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powers, Jer. xxi. 23. “ Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots ? then may ye also do good that are accustomed to do evil.” The stony heart is beyond man's power to remove.
2. It is God's free gift, and wrought by the power of his Spirit in the heart, Ezek. xxxvi. 26, 27. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within
you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” Jer. xxxi. 18, 19. " I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. Surely after that I was turned, I repented : and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh; I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.” Sometimes notorious sinners become penitents, as Manasseh, Paul, &c. Where he is the matter, the knottiest timber is as easy for the Spirit to work as any other, Zech. xii. 10. forecited.
The means the Spirit makes use of is the word; hence we read of preaching repentance. And, (1.) The law serves to break the hard heart, Jer. xxiii. 29. “ Is not my word like a fire ? faith the Lord, and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces ?” It is like the Baptist preparing the way for the Messiah's coming. Hence it is called “ the Spirit of bondage,” Rom. viii. 15. (2.) The gospel serves to melt the hard heart, like a fire, Jer. xxiii. 29. forecited; and fo to bow and bend it from sin unto God. The soul is driven by the law, but drawn by the gospel. The Lord comes in the still small voice.
IV. I proceed to shew, the springs of this repentance. There are two opened in the heart by the Holy Spirit.
1. A true sense of fin. And in this there are two things. (1.) A sight of it, Pfal. li. 3. “My sin is ever before me.” The man's eyes are opened, and he sees his sinfulness of nature, heart, lip, and life; the evil of his fin, in the misery and danger of it to himself, and the dishonour it does to God.
(1.) A painful feeling of it, Acts ii. 37. The fin which fat light on them before; becomes a burden which they are not able to bear; for now they are roused out of their lethargy, and feel their fores : it is a burden on their spirits, backs, and heads. They are filled with terror, anguish, and remorse, at the fight, as was the Philippian jailor, Acts xvi. 30. This is necessary for repentance, because otherwise the finner will never part with his sin, nor prize Christ and his grace, Rev. ii. 17. He will reign as king without Christ, till he feel his lost estate, as did the prodigal, Luke xv.
2. An apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, Joel ü. 12, 13. Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. And rent your heart and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your
God: for he is gracious and merciful, flow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.” The eye of faith is opened to see and believe, that there is forgiveness and mercy with him to a poor finner, that though the finner has destroyed himself, yet in God is his help; there is hope in Israel concerning this thing. This can only be apprehended aright through Jesus Christ, Zech. xii. 10. forecited. Not mercy for mercy's fake, but Christ's fake: “ God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, &c. This is necessary. For without it, one will either, (1.) Go on in secret despair, casting off the thoughts of his case, and making the best of it he can, Jer. ii. 25. “ Thou saidst There is no hope. No: for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.” Or, (2.) Lie down in tormenting despair, like Judas. Both which will fix fin in the heart, and bar out rerepentance. And since God is a consuming fire to the workers of iniquity, and without fatisfaction there can be no remission, there is no apprehending of mercy but through Christ.
V. I proceed to shew, the parts of repentance. These are two, humiliation and conversion, Joel ï. 12, 13. above quoted.
1. Humiliation. The finner goes from God by the highway of pride and self-conceit; but always comes back the low way of humiliation. Grace pulls him down from the feat of the scorner, and lays him at the Lord's feet, 1 Pet. v. 6. "“ Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” It makes him like Benhadad's servants, who came to the king of Ifrael girded with fackcloth, and ropes on their heads, in the most humiliating pofture. In it there is,
(1.) Sorrow for sin, a kindly sorrow for the offence and dishonour done to a holy gracious God, Zech. xii. 10. formerly cited, defacing his image, transgressing his law, grieveing his Spirit, and furnishing spear and nails to pierce a Saviour.
(2.) Shame, a holy shame for fin, Rom. vi. 21. 6 What fruit had ye in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ?” They see now their spiritual nakedness, pollution, disappointed expectations from sin, and reproach discovered, which fill the foul with blushing,
(3.) Self-loathing, Ezek. xxxvi. 31. “ Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loath yourselves in your own fight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations.” They see a fulness of fin in them, and the complicated aggravations of their sin, which make them to smite on their breast, as the publican did, Luke xviii. 13. as deserving to be pierced through the heart it bred in; to smite on the thigh, as Ephraim did, Jer. xxxi. 19. as if he desired to break the legs that carried him out of
(4.) Penitent confession, Jer. iii. 13. accusing and condemning themselves.
