« הקודםהמשך »
deed at all tends to, a real amendment. But, Serm. the mind that grieves after a godly fort dwells III. on the consideration of fin as it is in itself, and in the lights wherein the scripture sets ? it; it considers moral evil as an error, as un becoming the rational nature, as a deviation from the eternal and unchangeable measures of right, as offensive to, and disapproved bý, the best of all beings, as ingratude to a benefactor who continually loads us with his favours, and exercises towards us the most amazing patience and tender compassion to all which the gospel adds, that most powerful motive taken from the death and passion of Christ. Our glorious redeemer was, as the prophet speaks of him, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief I ; and after a life of deep humiliation, poverty and contempt, endured a most ignominious and painful death. And, when we remember that he suffered and past through all his scenes of grief for our fakes, that he might redeem us from all our iniquities, and purify to him... Self a peculiar people zealous of good works *; and finally bring us to the poffeffion of an eternal rest and blessedness in heaven ; when I say, all this is confidered, it must be a hard heart that does not relent, that can look to
in ... bine , ·
" Ifa. li. 3.
* Titus ü. 14.
SERM.him that was pierced for our fins, and not 111.- mourn and be in b
It is likewise very natural for men convinced, and sensibly affected with the res membrance of their transgressions, to confess them to God whom they have offended. Nature dictates a way of expressing our sorrows, and reason tells us that sorrow for injuries done, should be uttered in acknow. ledgements to the person injured. We are very ready to expect and demand it when wrong is done us, and can we question the equity of paying it when our hearts tells us we have done wrong ; especially, this homage is due to the supreme being, when we have affronted and provoked him by violating his righteous laws. The confession of fin is a reproaching ourselves in the bitterness of our spirits, as polluted by the most nauseous and loathsome thing, which we can no longer bear. It is, as the scripture speaks, taking to ourselves shame, and confusion of face, and justifying God whom our transgressions dishonoured, making a folemn acknowledgement of the reasonableness of his laws, and the righteousness of the sentence which he has pronounced against the evil deeds of men. At the same time, it gives glory to his mercy and the truth of his pro
mise, that he will pardon iniquity, trans- SERM gression, and sin; the hope of which, far e from lefsening the malignity of fin, in the view of a penitent, it increases it rather, as the prophet fays, in the name of the Lord. Ezekiel xvi. 63. Thou shalt remember, and be ashamed and confounded, and never open thy mouth, because of thy fame, when I am pacified towards thee for all that thou hast done. For these reasons, the confeffion of sin is often enjoin’d in fcripture, and great promi- . ses are made to the sincere performance of it; yet the stress is not laid on the performance itself, but the value of it depends on its tendency to a reformation, which, chiefly, is well-pleasing to God. • The result will certainly be a change of mind and affections from evil to good, a disposition to alter our course of action; for it is altogether an inconsistent supposition, that we should be sorry for having offended, and acknowledge it with fhame, at the fame time resolving that we will continue in the fame course. But still all these are only preparations for repentance, it is not finish'd in them. It's true characteristic is a deliberate and resolved change of temper and behaviour; a firm purpose of amendment thoroughly executed; resolving to keep God's righteous judga
the view and
SERM.ments, and immediately entering upon the III. actual performance of it ; no more fashioning
ourselves according to the former lusts in ignorance, but as be that hatb called us is holy, becoming holy in all manner of conversation *.
To convince us of this, which I take to be a point of very great moment ; let us, first, consider the express declarations of scripture concerning it. The apostle Paul discoursing of godly sorrow, and certainly none can have a better character, it comprehends every good qualification of sorrow for fin) says I, it worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of ; not that it is repentance unto falvation, for he maketh a plain difference as between the means and the end ; the occasion or preparation and the effect. Besides, in a great many other passages, a pious and virtuous life, a persevering obedience and patient continuance in well doing, is the condition of our obtaining eternal life; which indeed is contained in repentance, but not in forrow, confession of sin, or good inclinations. On the other hand, a vitious character and wicked behaviour, disqualifies men for the kingdom of God, whatever their griefs, humiliations, and pious desires,
* 1 Pet. i. 15.
+ 2 Cor. vii. IQ.
and purposes may be. The f adulterer, the Serm. forcerer, the railer, the covetous, the drunk- III. ard, shall not inherit the kingdom of God, tho' they should often with deep humility and regret confess their fins, and in their confessions and griefs incline and resolve to alter their course of life ; yet they do it not, but it happens to them according to the proverb, as St. Peter expresses it, || The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the fow that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.
I think no attentive person can doubt but this is the doctrine of the holy scriptures upon the head of repentance ; at least, that a virtuous course of life, ordering our conversations aright, being undefiled in the way, walking in the law of the Lord, doing no iniquity, and keeping God's precepts diligently, is absolutely and indispensably necessary to our being blessed in enjoying the favour of God. It is a wonder that any christians should have gone into other sentiments, some even in speculation and opinion, many more in the secret fond presumption of their hearts, not supported by any avowed principle, imagining that humiliation, and contrition, and ineffectual purposes of amendment, would at last be sufficient to their acceptance with --VOL. I.
God. ti Cor. via 9: 12 Pet. ii. 22.