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“ and ye believed him not; but the publicans and har“ lots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, re“pented not afterwards, that ye might believe.” Hence we learn that the general belief of John's testimony brought the publicans and harlots to repentance, and this repentance prepared them for admission into the Messiah's kingdom by faith in him : and if the Pharisees had repented of their sin, in rejecting the ministry of John, their repentance would have been connected with the same faith in him to whom John bare testimony.-Indeed the office of John Baptist, in preparing the way of the Lord, as the herald of the Saviour to proclaim his appearance and introduce his gospel, is peculiarly important in this argument.—He first called sinners to repentance, shewed the Jews in general the fallaciousness of trusting in their national privileges, and the Pharisees in particular the emptiness of their forms and external services : he used the proper means of convincing all sorts of persons of their guilt and danger; and then pointed out to them “ the Lamb of God “ that taketh away the sin of the world;" “ the Son of “ God," who “ baptizeth with the Holy Ghost :" concluding with this solemn declaration and warning, “the “ Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into “ his hands. He that believeth on the Son hath ever
lasting life ; and he that believeth not on the Son, shall “not see life, but the wrath of God abideth upon him!.” And his whole ministry undeniably proves, both that genuine repentance is always connected with saving faith ; and that it is an important part of that “ holi
ness without which no man shall see the Lord.” This
appears also in a very convincing manner in the singular example of the penitent thief, who upon the cross humbly acknowledged, that he deserved his ignominious and torturing death; while he believed in the Saviour, suspended beside him, for the salvation of his soul from future condemnation. Was there no essential difference in the frame of his spirit, from that of the other thief, who, in the agonies of death, joined the
1 John iii. 35, 36.
multitude in reviling the holy Jesus? Did this difference arise from any other cause than regeneration? And was not he a partaker of true holiness?
Confession of sin, an essential part of true repentance, is every where represented as inseparable from saving faith, and preparatory to forgiveness. “ He that cover“eth his sins shall not prosper;, but he that confesseth " and forsaketh them, shall obtain mercy.” “ If we
say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the “ truth is not in us.--If we confess our sins, he is faith“ ful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us “ from all unrighteousness 2.” “ I acknowledged my sin “ unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid.-I said, “ I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and “ thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin 3.”
66 Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from
my sin; for I acknowledge my transgression, and my ď sin is ever before me 4." The publican, the prodigal son, the thief upon the cross, and other instances already adduced, exemplify this ingenuous unreserved confession of their sinfulness: nor is there a single case in Scripture, real or parabolical, of a sinner acceptably applying to God for pardoning mercy, in which this disposition to glorify him, by a full and free confession, is not implied or expressed. “ He looketh upon men; and if any say, “ I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and w it profited me not: he shall deliver his soul from going, “ down into the pit, and his life shall see the light 5."
No doubt this (as well-as all other holy dispositions) may be counterfeited; and the appearance of humility assumed where the heart remains unhumbled. Thus Pharaoh, Judas, and several others, confessed their sins in a partial, extorted, and reluctant manner. doubt, if genuine, it implies a right spirit; the proper frame of mind, in which a sinner ought to appear before his offended Lord, being exactly the reverse to a proud self-justifying disposition. He, who ingenuously confesses his sins, gives unto God the honour both of his justice and of his mercy; he expresses approbation both 1 Prov. xxviii..13. 21 John i. 8, 9.
3 Ps. xxxii. 5. 4 Ps. li. 1-5. 5 Job xxxiii, 27, 28.
of the holy law and of the blessed gospel; he willingly submits to God's righteousness, and is prepared to welcome a free salvation; he adores the grace, which “ hath abounded towards us, in all wisdom and pru“dence," and glorifies the Lord, as “just, and the jus“ tifier of him that believeth in Jesus.”
