Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

before assured hope of salvation; otherwise pardon and the assurance of it would be vouchsafed to impenitent sinners: but it is much enlarged by this assurance, wherever it is scripturally possessed; as the believer now " looks upon him whom "he hath pierced, and mourns." It begins previously to the sense of pardoning love, and is perfected by it; because the believer's love to the Lord is thus increased, and this increases sorrow for having offended him. Let this be well digested, and then let us proceed to observe that,

II. Repentance is ' attended with a real incli'nation to undo, if it were possible, all that we 'have sinfully done; and consequently with an 'endeavour, as far as we have it in our power, * to counteract the consequences of our former 'evil conduct.' This frame of spirit will manifest itself

1. By ingenuous confession of our sins to the ^glory of that God, whom by sin we have dishonoured. Thus Joshua exhorts Achan; "My son, "give glory to the Lord, and make confession "unto him." The commission of sin impeaches the wisdom, justice, and goodness of God; and seems to say, that he hath forbidden us something conducive to our real happiness. - Obstinacy in sin defies his power, dares his vengeance, and despises his truth and holiness: to vindicate ourselves, and cover our sins, arraigns the righteousness of his threatenings and judgments, or affronts his omniscience. Thus the sinner robs God of his glory. What he has done cannot be undone: nor is it in his power to make satisfaction for the injustice, of which he has been guilty, except he bear the eternal punishment. Convinced of this, the true penitent flees for refuge to the atoning blood of Jesus. . But, though he cannot make satisfaction for his sins, or do any thing towards meriting pardon or reward; (for this he knows must be wholly of free mercy ;) yet what he can do, he will. He will, both in secret and openly, on all proper occasions, make full and unreserved confession of his crimes, and condemn himself; and thus glorify God's justice and mercy; glorify his law, as "the ministration of condemnation," and his gospel " as the ministration of righteous"ness:" for both are " glorious," though the latter "exceed in glory." * All who have even a superficial acquaintance with the Bible know that this is every where spoken of, as an essential part of true repentance, and often put for the whole of it: I shall not therefore further dwell upon it, but shall confine myself to two observations. First, that secret sins require only secret confession unto that God who knowcth and seeth in secret: but public scandals require public acknowledgments; that we may openly honour God by our confession, as we have dishonoured him openly by our conduct. Thus, when David had, by adultery and murder, given cause to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme; by writing and publishing the fifty first Psalm, he publicly took shame to himself, even before his own servants, subjects, and children; and thus "gave glory unto God," and stopped the blasphemy of the ungodly. Secondly, that the true penitent, though general in his publie confessions, should be, and will be, very particular in his secret confessions; reviewing, enumerating, and bemoaning all his sins, of every sort, with all their various aggravations.

* 2 Cor. iii. 7.—11. VOL. I. N

2. This disposition of mind will influence the penitent to make ample restitution to those whom he may have defrauded or injured. Under the ceremonial law, the trespass-offering was to be accompanied by restitution to the injured party.* The plain meaning of which institution Christ has given us in his sermon on the mount: "If thou "bring thy gift unto the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, "leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy "way, first be reconciled to thy brother, and '- then come and offer thy gift." Thus it was that Zaccheus evidenced the sincerity of his repentance: and thus every sincere convert, with selfindignation, will haste to be rid of that accursed thing dishonest gain: \ with scrupulousness and diligence he will search for every remainder of it: he will restore it with interest to the injured, if he can: if not, he will give it to their relatives, and to the poor: and, should he be unable to do this (which he will put himself to much inconvenience and self-denial rather than not effect;) it will be long the occasion of additional trouble of mind to him.—Let me ask thee, beloved reader, thinking thyself a penitent, whether thou hast well considered this part of repentance? whether thou hast impartially examined thyself on this score?

* Lev. vi. 1—7.

t " Who shaketh his hands from holding of bribes."— Isa. xxxiii. 15.

whether thou hast imitated Zaccheus in this matter? Or art thou sure thou hast no cause, having never injured any man by fraud, violence, or extortion? I warn thee before-hand, that God will bring to light these hidden things of darkness, and fully investigate this matter, at the day of judgment. And no unrighteous* persons, who, having injured their neighbours, love the gains of iniquity so well as to refuse restitution, "shall "inherit the kingdom of God."—This evidence of sincerity is so distinguishing, that I cannot but conclude, judging by the Bible, that all appearances of repentance, all pretences to experience, without this, are hypocritical and delusory. What shall we say then to many persons, who, having formerly, under colour of law, been, perhaps unwillingly, injurious to their creditors, still keep them out of their just rights: perhaps see them struggling with those difficulties, into which their extravagance hath plunged them; whilst they themselves now live at ease, perhaps in affluence; and are well able (if they could prevail with themselves to retrench superfluous expenses,) to make restitution, in whole or in part; but will not, because not compelled by the law of the land? These persons evidently confound human laws with doing the will of God; and prefer wealth, indulgence, and the pride of life, to the golden rule, of " doing unto others, as they would they "should do unto them." Whatever profession of religion any one who acts thus may make, " his "religion is vain," and a ' discourse upon repent'ance' would be exceedingly defective, which did not bear testimony against this common and flagrant conduct.

* 1 Cor. vi. 9. * Rom. xiii. 6,7. \ ! Tim. vi. 9. 10.

Another evil I am told, very frequent among persons professing evangelical religion, as well as others, is dealing in smuggled or contraband goods. This trade is in itself an evident violation of God's express command*—a robbery upon the community, which must be taxed to make up the deficiency—and aiding and abetting all the enormities that smugglers commit.—But necessity is pretended. I suppose it is necessary in order to be rich. "But they that will be rich fall into "temptation and a snare, and into divers foolish "and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruc"tion and perdition: for the love of money is the "root of all evil."-J

But our evil conduct may injure others, not only in their property, but in their reputation, in their connexions, in their peace of mind, and in many other ways: and the true penitent, though he cannot undo what. is past, yet will endeavour to counteract the mischief at the expense of stooping to the most humiliating submissions, of making the frankest acknowledgments, or by any method in his power, however contrary to the pride and self-love of the human heart.

3. This disposition of mind will induce a man to retract those false principles which he has advanced, that may have a tendency to propagate or countenance infidelity or profaneness: and to counteract the consequences of his evil conduct,

« AnteriorContinuar »