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Tuesday, May 1, 1660. ORDERED,
That the Thanks of this House be given to Mr. BAXTER, for his great pains in carrying on the work of preaching and prayer, before the House, at Saint Margaret's, Westminster, yesterday, being set apart by this House for a day of fasting and humiliation; and that he be desired to print His sermon, and is to have the same privilege in printing the same that others have had in the like kind, and that Mr. Swinfin de give him notice thereof.
HONOURABLE THE HOUSE OF COMMONS,
ASSEMBLED IN PARLIAMENT.
As your order for my preaching persuadeth me you meant attentively to hear, so your order for my publishing this sermon persuadeth me that you will vouchsafe considerately to read it; (for you would not command me to publish only for others that which was prepared for and suited to yourselves ;) which second favour if I may obtain, especially of those that need most to hear the doctrine of repentance, I shall hope that the authority of the heavenly Majesty, the great concernment of the subject, and the evidence of reason, and piercing beams of sacred verity, may yet make a deeper impression on your souls, and promote that necessary work of holiness, the fruits whereof would be effectual remedies to the diseased nations, and would conduce to your own everlasting joy. Shall I think it were presumption for me to hope for so high a reward for so short a labour? Or shall I think it were uncharitableness not to hope for it? That here is nothing but plain English, without any of those ornaments that are by many thought necessary to make such discourses grateful to ingenious, curious auditors, proceeded not t`nly from my present want of advantages for study, (having and using no book but a Bible and a Concordance,) but also from the humbling and serious nature of the work of the day and from my own inclination, less affecting such ornaments in sacred discourses than formerly I have done. It is a very great honour that God and you have put upon me, to conclude so solemn a day of prayer, which was answered the next morning by your speedy, and cheerful, and unanimous acknowledgment of His Majesty's authority. May I have but the second part, to promote your salvation, and the happiness of this land, by your considering and obeying these necessary truths, what greater honour could I expect on earth? Or how could you more oblige me to remain A daily petitioner to heaven for these mercies, on your own and the nation's behalf,
SERMON OF REPENTANCE.
EZEK. xxxvi. 31.
Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings
that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations.
The words are a part of God's prognostics of the Jews' restoration, whose dejection he had before described. Their disease began within, and there God promiseth to work the cure. Their captivity was but the fruit of their voluntary captivity to sin, and their grief of heart was but the fruit of their hardness of heart, and their sharpest suffering of their foul pollutions, and therefore God promiseth a methodical cure, even to take away their old and stony heart, and cleanse them from their filthiness, and so to ease them by the removing of the cause. How far, and when, this promise was to be made good to the Jews, as nationally considered, is a matter that requires a longer disposition than my limited hour will allow, and the decision of that case is needless, as to my present end and work. That this is part of the gospel covenant, and applicable to us believers now, the Holy Ghost, in the epistle to the Hebrews, hath assured us.
The text is the description of the repentance of the people, in which the beginning of their recovery doth consist, and by which the rest must be attained. The evil which they repent of is, in general, all their iniquities, but especially their idolatry, called their abominations. Their repentance is foretold, as it is in the understanding and thoughts, and as in the will and affections. In the former, it is called “ remembering their own evil ways.” In the latter, it is called “ loathing themselves in their own sight, for their iniquities and abominations.” Montanus translates it reprebabitis in vos; but in c. 20, v. 43, fastidietis vos. The same sense is intended by the other versions. When the Septuagint translates it by displeasure, and
the Chaldee by groaning, and the Syriac by the wrinkling of the face, and the Sept., in c. xx. 43, by smiting on the face j the Arabic here perverts the sense by turning all to negatives, ye shall not, &c., yet in c. xx. 43, he turns it by the tearing of the face. I have purposely chosen a text that needs no long explication, that in obedience to the foreseen straits of time I may be excused from that part, and be more on the more necessary. This observation contains the meaning of the text, which, by God's assistance, I shall now insist on, viz. :
The remembering of their own iniquities, and loathing themselves for them, is the sign of a repenting people, and the prognostic of their restoration, so far as deliverance may be here expected.
For the opening of which, observe these things following.
2. It is not all kind of remembering that will prove you penitent. The impenitent remember their sin that they may commit it; they remember it with love, desire, and delight; the heart of the worldling goeth after his airy or earthern idol. The heart of the ambitious feedeth on his vain glory, and the people's breath, and the filthy fornicator is delighted in the thoughts of the object and exercise of his lust. But it is a remembering, 1. From a deep conviction of the evil and odiousness of sin. 2. And with abhorrence and self-loathing, 5. That leadeth to a resolved and vigilant forsaking, that is the proof of true repentance, and the prognostic of a people's restoration.
3. And it is not all self-loathing that will signify true repenting, for there is a self-loathing of the desperate and the damned soul that abhorreth itself, and teareth and tormenteth itself, and cannot be restrained from self-revenge, when it finds that it hath wilfully, foolishly, and obstinately been its own destroyer. But the self-loathing of the truly penitent hath these following properties :
1. It proceedeth from the predominant love of God, whom we have abused and offended. The more we love him, the more we loathe what is contrary to him.
2. It is much excited by the observation and sense of his exceeding mercies, and is conjunct with gratitude.
3. It continueth and increaseth under the greatest assurance of forgiveness, and sense of love, and dieth not when we think we are out of danger.
4. It containeth a loathing of sin as sin, and a love of ho
liness as such, and not only a love of ease and peace, and a loathing of sin, as the cause of suffering.
5. It resolveth the soul against returning to its former course, and resolveth it for an entire devotedness to God for the time to come.
6. It deeply engageth the penitent in a conflict against the flesh, and maketh him victorious, and setteth him to work in a life of holiness, as his trade and principal business in the world.
7. It bringeth him to a delight in God and holiness, and a delight in himself, so far as he findeth God, and heaven, and holiness within him. He can, with some comfort and content, own himself and his conversation so far as God (victorious against his carnal self) appeareth in him. For as he loveth Christ in the rest of his members, so must he in himself. And this is it that self-loathing doth prepare for. .
This must be the self-loathing that must afford you comfort, as a penitent people in the way to restoration.
Where you see it is implied, that materially it containeth these common acts. 1. Accusing and condemning thoughts against ourselves. It is a judging of ourselves, and makes us call ourselves, with Paul, foolish, disobedient, deceived ; yea, mad ; (as Acts xxvi. 11;) and with David to say, I have done foolishly. (2 Sam, xxiv. 10.) 2. It containeth a deep distaste and displeasure with ourselves, and a heart-rising against ourselves. 3. As also an holy indignation against ourselves, as apprehending that we have played the enemies to ourselves and God. 4. And it possesseth us with grief and trouble at our miscarriages. So that a soul in this condition is sick of itself, and vexed with its self-procured wo.
2. Note also, that when self-loathing proceedeth from mere conviction, and is without the love of God and holiness, it is but the tormentor of the soul, and runs it deeper into sin, provoking men here to destroy their lives; and in hell it is the never-dying worm.
3. Note also, that it is themselves that they are said to loathe, because it is ourselves that conscience hath to do with, as witness, and as judge; it is ourselves that are naturally nearest to ourselves, and our own affairs that we are most concerned in. It is ourselves that must have the joy or torment, and therefore it is our own actions and estate that we have first to mind. Though yet, as magistrates, ministers, and neighbours, we must