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him, he will hate it the more. In his friends and fellow-christians, therefore, his family and himself, he will hate it more than in others; especially, as the expressions of his hatred towards their sins, and his opposition to his own, may have a peculiar efficacy in preventing future transgressions. Nor will the kindred, or amiableness, of any person, prevent him from regarding his sins with disgust and abhorrence.
3dly. True Repentance involves in it a sincere Sorrow for sin.
A dutiful child, who has disobeyed his father, feels, after all the fears of punishment are over, sincere regret, because he has disobeyed. A good man, when he has done an injury to a friend, even when the fact is unknown, and himself is secure from possible detection, laments secretly his unworthy conduct. A penitent feels a similar regret, that he has offended God, and injured his fellowmen; not from the apprehension of their resentment, or of the anger of God, merely; but also from the sense of the evil which he has done; from a realizing view of the unworthiness of which he has been guilty. With this view, he will be ever ready to cry out, with St. Paul, O wretched man that I am: who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
4thly. True Repentance will prompt the subject of it freely to confess his sins before God.
Confession is the first, the proper, the natural, language of Repentance. In this manner Job confessed, when God, appearing to him with divine glory, discovered to him the corruption of his heart, and the guiltiness of his life. Thave heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes. In the same manner David, also, confessed: I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before thee. Thus, also, Nehemiah and his companions, the captives who had returned from Babylon, spent one fourth part of the day of their public humiliation in confessing their sins; and said: Thou art just in all that is brought upon us : for thou hast done right; but we have done wickedly. Thus the Lamentations of Jeremiah are extensively occupied in this employment. Thus Daniel, in strong terms, declared to God the sins of himself and his people. Thus, finally, have all sincere penitents done in every age, and in every country. The heart, in the clear view of its sins, in the strong apprehension of the wrongs, which it has done to God, and to mankind, is full, and overflows; and out of its abundance the mouth is compelled to speak. Besides, confession is the first attempt towards making amends for the injury; and the penitent is ready to adopt every measure, which may, in his view, contribute to the accomplishment of an end, believed to be so important, and relished as so desirable.
5thly. True Repentance is followed by Reformation. Every penitent will, like Elihu, pronounce concerning himself
, as well as concerning others: Surely it is meet to be said unto God
I have borne chastisement: I'will not offend any more. That, which I see not, teach thou me ; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.
Amendment is the End of all Repentance: and this involves the two-fold office of forsaking sin, and practising holiness. It will easily be believed, that he who hates and mourns for his sins, must, under the influence of this disposition, regard the future commission of them with dread, and proceed to it only under the influence of frailty, the occasional predominance of lust, or the powerful influence of external temptations. To forsake it will also be believed to be a commanding object of his designs, and efforts. With this object is intimately connected a fixed, and universal, determination faithfully to practise future Obedience. This is the sum of the divine pleasure concerning his remaining life; the substance of all the precepts, contained in the law of that glorious Being, to have offended whom excites his deepest sorrow, and to please whom is now the object of his most earnest desire. A general reformation of life will, therefore, be the only conduct, originated by the present temper of his heart. Against sin, against all sin, he will set his face as a flint. His passions, henceforth, will be subordinated to his conscience; and his conscience enlightened and directed by the Scriptures of Truth. Every lust will he labour to subdue, every enemy to overcome, and every temptation to resist or escape. More and more, continually, will this be the purpose and employment of his life. With increasing resolution he will
go from strength to strength; improve in holiness, as he increases years; and become, from time to time, more and more meet to be a partaker with the Saints in light, in their communion and their joys.
REMARKS. 1st. From these observations we learn, that a Repentance may exist, and go far, and yet not be Evangelical.
From the account already given of the repentance experienced by Judas, it is plain, that he entertained such views, and felt such emotions, as are also felt by true penitents. There is nothing in the nature of the case, which hinders all these and others like them, from being experienced by any false penitent. From this fact it is clear, that False repentance may be easily mistaken for the True; and equally clear, that a careful discrimination is indispensably necessary to distinguish them from each other. Other wise, the false penitent may be easily, and, for ought that appears, fatally, deceived. If the account, here given of Evangelical repentance, be admitted; the distinction between this and all counterfeits is clear and decisive. The false penitent never forms just views of the nature of sin; never hates it, as evil done to God and his fellow-creatures ; never in this view, mourns for it; never confesses it ingenuously; and never faithfully forsakes it. He, who cannot find these things in his heart and conduct, may safely conclude, that his repentance is not that of the Gospel.
2dly. The same obsertations prove, that Repentance is a spirit, justly according with the real state of things.
The penitent is really, as he pronounces himself to be, a sinner; guilty in the sight of God, and deserving of his wrath. Sin is really the great evil, which he feels, and acknowledges, it to be ; and is therefore to be hated, lamented, confessed, and forsaken, in the very manner, determined on by himself. His situation is in all respects as bad, and his character as unworthy, as he supposes them. The views which he entertains of himself, therefore, are exactly agreeable to truth; and such as he is plainly bound to
All views of himself, and of his condition, which are discordant with these, would be contrary to truth, and a mere mass of falsehood. Of the same nature are the affections, involved in Evangelical Repentance. They are the very affections, which necessarily arise out of these views; and the only affections, which, in the penitent's case, correspond with truth. Of course, they are plain and indispensable parts of his duty.
3dly. These observations teach us, that Repentance is absolutely necessary to salvation.
