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attainments. To the Scriptures, also, will he betake himself for the same aid. In them he finds God speaking to him; and declaring the very things, which are necessary to enlighten his understand ing, and to amend his heart. To the Scriptures, therefore, he will continually resort; and will make them the object of his investigation, and reflection, at all convenient seasons. Nor will he be less employed in exploring the recesses of his own heart; that he may learn, as far as may be, the moral state of his mind; his sins and dangers, the improvements which he has made in holiness, and the means of future safety.
In the like manner will the renewed Mind solicit, and lay hold on the company, conversation, and friendship, of good men. Their views of the Scriptures, of the danger of sin and temptation, and of the excellency and safety of holiness; their own affections and conduct; their example and prayers; their sympathy, communion, and encouragement; will prove ever-flowing springs of spiritual life and consolation. These are its own companions in the path of life; the disciples of its own Saviour ; the children of its own heavenly Father. All its interests are theirs. One common cause unites, one common family embraces, one common spirit quickens, and one God, the Father, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier of all, loves, purifies, conducts, supports, and brings to his own house, both the regenerated man, and his fellow-christians. In them, therefore, he finds an interest, a friendship, a kindred character of soul, which binds him to them with an indissoluble attachment. With peculiar satisfaction he enjoys their company here; and with desightful hope anticipates their endless society hereafter.
Thus have I endeavoured summarily to explain the Work of Regeneration ; and to describe those immediate fruits of it, by means of which alone it is discernible by man. As these apparently coexist with the work itself; I have, in general language, called them, its Attendants. The name, I confess, is not metaphysically exact; nor will I insist on the entire propriety of adopting it. Yet as it naturally coincides with the views, formed on this subject by the mind in which it exists, it seems sufficiently descriptive of what was intended, for my purpose.
SERMON LXXVII. .
MATTHEW Xxvii. 3—5.— Then Judas, who had betrayed him, when he saw that he
was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders ; Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, whal is that lo us? see thou to that ; And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
my last discourse, I gave an account of the work of Regeneration; and, particularly, of its immediate effects on the mind; which, because they apparently co-exist with it, I styled its Attend
Of these, I particularly mentioned Faith in Christ, Repentance, Love to God, and Love to mankind. All these exercises of the renewed mind are of such importance in the Scriptural scheme, as to demand a distinct and particular consideration.
Faith, the first of them in the order which I have adopted, has heretofore been largely examined. In so complex a science, as that of Theology, it is impossible not to anticipate particular subjects of discourse; because among several things which are collateral and not regularly successive, and which are also variously connected, it becomes almost necessary to select, for reasons irresistibly occurring, some one out of the several connexions, which will prove in a measure injurious to the consideration of others. On some accounts, the natural order would have induced me to discuss the subject of Faith in this place; on others, it seemed de. sirable to give it an earlier examination. As the mind can very easily transfer it to that period, at which, in the order of time, it begins to exist; the disadvantage will be immaterial, should it upon the whole be thought a disadvantage.
The next subject of consideration is Repentance unto life; usua ally called Evangelical Repentance.
În the text we are informed, that Judas, after he had betrayed Christ, seeing that he was condemned, repented himself. It is therefore certain, that Judas was in some sense a penitent; yet it is equally certain, that his repentance was not genuine; or, in other words, was not the repentance, which is required by the Gospel. As one of the most useful methods of distinguishing that which is genuine, from that which is spurious, is to compare them ; I shall, in the discussion of this subject,
1. Examine the repentance of Judas; and,
Concerning the Repentance of Judas, I observe, 1st. That it was real.
That Judas actually felt, and did in no sense counterfeit, the sorrow, which he professed, for his treachery, and its consequences, is evident beyond a possible doubt: its existence being evinced by the highest of all proofs ; its influence on his conduct. False Repentance, therefore, by which I mean all that which is not Evangelical, has a real, and not merely a pretended, existence. Of course, it is not, in this respect, at all distinguished from the Repentance of the Gospel.
2dly. It was deep and distressing. This, also, is equally evinced in the same manner. who was present to hear what Judas said, and to see the things which he did, could entertain a doubt, that he was exceedingly distressed by the remembrance of what he had done. False Repentance may not only be real, but deeply distressing ; and cannot by this circumstance be distinguished from that which is genuine.
3dly. It was attended by a strong and full conviction of his guilt.
This is, also, amply declared, both in his words, and in his actions; so as not to admit even of a question. False Repentance, therefore, cannot be distinguished from the true by this circumstance.
4thly. It was followed by a frank confession of his guilt. I have sinned, said this miserable man, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
This confession he made before those, to whom we should naturally expect him last to make it; viz. the very persons, who had hired him to sin. It was also a confession, extorted from him by a sense of his guilt alone, and not by any human persuasion, art, or violence. It was sincere: being not only really, but intentionally, true: a frank declaration both of his views, and of his conduct. Such a confession is, therefore, no decisive proof, that Repentance is genuine.
5thly. It was also followed, so far as was now possible, by a departure from his former conduct.
