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SERM.God. If it were true, that repentance conIII. fists in these things, yet is it not evident from
a multitude of fcripture declarations, indeed from the intire strain of them, that a good life according to the mercy of the gospel covenant, that is, fincere prevailing, though imperfect holiness in all manner of converfation, is the condition of eternal life? and therefore to understand the gospel consistently, we must conclude, that either repentance is not sufficient of itself, to entitle to forgiveness and acceptance with God, or a perfeve-, ring conformity to the divine law is included in it, which seems to be the juster explis cation.
But, we may be farther fatisfied, that repentance, as the term of forgiveness and reconciliation to God, does not consist wholly in these particulars already mentioned, by trusting to which many deceive themselves we may, I say, be satisfied of this,' by con fidering the reason of the thing ; for, in the first place, it cannot be reasonably thought that God has any delight in the for row of his creatures, meerly for its own fake, because, that is contrary to his perfect goodness, which takes pleasure in the hapa piness of all beings who are capable of it; and the scripture tells us, that he delights in
the prosperity and joy of his servants. If SERM. we could at all fuppose that the griefs of fin- III. ners are pleasing to the Deity, as separated from the proper effect of them in their reformation ; then still the more intense their griefs are, the more pleasing they would be, and consequently the hopeless anguish of the accursed objects of his wrath, would, as being the bitterest and the most painful, be the most acceptable, the howlings of the damned be more grateful in his ears, than the ingenuous mournings of the penitent, which every one will judge to be absurd. Let us put the case of a human superior whọ has bowels of compaffion; will he take any pleasure in the forrows of an offending subject any farther than as they are the falutary presages of amendment ? Will a father delight in the piercing griefs of his child, or eyen a judge in the affliction of a malefactor No otherwise, certainly, than as their future obedience may be thereby secured. We ought not, then, to think that the best of all beings, the most merciful father even of his prodigal children, the most compassionate judge, who does not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men, will regard with pleasure and approbation, the deepest forrows and humiliations of finners on any
SERM.other account, than' as they are means in
III. order to the end which he certainly approves, m o the bettering of their hearts, and reforming
their converfations ; and therefore we must conclude, that the repentance which God accepts is not confummated, nor principally consists, in forrow for fin.
Secondly, The fame judgment is to be made of confeffion, in which our penitence must not rest, nor will God approve it unless it end in the forsaking of fin; which Solomon comprehends in the condition of our obtaining mercy. Prov. xxviii. 13. He that covereth his fin, shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh all bave mercy. I do not speak here only of a formal acknowledgment in words, which without the fincere and ingenuous contrition of the heart, cannot be pleasing to God, for it is hypocrisy; but, let us suppose it ever so serious, and accompanied with the deepest remorse and self-abasement, it is only so far valuable as it terminates in holiness of heart and life. Consider how we would judge in a parallel case of our own. Suppose a child, a fervant, a friend, or a neighbour, is guilty of a trespass, and makes profession of grief for it; humanity and christian charity require us to
forgive the wrong; but it is always taken for Serm. granted, that the injurious shall not relapse II. into his former offences, but that his future conduct shall be just, respectful, and obliging; when it happens otherwise, and the conduct.continues uninfluenced, and as bad as before, a repetition in that case of such fruitless professions is in itself offensive, and rather serves to heighten the provocation; and, if it be fo, we cannot but imagine that God will count it an indignity, if his sinful creatures treat him after the fame manner ; if after many provocations, they, in order to obtain his favour, only make a confession of their guilt, and instead of forsaking their evil ways, return to them again.
And, in the last place, the dispositions and purposes of the mind will be unavaila
ble, and are not true repentance unless they --care followed with a suitable practice. Let
Jus judge in this case as we do in all others a concerning the abilities, the qualities, the ac• complishments, natural and moral, of the
human soul. Reason itself, the distinguishing excellence of our nature, is discovered only
by our conduct ; if a creature in human & tape should show by its actions no other • faculties than those which belong to the
brutal kind, it could not be acknowledged
SERM. to be of our species. But, particularly, in III. determining characters and qualities of men,
we have always a recourse to their behaviour. Thus we distinguish between a wise man and a fool, between just and unjust, between grateful and ungrateful, between a friend and an enemy; for these are never considered as, nor indeed are they in their own nature, idle, unactive qualities, resting in the mind, Dispositions are in order to action, and have a necessary relation to it, particular dispositions to particular courses of action and without them, are to all intents and purposes to be considered as if they had no being.
After the same manner let us judge of repentance, considered as a disposition in the mind. To what is it a disposition ? surely to obedience, to the expressions of love and gratitude to God and hatred of fin, to a course of action opposite to the former which is now repented of. Without that obédience, therefore, those expressions of love and gratitude to God, and hatred of fin, and without that change of our course of action, it must be accounted empty and void. The finner very well knows how his former difpositions, he now pretends to repent of, and to have changed, exerted themselves ; they