Without Repentance, the sinner would still continue to be a sinner; an enemy to holiness and to God, to happiness and to heaven. If he did not hate sin; it would be physically impossible, that he should forsake it ; that he should love or practise holiness; that he should be cordially reconciled to God; that he should relish the happiness of heaven; or that he should desire, or enjoy, the friendship of virtuous beings. It would be impossible, that he should receive Christ as his Saviour; trust in his righteousness for acceptance; love his character; or welcome his mediation. At the same time, it would be morally impossible, that God should receive, or justify, the sinner; unite him to his family; or restore him to his favour. To all these things Repentance is plainly, and absolutely indispensable.
The views, which the penitent entertains of moral subjects, and the affections, with which he regards them, prepare him, and are indispensably necessary to prepare him, to partake of the favour of God, the employments of holiness, and the blessings of Redemption. Evangelical Repentance is the beginning of moral health in the soul. At the commencement of its existence, the former evil, morbid principles, begin to lose their hold, and to have their power diminished. The divine Physician then first achieves his victory over the moral diseases, which were before incurable ; and the balm of Gilead begins to restore its decayed and ruined faculties. From this moment, immortal health, the life of Heaven, returns to the languishing mind; health that cannot decay, life that cannot terminate : the youth of angels, which cannot grow old, but is formed to increase, and bloom, and flourish
GALATIANS V. 22.-But the fruit of the Spirit is love.
HAVING considered, in preceding discourses, Faith in Christ, and Repentance unto life, the two first of those moral attributes, which I called the Attendants of Regeneration ; I shall now go on to examine the nature of the third, and fourth, of these attributes : Love to God, and Love to mankind. As both these are only exercises of the same disposition, directed towards different objects, I shall here consider them together; reserving a separate discussion of them to a future occasion. St. Paul informs us, that Love, viz. the disposition mentioned in the text, is the fulfilling of the Law; that is, of the two great commands, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself. These commands constitute a primary part of a Theological system; and will necessarily become a subject of particular investigation in the progress of these discourses. They will, therefore, furnish an ample opportunity for the separate consideration of these two great exercises of Love.
In examining this subject, at the present time, it is my design, 1. To exhibit the Nature of this Love; and, II. To prove its Existence. 1. I shall endeavour to exhibit the Nature of Evangelical Love.
1st. The Love of the Gospel, is a Delight in happiness : or, in other words, Good-will towards percipient beings, as capable of happiness.
Happiness is the object, ultimately, and alway, aimed at by the mind, under the influence of this affection. As percipient beings are the only beings capable of happiness, the love of happiness is, of course, ihe love of percipient beings. Of these, Intelligent beings are capable of so much greater and more important happiness, than mere animals, as scarcely to allow of any comparison between them. The love of happiness, therefore, is supremely the love of Intelligent beings. This, accordingly, has been assumed as a definition of Love. It is not however metaphysically correct. A righteous, or virtuous, man will, as such, regard the life, and of course the happiness universally, of his beast; and this, though a small, cannot fail to be a real, object of his regard.
A delight in happiness, metaphysically considered, supposes it enjoyed, or already in possession. When it is not enjoyed, and yet is supposed to be possible, the same affection becomes, and is Vol. II
styled, the Desire of happiness. Whatever we delight in, when present and possessed, we desire, when absent, or unpossessed. The mind under the influence of this affection, therefore, while it rejoices in happiness actually enjoyed, necessarily wishes its existence, wherever it is capable of being enjoyed.
2dly. This love of happiness is Universal.
This proposition follows, unavoidably, from the former. If the mind delights in bappiness, as such; it is plain, that this delight will exist, wherever the happiness is found. "If it desire happiness, as such, this desire will be extended to every case, in which it perceives that happiness may be enjoyed. The delight, therefore, will be co-extended with the knowledge, which the mind at any given time possesses, of actual enjoyment; and the desire, with its knowledge of possible enjoyment. So far, then, as the views of any mind, in which this disposition exists, extend, its love of happiness will be universal.
3dly. This love of happiness is Just.
By this I intend, that the greater happiness, whether actual, or possible, will be loved more, and the smaller happiness less. This, also, is inherent in the very nature of the affection. If the mind delight in happiness; it follows, necessarily, that this delight must increase, as the object of it increases. For example: if it delight in the happiness of one being, it will equally delight in the same happiness of a second; in the same manner in that of a third; of a fourth; a fifth ; a sixth; and so on, in that of any given, or supposable, number. Or, should we suppose one of these beings to be happy in any given degree ; and that happiness doubled, tripled, quadrupled, or increased in any other degree; the delight of such a mind in this object would be increased in the same propor
I do not here intend, that this affection will operate with the mathematical exactness, here stated. I am well aware, that such minds as ours, are utterly incapable of operating with their afsections in this perfect manner. This mode of illustration has been here uscd, for the sake of exhibiting the general proposition in a manner clear and decisive ; and, if I mistake not, it unanswerably evinces the truth of the proposition.
In entire accordance with this doctrine we are commanded to love God with all the heart, not only as an object of our Complacency, but of our Benevolence also. We are not only required to approve of his perfect character, but also to delight in his perfect happiness, or, as we more usually term it, blessedness. His perfect' character is the cause, of which his perfect happiness is the effect. The former, it is our duty to regard with supreme complacency; the latter, it is equally our duty to regard with supreme benevolence.
No less accordant with this disposition, also, is the second command of the same law. Our neighbour, that is, any, and every individual of the human race, is the subject of the same happiness,