« ZurückWeiter »
Nay," upon the authority of our Lord, “I TELL YE, Nay:" We must ALL OF US REPENT.
Repentance, then, is not a duty which concerns either the heathen only, or those abandoned men, whom the world censures, and public opinion condemns. Throughout all Galilee, throughout all Jerusalem, every child of Adam must' repent or must die : all stand in need of repentance.
Such is, doubtless, the meaning of our Lord in the text; but such is likewise the doctrine of every page of the Holy Scriptures; such is the doctrine that God has never ceased to declare to his people, from the earliest ages of the world; and it is still the doctrine which he commands his ministers to “ preach among all nations, and to every creature, even unto the end of the world.”
Prophets, apostles, evangelists,—all affirm that every child of Adam, circumcised or uncircumcised, baptized or unbaptized, before he can become an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven, must have experienced, in his habits, in his character, in his affections, and in his habi
tual mode of thinking, a change ; which Scripture calls, indifferently, “ Repentance,-Regeneration,-Renewing of the Holy Ghost,–New Birth,-Renewing of the mind;" and which it characterizes by the strongest expressions which human language can furnish.—It declares to us, that we are not by nature in a fit condition for the kingdom of heaven; that we are all by nature miserable sinners, born in corruption, prone to evil, unable of ourselves to do good; that we thus, by the just judgment of God, draw down upon ourselves condemnation and death; that it concerns us, not that we should not lose ourselves, (we are lost !) but, to save ourselves; that Jesus is called Jesus, for no other reason but because he is come to seek and to save that which is lost;" that all Galilee lieth in guilt; that all Jerusalem lieth in guilt; and that
UNLESS WE REPENT, WE SHALL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH.”
Such is the sentence of the eternal Word; but such also, My Brethren, is the sentence which a world at enmity with God was never willing to hear. It is against these declarations of the God of love, who “ hath no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but rather that he turn from his way and live,”-it is against these declarations, humiliating, no doubt, but salutary, that the enemy of our souls has at all times most earnestly endeavoured to excite to rebellion the pride of mankind ; lest,” as our Lord saith, “ they should believe and be saved.” No sooner had our first parent received from God this express decree: “In the day that thou” violatest this commandment, “ thou shalt surely die,” than Satan, eager for his ruin, began to say to him : “ Thou shalt not surely die.”-And so it is still, that, ever since the fall, whilst God proclaims in his Word, that
by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin," and that “ UNLESS WE REPENT WE SHALL PERISH,” the enemy insinuates to us: “ Ye shall not surely die.”—Whilst God assures us in his Word, that we
debtors," all « sinful,” all “ the children of wrath even as others ;" but that Jesus hath appeared, to “deliver us from the wrath to
come,” and “ to save that which was lost;" the enemy labours to persuade us, that we are not exposed to “ wrath,” that we are not “ lost,” and that we are not in need of
REPENTANCE.”_Whilst God cries out to us in his Word : “ Let them be at peace with me! Let them be at peace with me!" the enemy says : “ Peace and safety ; Peace, Peace," when there is no peace.-" They have belied the Lord,” saith Jeremiah, “ and have said, It is not he, neither shall evil come upon us.”
But, what need to dwell upon the proof of a truth which runs through every fundamental truth of our religion; and which is proclaimed to us in its turn by every page of our sacred Book, from Genesis to the final Revelations of the Apostle St. John?
ALL MUST REPENT: that is the whole subject of the preaching of our Lord, of his prophets before him, of his apostles after him.-“ No man can enter into the kingdom of God, except he be born again :" such is our Lord's first address to Nicodemus: and when the latter marvels at a doctrine which is every where
apparent in the Old Testament, our Lord. re plies to him: “ Art thou a master in Israel, and knowest not these things ?"-" I send thee to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me :” Such is the substance of the commission of Christ's ministers.-“ Now God commandeth “all men every where to repent:” Such was, the tenour of the Apostle Paul's preaching in the city of Athens." In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircum- i cision, but a new creature:” Such is the Apos= } tle's declaration to the Galatians.-“ For there, is no difference,” he says again, since wall have sinned and come short of the glory of God; since - every mouth ought to be stop-; ped, and all the world become guilty before God;" since “ there is none righteous, no, not one,” and, “ we are all by nature the chil: dren of wrath, even as others.”
We must “REPENT;" we must be “born again;" we must be “ circumcised in heart;"