“ His name” (says the angel) “ shall be called Jesus ; “ because he shall save his people from their sins." « God, having raised up his Son Jesus," says the apostle) « hath sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.' gave
himself for us, “ to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify us unto “himself, a peculiar people zealous of good works.” Now let a reflecting person seriously ask himself, whether any one can truly believe in Christ, without in the least understanding this part of his salvation, or desiring the principal blessing which he confers on his people? Can he desire salvation from sin, without the least hatred of sin or love of holiness? Or can there be any hatred of sin and love of holiness in a heart that is entirely unholy? -The views of a nearly-awakened sinner may be extremely confused, and the fear of wrath with desires of deliverance from it, may greatly preponderate in his experience: nor should this be condemned as mere selfishness, while salvation from deserved punishment is sought from God's mercy in his appointed way; for even this is directly contrary to our natural pride and enmity to God; and the desire of happiness is as strong in an holy as in an unholy creature. Indeed the sinner himself in his first application for mercy, may not, during the anxious trepidation of his heart, perceive any thing more than a desire of forgiveness and happiness in the favour of God, yet in reality, every acting of true faith in Christ is connected with some degree of a desire to be delivered from sin, and to be made holy; which will appear to the intelligent observer, in that tenderness of .conscience, and dread of relapsing into former evil ways, which are manifested by convinced sinners, in their deepest distress, and which often help the judicious pastor to discriminate between those convictions which
66 of me.”
arise from spiritual illumination, and the terrors which spring froin merely natural principles.
Indeed they, who are well versed in doctrinal discussions, may feel a kind of wish after sanctification, without any hatred of six or love of holiness, from a conviction that they cannot be saved unless they be sanctified : and thus the common saying, 'the desire of grace is grace, should be used with caution, or it may aid the enemy tờ deceive men's souls. --But persons of this description will not sincerely apply to Christ for any part of his salvation, or diligently use the proper means of seeking it. “ The soul of the sluggard desireth and hath not: but “the soul of the diligent shall be made fat"."
When our Lord invites “ the weary and heavy laden " to come unto him, that they might find rest to their " souls;" he adds, “ Take my yoke upon you, and learni
He declares that he will treat all those as enemies, “who will not have him to reign over them :" and every scriptural call to sinners implies the same in: struction. Seek
the Lord, while he may be found; “ call ye upon him while he is near: let the wicked for“ sake 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 2." Certainly the evangelical propliet had no idea of forgiveness, and the comfort of it, preceding every degree of true repentance, and all the works meet for repentance, according to the doctrine maintained by some moderni teachers of free salvation. With these Scriptures before us, can we maintain, that any one tru: ly returns to the Lord, by Christ the living Way, and by faith in him, who does not so much as desire salvation from his sins, and renewal unto holiness ? And is not a sincere and hearty desire of these blessings itself a genus ine part of holiness?
It has been shewn, that humility, repentance, hatred of sin, with sincere desires to be saved from it, and a willing submission to Christ as our King, are inseparably
connected with every exercise of genuine faith in him : and doubtless all these are branches of true holiness. The same also may be observed concerning the genuine spirit of prayer, which has properly been considered as the very breath of faith, and one of the first symptoms of spiritual life. A person, at a distance from the means of clear instruction, or perplexed in attempting to distinguish truth from falschood, may sincerely pray for divine teaching,, and other spiritual blessings, from a general knowledge and feeling of his wants, and a belief of some revealed truths, even previously to explicit faith in Christ: and thus he may be further enlightened as to the nature and glory of the gospel, and have the way of God expounded to him more perfectly!. But it cannot be conceived, that any one has believed in Christ, and been even justified by faith in him; while he has never yet
in his heart presented a single sincere petition for spiritual blessings !--Indeed the application of the soul to Christ for salvation seems to be essentially prayer, mental prayer, or as inseparable from it, as the motion of the lungs from the act of breathing, or that of the heart from pulsation. True christians are frequently in the new Testament distinguished as “ those who call on the Lord 6.6 Jesus Christ;” and it is said, 6. The same Lord over 6 all is rich unto all that call upon him: for whosoever " shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. • How then shall they call on him, in whom they have “ not believed 2 ?" It is allowed that no one can call on the Lord Jesus, before he has some degree of faith in him : but at the same time, these testimonies of the Scriptures prove, that the spirit of prayer inseparably accompanies every exercise of faith from first to last. Else what is the nature of faith? Is it merely assent and inactive reliance ? Or is it the soul going forth with fervent desires after the mercy and grace, of which the urgent want is felt, to him whom it believes able and willing to deliver, to help, and to save ? If this latter be the acting of faith in Christ, what is the medium of the soul's application to him, except the lifting up of the
1 Acts xviii. 24–28.
2 Rom, x, 10-14