« PoprzedniaDalej »
look those scriptures which speak on these subjects ? or to expect the eternal felicity promised to Christians, while destitute of those things which are decla. red essential to Christianity ?
Again, would we prosper in cur own souls, or succeed in endeavouring to do good in our families, connexions, and situations; we must adhere to the doctrines and precepts of scripture; pray with fer. vent importunity for the influences of the Spirit; and be very careful not to grieve him, or to quench that sacred fire which he kindles in the believing heart. li we have hitherto been remarkably unsuccessful; we should seriously enquire, on what account the Lord contends with us? And especially we should examine, whether we have not depended on our own supposed abilities, or sought our own honour; in. stead of relying simply on the Holy Spirit, with a readiness of mind to ascribe to him all the glory of every successful attempt?
They who would enjoy the benefit of an able and faithful ministry, should be instant in prayer for their pastors. If this were more attended to, we should doubtless be enabled to 'set forth the true and lively
word of God, both by our preaching and livings' with far greater effect; and should be in all respects much more useful.-But our fervent supplication's should not be confined to those, with whom we are more immediately connected; for we ought to pray continually for the “ pouring out of the Spirit from on "high,” upon every part of the visible church, and
pon all orders and descriptions of men throughout Le world. This should constituie a prominent part of
our daily prayers, in our closets and families ; and enter particularly into the various circumstances, ir which mankind are placed. We ought to intreat the Lord, to render all his ministers faithful, holy, and successful; to send forth labourers into his harvest ; to unite all Christians in the bonds of brotherly love ; to prosper all means used for the conversion of Jews, Mahometans, Pagans, or infidels; and to “ fill the “ earth with truth and righteousness.”
We shall not probably live to witness this glorious scene: yet the Lord may bless some means which we use, in making way for that grand triumph of his cause. Thus David zealously prepared materials for the temple, though assured it would not be built in his day. If we have little else in our power, either to serve our generation, or to sow seed for the good of posterity; we may perform an important service by our persevering prayers : and whenever the Lord shall “pour out his Spirit from on high,” to make his gospel victorious over all opposition; his people will certainly go forth to meet him with their united fervent supplications.
Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repent
·ance unto life.
| HAVE taken this text, my brethren, in conse: quence of a letter which I received from an unknown correspondent, written in a very serious manner, and desiring a publick answer to several interesting ques. tions on the subject of repentance; a subject undoubtedly of great importance, in which we are all most deeply concerned.
The apostles and Christians in Judea, having heard that Peter had associated with Cornelius and other uncircumcised persons, expressed much surprise at his conduct : but when he had related all the circum. stances that attended it, “ They held their peace, and "glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the "Gentiles granted repentance unto life:" yet it is rea
markable, that there is nothing expressly about re. pentance, in the account which Peter had given. .
On another occasion, when Paul and Silas returned from Asia to Antioch,“ They gathered the church “ together, and rehearsed all that God had done with " them, and how he had opened the door of faith to “ the Gentiles.” Mark now these two expressions, used by the apostles on similar occasions. : “ God “ hath granted the Gentiles repentance unto life.” “God hath opened the door of faith unto the Gen“ tiles.” Much instruction may be derived from comparing them togetlrer.- When “ God grants re“ pentance unto life,” he “ opens the door of faith.” When“ he opens the door of faith,” he “ grants re" pentance unto life.”-“ Repent ye, and believe the “ gospel.” Certainly one way of salvation, and not two different ways, was spoken of in both places. I design at present to shew,
1. That repentance is a principal part of the LORD's plan of mercy and grace to sinners in the gospel. And,
II. To enquire into the nature and effects of repentance unto life. I. Repentance is a principal part of the Lord's plan of mercy and grace to sinners in the gospel.
I express myself thus, because many suppose that repentance does not properly belong to the gospel and that when we insist on “repentance, and works, “ meet for repentance,” we do not preach evangeliz cally : for they seem to think that salvation by grace is salvation for sinners continuing impenitent; and
they charge us with returning to the law, and bringing them into bondage, when we maintain the contrary. But indeed, if we distinguish, as no doubt we ought, between the law and the gospel; repentance has nothing to do with the law, except as a man repents that he has broken it. The law says, “ Do this, and “ live;" the soul that sinneth, it shall die :” “Cursed " is every one who continueth not in all things writ“ten in the book of the law to do them.” It does not so much as command repentance, by any immediate injunction. It condemns the transgressor, and leaves him under condemnation.
Would it not be thought a strange thing in an act of Parliament, if after death had been decreed as the punishment of the crime specified, a clause should be added, commanding the criminal to repent, and promising pardon to the penitent? The king indeed may extend mercy to the transgressor, if he judge it expedient. But this is grace, and not law, which does not require repentance; indeed pardons always tend to weaken the authority of the law. :
When God delivered the ten commandments from mount Sinai, the people “ could not endure the things " which were spoken;" but no mention was made of repentance. It was from mount Zion and mount Calvary, that the command to repent was given to mankind. “ Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ:"A and the mercy, revealed through his redemption and mediation, has made way for “repentance and remis“sion of sins to be preached in his name unto all na“tions, beginning at Jerusalem.” Every motive or encouragement to repentance is taken from the gospel;