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and deceive themselves with the cessity of leaving his family in hope, that they are truly peni. want. Under a full sense of the tent, while they are yet unhum- evils, which he has brought upbled for their sins, an attempt to on himself, he may wish that he delineate some of the principal had never given or accepted a features of this christian virtue challenge, and that he had not cannot be regarded as unseason. taken the life of a fellow being. able or useless.
He may mourn and weep for his By separating from any ob. folly. But with all his apparent ject that, which does not really penitence he may be completely belong to it, we shall be ena. under the dominion of selfish. bled to distinguish the more ac- He may have no compas. curately its real form. First' sion for the distressed family of then it is to be remarked, thạt his antagonist; he may have no repentance does not necessarily sense of his siofulness in the imply a wish that any particu- sight of God; a spirit of for. lar event had not occurred, or giveness may not have succeed. that any particular act had noted to the spirit of revenge ; and been performed. When a per- he may be precisely the same son, who is overwhelmed with man, that he ever was, except the apprehension of future pun
that he feels a greater intensity ishment on account of his iniqui. of suffering. ty, exclaims in the bitterness of But, it may be asked, will not his soul, Othat I had never the Christian, who truly repents, committed that sin! O, that I wish that he had never commit. had never yielded to that temp. ted sin ? Imagine one of the Jews tation, this expression of his sor- who crucified the Savior of row is generally considered as the world, to have become after. very good proof of his repent. wards a convert to the faith of
Such an exclamation may · Jesus ; would he not wish, that proceed from a penitent heart, he had never smitten or murderbut it may also be most sincere. ed the Son of God? ly uttered by the impenitent, The mind of man is active and and thus it does not certainly rapid as light. In surveying any evince that broken spirit, which instance of past conduct, which is necessary to salvation. What is sinful, we transport ourselves is included in the wish, that a in imagination to the very scene, certain sinful act had not been and for a moment view the act as committed ? Is any thing ne. not yet done. We seem to be cessarily contained in it besides tempted again to its commission. an aversion to pain ? Suppose Having new principles we decide a man to have been guilty of the differently from what we before. honorable crime of murdering decided. We resolve against the some one of his acquaintance in sin. We would not for worlds single combat. After the com- commit the offence. Soon how." mission of the crime, he finds ever the dreadful reality takes himself driven in disgrace from the place of this delusion. his accustomed place of abode, perceive, that the act has been deprived of his usual means of done, and that we are stained subsistence, and under the ne. with guilt. We loath ourselves
for the crime. We form the fix. wish, that Jesus Christ had not ed resolution, that never again died in the manner appointed ? will we yield to the temptation, Could he entertain any doubt, by which we have been over. that good was brought out of come. If these operations of evil, and that even the sinful pas. the mind be all that is meant by sions of men would be rendered wishing that we had not commit. subservient to the benevolent ted any sin, no objections will be purposes of God? made to it. But if it be suppos
In the next place, great grief ed to include something more ;
and distress of mind, affords no if, while the act is viewed as proof of unfeigned repentance. past, it should be thought neces. A variety of causes perfectly sary to have a real desire, that distinct from any sense of sin the act had not been committed, may interrupt the peace of the then perhaps the above recited sinner. There is frequently, even phrase expresses more, than in this world, a close connexion what is required in the Scrip- between crime, and the punishtures.
