be sorry for his faults, and will readily promise to do better, when under the rod, or when threatened with severe correction: and in like manner a sinner, when destruction from God is a terror to him, will confess and promise, and feel a kind of sorrow for what he has done or neglected to do, and may have some serious thoughts of doing better. This hath been commonly called legal repentance, because it is owing altogether to the terror of the divine law, and the fearful apprehension of the wrath to come thence arising.

2. It ought to be observed, that true repentance doth not originate from mercenary hopes of heaven; or from a belief of God's electing love and pardoning grace. Something like repentance, in all the forementioned parts and exercises of it, may arise entirely from a persuasion that one is an object of God's peculiar favor, and a subject of his distinguishing mercy. There is hardly any one so totally destitute of natural gratitude, as not to feel some grief and sorrow, shame and self-condemnation, for atrocious offences committed against a kind friend and great benefactor, when a remembrance of his

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generous benefits is fresh in mind. Thus, when David had spared the life of Saul, having had a fair opportunity to have slain him while he and all his life-guard were soundly sleeping in the cave; Saul, on being certified of it, said, "I have sinned: return, my son David; for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thy sight this day. Behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly." So, an unregenerate sinner will naturally feel a kind of repentance toward God, when he is made to entertain a strong belief of his special love and mercy towards him. There is no need of a new heart in order to this; nor will another spirit be produced in the carnal mind, by any remorse arising from such interested motives.

Indeed, a sense of God's goodness toward them, increases godly sorrow in true penitents, and makes them appear more vile in their own eyes. This is agreeable to what is said in Ezek. xvi. 63, "That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, saith the Lord God." An apprehension of pardoning mercy is not necessary, however, in order to the first feelings of true repentance. Nor is that a repentance unto salvation, which is the fruit of nothing more than a belief that one's sins already are, or ever will be forgiven. But,

3. True repentance arises from disinterested love to God: a foundation for which is laid in the soul by the renewing of the Holy Ghost. When the stony heart is taken out of one's flesh, and a heart of flesh is given, he will repent, not merely as Ahab did at the threatening of Elijah; nor merely as Saul repented because of the kindness of David: he will feel an ultimate concern for the honor of God, and an ingenuous sorrow and grief for all that he has done to his offence and displeasure; whether he believes

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