« AnteriorContinuar »
verted.”—Therefore, in the conversion of the Gentiles, faith was to be ordinarily the first.
8. In proportion to these several methods, the doctrine or state of Christianity was sometimes called “ faith P," sometimes“ repentance 9:” he that believed Jesus Christ, would repent of his sins ; and he that did repent, would believe. But sometimes infidelity stood at the gate, and sometimes malice and vile affections. That which stood next, was first to be removed.
9. Now the access of both these to Christ is in Scripture called 'conversion,' or repentance. Where faith only was wanting, and the man was of Moses and a good man, the becoming a Christian was a teleiwoic, 'a perfection' or, consummation,'--'a progression’ rather than a' returning,' apoκοπή not αναστροφή. But when Christ had been preached, all the obfirmation and obstinacy of mind by which they shut their eyes against that light, all that was choice, and interest, or passion, and was to be rescinded by repentance. But
conversion' was the word indifferently used concerning the change both of Jews and Gentiles, because they both abounded in iniquity, and did need this change, called by St. Paul árolórowsiç áto ráonc dvoulas,' à redemption from all iniquity ;' by St. Peter, áfootpoor and rovniwv, a conversion from wickedness!'
10. In analogy and proportion to these repentances and conversions of Jews and Gentiles, the repentances of Christians may be called 'conversion s.' We have an instance of the word so used in the case of St. Peter; When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren;" that is, When thou art returned from thy folly and sin of denying the Lord, do thou confirm thy brethren, that they may not fall as thou hast done. This is ávaotpopri anò patalwv, an'aồiaç, ' a conversion from vanity, and impiety, or injustice ;' when a person of any evil life returns to his duty, and his undertaking in baptism, from the unregenerate to the regenerate estate, that is, from habitual sin to habitual grace. But the repentances of good men for their sins of infirmity, or the seldom interruptions of a good life by single falls, is not properly P Mark, i. 15.
9 Acts, xxvi. 20. ii. 38. ii. 19. r Acts, xiv. 13. and xxvi. 18. 2 Cor. ii. 16. Rom. xiii. 12, 13. Eph. v.8. Tit. ii. 14. Acts, iii. 26.
* Luke, xii. 32. Jam. iii. 20. Matt. xiii, 15. Johv, xij. 10.
version. But as the distance from God is, from whence we are to retire, so is the degree of our conversion. The term from whence, is various; but the term whither we go, is the same. All must come to God through Jesus Christ in the measures and strictness of the evangelical holiness ; which is that state of repentance I have been now describing, which is,-a perfect abrenunciation of all iniquity, and a sincere obedience in the faith of Jesus Christ :-which is the result of all the foregoing considerations and usages of words; and is farther manifested in the following appellatives and descriptions, by which repentance is signified and recommended to us in Scripture. 11. I. It is called ' reconciliation,' katallayn.
« We pray you in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God;" that is, to be friends with him, no longer to stand in terms of distance ; for every habitual sinner, every one that provokes him to anger by his iniquity, is his enemy: not that every sinner hates God by a direct hate ; but as obedience is love, so disobedience is enmity or hatred by interpretation, éx poi τη διανοία εν τοις έργοις τοις πονηροίς, “enemies in their mind by wicked workst.” So St. Paul expresses it: and therefore the reconciling of these, is to represent them “ holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in his sight.”—Pardon of sins is the least part of this reconciliation; our sins and our sinfulness too must be taken away ; that is, our old guilt, and the remanent affections must be taken off, before we are friends of God. And therefore we find this reconciliation pressed on our parts ; ' we are reconciled to God,' not' God to us. For although the term be relative, and so signifies both parts; as conjunction, and friendship, and society, and union, do: yet it pleased the Spirit of God by this expression to signify our duty expressly, and to leave the other to be supposed; because if our parts be done, whatsoever is on God's part, can never fail. And, 2. Although this reconciliation begins on God's part, and he first invites us to peace, and gave his Son a sacrifice; yet God's love is very revocable till we are reconciled by obedience and conformity.
12. II. It is called ' renewing,' and that either with the connotation of the subject renewed, or the cause renewing. • The renewing of the Holy Ghost,' and the renewing of the
mind,' or' the spirit of the mind u.' The word is exactly the same with perávoia, which is a change of mind from worse to better, as it is distinguished from the fruits and effects of it. So, be renewed in your mind; —that is, throw away
foolish principles, and nonsense-propositions, by which you use to be tempted and persuaded to sin, and inform your mind with wise notices and sentences of God: “That ye put off concerning the old conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts ; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness ;” which is an excellent description of repentance : in which it is observable, that St. Paul uses two words more to express the greatness and nature of this change and conversion. It is,
13. III. “A new creature ;-the new man;-created in righteousness :" for the state of repentance is so great an alteration, that in some sense it is greater than the creation"; because the things created had in them no opposition to the power of God, but a pure capacity obediential" : but a sinner hath dispositions opposite to the Spirit of grace, and he must unlearn much, before he can learn any thing; he must die before he can be born.
