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quired, they reject the terms, they lose their transporting views, and return to their fins.
There are many examples of this, not only in feripture, but in the history of the church in every age. Many of those disciples who seemed gladly to embrace the doctrine, and highly to honor the person of Christ, when they heard some of the most mortifying precepts, “ went “ back and walked no more with him*.” The character is little different, which we find described under the imace of the stony ground hearers, who “having not root in “ themselves, when persecution or tribulation arose be“ cause of the word, by and by were offended.” I hope this, with the explication above given of its cause, may. be of use to account for some appearances in a time of the revival of religion. Persons who seem to have the same exercises with real converts, yet afterwards fall away, and “ return with the dog to his vomit again, and with the fow " that was washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” This gives occasion to adversaries to speak reproachfully, and is greatly distressing to those who truly fear God. But would men carefully attend to what the holy scriptures teach us to expect, their surprise in all such cafes would ceafe. “ For it must needs be that offences must comet." And though there are many counterfeits, there will still be fufficient means to distinguish the gold from the dross.
There must be a conviction of sin and danger.
HE next great step in a saving change, is a deep
humiliation of mind, and conviction of fin and danger. The absolute necessity of this is very evident, and indeed generally confessed. It is equally evident, whether we consider the nature of the change itself, the means of its production, or the notives to all future duty. If an entire change is necessary, there must be an entire and thorough diffatisfaction with, and disapprobation of, our
paft character and state. Whoever is pleased with his prefent character, will neither desire, endeavor, nor even accept of a change. If we consider the means of our recovery, by Jesus Christ suffering in the room of finners, the same thing will appear with increasing evidence. Those who are not humbled under a sense of guilt and corruption, will treat with great contempt a purchased pardon and a crucified Saviour. This our Lord himself often tells us in the plainest terms. They that are “ whole need not a physician, but they that are fick. I " came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repent“ ance."* To these indeed his invitation and call is particularly addressed : “Come unto me, all ye that labor, “ and are heavy laden, and I will give you reft.”+
To the same purpose, we shall find many other passages, both of the prophetic and apostolic writings. The glad tidings of salvation are always directed to the humble, miserable, broken-hearted, thirsty, perishing foul. Thus in the prophet Isaiah, “ Ho, every one that thirst
eth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, "come ye, buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk, “ without money and without price." I When Christ entered on his perforial ministry, he opened his commisfion in the following terms. "The spirit of the Lord is
upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken
heartel, to preach daliverance to the captives, and re“ covering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that “ are bruised, to preach tlie acceptable year of the Lord."|| I shall oniy mention one other passage : “And I will give
to him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life “ "
From these passages, and many others in the same strain, it is crident beyond contradiction, tliat there must be a' deep huiniliation of mind, and fense of guilt and wretchedness, before a finner can be brougit unto God. This
† 16. 17. 1. Luke iv. 18. indeed hath ordinarily been considered as the first step towards conversion. In order to treat of it in the most clear, and at the same time the most useful manner, I shall divide it into two branches, and first, confider what is the true and genuine fource of conviction or forrow for fin; and secondly, to what degree it must be, in order to a saving change.
Luke, v. 31, 32.
+ Mattxi. 29.
* Rev. xxi. 6.
First then, let us consider what is the true and genuine fource of conviction and sorrow for fin. And here we may observe in general, that properly speaking, there can be but two fources of forrow or humiliation of mind at all, viz. fear of suffering, and sense of the evil and defert of fin. Both these are found in true penitents; and it is their union and mutual influence that distinguishes repentance unto life from every counterfeit. Many have trembled through fear of punishment from God, and been dismayed at the tokens of his presence, who, notwithstanding, lived and died strangers to true religion, or any faving change. We fee that even Judas the traitor to his Lord repented, confessed his fin, nay, did what he could to repair the wrong, throwing back the price of innocent blood; and yet hanged himself in despair. The fcripture only further says, he went into his own place; but there have been few, if any, interpreters of scripture, who entertained any doubt that it was the place of torment. We every day see that occasional danger, or the apprehenfion of immediate death, throws some into fits of terror, extorts from them confessions of guilt, or promises of amendment; and yet, in a little time they return to their former practices, and sin with the same security, and per: haps with greater avidity than before.
