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buking the Pharisees, in this remarkable passage:" A certain man had two sons; and he came to the “ first and said, Son, go work to-day in my vine" yard. He answered and said, I will not: but af“ terward he repented and went. And he came to " the second and said likewise: and he answered and " said, I go, sir; and went not. Whether of them " twain did the will of his faiher? They say unto
him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, the publicans and harlots go into the
kingdom of heaven before you. For John came “ to you in the way of righteousness, and believed “ him not: but the publicans and harlots believed him: " and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not after“ wards, that ye might believe him!"*
When our Lord was risen, and about to ascend unto the Father, he said to his apostles, “Go ye, preach “ the gospel to every creature: he that believeth and “ is baptized shall be saved: and he that believeth not, “ shall be damned.” And again, “ Thus it is writ.
ten, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise “ from the dead the third day; and that repentance " and remission of sins should be preached in his “ name unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”+ We may know how the apostles understood their Lord, after they were filled with the Holy Ghost, if we attend to Peter, on the day of Pentecost, thus ad. dressing the convinced Jews, “ Repent and be bap“ tized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, “ for the remission of sins:" and afterwards “Repent
* Matt. xxi. 28-32. † Mark, xvi. 15, 16. Luke, xxiv. 46, 47.
" and be converted, that your sins may be blotted “out;” not because your sins are blotted out, as some modern systems seem to require: and why should men alter the order of scriptural exhortations, unless they mean to change the doctrine of scripture?*
When Peter related the circumstances of Cornelius's conversion, to his brethren at Jerusalem, they made this remark, “ Then hath God also to the gentiles granted repentance unto life."f When Paul at Athens, before the celebrated council of Areopagus, boldly exposed the ignorance of this renowned seat of pagan philosophy, he said, “ The times of this ig“norance God winked at, but now commandeth all " men every where to repent.” I And stating the substance of his preaching before the elders of Ephesus, he thus expressed himself, “ Testifying both to " the Jews and also to the Gentiles, repentance toward “God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The same apostle, addressing the unbelieving Jews, thus expostulates with them, “Despisest thou the "riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long
suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God " leadeth thee to repentance? But after thy hardness " and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself "" wrath against the day of wrath?"| To the Corinthians he says, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance "unto salvation not to be repented of.” And he expressed his fears that when he came among them he
Acts ü. 38. ii. 13. † Acts, xi. 18. | Acts, xvii, 30.
Acts, xx. 21. || Rom. ii. 4, 5.
should “lament many, which had sinned and had not repented."*
When he described the case of those who had sinned beyond the reach of mercy, he
says it is “impossible to renew-them to repentance:” and on the other hand he directed Timothy “in meekness - to instruct those that opposed themselves, if per" adventure God would give them repentance to the “ acknowledging of the truth.” Where it is par. ticularly to be remarked that repentance is considered as an essential preparation of mind for the reception of the truth, in order that they may recover them “ selves out of the snare of the devil, who have been “ taken captive by him at bis will.”+ And this agrees with Peter's advice to Simon Magus, “ Repent of this
thy wickedness and pray God, if perhaps the thought “ of thy heart may be forgiven thee."'
These testimonies may probably be deemed more than sufficient: but let it be remembered, that we are not only concerned to prove the truth of the doctrine; it is also requisite to shew that repentance is indis. pensably necessary to salvation, and has been a mat. ter of the last importance in religion under every dispensation. I shall however, only select one passage from the Old Testament, with which to conclude this part of our subject. “I will judge you, every one “according to your ways, saith the Lord God: re
pent and turn yourselves from all your transgres“sions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast from
you all your transgressions, whereby ye have trans
* 2 Cor. vii. 10. xii. 21. † 2 Tim. ii. 25, 26. Heb, vi. 6,
† Acts, viji. 22.
"gressed, and make you a new heart and a new spi
rit, for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I “ have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith “ the Lord God; therefore repent, and turn ye*.”Let us then consider,
II. Certain things, which are implied in the language of the text, “ That men should repent, and "turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”
It is evidently implied in these words, that all men have sinned. God would never require any one to repent, who had never offended: yet "he commands "all men every where to repent.” Sin is the transgression of the divine law, either by omission of commission, by defect or redundance, in thought, word, or deed. Few indeed of the human race aré acquainted with the full extent and spirituality of this perfect rule: yet all know more than they practise. Every man's conscience therefore must testify, if he allow himself time for reflection, that he hath often wilfully neglected his known duty and acted contrary to the conviction of his own mind, for the sake of some worldly object.
But " the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, "against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of
men;" and not merely against a few scandalous and enormous crimes. Many painful effects of the divine displeasure are experienced during the present life, which universally terminate in death: then the sinner's “body returns to the dust whence it was taken, and the soul returns to God that gave it."
Criminals suffer many things previous to their trial; but the principal punishment is subsequent to condemnation: thus “it is appointed to men once to die, “ and after death the judgment:” and we are “ warn“ed to flee from the wrath to come,” from which Je. sus delivers his people, who must suffer and die like other men. The connexion therefore between sin and future condemnation to everlasting punishment, which cannot be escaped without repentance, is clearly im. plied in the language of the text.
Nor should we forget, that this condemnation is merited; for unless sin deserves the punishment de. nounced, there can be no free mercy in remiting it. When the apostles were sentenced to stripes or death, for preaching the gospel, they might lament the injustice of the magistrates, but they could not repent of their own conduct in “ obeying God rather than
Such persons as deem the laws of any country iniquitous, and their governors oppressive, will complain when they suffer for disobedience; but they cannot repent, unless they be convinced that they have been criminal. It would carry us too far, to illustrate the justice of God in the sentence pronounced against transgressors, by stating the rebellion, ingratitude, and enmity, which more or less connect with all our violations of the divine law: but surely, if crimes against our fellow creatures may deserve death; sins against our infinitely glorious Creator merit a punishment proportionably more dreadful. It is not commonly supposed that malefactors are sufficiently impartial, even if in other respects competent, to decide on the equity of the laws, or to amend the criminal