2. Conversion, or returning. Of which there are two parts.
1/t, Turning away from fin, 2 Tim. ii. 19. To repent of fin, and continue in the habitual practice of it, is a contradiction. They turn from it,
(1.) In heart, by a hearty and sincere hatred of it. Pfal. cxix. 104. “ I hate every false way.” They hate it as an evil, the worst of evils, worse than sufferings. They hate it fincerely as fin, universally and irreconcileably. They look on it as God does, as that abominable thing which he hates,
(3.) In their life and conversation; they get clean hands.
[1.] They turn from the gross pollutions of the outward man, in the habitual practice of these, Psal. xxiv. 3, 4. " Who shall afcend into the hill of the Lord ? and who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lift up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” A profane life is the mark of an impenitent state, Gal. v. 21, * “ They which do such things thall
not inherit the kingdom of God.” The true godly may make gross flips; but if they be habitually gross in their lives, there is no difference betwixt Christ's sheep and the devil's goats. [2.] They are tender with respect to sins of common infirmity, making conscience of words and actions, as Paul did, Acts xxiv. 16. “ Herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God and toward men.' What others count light, they will count great ; even these are burdens to them, which they groan under, and as iron fetters they would fain be freed of, Rom. vii. 24. " O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?”
2dly, Turning to God. By faith man returns to God as a portion, by repentance as a Lord and Master, like a run
And he returns, (1.) To God himself. Sinners departing from God, dislike not only their service, but their Master, Luke xix. 14. But returning they are disposed to love him, and like him as a Mafter.
(2.) To his duty to God, Acts ix. 6. to the practice of every known duty, and spirituality in duty. This is new obedience, which a penitent turns to, [1.] In full purpose, Psal. cxix. 106. no more doubting whether to fall in with it or not, or delaying or putting it off any more. [2.] In fincere endeavours, Acts xxiv. 6. *
Inf. 1. An impenitent heart is a fad sign of a loft state, Rom. ii. 5. While thou liveít so, thou art far from God; and if thou die fo, thou art loft for ever.
2. That repentance which is not evangelical and true, is little worth. You must have more than Judas's repentance, if ever you see heaven. .
3. To pretend to repentance, and never forsake fin, is vain.
4. To leave fin, and not take up the contrary duties, is not repentance. 5. Go to the Lord by faith for the grace
* A large and particular acccount of the nature, author, necessity, &c. of repentance, may be seen in several discourses in a volume of the author's sermons, first published in 1756, which were preached only two or three years before he delivered this discourse ; which may partly account for the brevity of it.
VOL. III, No. 26.
OF CHRIST'S ORDINANCES IN GENERAL.
Is. xii. 3. Therefore with joy Mall ye draw water out of the wells
having come and purchased salvation, the tidings of it are carried through the world in the gospel, and it is communicated to Jews and Gentiles through the means of grace. Here we have,
1. A benefit to be had in the church, water, i. e. gospel grace, the benefits of Christ's redemption, as suitable to needy, fainting fouls, as water to the thirsty. See John iv. 14. and vii. 37.
2. The way of its communication to poor finners. It is to be drawn out of the wells of salvation. These are gospel-ordinances, the wells in this valley of Baca for the life of fouls, and refreshment of spiritual travellers. All the elect capable to draw, do draw out of them. This is the sense, whether the allusion be to the wells in the wilderness for the Israelites, or to the Jews fetching water out of the spring of Siloam at the feast of tabernacles in the night, with mirth and music, to the temple, and pouring it on the altar.
The text furnishes this doctrine.
Doct. - The Lord's ordinances are the wells of salvation to
the elect.” Or, “ The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption, are, his ordinances, especially the word, sacra
all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation.”
Here I shall shew, I, What is understood by a means of salvation. II. What are these means of salvation, III. What makes any ordinance a mean of grace. IV. To whom are the Lord's ordinances made effectual. V. Whence their efficacy proceeds. VI. Deduce an inference or two.