ment of crime, between guilt and Let the Jew perceive his sin misery. When intemperance is in having crucified the Lord Je. succeeded by the languors of in. sus. He will undoubtedly feel firmity, or the acuteness of disa contrariety between his present ease, the sufferer may bitterly principles, and those, which for- lament his subjection to his apmerly governed him. It would petites. When loss of characbe impossible for him to recom. ter and loss of wealth follow in mit the offence. His own past the train of sinful passions, this character overwhelms him with mortification of pride may fill shame. His sin is as a dagger to the soul with anguish. Distress bis heart. But is it possible for for the effects or consequences him, while he views the act as of sin is frequently experienced, past, and consequently as irre. while sin itself excites no emo. mediable, to have the fruitless
tions of sorrow. But can that wish, that it had never been ? be repentance, which touches not Besides, when he considers the the core of the offence? Can event'as occurring under the per. that be repentance, which loaths fect government of God, and not the crime, but only dreads conforming in every respect to the evils, which follow it? his counsel ;* especially when Even, when instructed by the he dwells upon the absolute ne. sacred volume, the mind of the cessity of the death of Christ in sioner looks forward to the fuorder to the pardon of sin, and ture state, and trembles in the upon the incalculable benefits apprehension of merited punishresulting to the universe from his ment, this keenness of suffering crucifixion; how is it possible in view of the retributions of the for him, even while the full enor. eterpal world does not of itself mity of his sin rises up before indicate any penitence of heart. him and while, with his present As a belief in the threatenings of principles, he would not recom. the divine law, and in the strict mit the offence, to indulge the justice of God, is implied in the * Acts i. 23, & iv. 28.
fear of the future, a state of anxiety and terror must be re- tive, or to some cause which does garded as vastly preferable to a not imply a real renovation of state of security and stupidity ; heart. The fear of disgrace, but it ought not to be forgotten, the love of applause, the hopes that the “ deyils believe and distinction, the prospects of tremble.” The mind seems to be wealth; and many other causes accessible to truths, for which may mould the external conduct there is no relish in the heart. into the form of virtue, while ev. The sinner may tremble in the ery vile passion holds dominion apprehension of the displeasure in the heart. of a Being, whose character he An attempt has thus been hates. The stings of conscience made to correct some erroneous may therefore pierce the soul, conceptions of the nature of rewhich knows not the meaning of pentance, and to separate from sorrow for sin. Judas is said it what is not infallible evidence to have repented,” (or, as the of its existence. The genuine original Greek word, which is meaning of the term will now be different from the one commonly sought for, and the qualities inused, may more correctly be ren. cluded in it be pointed out. dered, sorrowed or grieved.) It is well known, that the He was struck with such deep Greek word in the New Testa. conviction, he was overwhelmed ment, answering to repentance, with such anguish and despair in is compounded of two words, the view of his conduct, that his which signify after-thought. life became a burden, and he The precise import of the term went and hanged himself. seems then to be a change of
It may be further observed, mind. Thus the word instead that repentance is not certainly of being confined to the meaning evinced by reformation of con- of sorrow for iniquitous con. duct. If the life has been im- duct, expresses more generally moral, whenever the sinner be- an alteration of principles, a comes penitent, his habits will renovation of heart, a change of be changed, and he
character. That this is the sense give to the world a pure exam.
in which it is used in the New ple. To say that the heart may Testament, will be evident from be good, while the fruits of holi. the following passages : ness are not produced, is direct 66 The Lord is not slack con. hostility to the gospel ; for Je. cerning his promise, as some sus Christ came “to purify un. mèn count slackness, but is long to himself a peculiar people, suffering to usward, not will. zealous of good works." But ing, that any should perish, but the exterior deportment of the that all should come to repent. transgressor of the divine law ance." 2 Pet. iii. 9. may be corrected, his immoral Here by repentance merely habits may be broken, and he grief or sorrow for sin does not may seem be a man under the seem to be all, that is denoted, influence of religious principles, but the term expresses an actual while the whole change in his conversion, and a sincere recepconduct is to be attributed to tion of the gospel. Paul de. some unworthy and selfish mo. clares, that he inculcated both
upon Jews and Gentiles, that bove will probably be thought they should repent and turn to sufficient for the purpose. God, and do works meet for re
If this view of the subject is pentance. Acts xxvi. 20. This correct, the question, which is passage seems perfectly synony- frequently discussed, whether re. mous with Ephes. iv. 1, where pentance precedes faith, may be he beseeches his brethren to walk considered as neither more nor worthy of the vocation, where. less than this, whether a change with they were called ; and also of character, a conversion from with Philip. i. 27 ; Coloss. i. 10; sin unto holiness, precedes a parand 1 Thes. ii. 12, where we fiod ticular trait of this new charac. the various expressions of walk- ter, or in other words, whether ing worthy of God, and of the the principle precedes one of the Lord, and of having conversa. acts, which spring from it? If tion as it becometh the gospel however faith, instead of being of Christ. Repentance then re- used in a limited sense for a de. lates to the general character, pendence upon the Savior for jus. and not to one particular act of tification, is extended in its mean. the mind.
