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to be found in the early exercises of the convinced sinner, who has learned something of himself, but little of the Saviour. He has seen enough of himself to alarm and distress him; but not enough of Christ to induce his confidence in him. He is awakened, but has not yet found a place of safety; he is convinced of sin, but not converted from it; nor will that change be effected until it is produced by a believing view of the Saviour. It is the want of this element in repentance that causes many, who have been the subjects of some religious exercises, to relapse into their former indifference and sin. For a time they have been excited,—distress has preyed upon their soul, --they have tried many expedients to find peace,-they have abstained from some practices, and had recourse to others,they have mortified themselves by exercises of self-denial and duty,—but in all this they have not come by faith to the Lamb of God, who alone can take away sin,-they have, consequently, wearied of their efforts,-they have sought and found excuses for remaining in their sins,-their hearts have been hardened, -- they have returned to their evil ways,—and the latter end of such is worse than the beginning. On a careful observation of these exercises, it will be seen that the reason why repentance was never brought to maturity, was, not coni. ing to Jesus Christ; for while one element of the grace, a sense of sin, existed in some degree, there was the absence of another, no less necessary, an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ. And it is in the same way we are to account for the unsatisfactory nature of that species of repentance, which is not unfrequently to be met with on the deathbed. The prospect of judgment alarms the fears of the dying sinner,—the enormities of his life rise to his mind with fearful accusations,—he is reminded that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,—but he has no just idea of his unbounded mercy and free salvation,-his few remaining hours are therefore spent in unavailing lamentations,—and he sinks into the grave with the awful forebodings of a sense of sin, unalleviated by an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.
The suitableness of such an apprehension of mercy, to bring the sense of sin to the maturity of repentance, may be easily explained. It prevents despair. An evil has been dis. covered, but a remedy, also, bas been discovered for its removal; and, therefore, the soul is sustained by the thought, that it
be removed. It quickens exertion and prayer. We are informed of some of the hearers of John the Baptist, that “the kingdom of heaven suffered violence (at their
hands), and that they took it by force.” T'he allusion is to the earnestness and sincerity of their prayers, in seeking the blessings of salvation; and they were encouraged to these by the assurances that had been given to them of the divine mercy. It animates hope. The promises of the divine mercy and forgiveness are free and full, and the humbled sinner waits for their fulfilment to himself. It deepens humiliation. “ They shall look on him whom they have pierced and mourn.". How astonishing the dispensation, that the very scheme, by which the sinner is encouraged to look for forgive ness, is designed also to reveal his sin, and humble him more. Yet so it is ; and just as the sinner is learning more of the ground of hope, he is sinking deeper in humiliation. Through the knowledge of the remedy, he apprehends more clearly the nature of the evil
. Above all, it induces him to lay the burden of his soul on Christ. It is of no avail that we discover our sin, unless it is taken away. The horror of Judas' conscience availed him nothing; but it would have been the means of saving his soul, had it driven him to that Saviour whom he had betrayed. It failed to produce this effect, simply because his sense of sin was unaccompanied with an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.
It is the union of these two things that forms the right spirit of penitence. Knowing himself to be a sinner, he cannot rest; but knowing God to be a Saviour, he casts biniself upon him. “Sorrowful, but rejoicing," is his motto,-sorrowful for sin, but rejoicing in the mercy of God. When Peter's hearers exclaimed, men and brethren, what shall we do!” he comforted them by the exhortation, “ repent and be baptised, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost.” What an assemblage of blessings comprised in a few words, and what a connexion between them! Repentance,- Jesus Christ,-remission of sins, --and the Holy Spirit. The doctrine of Christ is represented to be at once the origin and end of repentance,-originating it by the views it gives of sin and sinners, and inducing the alarmed sinner to repose his soul upon an Almighty Saviour. A characteristic feature of genuine repentance is, that in it the mourner comes to Christ, and finds rest in him. Any thing short of this is unavailing. Be the exercises of the mind what they may, if they do not lead to Christ, they fall short of repentance unto life. And hence is it described to include not merely a sense of sin, but an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ.
III. A third element in repentance, and one very prominent in it, is grief for sin. This is a violent affection of the soul, and, in the penitent, we are taught, it appears in the most vio. lent exercises. “ They shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for a first-born." Grief is an affection that arises out of a sense of injury, endured by ourselves, or inflicted upon others. The penitent discovers it wben be is duly affected by a sense of the evil which sin has entailed. It has deprived him of the highest good, the favour and fellowship of God; it has subjected him to the greatest misery, an evil conscience and an ungodly life; and it has exposed him to the most imminent danger, the wrath and curse of God. All this the penitent sees and feels, and it is very natural he should grieve over it. But the evil is not confined to bimself. He contemplates the injury it has done to God and man,-detracting from the glory of God, dishonouring his law, and handing over so large a portion of his creatures to present and future misery
While he thus meditates, his soul is filled with grief. “Particularly is he deeply affected when he considers how much he has contributed to this amount of evil by bis own sin. He bas dishonoured God and religion,-he bas injured the present and eternal interests of his fellow-creatures,
- he has discouraged the godly, and urged on the wicked, and the recollection of these things is bitter iudeed. Heartily can he enter into the Apostle's question, “wbat fruit bad ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed, for the end of those things is death.” Such an affection, therefore, may be expected to manifest itself in many ways in the penitent, and to some of these we shall advert.
