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markable, that there is nothing expressly about repentance, 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 together.-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,
I. 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 evangelically 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:" 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;
by the grace of which alone is any sinner enabled truly to repent. In every view, and in all respects, repentance belongs entirely to the gospel, and forms an essential part of its glorious and gracious plan.
For what is that plan, my brethren? Is it not the design of GOD to bring sinners into a state of recon. ciliation and friendship with himself, by a method calculated to display the glory of his own name, and the dreadful nature and effects of sin: and thus to teach them to love him, and glorify him, and find their felicity in his favour? And, if this be the plan of the gospel, can its ends be answered, unless the sinner is brought to repentance?
Look through the whole New Testament. Consi. der how the gospel was first introduced, and afterwards propagated. John, the forerunner of Christ, came preaching, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of "heaven is at hand." "Bring forth therefore fruits "meet for repentance, and think not to say within "yourselves, we have Abraham to our Father. For "now is the axe laid to the root of the trees; every "tree therefore that bringeth not forth good fruit, is "hewn down, and cast into the fire."
Our LORD himself has told us expressly what he came for; "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance:" and his decision surely ought to be final. He has declared that "there is joy in the presence of the angels of GOD over one sinner that "repenteth." He multiplied parables to illustrate the nature of repentance, to encourage the penitent, and to warn and rebuke the impenitent. And he sent his apostles to " preach repentance and remission of sins
"in his name to all nations." Accordingly, they preached repentance wherever they went:-Hear St. Peter, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may "be blotted out."-Hear St. Paul, at Athens, "The "times of this ignorance GoD winked at; but now "commandeth he all men every where to repent: "And before Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the "heavenly vision; but shewed first unto them at "Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout the "coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they "should repent, and turn to GoD, and do works meet "for repentance :" And before the Ephesian elders, 66 Testifying both to Jews and Greeks, repentance "towards GOD, and faith towards our LORD JESUS "CHRIST."
Did the apostle speak of a sin that is never pardoned? he added, "It is impossible to renew to repen. "tance," those who have committed it. He exhorts Timothy "In meekness to instruct those that oppose "themselves, if peradventure GOD would give them "repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and "that they may recover themselves out of the snare "of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his "will."
Without repentance, therefore, it is as plain and clear, as the testimony of CHRIST and his apostles can make it, that there is no salvation. Except ye "repent, ye shall all likewise perish."-Without repentance, faith is dead, hope is mere presumption, and religious affections are delusive, transient, and inefficacious.
But let it be also remarked, that wherever true re pentance is found, there is life eternal-" Then hath "GOD also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto "life." He has so arranged the plan of the gospel, that repentance is inseparably connected with forgive. ness, righteousness, and complete salvation. "Godly
sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, not to "be repented of."-" When the wicked man turn"eth away from his wickedness, and doeth that which "is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.”— "Repent and turn from all your transgressions; and "so iniquity shall not be your ruin."-" Let the "wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man "his thoughts, and let him return unto the LORD, " and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, "and he will abundantly pardon." These passages, and many others, are so expressed, and marked with such precision, that if there be any meaning in words, true repentance is inseparable from eternal salvation.
Some, however, object that this does not consist with the doctrine of salvation by grace, and justification by faith alone. But I would ask, Whether the apostles did not use this language, as well as preach that doctrine? And as none can disprove, and few will deny, that they did both, I enquire whether they were inconsistent with themselves, and with each other?
That salvation is by grace, and justification by faith alone, is certainly the doctrine both of the Scriptures and of our church: but if faith be alone, it is dead. If alms are offered to a beggar, his hand alone re