תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

SERM. the new covenant, was what all the followIV. ers of Christ were understood to be bound

to, as the genuine effect, I may fay, the continuation of that repentance which was begun at their conversion to christianity, and into which, they were initiated at their baptism. This repentance was supposed, when once sincerely begun, never to be revoked, nor to need to be repeated, as the apostle speaks, 2 Cor. vii. 10. not to be repented of ; as the seal of it was never to be received but once; and therefore, in the 6th chapter to the Hebrews, repentance from dead works, as well as faith, and in confequence of both, baptism is reckon'd as the foundation of christianity not to be laid again.

To suppose men called to repent in the same manner as at their first profeffing the religion of Christ, is to suppose that the foundation is destroy'd, that in effect they have departed from christianity, and renounced their baptism ; thus falling from grace and returning to that state of death in trefpasses and fins wherein the world lay, like the unconverted Gentiles who walked in the vanity of their minds, and according to their former lusts in ignorance ; and this is a supposition which is not made in the general

strain

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

strain of the New Testament writings, (as SERM. it was not reasonable it should) they are,

IV. therefore, to be understood in treating of repentance; to mean the first conversion of finners, by the grace of God that brings salvation, from dead idols to the service of the living God; from an impious and immoral conversation in worldly lusts, to a sober righteous and godly life ; in which they are bound by the laws of their religion and their covenant with God to persevere and go on to perfection. Its true, christians are in some sense oblig'd daily to repent; that is, whereas this is an imperfect state, and they are liable to failures thro' surprising temptations, remaining ignorance, and many infirmities which compass them about, they ought continually by impartial self-examination to find out these failings, to regret them humbly, and fet themselves in oppofition to them, aspiring to higher measures of perfection, leaving the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before as the * Apostle Speaks. But, this is not what the facred writers mean by repentance, but becoming new creatures, turning from a wicked and ungodly life to a fincere holiness and virtue ; and their doctrine is, that sincere christians

being

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

* Philip iii. 13, 14.

SERM. being born of God, born of water and of IV. the Spirit

, that is, truly repenting and being baptized, they do not, they cannot fin; because the divine seed abides in them; they do not commit sin, so as to be its servants, and under its dominion any more.

Nevertheless, it is a case which may be supposed, for it is sometimes fact, and the inspired writers themselves affirm it to be so, that men under the profession of the gospel fall into those courses, and into these practices which are utterly inconsistent with fincerity; they * sin wilfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, and depart from the boly commandment which was delivered unto them. Not only an open and avowed rejecting of christianity, which fome in the primitive times were guilty of, and it was extremely difficult to renew them again unto repentance; not only this, I say, but any wilful, deliberate finning against the light and conviction of men's own minds, any known criminal practices frequently repeated, any of those things for the sake of which the wrath of God cometh on the children of difobedience, as adultery, fornication, drunkenness, fraud, violence, oppression, or others of a like nature and malignity, any of them

knowingly * Heb. X. 26.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

knowingly and wilfully committed, espe-Serm.
cially relapsed into, after professed forrow IV.
and purposes of amendment, is a violation
of the christian covenant, a forfeiture of
our claim to the favour of God according
to the laws of the gospel, and subjects sin-
ners to his indignation. What in this case
is to be done? I have said already these are
not the persons to whom the doctrine of re-
pentance was originally preached, nor to
whose condition it is accommodated in the
general strain of the New Testament. In-
deed their condition is much worse, their
guilt is more agravated by such bold and pre-
sumptuous defiance to the light of their own
consciences, and contempt of the gospel
grace; the spirit of God is grieved, their
hearts more hardened, and their reformation
rendered more difficult, as St. Peter says,
2d epist. ii. 21. It were better for them not
to have known the way of righteousness, than
after they have known it to turn

from the holy
commandment.

But after all there is no other remedy; repent they must or perish. Tho' the scripture speaks but sparingly of their case, and of that duty with an application to it, as it is not reasonable such ample encouragement should be given to them as to those who 6

finn'd

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

Serm, finn'd in ignorance, and whose fins were in
IV. fome sense connived at, yet the plain reason

of the case will direct them to this, as the
only way for obtaining forgiveness and fal-
vation, notwithstanding all the disadvantages
they have brought themselves under, and
all the disabilities they have contracted for
performing it. And

yet the scripture is not
wholly filent concerning this case, and the
necessity, and even the hopefulness of re-
penting in it. The prophets often call upon
the Jews, (whofe condition in this respect
was parallel to that of christians) in such
terms as thefe, * return ye blacksliding chil-
dren, for I am married to you. The cove-
nant on God's part shall still stand, if ye will
forsake the fins by which

you

have violated it and revolted from him ; and + tho' thou hast plaid the harlot with many lovers, yet return to me saith the Lord. That is, for fo the figurative expression signifies, tho' thou art guilty of heinous aggravated offences, and particularly of idolatry, which was an essential breach of the covenant, yet there is room for repentance.

And in the New Teftament, as we find the case of apostacy supposed, or of insincerity, that is of wilful transgressions under the christian profession

and Jer, üi. 14.

+ Jer. ü. 1.

[ocr errors]
« הקודםהמשך »