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open our eyes, that we may see those things that belong to our peace, and shew us the way of peace, which hitherto we have not known? But this by the way for my purpose, I observe, that this repentance, which, when the sword of God was drawn, and his arm advanced for a blow, stayed his hand, and sheathed his sword again, was not a mere sorrow for their sins, and a purpose to leave them; nay, it was not only laying aside their gallantry and bravery, and putting on sackcloth, and sitting in ashes, and crying mightily unto God, of which yet we are come very short: but it was also, and that chiefly, their universal turning from their evil way, which above all the rest was prevalent and effectual with God Almighty for so it is written: "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way, and God repented him of the evil, that he said he would do, and he did it not.".
In the Gospel of St. Luke, (chap. xxiv.) the condition of the new covenant, to which remission of sins is promised, is expressed by the word μɛtávoia.—“ Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead, and that (uerávora) repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name." Which place, if ye compare it with that in the Gospel of St. Matthew, "Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, teaching them to observe all whatsoever I shall command you;" it will be no difficulty to collect that what our Saviour calls in one place μerávola, repentance; that he calls in another, observing all that he hath commanded; which, if repentance were no more but sorrow for sin, and intending
to leave it, certainly he never could, nor would, have done and as little could St. Paul (Acts xx. 21.) profess, that the whole matter of his preaching was nothing else but Μετάνοια εἰς τὸν Otov, "Repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ:" it being manifest in his epistles, he preaches, and presses every where, the necessity of mortification, regeneration, new and sincere obedience, all which are evidently not contained under the head of faith; and therefore it is evident, he comprised all these under the name of repentance.
In which words, moreover, it is very considerable, as also in another place, (Heb. vi. 1.) where, among the fundamentals of Christianity, the first place is given to Μετάνοια ἀπὸ τῶν νεκρῶν ἔργων; Ι say, it is very considerable, that though the word may not very absolutely be rendered repentance, yet we shall do much right to the places, and make them much more clear and intelligible, if, instead of repentance, we should put conversion, as it is in some of the best Latin translations: so, for example, if instead of "repentance toward God," (Acts xx.) and "repentance from dead works," in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which our English tongue will hardly bear, we should read "conversion to God," and " conversion from dead works;" every one sees it would be more perspicuous and more natural; whereas, on the other side, if, instead of repentance, we should substitute sorrow (as every true genuine interpretation may, with advantage to the clearness of the sense, be put in place of the word interpreted), and read the place "sorrow towards God," and " sorrow from dead works," it is apparent, that this reading
would be unnatural, and almost ridiculous; which is a great argument, that μETávola, to which forgiveness of sins is promised in the gospel, is not only sorrow for sin, but conversion from sin.
And yet, if it be not so, but that heaven may be purchased at easier, and cheaper rates; how comes it to pass, that in the New Testament we are so plainly, and so frequently, assured, that without actual and effectual amendment, and newness of life, without actual and effectual mortification, regeneration, sanctification, there is not hope, no possibility of salvation?
Every tree, that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire." (Luke iii. 9.) So St. John Baptist preaches repentance. It is not then the leaves of a fair profession, no, nor the blossoms of good purposes and intentions; but the fruit, the fruit only, that can save us from the fire: neither is it enough not to bear ill fruit, unless we bring forth good. Every tree, that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire."
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven:" so our Saviour, Matt. vii. 21. And again, after he had delivered his most Divine precepts in his sermon on the Mount (which sermon contains the substance of the gospel of Christ), he closeth up all with saying, "He that heareth these sayings of mine, and doth them not (and yet these were the hardest sayings that ever he said), I will liken him to a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand (that is, his hope of salvation upon a sandy and false ground); and when the rain de
scended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, it fell, and great was the fall of it.
They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts:" so St. Paul, Gal. v. 24. They then that have not done so, nor crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts, let them be as sorrowful as they please, let them intend what they please, they, as yet, are none of Christ's: and, good Lord! what a multitude of Christians then are there in the world, that do not belong to Christ?
"The works of the flesh, says the same St. Paul, (Gal. v. 19-21.) are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings; of which I tell you before, as I have told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." He doth not say, they which have done such things shall not be saved, but manifestly to the contrary.—“ Such were some of you; but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified:" but he says, they which do such things, and without amendment of life shall continue doing them, shall not be excused by any pretence of sorrow and good purposes: they "shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven." And again, in another Epistle, "Know ye not, that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
"In Christ Jesus (said the same St. Paul in other places) nothing availeth but faith: nothing but a new creature: nothing but keeping the commandments of God." It is not then a wishing, but a working faith; not wishing you were a new creature, nor sorrowing you are not, but being a new creature: not wishing you had kept, nor sorrowing you have not kept, not purposing vainly to keep, but keeping his commandments, must prevail with him.
"Follow peace with all men, and holiness (saith the Divine author of the Epistle to the Hebrews), without which no man shall see the Lord."
St. Peter, in his Second Epistle, commends unto us a golden chain of Christian perfections; consisting of these links; "faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity;" and then adds-" He that lacketh these things, is blind, and knoweth not that he was purged from his old sins." Let his sorrow be never so great, and his desires never so good, yet if he lack these things, he is blind; and was purged from his old sins, but is not.
Lastly, St. John; "He that hath this hope, purifieth himself, even as he is pure:" the meaning is not, with the same degree of purity, for that is impossible; but with the same kind, the same truth of purity; he that doth not purify himself, may, nay doth, flatter himself, and without warrant presume upon God's favour; but this hope he hath not: and again, "Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doth righteousness, is righteous, even as he is righteous;" and thus you see all the Divine writers of the New Testament, with one consent, and with one mouth, proclaim the neces