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IV. And lastly, The works meet for repent
I. Let me call your attention, my brethren, to the importance or prominence of this subject, as it appears from the scriptures, especially from the New Testament.
John the Baptist was the predicted forerunner of the Messiah, who was sent to prepare the way of the Lord, when he came in human nature among his ancient people the Jews : but how did he execute his important office? He came preaching, “ Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at “hand.” Let me intreat your serious attention to this circumstance. Notwithstanding the advantages of that favoured nation, with all their notions and form of godliness, there was no order of men, no religious sect, no individual whatever, that did not want repentance, as a preparation for welcoming the Messiah, and sharing the blessings of his spiritual kingdom. Insomuch, that the Baptist said to the Pharisees, as well as to the Sadducees, “ O generation of vipers, who hath warned
you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring “ forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and “ think not to say within yourselves, We have “ Abraham to our father.” _Not long after, our Lord himself condescended to preach the gospel ; and he too said, “ Repent, for the kingdom of “ heaven is at hand.” When the apostles went forth at his command, they“ preached every where “ that men should repent:" and it appears from part of his discourse to the seventy disciples, that
1 Matt. ïïi. 7-10.
they were charged with the same commission for he said on that occasion, “Wo unto thee, “ Chorazin, wo unto thee, Bethsaida ; for, if the
mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon « which have been done in thee, they had a great “ while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and “ ashes.”1
Does our Lord say in one place, “ The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was “ lost?” He elsewhere explains it, “ I came not “ to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Does the good Shepherd rejoice and call his friends to rejoice with him, when he has brought home the lost sheep? “ So likewise is there joy in “heaven,” even among the angels of God," “over one sinner that repenteth :” and, when the prodigal, returning to his father, was graciously welcomed, all the family was called on to rejoice; “ for this, my son, was lost and is found, was dead “ and is alive."
On the other hand Christ " upbraided the cities “ in which his mighty works had been done, be“ cause they repented not.” He told the people, that “ the men of Nineveh would rise up in judg“ment with that generation and condemn it; be
cause they repented at the preaching of Jonas : “ and behold a greater than Jonas was there." He warned the Jews that, except they repented,
they would all likewise perish.” And he summed up the reasons of his gentleness to notorious sinners, and his severity in rebuking the Pharisees, in this remarkable passage : “A certain man had
« two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son
go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered “ I will not: but afterward he repented and went. “ And he came to the second and said likewise : “and he answered and said, I go, Sir; and went “ not. Whether of them twain did the will of his “ father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus “saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, the pub“ licans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven “ before you. For John came to you in the way “ of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but “ the publicans and harlots believed him : and ye, “ when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, “ that ye might believe him!”]
When our Lord was risen from the dead, and about to ascend unto the Father, he said to his apostles, “Go ye, preach the gospel to every crea“ ture: he that believeth and is baptized shall “ be saved ; and he that believeth not shall be “ damned.” And again, “ Thus it is written, and “ thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from “ the dead the third day; and that repentance and (remission of sins should be preached in his name “ unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."? We may know how the apostles understood their Lord, after they were filled with the Holy Ghost, if we attend to Peter, on the day of Pentecost, thus addressing the convinced Jews, “Repent and “ be baptized, every one of you, in the name of “ Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins :" and afterwards “Repent and be converted, that your may
be blotted out;” not because your sins
'Matt. xxi. 28-32.
Mark xvi. 15, 16. Luke xxiv. 46, 47.
are blotted out, as some modern systems seem to require: and why should men alter the order of scriptural exhortations, unless they mean to change the doctrine of scripture ?1
When Peter related the circumstances of Cornelius's conversion, to his brethren at Jerusalem, they made this remark, “ Then hath God also “ to the gentiles granted repentance unto life."? When Paul at Athens, before the celebrated council of Areopagus, boldly exposed the ignorance of this renowned seat of pagan philosophy, he said, “The times of this ignorance God winked at, but
now commandeth all men every where to re
pent."3 And, stating the substance of his preaching before the elders of Ephesus, he thus expressed himself, “Testifying, both to the Jews and also “ to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith “ toward our Lord Jesus Christ."4_ The same apostle, addressing the unbelieving Jews, thus expostulates with them, “ Despisest thou the riches “ of his goodness, and forbearance, and long suf“ fering ; not knowing that the goodness of God “ leadeth thee to repentance ? but, after thy hard
ness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto
thyself wrath against the day of wrath ?" To the Corinthians he says, “ Godly sorrow worketh “repentance unto salvation not to be repented of.” And he expresses his fears that, when he came among them, he should“ lament many which had “ sinned and had not repented.” When he de
Acts ïi. 38. iii. 13.
? Acts xi. 18.
scribes the case of those who had sinned beyond the reach of mercy, he says, it is “impossible to “renew them to repentance:” and, on the other hand he directs Timothy “ in meekness to instruct “ those that opposed themselves, if peradventure “God would give them repentance to the acknow
ledging of the truth." Where it is particularly to be remarked that repentance is considered as an essential preparation of mind for the reception of the truth, in order that they may “recover them“ selves out of the snare of the devil, who have “ been taken captive by him at his will." And this agrees with Peter's advice to Simon Magus,
Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if “perhaps the thought of thy heart may be for
These testimonies may probably be deemed more than sufficient : but let it be remembered, that we are not only concerned to prove the truth of the doctrine; it is also requisite to shew that repentance is indispensably necessary to salvation, and has been a matter of the last importance in religion under every dispensation. I shall, however, only select one passage from the Old Testament, with which to conclude this part of our subject. “I “ will judge you, every one according to your
ways, saith the Lord God: repent and turn
yourselves from all your transgressions ; so ini“quity shall not be your ruin. Cast from you “all your transgressions, whereby ye have trans
gressed, and make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For
· Heb. vi. 6. 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26.
? Acts viii. 22.