« ForrigeFortsæt »
they were charged with the same commission; for he said on that occasion, "Wo unto thee, Chorazin, wo unto thee, Bethsaida; for, if the
mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon "which have been done in thee, they had a great "while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and "ashes."1
Docs our Lord say in one place, "The Son of 66 man came to seek and to save that which was "lost?" He elsewhere explains it, "I came not
to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Does the good Shepherd rejoice and call his friends to rejoice with him, when he has brought home the lost sheep? "So likewise is there joy in 66 heaven," even among the angels of God," over one sinner that repenteth:" and, when the prodigal, returning to his father, was graciously welcomed, all the family was called on to rejoice; "for this, my son, was lost and is found, was dead " and is alive."
On the other hand Christ " upbraided the cities "in which his mighty works had been done, be"cause they repented not." He told the people, that "the men of Nineveh would rise up in judg"ment with that generation and condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas: "and behold a greater than Jonas was there." He warned the Jews that, except they repented, "they would all likewise perish." And he summed up the reasons of his gentleness to notorious sinners, and his severity in rebuking the Pharisees, in this remarkable passage: "A certain man had
Luke x. 10-14.
"two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son, go work to-day in my vineyard. He answered "I will not: but afterward he repented and went. "And he came to the second and said likewise: " and he answered and said, I go, Sir; and went "not. Whether of them twain did the will of his "father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus "saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, the pub"licans and harlots go into the kingdom of heaven "before you. For John came to you in the way "of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but "the publicans and harlots believed him: and yc, "when ye had seen it, repented not afterwards, "that ye might believe him!"1
When our Lord was risen from the dead, and about to ascend unto the Father, he said to his apostles, "Go ye, preach the gospel to every crea"ture: he that believeth and is baptized shall "be saved; and he that believeth not shall be "damned." And again, "Thus it is written, and "thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from "the dead the third day; and that repentance and "remission of sins should be preached in his name " unto all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."2 We may know how the apostles understood their Lord, after they were filled with the Holy Ghost, if we attend to Peter, on the day of Pentecost, thus addressing the convinced Jews, " Repent and "be baptized, every one of you, in the name of "Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins:" and afterwards "Repent and be converted, that your "sins may be blotted out;" not because your sins
'Matt. xxi. 28-32.
'Mark xvi. 15, 16. Luke xxiv. 46, 47.
"I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, "saith the Lord God; therefore repent, and turn ye."-Let us then consider,
II. Certain things which are implied in the language of the text, "That men should repent, "and turn to God, and do works meet for re66. pentance."
It is evidently implied in these words, that all men have sinned. God would never require any one to repent, who had never offended: yet "he "commands all men every where to repent." Sin is the transgression of the divine law, either by omission or commission, by defect or redundance, in thought, or word, or deed. Few indeed of the human race are acquainted with the full extent and spirituality of this perfect rule: yet all know more than they practise. Every man's conscience therefore must testify, if he allow himself time for reflection, that he has often wilfully neglected his known duty, and acted contrary to the conviction of his own mind, for the sake of some worldly object.
But "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven, "against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of "men ;" and not merely against a few scandalous and enormous crimes. Many painful effects of the divine displeasure are experienced during the present life, which universally terminate in death: then the sinner's "body returns to the dust whence "it was taken, and the soul returns to God that Criminals suffer many things pregave it." viously to their trial; but the principal punish
ment is subsequent to condemnation: thus "it is appointed to men once to die, and after death "the judgment:" and we are "warned to flee from "the wrath to come," from which Jesus delivers his people, who must suffer and die like other men. The connexion therefore between sin and future condemnation to everlasting punishment, which cannot be escaped without repentance, is clearly implied in the language of the text.
Nor should we. forget, that this condemnation is merited; for, unless sin deserves the punishment denounced, there can be no free mercy in remitting it. When the apostles were sentenced to stripes or death, for preaching the gospel, they might lament the injustice of the magistrates, but they could not repent of their own conduct in "obey
ing God rather than men." Such persons as deem the laws of any country iniquitous, and their governors oppressive, will complain when they suffer for disobedience; but they cannot repent, unless they be convinced that they have been criminal. It would carry us too far, to illustrate the justice of God in the sentence pronounced against transgressors, by stating the rebellion, ingratitude, and enmity, which more or less connect with all our violations of the divine law: but surely, if crimes against our fellow creatures may deserve death, sins against our infinitely glorious Creator merit a punishment proportionably more, dreadful. It is not commonly supposed that malefactors are sufficiently impartial, even if in other respects competent, to decide on the equity of the laws, or to amend the criminal code. It becomes us, therefore, rather to submit to the justice of God, and to
supplicate his mercy, than to reply against him, as if we "would condemn him that we may be "justified."
Our text implies likewise, that all have turned away from God. The characters of men are greatly diversified, but all "have forsaken the "Fountain of living waters, to hew out for them"selves broken cisterns that can hold no water." Apostacy from God, or a refusal to render him the worship, love, gratitude, and obedience which he demands; alienation of heart from him, and a disposition to seek happiness any where, rather than in his favour and service, are universal. "All "we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned
every one to his own way." All men are become idolaters; they desire and delight supremely in the creature, in one form or other: while a selfsufficient independent spirit, a proneness to selfadmiration, and to seek our own will or glory, as the ultimate end of all our actions, constitutes another kind of universal idolatry. Hence the necessity of repenting and turning to God, as the supreme object of our love, and the source of our felicity.
But we must also observe, that the text contains an intimation of mercy, and of the way in which the returning sinner may approach God with full confidence of a gracious reception. When a company of malefactors have been convicted, on the clearest evidence, of the most atrocious crimes; a command from their prince to own their guilt, and apply for mercy in a prescribed way, would be considered as an encouragement to expect a pardon. A hope would spring up in every breast; and,