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the subjects of such a faith—" they believe, they tremble” too, but " Satan cannot love." Saving faith implies trust in the merits and love to the character of Christ, as well as belief of his records. It cries, “Lord save me or I perish”—it “rejoices in Christ Jesus and has no confidence in the flesh.” It throws around the sinner the robe of his righteousness, having first torn away and displaced the “ filthy rags” of his own. It carries the sinner into the city of refuge,” safe from the avenger of blood.” It admits the long account of charges in God's book to be correct-audits the whole and certifies its accuracy-it sees in the debit side a long and frightful list of transgressions, and calculates the amount at ten thousand talents”-it surveys the credit side, and finds there the gloomy entry," he hath nothing to pay"--and just as the creditor is going to give orders, “cast him into prison until he has paid the very last farthing," it introduces a mysterious hand, not unlike that which terrified Belshazzar, but for a very different, for a very opposite purpose—the hand of redeeming love, writing at the foot of the account a receipt in full, in the following terms, “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin.” Thus it furnishes the penitent with a complete discharge. Thus " where sin abounded, grace much more abounds.” Thus “grace reigns through righteousness;" thus, “ being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This penitent believing sinner is, weighed in the balances and is not found wanting,” <for he is found in Christ,” like Noah in the ark, whom the deluge cannot touch-like Naaman in the pool, where he loses for ever his leprosy, once regarded as incurable. It is grace then that reigns, from first to last, in the salvation of a sinner; for he is "justified by faith,” and faith disclaims merit, while it produces, and where genuine, ever must produce all those "fruits of righteousness that are by Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God." Bring such a man before his God, and this language of Paul is appropriate to his case—"justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Bring him in presence of his fellow creatures, and James describes his character; “a man is justified by works and not by faith only.” But flaming professors of the doctrine of grace, whose life is notwithstanding beclouded and darkened by unholy tempers, and stained by illicit practices, have not the root of this matter in them.
And now, dear hearers, with the law and the testimony in your hands, the law of Moses, which is a ministration of death, and the testimony of Jesus by whom came grace and truth, ascertain where your spiritual posture is; and if Tekel is the inscription on your character, let it be effaced at once-let it be commuted for the inscription" accepted in the Beloved." But if « the foundation,” as it respects yourselves, already standeth sure, having this seal,-The Lord knoweth them that are his”--then, “naming the name of Christ,” ever after and ever more, " depart from all iniquity."
By Rev. RUFUS W. BAILEY,
THE NATURE, NECESSITY, AND EVIDENCES OF
REPENTANCE. Acts ii. 38. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name
of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
This is the answer given by Peter on the day of Pentecost, to the great question asked by a multitude of sinners under conviction.
Repentance is an operation or change in the heart, of which baptism is the outward sign. Both are required in the name of Christ, or with faith in Him. Through this faith, His justifying righteousness is made available to the remission of sin. That which procures remission of sin, secures also the gift of the Spirit, to complete the work of grace in the heart. Therefore, said the apostle, “ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” That is—these supernatural effects, which you see, are the operations of the Holy Ghost in the work of regeneration. If you would participate in them, you must repent; and, as a public testimony of your reliance on Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, you must be baptized in his name.
Repentance, as a personal duty required of sinners, is very different from repentance as it is sometimes predicated of God. When God is said to repent, there is implied no alteration in His eternal counsels or decrees, knowledge or dispositions, but simply a change in the events of His providence as they affect, and are viewed by us. When applied to the sinner, however, repentance manifestly implies something more: as it is inseparable from true conversion, it implies all that takes place in the heart of the sinner in the work of regeneration. Hence its great importance as indicated in the answer of Peter to his anxious inquirers. Let us examine it in special regard to its nature, necessity, and evidences.
I. In its nature, repentance is an affection or operation of the soul, involving the action of all its powers in view of sin. It begins in an attentive consideration and intelligent apprehension of the nature and effects of sin, is attended with a godly sorrow for it, a hatred and abandonment of it, and a love of holiness. It results, therefore, in a change of character and a change of life. In a more minute analysis, we nay remark.
1. In Gospel repentance, is involved a deep sense of the heinous nature of sin. There is a great difference between admitting the doctrines of the Gospel as a system of divine truth taught on divine authority, and cordially embracing those doctrines as the chosen rules of life. The sormer belongs exclusively to the understanding, and is the ordinary result of the right application of reason to the study of the Bible. The latter is taught only by the Spirit of God, and is a necessary result of genuine repentance. The impenitent man looks upon sin, if he considers it at all, simply as the violation of law, without any reference to the peculiar nature of that law, or of the Lawgiver. But when brought to view sin as it really is, rebellion against God, he is then convicted of its heinous nature.
