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present depraved condition, to present duty, and future judgment. This is the first thing required to repentance, and where this is not, there is nothing of it.
Secondly, It respects the will and affections. It is our turning unto God : our turning from him being in the bent and inclination of our wills and affections unto sin. The change of the will, or the taking away of the will of sinning, is the principal part of repentance. It is with respect unto our wills that we are said to be dead in sin, and alienated from the lite of God. And by this change of the will do we become dead unto sin, Rom. vi. 2. that is, whatever remainder of lust or corruption there may be in us, yet the will of sinning is taken away. And for the ailections, it works that change in the soul, as that quite contrary affections shall be substituted and set at work with respect unto the same object. There are pleasures in sin, and also it hath its wages. With respect unto these, those that live in dead works, both delight in sin, and have complacency in the accomplishment of it. These are the affections 'which the soul exerciseth about sin committed, or to be committed. Instead of them, repentance, by which they are ulter. ly banished, sets at work sorrow, grief, abhorrency, self-detestation, revenge, and the like afflictive passions of mind. Nothing stirs, but they affect the soul with respect unto sin.
Thirdly, it respects the course of lite or conversation. It is a repentance from dead works, that is, in the relinquishment of them. Without this, no profession of repentance is of any worth or use. To profess a repentance of sin, and to live in sin, is to mock God, deride his law, and deceive our own souls, This is that change which alone doth or can evidence the other internal changes of the mind, will and affections, to be real and sincere, Prov. xxviii. 13. Whatever without this, is pretended, is false and hypocritical ; like the repentance of Judah, not with the whole heart, but feignedly, Jer. iii. 10. apwa. There was a lie in it; for their works answered not their words. Nei. ther is there any mention of repentance in the Scripture, wherein this change in an actual relinquishment of dead works is not expressly required. And hereunto three things are necessary.
First, A full purpose of heart for the relinquishment of every sin. This is cleaving unto the Lord with purpose of heart, Acts xi. 23. Psal. xvii. 3. To manifest the stability and sted. fastness which is required herein, David confirmed it with an oath, Psal. cxix. 106. Every thing that will either live or thrive, must have a root, on which it grows, and whence it springs. Other things may occasionally bud and put forth, but they wither immediately. "And such is a relinquishment of sin from occasional resolutions. Upon some smart of conviction, from danger, sickness, trouble, fear, affliction, there blooms in
the minds of many a sudden resolution to forsake sin, and as suddenly for the most part it fades again. True repentance forms a steady and unshaken resolution in the heart, which respects the forsaking of all sin, and at all times or occasions.
Secondly, Constant endeavours to actuate and fulfil this purpose. And these endeavours respect all the means, causes, occasions, temptations, leading unto sin, that they may be avoided, opposed, and deliverance obtained from them; as also all means, advantages, and furtherance of those graces and duties, which are opposed to these dead works, that they may be improved. A heartless inactive purpose, is that which many take up withal, and ruin their souls by. Where therefore there is not a sedulous endeavour, by waichfulness and diligence, in the constant use of all means, to avoid all dead works in all their concerns, from their first rise and principle, to their finishing or consummation, there is no true repentance from them.
Thirdly, An actual relinquishment of all sins, in the course of our walking before God. And hereunto is required, 1. Not an absolute freedom from all sin, for there is no man living who doth good and sinneth not. 2. Not an absolute and precise deliverance even 'from great sins, whereinto the soul may be surprised by the power of temptations. Examples to the contrary abound in the Scripture. But yet such sins, when any is overtaken with them, ought, first, To put the sinner upon a severe inquiry whether his repentance were sincere and saving; for where it is, usually the soul is preserved from such falls, 2 Pet. i. 10. And, secondly, To put him upon the renewing his repentance, with the same care, diligence, sorrow and humiliation as at the first. But, 1. It is required that this property of repentance be prevalent against the common sins of the world, men's old sins which they lived in before their conversion. Those sins which are expressly declared in the gospel to be inconsistent with the profession, cads and glory of it, it wholly excludes, 1 Cor. vi. 9, 10. 2 Cor. vi. 16. i John iii. 14, 15. And, 2. Against a course in any sin or sins, either spiritual or flesbly, internal or external, i John iii. 9. Rom. vi. 2.
3. For the most part against all outward sins in the course of our conversation in the world, in which things our sincerity or perfection is exercised. And these things were necessary to be touched on, to manifest the nature of this first principle wherein men are to be instructed.
Obs. I. There is no interest in Christ, or Christian religion, to be obtained, without repentance from dead works; nor any orderly entrance into a gospel church-state, without a credible profession thereof. This was one of the first things that was preached unto sinners, as was before declared ; and without a
compliance herewith, they were not further to be treated with; for,
First, The Lord Christ came, not only to save men from their sins, but to turn them from their sins; to turn them from their sins, that they may be saved from them. When he comes out of Sion as a Redeeiner, a Deliverer, a Saviour, he turns away ungodliness from Jacob; that is, he turns Jacob from ungodliness, Rom. xi. 26. namely, by repentance. This was one principal end of the birth, life, death, and esaltation of Christ. This work, in all these, was to make peace and reconciliation between God and man. Hercunto belongeth the slaying, destruction, or removal of the enmity that was between them. This, with respect unto God, was done by the atonement he made, the sacrifice he offered, and the price of redemption that he paid, 2 Cor. v. 21. But the whole work is not hereby completed. The enmity on our part also must be taken away, or reconciliation will not be finished. Now, we were enemies in our minds by wicked works, Col. i. 21. and thereby alienated from the life of God, Eph. iv. 18. The removal hereof consists in this repentance. For that is our turning to God, upon the terms of peace tendered unto us. They therefore do but deceive their own souls, who trust unto peace with God on the mediation of Christ, who are not at peace with God in their own souls by repentance ; for the one is not without the other. As he who is at peace with God on his own part by repentance, shall never fail of peace from God by the atonement, for he that so lays hold on his arm and strength that he may have peace, shall be sure to obtain it, Isa. xxvii. 3. so without this, whatever notions men may have of reconcilia. tion with God, they will find him in the issue as devouring fire, or everlasting burnings. All doctrines, notions, or persuasions, that tend to alleviate the necessity of that personal repentance which was before described, or would substitute any outward penance, or corporeal pecuniary penal satisfaction in the room thereof, are pernicious to the souls of men. And there is nothing so much to be dreaded or abhorred, as a pretence taken unto sin, unto any sin, without repentance, from the grace or doctrine of the gospel. 66 Shall we continue in sin," saith our apostle, “ that grace may abound? God forbid." Those who do so, and thereby turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, are among the number of them whose damnation sleepeth not.