ing, so as to express generally The following passage corrob. the reception of the gospel, then orates this opinion. Then Peter it may express the same thiog said, repent and be baptized ev- with repentance. Thus in Acts ery one of you in the name of Je. xix. 4, to believe in Christ seems sus Christ for the remission of merely explanatory of the comsins, and ye shall receive the mand to repent. Thus Jesus gift of the Holy Ghost, Acts ii. himself preached, Mark i, 15, 38. These words were address. repent ye, and believe the gos. ed to those, who were already pel. The first term requires a pricked in their heart, in conse, change of character, and the secquence of Peter's description of ond term relates to the particu. their wickedness in crucifying lar nature of that change. Jesus of Nazareth, and who, un- Whether all men at the presa' der a sense of their sin, were anx- ent day are under the necessity iously inquiring, What shall we of repenting in order to obtain do? It is therefore impossible, eternal life is a question, whose that the apostle should call upon solution must depend upon the them merely to be sorry for their decision of a previous question, sin, as the condition of salvation, namely, whether all men at the for they already felt their sin; present day are naturally sinners, he must have intended by requir. destitute of holiness, aliena. ing them to repent, that they ted from God, subjected to should rerrounce whatever was selfish passions, and enemies evil, that they should become to the doctrines of the gospel. truc converts to the faith of Je. If they are, it is very evident, sus.
that a change of character, Several other passages of the or repentance, is an indispensa. sacred volume might be adduced ble condition of salvation; and to support this interpretation of that men are now universally the word repentance, but the a. sinners by nature, is proved by
observation and by scripture, and is most fully confirmed by
Wherefore I abhor myself. JOB. the consciousness of every humble and devout christian. Another
HUMILITY is the spirit of true argument for this truth, and the religion. Every real penitent is consequent duty of repentance, humble. When he views his is the very nature of the gospel, own character, he is disposed to which is designed to continue say with Job, I abhor myself. even unto the end of the world, "I abhor myself, because I have and which requires all men every broken the divine law. This where to repent.
law I am sensible is holy, just, As repentance, in its general and good. It requires no more, signification, means a change of than what I ought to perform, mind, so in reference to religion I feel inexcusable for my diso. it expresses a conversion from bedience. I am not so much sin unto holiness, a change from distressed in view of the evil, to the supreme love of self, to the which I am justly exposed, as I supreme love of God, a renova.
am with the thought, that I have tion of mind and a cheerful rc. violated so good a law. I must ception of Jesus Christ as the and will approve the precepts propitiation for sin. In vain and sanctions of this law, what. will any claims to the possession ever be my
situation. of this christian virtue be ad. Tabhor myself, because I have vanced by him, who has merely sinned against God. I have often felt a few transient pangs of re- been afraid, that he would pun. morse, but has not renounced ish me for my sins ; while it has his iniquities. The purity, the given me no pain, that I had of. benevolence, and holiness of the fended so good a Being. But life, the tendency of the affec
now I see in some measure, how tions towards the truths and du. vile I am for my rebellion against ties of religion, the habits of self the God of love. He is worthy humiliation and self distrust, of my supreme affection, and of must attest the genuineness of infinitely more ; and I have rearepentance, or no real proof of son to blush that I have not serv. its existence will be found.
ed him to the extent of my pow. Reader ! Do you know what The grief of a dutiful child it is to repent of your sins ? for having disobeyed an affecLook not back to some hour of tionate parent, is light, compardarkness, when you were over- ed with the sorrow, which my whelmed with terror, for you unnatural rebellion against may have been struck to the God occasions in my breast. I ground in the agony of despair never can forgive myself for hav. without any knowledge of the ing treated with so much negnature of repentance. But rath. lect and contempt that Being, er search into your heart and who sustains so many endearing life, and see whether you bring relations. Though he is my forth fruits worthy of repentance. Creator, my constant Preserver,