2. Gospel repentance involves, in the sinner, a conviction of sin as pertaining, in its guilt and consequences, to himself. The scriptures say of the natural man, "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart is only evil, and that continually”--that "the heart of man is fully set in him to do evil,”-that "the carnal mind is enmity against God, not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be,”—that "there is none that doeth good, no not one.” This truth meu do not commonly realize. They reluctantly surrender their claim to favor on the ground of personal merit. They commonly think they are better than the word of God admits. To the impenitent, their sins do not appear very odious. They do not feel the guilt of sin, and therefore cannot feel its misery and hateful nature. But when, in the light of divine truth, they see their true character and condition, they are ready to lay their hands upon their mouths, and their mouths in the dust, and to cry, " unclean, God be merciful to us sinners.” “ Men and brethren, what shall we do ?” When the scriptures, which have just been quoted to prove the doctrine of human depravity, are adduced, the carnal heart opposes them, prompted by what it feels; but the penitent acknowledges their truth, prompted by what it feels. This depraved character is ascribed in the scriptures to mankind without exception. We therefore infer, that this experience enters into the experience of every converted sinner without exception.
3. Gospel repentance involves a deep self abhorrence. There is a distinctive difference between the impenitent and the broken-hearted sinner. The former, in his own estimation, is whole, and needs not a physician ; the latter is empty, hungry, poor, and in need of all things. The former is proud and self complacent; the latter is humble and self-abased.
There is a great difference between abhorring sin, considered in its consequences, and abhorring sin, considered in itself. The latter only can lead to self-hatred. All men fear and hate misery, and would be happy if they could. Exhibit sin as the unfailing source of misery, and, as such, the sinner will hate it, while at the same time, there is nothing he sees in sin itself, which excites his abhorrence. This is mere selfishness. He seeks his own separate interest, supremely and entirely. God hates sin on account of its very nature. So
true penitent hates it. Therefore, he abhors himself, while he repents in dust and ashes.
Imperfect apprehension of the nature of sin lays the foundation for all the false conclusions of the sinner. He loves it and does not fear it. He has rolled it as a sweet morsel under his tongue. He will, perhaps, even boast of his contrivances to cheat, his evasions of the law, his seductions of innocence, his bravings of danger in dishonest enterprise, or his victories over conscience and conviction. But when, with an enlightened view of all his relations to the divine government, he finds himself condemned for entertaining an evil design, a single sin of the heart, he abhors himself as a sinner the moment he cordially approves the law which condemns him.
4. True repentance involves also right views of the character of God. God is exhibited, and His character illustrated in the law. He is against the sinner in all His attributes. He is every where to assert the claims of the law, and omniscient to recognise every violation of its precepts. He is a Being of infinite and immaculate purity, of strict and inflexible justice, of unyielding and rigid requisitions. “Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His throne; a fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about.” The awakened and convicted sinner is fully sensible to the presence of this avenging God, " laying judgment to the line, and righteousness to the plummet." He says, “ Whither shall I go from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there. If I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost parts of the earth, even there shall thy hand hold me." To the wicked, God appears afar off, or altogether such an one as themselves. But to the awakened sinner, He is near, holy, severe against sin, almighty.
This furnishes ground for conviction. When the sinner looks into
himself, he sees nothing but an object of disease and loathing. When he looks at the character of God, he sees a justice that must condemn him, and a purity with which he can have no fellowship. He cannot be happy where he is. He cannot be happy in heaven. He cannot be happy in hell. He is an enemy to God. God is not reconciled to him, and there is no place in the universe to which he can flee from him. That God is benevolent brings him no relief, since He is a God of justice too, and always the executor of His holy law.
5. But gospel repentance involves also an apprehension of the true character of Christ. Out of Christ, God is a consuming fire. He is clothed in terror. In Christ, God appears, not reconciled to sin, but justifying the sinner through the merits of Jesus. Christ stands by the law, and wherever its thunders awaken the sinner's slumbers and hold his attention, the gospel speaks to save him from despair. Jesus says, “Fear not, it is I, behold my hands and my feet.” The law is fulfilled. Thy debt is paid. “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The effects of sin are eminently seen in the sufferings of Christ,“ who gave himself an offering for sin ;" “who was made a curse for us, that He might redeem us from the curse of the law." Now, when the sinner, under conviction of his guilt, cries out," what shall I do?" the answer is, “ Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins."
6. Genuine repentance involves in the heart of the sinner a true knowledge of himself in his relations to God, attended with a corresponding action. It must be so. Repentance is an act of the soul. True sorrow for sin will be attended with a forsaking of it, and a direction of all the energies of the soul, suited to those views, which have entered into the exercise of repentance. He has had very erroneous views of himself. He has formerly considered himself only as an inhabitant of this world ; now he contemplates his existence as extending through eternity. Once, he was whole; now he feels that he is sick even unto death. Once, he was holy in his own eyes, now unholy. He sees all his important relations in the light of eternity. This will necessarily involve new views of the world, new views of heaven, of hell, of the judgment, new views of every thing. God is a new Being to him; Christ is a new Being; the Holy Ghost is a new Being ; this is a new world ; eternity has a new aspect. The true penitent is a new man. Old things have passed away; all things have become new. He acts now with new motives, new desires, new affections, new hopes. Sin is hated and forsaken. Holiness is the object of his love and desire. The world is a broken idol, and its fading forms have lost their power to please, or to influence his affections.
Thus comprehensive is the work of true repentanee. It cannot be