Tbere will be deep humiliation for our own sin and that of others, before God. Two striking examples of this exercise of penitence, may be seen in Ezra and Daniel. The former, having rent his garment and mantle, as a token of his grief, fell
upon his knees, and with hands lifted up to beaven ex. claimed, “O, my God, I blush and am ashamed to lift up my face to thee, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.". Ezra ix. 5–15.. Daniel, clothed in sackcloth and covered with ashes, cried out, we have sinned, and have committed iniquity, and have done wickedly, and bave rebelled, even by departing from thy precepts." Dan. ix. 5-19. Grief will express itself in the same manner still; and if there is no hu. miliation there is no repentance.
There will be also a frank and full confession of sio. Joshua addressed Achan," my son, give glory to the Lord, aod make confession unto him." Grief finds a vent for itself in confession. David declares, “ while I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For, day and night thy hand was heavy upon me, my moisture is turned into the drought of summer.” When the sin has been secret, the confession
may be secret; but where it has been public, the confession should be the same. When David brought scandal on religion, be confessed it in the congrega tion.
The same affection will lead to the most ample restitution it is in our power to make for the injury which our sin has inflicted. Under the ceremonial law, the trespass offering was to be accompanied by restitution to the injured party. When Zaccheus was brought to repentance, he could say, “ if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore bim fourfold.” Luke xix. 8. Just as is our grief for sid, we will endeavour to undo its injury.
It will make us willing also to retract as well what we have said, as what we have done amiss. What a noble example of this exercise is seen in Paul, preaching the faith which once he laboured to destroy. This is bumbling to flesh and blood, but when there is truly grief for sin, it must so express itself.
No one can be at a loss to know whether he has been in grief for the loss of health, or property, or friends. In pro. portion to his sense of the injury is the violence of the affec. tion. And in religion it is the same : as the sinner is sensible of the evil he has done, so will his grief be for it.
IV. But tbis is not the only affection prominent in repentance ; another is, the hatred of sin. Of all the marks of true penitence, indeed, this is one of the most decisive. Hatréd is an affection that makes us turn away with loathing from its object, and when that object is sin we fly from it, not merely because we fear it, but because, though permitted to do so with impunity, we would not live in it. Yet is there nothing more common than to mistake the worldly and earthly affection of fear for a genuine hatred of sin. But the difference may ever be seen in the effects; for while fear may open rate for a season, it is only the hatred of sin that will continue to act as a permanent principle. Pharoah seemed to repent, but it was only while the fear of Mloses was upon him; and his beart was hardened, and he returned to sin. Felix trembled while Paul preached ; yet did he not hate his sin, or
abandon it. And Ahab humbled himself while the fear of death affrighted; but, as soon as that was removed, his iniquity returned, with a full tide. It is the same still. Under the preached Word, the tear of apparent penitence may flow, while yet there is no genuine hatred of iniquity; under the hand of God, when he visits with his judgments, the stoutest may be made to tremble, while yet the love of sin is not subdued ; the profligate may lament the waste of his substance or his strength, while, were he placed in his former circumstances, he would indulge himself in the same vices ; and the dying sinner may bewail lis doings, while he anticipates the judgment, although the love of holiness is far from him.' In all these cases, the principle that is wanted is the hatred of sin,- a hatred of itself
, and not merely the fear of its effects ; a loathing of it as a violation of God's law, and that which he has forbidden, and not merely a sinking of the soul, through the dread of its consequences.
And this is a point on which the Scriptures are earnest to guard us against mistake. They teach us to distinguish between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world. “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salva. tion not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world work. eth death.” 2 Cor. vii. 10. These are what have usually been distinguished as a legal and an evangelical repentance: and the contrast between them is peculiarly marked. Legal repentance is a mere work of the law upon the conscience, evangelical repentance is influenced by the peculiar views of the Gospel ; legal repentance proceeds from the fear of punishment, evangelical repentance from the love of holiness ; legal repentance leaves the sinner apart from Christ, evangelical repentance brings him to him; legal repentance is occasional and momentary, evangelical repentance is permanent and habitual, legal repentance permits the sinner to indulge himself in some sins, as many as he safely can,.-evangelical repentance is the crucifixion of all sin ; legal repentance is worldly, all its principles arising out of man himself and the world, evangelical repentance is godly, springing from God and leading to him; the end of legal repentance is death, for it does not destroy sin, the end of evangelical repentance is eternal life, for it makes the sinner the friend and servant of Christ. In a word, the kiatred of sin is the characteristic mark of genuine repentance; and, because it is so, repentance is the destruction of sin in this life, and prepares for the enjoyment of God in that which is to come.
V. The natural effect of the batred of sin is the renuncia.