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"of Jesus Christ." We also were involved in the same guilt, and under the same^ condemnation; we were equally secure and obstinate in sin, and equally negligent of salvation. But, being now, through God's mercy, made sensible of our guilt and danger; and having upon repentance found forgiveness, and enjoying the hopes and firstfruits of- eternal happiness; we are desirous that our fellow-sinners should share our deliverence, and experience our felicity.
To be instrumental to the salvation of your souls, my fellow-sinners, is all to which the true minister of Christ aspires. However your minds may be " blinded by the god of this world," we see your danger, and mourn over your delusion. Your fondness for perishing vanities, and disregard to your eternal interest, excite our compassion; and would excite our indignation and astonishment, had not we too been equally sottish. Of the worth of your souls, the danger to which they are exposed, the preciousness of salvation, and the happiness of being truly religious, we are deeply convinced, "We have believed, and there"fore speak:" and, though in ourselves unworthy and insufficient, yet, being entrusted with the ministry of reconciliation, "we are now ambassadors "for Christ; and, as though God did beseech you "by us, we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye re"conciled unto God."
The most high God hath prepared a royal feast; all things are ready; rich abundance of provisions, and plenty of room! We are sent to invite the guests, and are directed to " compel them to come "in." We would therefore invite, exhort, expostulate, warn, persuade, and command, with all tenderness and authority, and not take a denial. Blame not, I beseech you, our earnestness; be not disgusted or offended with our importunity; do not " pray us to have you excused;" do not over whelm us with discouragement, and send us to give with tears, an account of our ill success. Our love to your immortal souls, our longing after your everlasting happiness, constrain us to be thus troublesome and importunate. Nay, though you frown,'insult, threaten, and persecute, we must persist, so long as there is a shadow of a hope. "We must not be overcome of evil, but overcome "evil with good." And at last, "if ye will not "hear, we must weep in secret places for your "pride;" after his example, who wept over ungrateful Jerusalem.
To the true believer, careless sinners appear like intoxicated persons in a house which is on fire; who must be consumed in the flames, unless they can be induced to come forth, though themselves are utterly insensible of the danger. You niay think yourselves secure, and make yourselves merry with our fears: but your awful infatuation, and imminent danger, are so manifest to us, that we must persist in our endeavours to convince you, so long as you are on this side of everlasting burnings. Thus Noah was treated by the inhabitants of the old world, and Lot even by his sons-in-law, with neglect and contempt, when they warned them of their danger; but too late they found their warnings true; and so will you find ours, when death and judgment come, should you now slight them. "Because I called and ye refused; I stretched out "my hand, and no man regarded; I also will "laugh at your calamity, and mock when your "fear cometh,"* saith the Lord himself.—But I would rise superior to such discouraging apprehensions, and expect better success in this feeble attempt " to call sinners to repentance:" humbly hoping that God will hear my prayers, and employ this discourse as his instrument in that blessed work.
When John the Baptist began his ministry, he preached, " Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven "is at hand." The blessed Jesus also began to preach, " Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven "is at hand." And " the apostles went forth and "preached that men should repent." After the resurrection of Christ, they were commissioned to "preach repentance and forgiveness of sins to all "nations, beginning at Jerusalem." Accordingly Peter preached to the Jews, " Repent ye, and be "converted, that your sins may be blotted out." Paul in like manner addressed the Gentiles, " God "commandeth all men every where to repent:" and informed them, "that men should repent," and "turn to God, and do works meet for repentance."
From these, and many other testimonies of the word of God, judge ye, beloved, of the importance and certainty of our subject. No matter of trivial concern which may safely be disregarded, or of "doubtful disputation" which may plausibly be gainsayed, or questioned, now demands our attention: but a subject of equal evidence with the word of " God wh6 cannot lie," and of importance proportioned to the interests of eternal ages.
* Prov. i. 24—26.
Hear me then, I beseech you, with candour and attention; lay aside prejudice and levity; whilst with all seriousness and plainness I discourse concerning, 1. The necessity of repentance; 2. The nature of repentance; 3. The encouragement given to repentance; 4. The proper season for repentance; and, 5. The means to be used in repenting.—For the love of thy soul, I beseech thee, sinner, and, as thou wilt answer it at the day of judgment, I charge it upon thy conscience, to lay this matter home to thy heart, as in the sight of God; at the same time beseeching him to make thee partaker of that "repentance, "which is unto salvation not to be repented of."
CONCERNING THE NECESSITY OP REPENTANCE.
Before we enter more fully upon the subject, I would premise that I choose the word necessity, as the most comprehensive which occurs to my mind: and I would be understood to intend by 'the necessity of repentance :' 1. The urgency of the case: sinners must either repent, or perish: 2. The reasonableness of repentance : having done wrong we ought to repent, and act most unreasonably if we do not: 3. The obligation sinners are under to repent, both from the reasonableness of the injunction, and the authority of that God who enjoins it: and, 4. The additional guilt contracted by impenitence. As the same arguments frequently prove the necessity of repentance in more than one of these senses, I thought it would better prevent needless repetition, and obscurity in-point of method, to treat of the whole at once, than to divide them into different heads. Having thus stated the meaning of the term employed, to prevent ambiguity, and that all may know " what "we say and whereof we affirm," let us proceed to the proof.
And here, reader, I have no need to inquire into thy character, whether-thou art moral or immoral, a sober man or a drunkard, a good or bad