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and held forth by the Apostles in their preaching the necasiity of repentance or of turning from our own righteousness, it is not likely that many would have adhered to them, or received their testimony 5 for no man, in his right mind, can be rationally persuaded to renounce his present hope and trust, without having a well-grounded prospect, and assurance of a better •, even the righteousness of God, which is thro' faith in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But Christ himself, and his Apostles, had no sooner said repent ye, but they immediately added, and believe the Gospl\. This shews the folly of those persons who urge the law upon the consciences of their hearers, with a design to terrify and distress their fouls, and leave them for a season in this terror of spirit, as a work previously necesiary, before they make known to them the redemption that is in Christ's blood i and this they call preaching repentance:—But the Apostle Paul, who knew the terrors of the Lord as much as any man, never preached in this manner, nor is it that which he meant by repentance; for God, faith he, hath made usable ministers of the New Testament, net of the Letter (that is of the law) which kilktfa but of the spirit, (that is of the Gospel) which givetb life %: Yet we acknowledge that God's holy law
f Mark i, 15.——Acts ii. 38. % 2 Cor. iii. 6.
ought to be set forth, and expounded in its spirituality and utmost extrnr v and particularism) be urged on the consciences of those who scelrto justify and cover themselves with their works -, tbat tvrty memth may be stopped, and all ib: world become poky btftri God: but as soon as any one sees himself to be a lost sinner, and renounces 1m own righteousness, immediately the glad tidings of a fire pardon, and justification thro' Christ's blood, is to be held
forth, and preached unto him.
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For Christ, after his resurrection, directed, ind commissioned his Apostles to preach repentontty and remijstcn os sins, among all no/tons, tn bis name -, which commandment they strictly observed to do j for they never preached repentance, without faith in Christ, for the remission of sins.— Thus Peter, repent and be converted* tbat your Jin may be bl-tted cut •: and Paul, even at At bens, having declared that Goo commandeth all men every where to repent, adds, for he hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in nghteoufheis, by that man whom he bath ordained * •whereof be hath given iflurance unto all men, in that be hath raised him from the dead.
• Afrii. 19.
Thus also the Prophet Isaiah cries aloud j /A«P jear ^u be at scarlets they shall be white as snow i tho' they be red like crimson, they Jhall be as wooll; if ye be willing andobedient*: that is, if ye be willing to turn to God, and obey the Gospel:—and again he saith, let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto tht Lord, and be will have mercy upon him; and to our
God, for he will abundantly pardon. Thus God
draws his people to himself with bands of love, with the cords of a man f :—But, after all many will not hearken to the voice of God, nor regard his gracious words ;— As the deaf adder
they stop their ears, refusing to hearken to \tbe voice of the charmer, charm he never so wifely: for, let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness: in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the
Lord J. Wherefore he saith, / have called, and
ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded \\: and again, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered thee together, even as a hen gatheretb her brood under her wings, and ye would not%. .... .: ...,,..
From motives and arguments of love and mercy, God in the same manner exhorts, and even
• Isa. i. 18. f Hos. ». 4. j Ise. xxvi. ia
II Prov. i. 24. § Matth. xxiii, 37.
entreats bis batk-JHding people to return unto hi-r •. return aw/* mt, and I toiH return unto yeu\ far I amntttdful, faith the Lard, and Jtpili mt keep am°ar far ever I.
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Thus Cm R Mt also speaks to the Church of Lacdieta i at many asjlove, Irebukeandebaften\ he zealous therefore, and reset *;—his servant "Janet observes the fame method with back-sliders ; humit'e ytnrJehtts (faith he) m the sight ef the Lord, and he will bft you up \ draw nigh to Cod, and he voUldrav
nigh toyouf> John also adds his testimony;
Jf me consist emr sint, God it faithful and just to forgive ut our sins, and to tleonfe tu from all wa* rigiuomsneft;—for, is any nun fin, we have an Ad* voeoie with the Father, Jsstrs Chriit the righteous, and be it the propitiation for our sins.
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It is the opinion of some eminent ministers, that repentance is a continued work, and ever to be exercised by the Christian, until death % but this appears to be a mistake: ir is also irrational to sop. pose it necestary fur the soul to change and turn to Gon, who is turned to him already i nor do we And that the Holt Ghost in Scripture commands, or pcisoade* any believer to repent, who hjth not raanrfefttdrv erred in doctrine or practice r
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and 'tis remarkable that Christ, in his epistles to the seven Churches of Asia, doth not exhort, and command either the church of Smyrna, or of Philadelphia, to repent, because he charges them with no error; but the other five churches, whose conduct and practice he in some point or other finds fault with, these he exhorts, and these only, to repent, and do the first works.
But let it be observed, that it is in no man's power to repent of himself, by any efforts or endeavours of his own •, for repentance, as well as every other good and perseil gist, is of God, who granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life', and Christ -is exalted with the Father's right band, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel, and remission of sins f. If a man err from the truth, the error is of himself, but his recovery is not of himself, but of God's grace towards him thro' Christ
Jesus. Therefore the Apostle exhorts Timothy
to instruct in meekness them that oppose them* selves, if, God per adventure will give them repentance J, to the acknowleging of the truth.
This is also manifest from the very nature of repentance ; which is not, as some have imao-ined, a mere confession of sin; trouble of mind, and
cont Acts v. 31. . .jJsfTini. ii. if.