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Redemption by our Lord Jesus Christ. The silent testimony which the Cherubim bore, during 4000 years of typical adumbration, is rendered vocal by St. John, when he informs us that “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and that these three are one,” hoth in nature and the declaration they make. What that record is, he afterwards states ; that “God hath given unto us eternal life," and that “this life is in his Son." This is a record or testimony which could not have been received as true, by the awakened, guilty, and alarmed mind of a sinner, without the most decisive and unimpeachable witnesses. But witnesses to atonement by blood were stationed in the representative heaven of the Tabernacle and Temple, and are now revealed to the eye and ear of faith in the realities which the Cherubim symbolized. To this evidence that “the kingdom of heaven is opened to all believers,” I have recourse in seasons of depression and fear, and therein I find relief.
The doctrine of “Repentance towards God,” holds a prominent and essential place in the circle of Christian privileges. To inquire what it is, the necessity that exists for an experimental acquaintance with it, and what are its blessed results to the happiness of fallen creatures, is a duty too plain to be denied by those who are acquainted with the first principles of the oracles of God, and who respect their decisions. Pardon me if I enlarge a little on this weighty subject, as illustrated by the letters I have addressed
I am apprehensive that the doctrine of Repentance is by many persons ill understood; and that the mistakes which are made respecting its nature, have a tendency to leave the mind at rest in the absence of the blessing and a postponement of inquiry for it. It is too often considered as being nothing more than regret occasioned by a review of outward acts of transgression, independent of any change to be Divinely wrought in the heart. But this is not the Scriptural view of the subject. Repentance is a change of heart,* a change in the desires and aversions, the hopes and fears, the joys and sorrows of the will and affections, arising out of new information conveyed to the mind by the word and Spirit of God. Its emotions are the first symptoms of spiritual life, infused by regenerating grace. That life is diverse from the life of the natural man, and opposed to it ; and the tendencies of that life are in direct contrariety to any exercises of the soul that precede its infusion.
Metavolav nos possumus resipiscentiam dicere. Lactant. Div. Inst. vi. 24. Resipisco is to return to a right understanding, to recover one's senses. See Ainsworth's Dict. and comp Luke xv. 17.
The view which we have taken of the original state of the human soul, of its fall and its restoration by the Grace of God, will shed light on the necessity and nature of true repentance. Its life, its happiness, in its creation state, consisted in communion with its Creator, the enjoyment of his favour and presence.—The loss which it sustained by the fall consisted chiefly in its separation from God, and its “ alienation from the life of God.” The penalty threatened was immediately inflicted—the soul died on the instant of transgression, by the forfeiture of that which was its life ; and the body became mortal. Repentance is, essentially, a consciousness of that loss, and a desire to recover what has been forfeited. It is a perception newly produced, that the favour of God and communion with him, are indispensably necessary to the happiness of a rational and immortal being; that nothing can supply the place of these blessings; and that they must be regained, or the soul be left in hopeless misery. This prepares the way for faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, or a thankful reception of the Gospel-plan which opens the only door of hope in regard to this recovery. And hence it is that we so often find repentance and faith mentioned together as instrumental in the restoration of the soul to God, and holiness, and heaven. The analogy on which we have so largely dwelt, illustrates this by furnishing a comparison easy to be understood, a case of exact parallelism. A suspension of animal life has taken place in a human body. By the blessing of God on the use of means, resuscitation is effected. What is the first consciousness that would arise in the agony of returning life? As air replenished the lungs, there would be sensation of difficulty in breathing, and of general inability for the healthy functions and exertions of animal life. The effect of this consciousness of disease is a struggle, in all the springs of life, for a restoration of pristine health, and vigour, and enjoyment. This effort cannot be of transient duration, but will continue till health and all its powers are regained.
Such, analogically, is “ Repentance towards God.” Communion with God, and capability for His service, are its complex object. Hence the relation to God which is ascribed to it. It is “Repentance towards God.” It cannot precede the restoration of Divine life by regenerating grace; but it is a necessary effect, and the best evidence of that restoration or regeneration. It is sensation respecting spiritual things which before had no existence. And the sensations of Repentance are co-existent with the life of faith, or, with the continuance of the Christian in the present world; because he cannot attain to perfect health till his dismission to another state. Then both repentance and faith will be unneces
sary, because the soul will have attained all that it struggled to attain during its conflict on earth.
Repentance towards God” is always connected with “Faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ,” because that consciousness of loss sustained, and that desire after a recovery of the forfeited blessing, which are implied in true repentance, must produce an inquiry after the method of recovery, and a cordial and earnest adoption of its means. That method, Divinely appointed and sanctioned, has been the grand subject of the Gospel-revelation under every dispensation of Divine Truth; and this is the object of faith. Repentance therefore must be accompanied with faith, and faith can have no existence without repentance. The two things are contemporaneous, but are distinguishable from each other. Their objects are different. Repentance has God for its object, as the recovery of His favour is its aim; while faith regards our Lord Jesus Christ as the channel of that recovery. The Spirit of God is the author and agent of both.
The analogy which has been suggested between a resuscitation of animal life, and that of the life of spiritual sensation by the regenerating power of God, shows the error of supposing, what is too commonly maintained, viz. that faith can exist irrespectively of sanctifying influence and good works. Faith is the correlative of Repentance, and cannot be separated from it ; and