Secondly, That any person living in sin without repentance, should have an interest in Christ or Christian religion, is incon sistent with the glory of God, the honour of Jesus Christ, and would render the gospel, if this were taught therein, a doctrine fit to be rejected by all men. For where is the glory of the righteousness or holiness of God, if impenitent sinners may be accepted with him? Besides that it is contrary unto the whole declaration made by himself, that he will not acquit the guilty, that he will not justify the wicked, nor accept the unLodly, it bath an absolute inconsistency with the especial righteousness of his nature, and which he exerciseth as the supreme Rector and Judge of all, that any such persons should approach before him, or stand in his sight, Psal. v. 4–6. Rom. i. 32. And for the Lord Jesus Christ, it would plainly make him the minister of sin, the thought whereof, our apostle so detests, Gal. ii. 17. Nay, a supposition hereof, would make the coming of Christ, to be the greatest means of letting in and increasing sin on the world, that ever was, since the fall of Adam. And, the gospel must then be looked on as a doctrine meet to be abandoned by all wise and sober persons, as that which would tend unavoidably to the debauching of mankind, and to the ruin of human society. For, whereas it doth openly and arowedly propose and declare the pardon and remission of sin, of all sorts of sin, to all sorts of persons that shall believe and obey it, if it did this without annexing unto its promise the condition of repentance, never was there, nor can there be, so great an encouragement unto all sorts of sin and wickedness. There is much to that purpose in the doctrines of purgatory, penances and satisfactions, whereby men are taught that they may come off from their sins at a cheaper rate than eternal ruin, without that repentance which is necessary. But this is nothing, in comparison to the mischief which the gospel would produce, if it did not require repentance from dead works. For the gospel has innumerable advantages to evidence itself to be from God; whereas, these other pretences are such as wise and considering men may easily look through their daubing, and see their ground or falsehood. Moreover, the gospel doth certainly propose its pardon freely, without money and without price; and so, on this supposition, would lay the reins absolutely free on the neck of sin and wickedness; whereas, those fancies are burdened and charged with such inconveniencies, as may lay some curb upon them in easy and carnal minds. Wherefore, I say, on such a false and cursed supposition, it would be the interest of wise and sober men, to oppose and reject the gospel, as the most effectual means of overflowing the world with sin and ungodliness. But it doth not more fully condemn idolatry, or the worship of the devil, than it doth any such notion or apprehension. It cannot be denied, but that some men may, and it is justly to be feared that some men do, abuse the doctrine of the gospel, to countenance themselves in a vain expectation of mercy and pardon, wbilst they willingly live in a course of sin. But, as this in their management is the principal means of their ruin, so, in the righteous judgment of God, it will be ihe greatest aggravation of their condemnation. And, whereas some have charged the preachers of gospel grace, as those who thereby give countenance unto this presumption, it is an accusation that hath more of the hatred of grace in it, than of the love of holiness. For none do, nor can press the relinquishment of sin and repentance of it, upon such assured grounds, and with such cogent arguments, as those by whom the grace of Jesus Christ in the gospel, is fully opened and declared.
From what hath been discoursed, we may inquire after our own interest in this great and necessary duty; to assist us wherein, I shall yet add some farther directions. As,
1. Repentance is two-fold. 1. Initial, 2. Continued in our whole course; and our inquiry is to be after our interest in both of them. The former is that whose general nature we have before described, which is the door of entrance into a gospel state, or a condition of acceptance with God, in and through Christ; and concerning it we may observe sundry things.
First, That as to the properties of initial repentance, it is,
First, Solemn; a duty that in all its circumstances is to be fixed and stated. It is not to be mixed only with other duties, but we are to set ourselves on purpose, and engage ourselves singularly unto it. I will not say this is so essential unto it, that he can in no sense be said sincerely to have repented, who hath not separately and distinctly been exercised herein for some season; yet I will say, that the repentance of such a one, will scarce be ever well cleared up unto his own soul. When the spirit of grace is poured out on men, they shall mourn apart, Zech. xii. 12–14. That is, they shall peculiarly and solemnly, separate themselves to the right discharge of this duty, between God and their souls. And those who have hitherto neglected it, or failed therein, may be advised solemnly to address themselves unto it, whatever hopes they may have, that they have been carried through it already. There is no loss of time, grace, nor comfort, in the solemn renovation of initial repentance.
Secondly, Universal, as to the object of it. It respects all sin, and every sin, every crooked path, and every step therein. It absolutely excludes all reserves for any sin. To profess repentance, and yet with an express reserve for any sin, approacheth very near the great sin of lying to the Holy Ghost. It is like Ananias, his keeping back part of the price, when the whole was devoted. And these soul-destroying reserves, which absolutely overthrow the whole nature of repentance, do commonly arise from one of these pretences or occasions.