What is the essential defect of such seeming penitents ? It is that they have no just fense of the evil of fin in itself; they have no inward cordial approbation of the holiness of God's nature and law, or of the justice of that sentence of condemnation which stands written against every transgresfor. Here, O, Christian, is the cardinal point on which true repentance turns, and the reader may plainly perceive the reason and necessity of what was formerly observed, that there must be a discovery of the infinite glory and amiableness of the divine nature. Without this there may be a slavith terror, but no true humiliation. It is only when a finner sees the unspeakable majesty, the tranicendent glory, and infinite amiableness of the divine nature, that he is truly, effectually, and unseignedly humbled.
Oh! that I could deliver this with proper force ! that I could write and speak under an experimental sense of its - truth! The finner then perceives how infinitely worthy his Maker is of the highest esteem, the most ardent love, and the most unremitted obedience. He then fees, that every intelligent creature, from the most Mining seraph in the heavenly host, to the meanest and moit despised mortal form, is under an infinite, eternal, unchangeable obligation to love God with all his heart, and strength, and mind. On this account he is convinced, that alienated affection and misplaced allegiance is infinitely finful. He fees this obligation to be founded not merely nor chiefly on the greatness of divine power, but on the intrinsic inherent excellence of the divine nature. Therefore he is persuaded, that there is not only danger in rebelling against, or dishonoring God, but a great and manifest wrong and injustice in refusing to honor him. This strikes him with a sense of his own guilt, and the guilt of all those who live “ without God in the world.”
At once to confirm and illustrate this truth, I must make two obfervations, which will be found universally to hold, on the character and conduct of true penitents. ift. That they obtain a new sense of the excellence and obligation of the duties of divine worship, both public and private. Before, they were apt to consider the duties of worship as little more than the means of religion ; that the fear of an invisible Judge might be a bond upon the conscience, and keep men from fraud and dishonesty, or from riot and sensuality. They were cold and formal therefore in their own attendance, and never heard any speak of joy or sensible communion with God in his fanctuary, but they were ready to express their detestation of it as hypocrisy, or their contempt of it as enthusiasm and folly.
But now the language of adoration is in some measure understood, which had been wholly insipid and without
meaning before. They join with the pfalmift in faying, “ Honor and majesiy are before him, firength and beauty " are in his fanctuary. Give unto the Lord, O ye kind. “ reds of the people, give unto the Lord glory and sirength. " Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; bring " an offering, come into his courts. O worthip the Lord $ in the beauty of holiness; fear before him all the earth.”* See also thefe elevated strains of praise, which, whethier they are meant as the exercise of the church militant on earth, or the church triumphant in heaven, are equally
" And the four beaits had each of them fix “ wings about him, and they were full of eyes within ; “ and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, ho"ly, Lord God almighty, which was, and is, and is to “ come. And when those beasts give glory, and honor, ct and thanks to him that fat on throne, who liveth for ever “ and ever; the four and twenty elders fall down before “ him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth “ for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, “ saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, " and honor, and power; for thou hast created all things, “ and for thy pleasure they are, and were created ”+ And to the same purpose, “And I beheld, and I heard the “ voice of many angels round about the throne, and the “ beasts, and the elders: and the number of them was ten “ thousand times ten thoufand, and thoufands of thou“ fands; saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb " that was slain, to receive power, and richies, and wisdom, “ and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing. And
every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth,
and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all " that are in them, heard I, saying, Blefling, and honor, “ and glory, and power be unto him that fitteth upon the “ throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”I Nay, a true penitent begins to fee the beauty even of the divine sovereignty, that all things belong to Gol, and therefore it is most fit that all things thrould be subject to him, ac
* Pfal. xcvi. 6, 7, 8, 9.
+ Rev. iv. 8, 9, 10, 11.
Rev. v. 11, 12, 13.