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more the holiness and goodness of the Lord are seen, the blacker and viler sin will appear ? “ The carnal man," as a good writer observes, “ is apt to think God ought to repent of making such hard laws, rather than that he himself should repent of breaking them.” Instead of changing his course, and turning out of the broad into the narrow way, he acts as if God would change his councils, and give blessings where he has threatened curses. Now every true penitent has quite different views. He honours God, and abases himself in the dust. Far froin fretting and murmuring against the Lord, he stands amazed at his long suffering.
2. A sincere penitent has right views, and new thoughts of Christ.
Once Jesus appeared to him as a root out of dry ground, having no form or comeliness, to make him desired. But now his divine excel. lency and glory are discerned and acknowledged, He bows himself at the feet of Jesus, and looks to him as the great Shepherd, Surety, Saviour, and Redeemer of his people. He beholds the brightness of the Father's glory, the express image of his person, and the fulness of the God. head in Christ. He sees all the promises and provisions of the gospel, as well as the keys of death and of hell in the mighty and faithful hands
of Christ. What words can truly set forth the astonishing condescension and kindness of the Saviouri If, said Austin, “ the whole sea were and every blade of
grass a pen, we could not fully describe the love of Christ.” It is impossible to have clear views, or spiritual discoveries of the adorable Redeemer, and not be in a consid. erable degree affected by them. Mr. Flavel calls repentance the tear that drops from the eye of faith, while looking to Jesus. Who can behold the Son of God coming in the flesh, laying down his life as a sacrifire, and conquering death and the powers of darkness for us, without feeling a glow of love to him? To them that believe, he is precious.
3. The sincere penitent has new thoughts of his own soul.
Once the body engaged all his care. That it might be adorned and admired, pleased and pampered, he spared no pains or costs. What shall I eat, what shall I drink, and wherewith shall I be clothed, if not the cry of his lips, was the language of his heart. But now being enlightened from above, he beholds the unspeakable worth of the immortal soul, and his chief concern is its salvation. O, says he, I have played the fool, and erred exceedingly in providing for the flesh, and neglecting the better part—the never
dying spirit! How shall I be delivered from the wrath to come ? What shall I do to be saved ? If my house were burnt down, I might get another; if my friends were cut off, I might procure new ones; if my health were destroyed, it might be restored : but if my soul be lost, it can never be recovered, and shall be utterly undone. Such are the views of a true penitent!
And let me ask, are your thoughts of God, of Christ, and of your own soul, very different from what they once were ? Without such a change of mind, there cannot be genuine repentance. If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away: behold all things are become new. 2 Cor. v. 17. I do not say that repentance is always produced by the same means, or in the same manner. In one instance, the mind is changed, as a river gradually drawn into a fresh channel ; and in another, as a river turned into a new course, by the shock of an earthquake. Such was the difference between the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, and that of Lydia.
2. Repentance is contrition of heart.
The prophets of old called the Jews a stiffnecked, stout-hearted, and rebellious people. How many in the present day answer to this description! Though we warn them, admonish them, intreat them, and thunder aloud in their
ears the threatenings of the law; though we shew them the nearness of death, the certainty 'and solemnity of the last judgment, the transporting happiness of heaven, and the endless, unutterable misery of hell--they re:aain unaffected and un. concerned! They sleep like Jonah! while the tempest, which their own sins have raised, threatens them with instant destruction. How awful is it to see this daring presumption---this unfeeling stupidity, continued to the last hour of life! - There are some persons," says Mr. Simp800, "so hardened in sin, and so totally given up of God, that neither sickness nor death can make any impression on them.” He mentions one of this unhappy description in Essex, not far from the place where I now write; whom he both vis. ited during his illness, and interred after he was dead. He was of a good family, and possessed good abilities; but wasted all his property and ruined his constitucion, in a course of riot and excess. Among hiš bottle companions, he made a jest of hell, and turned every thing sacred into ridicule. In this way he lived, and died a martyr to spirituous liquors'; cursing and blaspheming to the last, notwithstanding all that could be done to bring him to a better mind.*
the blinding and hardening nature of sin! * Simpson's Plea for Religion, p. 256.
What poison is so subtle, so dangerous, so deadly? How does it brutalize and ruin the soul! How does it warp the judgment, pervert the will, and stupify the heart!
If you work all uncleanness with greediness, you will in a short time be past feeling. Reproofs will have no edge to wound; warnings, no weight to move you. And is there any thing on earth more to be dreaded than such a state ? There is truth in the saying of a good author, 66 It is better to have a burdened conscience than a benumbed conscience : you had better be overfearful, than have no fear of God before your eyes.” The words of the apostle to the Hebrews are never out of season : Exhort one another daily, while it is called to-day ; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Heb. ii. 13.
Now, true repentance is a state of mind, directly opposite to that which 1 have just described. It is in the scriptures called a broken heart, or ai contrite spirit. Psalm li. 17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ; a broken and a contrile heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Men, as one observes, despise broken things; but God does not despise a broken heart; so far from it, that he accounts the sorrow of a penitent sinner more valuable than the most costly sacrifice.