Whatever motives, of a different kind, prompted Judas to his treachery, it is plain, Covetousness had his share of influence. The attainment of money, he himself informs us, was an object, primarily in his view. What will ye give me, said he to the chief priests; and I will deliver him unto you. The sum, which they offered, was indeed very small : still, it plainly operated with commanding force upon his mind. Nor need we wonder, that he, who, when he kept the bag, which contained the little means of subsistence, on which, when not supported by hospitality, Christ and his Apostles lived, could from time to time basely plunder so small a part of it, as not to be detected by his companions, should be induced to undertake a very base employment for thirty pieces of silver. But on the present occasion, covetous as he habitually was
at all former times, he voluntarily returned the money, which he had received, to the chief priests; and, in the anguish of his heart, overcame, for a season, this ruling propensity. Beyond this, he was desirous to do justice to the character of Christ. I have sinned, said he, in that I have betrayed the innocent blood.
6thly. It was followed by the voluntary infiction of great evils upon himself.
Beside the voluntary surrender of the money, which, if we may judge from what the attainment of it cost him, must have been given up with great difficulty, he went immediately away, and put a violent end to his own life: thus choosing to encounter the greatest evil, which can be suffered in the present life, rather than endure the anguish of heart, produced by the dreadful sin, of which he had been guilty in betraying his Lord.
From this melancholy fact it is clearly evident, that no voluntary penance furnishes the least proof, that the repentance, which occasioned it, was genuine. We may give all our goods to feed the poor; nay, we may give our bodies to be burned'; and yet it may profit us nothing
From these observations it is unanswerably evident, that a false Repentance may wear many appearances of the true; that it may in many respects be followed by the same, or similar, conduct
t; and that it may, on the whole, go very far in its resemblance; and still not be Evangelical.
In other circumstances, the false penitent may exhibit, still further, such resemblances in his character. Thus Saul, when he
. pursued David to the cave of Engedi ; and David, by cutting off ihe skirt of his robe while he slept, had proved to him, that he had spared his life, when it was in his power to have killed him ; was strongly affected by a sense of David's superior righteousness, and benevolence; and exhibited a deep conviction of his own inhumanity, and injustice. Nor was he, in a small degree, grateful to David for preserving his life, when so entirely in David's power. In the indulgence of this emotion, he prayed, and so far as we can judge, wished, for a blessing upon David. From this example it is evident, that, under clear and strong views of sin, persons may exercise a species of Repentance, in which all these emotions shall exist together with all the conduct, naturally springing from them; and yet their repentance not be that of the Gospel.
In proportion as any counterfeit approximates towards that, which it is designed to resemble, is the importance of the discrimination, by which its real nature is to be distinguished. Since False Repentance, therefore, can in so many particulars approach towards the true; it is indispensably necessary to examine them both, in such a manner, as to acquire distinct apprehensions concerning their different natures. To complete this design, I now proceed, Vol. II.
II. To examine the nature of True Repentance.
Of this important Evangelical subject, it may be observed, that it includes,
1st. Just views of Sin.
Fools, or wicked men, make a mock at sin ; that is, they regard it as a thing, destitute of any real importance; as a trifle, about which they have no reason to be seriously concerned; as an object of sport and diversion, rather than of solemn, or even of sober, thought. To these views of sin the convinced sinner, so long as his convictions continue, has bidden a final farewell.
To his eye sin appears as a great and terrible evil, fraught with consequences of the most dreadful nature. But even his views are principally generated by an alarming sense of its dangerous consequences, rather than by any just emotions arising from its nature. The views, formed by the penitent, differ from both these. While he realizes all the apprehensions of the convinced sinner, he adds to them, also, a new and peculiar sense of the importance of sin, as an evil in itself. To him it appears as a great evil
, primarily, as it respects God. The character of God is, in his view, so great and so good, and his commands are so reasonable, that obedience to him appears supremely excellent and desirable, and disobedience supremely undesirable and unworthy. Both are estimated by his eye with a steady reference to the glorious character of the Creator; the excellence and importance of the law, by which he gove erns the universe ; the auspicious efficacy of obedience to it; and the malignant influence of disobedience on the character and happiness of intelligent beings. Wherever God is concerned, all regard to creatures must be secondary, and comparatively unimportant.
But, when we consider the number of intelligent creatures ; the dignified nature of their faculties; the importance of their actions in producing happiness or misery; and their capacity of enjoying happiness, or suffering misery, throughout eternity; their combined interests become an object, to a created eye, literally immense. The interest of one immortal mind, and the virtue of that mind, living and operating throughout endless ages, severally transcend all finite estimation. Of this virtue, and these interests, sin is the absolute destruction. It will, therefore, necessarily seem to the penitent an evil, which cannot be measured.
As his own interests and virtue are concerned, he will feel this subject in a peculiar manner. These he naturally realizes in a stronger degree, than he can realize the same things, as belonging to others. Particularly, he will be deeply affected by a consciousness of that de basement, which sin had produced in his character. He will feel himself brought low ; degraded beneath the proper level of a rational being; lost to all useful and honourable purposes; and active only to such, as are unworthy and mischievous. Of course, he regards himself as having been a nuisance to the universe; and therefore justly loathsome in the sight of God, and