Nam quodcunque suis matalam finibus exit,
Our sins, the body of sin, the spirit of uncleanness, 'the old man must be abolished, mortified, crucified, buried;' our sins 'must be laid away,' we must hate the garments spotted with the flesh,' and our garments must be whitened in the blood of the lamb;' our hearts must be purged from an evil conscience, purified as God is pure, that is, as St. Paul expresses it, from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, denying (or renouncing) all ungodliness and worldly lust3 *.'
14. And then as the antithesis or consequent of this is, when we have laid away our sin, and renounced ungodliness; "we must live godly, righteously, and soberly, in this present world;" we must not live either to the world, or to ourselves, but to Christ: “Hic dies aliam vitam adfert, alios mores
u Tit. ü.'5. Rom. xii. 2. Eph. iv. 23. * Eph. ij. 10. iii. 9. John, iii. 6. Jam. i. 18.
· Lucret. 1. 671. · Jade. Rev. vii. 14. Heb. x. 22, 23. Psal. I. 9. 2 Cor. vii. 1. 1 John, iii. 3. b Gal. ii. 20.
postulato;" our manner of life must be wholly differing from our former vanities, so that the life which we now live in the flesh, we must live by the faith of the Son of God, that is, according to his laws and most holy discipline.
15. This is pressed earnestly upon us by those many precepts of " obedience, to God, to Christ, to the holy Gospel, to the truth, to the doctrine of faith ; of doing good, doing righteousness, doing the truth ; serving in the newness of the spirit; giving our members up as servants of righteousness unto holiness; being holy in all conversation ; following after peace with all men, and holiness; being followers of good works ; providing things honest in the sight of God and men; abhorring evil, and cleaving to that which is good; perfecting holiness in the fear of God; to be per-, fect in every good work, being filled with the fruits of righteousness; walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing ; being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; abounding in the work of the Lord d.” Τέλειοι and πεπληρωμένοι are the words often used, filled full, and perfect.?
16. To the same purpose is it, that we are commanded to "live in Christ, and unto God e;" that is, to live according to their will, and by their rule, and to their glory, and in their fear and love; called by St. Paul," to live in the faith of the Son of God: to be followers of Christ, and of God; to dwell in Christ, and to abide in him ; to walk according to the commandments of God, in good works, in truth, according to the Spirit; to walk in light, to walk with God?;" which was said of Enoch: of whom the Greek LXX. read eủnplotnge TU JEQ, “ he pleased God.”—There are very many more to the same purpose. For with great caution and earnestness the Holy Scriptures placed the duties of mankind in practice and holiness of living, and removes it far from a confidence of notion and speculation. * Qui fecerit, et docuerit,” • He that doth them, and teaches them,' shall be great in the kingdom *;" and,“ Why do you call me · Lord, Lord,' and do not the things I say to you h? and, "Ye are my friends, if ye do
¢ Andr. 1. 2. 15.
a Rom. vi. 17. Acts, vi.7. 1 Pet. iv. 3. Eph. ii. 3. Jam. i. 22, 23. 1 John, iii. 22. John, iïi. 4. 1 John, i. 6. 2 Cor. viii, 21. Col. i. 10. 1 Cor. xv. 38.'
e 2 Tim. iii. 12.
1 Luke, vi. 46.
what I command you'” Πρέπoν ούν μή μόνον καλείσθαι χρισι τιανούς, αλλά και είναι ου γαρ το λέγεσθαι, αλλά το είναι μακάplov moltī. "We must not only be called Christians, but be so; for not to be called, but to be so, brings us to felicity;" that is, since the life of a Christian is the life of repentance, whose work it is, for ever to contend against sin, for ever to strive to please God, a dying to sin, a living to Christ, he that thinks his repentance can have another definition, or is completed in any other, or in fewer parts, must be of another religion than is taught by Christ and his holy apostles. This is the faith of the Son of God, this is that state of excellent things which he purchased with his blood : and as there is no other name under heaven,' so there is no other faith, no other repentance, 'whereby we can be saved.'
Upon this article it is usual to discourse of sorrow and contrition, of confession of sins, of making amends, of selfaffliction, and some other particulars : but because they are not parts, but actions, fruits, and significations, of repentance, I have reserved them for their proper place. Now I am to apply this general doctrine to particular states of sin and sinners, in the following chapters.
Descriptions of Repentance taken from the Holy Scriptures. When heaven is shut up, and there is no rain, because they have sinned against thee: if they pray towards this place, and confess thy name, and turn from their sin when thou afflictest them : then hear thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of thy servants, and of thy people Israel, that thou teach them the good way wherein they should walk, and give rain upon thy land, which thou hast given to thy people for an inheritance!
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the
i John, xv. 14. Ignat. ad Magnes. ? 1 Kings, viii. 35, 36.