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born again. Great changes may be made in the minds of persons, and possibly lasting changes in their lives; while yet, at heart, they are not new creatures. To know that a principle radically new, essentially distinct from self-love has been created in the soul a principle of disinterested, universal goodness, is a difficult thing, and must ordinarily require close attention for a considerable time.
3. Let none entertain this hope at all, if they still live in any way of known transgression, or in the careless neglect of any religious or social duty. "Many walk," says the apostle to the Philippians, "of whom I have told you before, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things." All who are in Christ, have been created unto good works, which God hath eternally ordained that they should walk in them. Let those then, who hope they have believed in God and Christ, remember that they must be careful to maintain good works:-and, by patient continuance in well doing, must seek for glory, and honor, and immortality, as ever they would expect to obtain eternal life.
ON REPENTANCE, CONVERSION, AND PARDON.
ACTS III. 19.
Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
WE have in these words, the sum and
substance of all the divine calls and counsels given to sinners, in the Old Testament and the New; and one of the principal motives to a compliance with such merciful counsels and calls. They are the words of the apostle Peter to those Jews who had been concerned in the crucifixion of our Saviour. The occasion of this exhortation to them, of which my text is a part, was the astonishment excited by the miraculous cure of one who had been a cripple from his birth. See the preceding context from verse first.
"Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. And a certain man, lame from his mother's womb, was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called. Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple, who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I unto thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ancle-bones received strength. And he, leaping up, stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One, and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. And his name, through faith in his name, hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him, hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of
In discoursing upon this text, it is proposed to explain;
I. What it is to repent:
II. What it is to be converted :
III. How the sins of men may and will be blotted out, in consequence of their repenting and being converted and,
IV. What is the duty of sinners, respecting their repentance and conversion.
I. I shall consider what it is to repent; or what is implied in true repentance.
This I shall endeavor to explain, by taking into consideration the object of it; the exercises of heart implied in it; and the principle from which these exercises proceed. As to the object of true repentance, or the thing repented of;
1. This is sin. Persons may repent of their conduct when it has not been sinful; or when it is not considered by them in that light. A man may repent of a generous action-an instance of kindness toward his neighbor, when it meets with an ungrateful reception, or an unsuitable return. Thus David seems to have repented of his kindness to Nabal, when he said, "Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow hath in the wilderness, so that nothing was missing of all that pertained to him; and he hath requited me evil for good." Or, one may repent of an undertaking or piece of labor, when it appears not likely to answer the end proposed. Thus, speaking after the manner of men, God is said to have repented that he had made man upon the earth. Men often repent of what they have been
doing, merely because it has proved unsuccessful; or because the profit has not been equal to the labor and expense. But the repentance of a sinner, spoken of in scripture as connected with salvation, always means repentance of sin.
2. It is to be observed that in true repentance, sin is repented of on account of its sinfulness. A man may repent of that which he sees and knows to be wrong; while yet he repents merely because of the imprudence of it, and not because of its iniquity. His regret and remorse may be only on account of the hurt he may have done himself, and not at all on account of the moral evil of his conduct. But in true repentance sin is repented of as sin.
3. It is necessary that the evil of sin should be seen, and that it should be repented of, particularly as it is against God. An action may be wrong, and may be seen to be so, and be repented of as such, in cther respects besides this, of its being a violation of the divine law, and a disregard of the divine authority. Persons may repent of having treated their neighbors and friends injuriously, when a sense of the evil they have done extends no further; and they have no apprehension of having dishonored or offended their Creator. If the Most High should say to them, as he said to his people of old, "Ye have robbed me;" they would readily reply, as that people did, "Wherein have we robbed thee?" They do not imagine that they have done God any injury, or ever meant to do him any. But the great evil of all the unrighteousness, as well as ungodliness of men, consists in the disrespect shown to the supreme Governor of the world, and the reproach cast upon his great and holy name. And a conviction of this, is what principally affects the heart of a true penitent, and fills it with bitter remorse. "Against thee, thee ONLY have I sinned;" was the confession of David