David Black.

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terness, and in the bond of iniquity. A man
•may be deeply affected with the consequen-
ces of his sin, while he sees no evil in sin it-
self, nor feels any hatred against it. He
may be concerned for the injury it has done
to his health, his reputation, or his worldly
interest; Nay, he may be seriously and



greatly alarmed at the danger to which it will
expose him in a future and eternal world.
Yet all the while he regards iniquity in his
heart, and continues to practise it in his
life. Such a sorrow as this, partakes in no
degree of the nature of true repentance. It
is not indeed so properly a sorrow for sin,
as a dread of the punishment that attends
it. The sinner is sorry, not that he hath
sinned, but that God is so infinitely just and
holy as to mark his iniquity ; and so power-
ful, that nothing can prevent the execution
of his threatenings : he is grieved, not that
he has transgressed the law of God, but
that this law is so pure and spiritual as to
take cognisance of his thoughts and inten-
tions, as well a^ of his words and actions ; and
however deeply he may be aftbcted, though
he may make many promises of amendment,
and even shed abundance of tears, it is not
^o much on account of the intrinsic evil, as
of the fearful consequences of sin.

It is possible also, that one may be deep-
ly grieved for some particular transgressions^
who is yet a stranger to true repentance.


Thus, Judas repented of his betraying
Christ, confessed his guilt, restored the thir-
ty pieces of silver, and most earnestly wish-
ed that the crime had never been commit*
ted ; nay, so deep was his remorse, that he
could not bear the reproaches of his own
conscience, but went and hanged himself.
But that he was no true penitent is evident
from our Lord's words. It had been good
for that man that he had not been born.
Nor does it appear, that with all the con-
cern he expressed for betraying innocent
blood, he felt any remorse for his hypocri-
sy, his covetousness, and other sins in which
he had long indulged. The same thing fre-
quently happens in the case of murderers
and others, who are guilty of flagrant
breaches of the law of God. They are in-
expressibly troubled on account of one par-
ticular act of violence committed against a
fellow-creature, while, perhaps, they feel no
concern for all the ingratitude, contempt,
and rebellion of which they have been guil-
ty against their Maker. This is nothing
else than the effect of natural conscience ;
God having been pleased to preserve such a

92 , REPENTANCE. S^R. 4,

measure of light in the conscience, even in
the present corrupted state of human na-
ture, as frequently serves to restrain wicked
men from those crimes which would endan-
ger the peace and welfare of Society.

. Very different from both these kinds of
sorrow, is that which accompanies genuine
repentance. This is a godly sorrow. It has
a principal and direct reference to God.
The true penitent mourns for sin after a
godly sort. He is chiefly concerned for sin
as it is committed against God, and as it is
a violation of his holy and righteous law :
Against thee^ thee only hove I sinned^ and
done this evil in thy sight. It is true his
conscience is alarmed with the terrors of the
Lord; but this is not the only, nor even the
chief sprmg of his sorrow. When he con-
templates the majesty, the glory, and per-
lection of the God whom he hath offended,
he is grieved at the dishonour done to his
name. When he reflects on the purity and
excellence of that law which he has so of^
ten and so daringly broken, his mind is fill-
ed with shame and • sorroM'. Especial!}^


when he thinks of the goodness of God in
sparing him so long in the world, notwith-
standing his daily and aggravated rebellion,
and of the bounties of divine providence, so
liberally bestowed, and so ungratefully a-
bused : above all, when he contemplates tlie
riches of divine grace manifested in Christ
Jesus ; even that grace, which has produced
in his darkened and perplexed soul some
pleasing hope of forgiveness, how is his soul
filled with the deepest regret for his past
conduct, and how readily does he subscribe
to the justice of the sentence which con-
demns him, while, Avith self-abhorrenQe and
self-condemnation, he breathes out the pub-
lican's prayer, God be merciful to me a sin-
ner I

Nor is it only for a few of his more flag-
rant transgressions that he is thus affected.
No ; he mourns over all, and every one of
them without exception, those that are more
secret, as well as those which have been o-
pen ; sins of omission, as well as of com-
mission ; sins which have the sanction of
custom and fashion, as well as those which


are odious in the eyes of the world. The
more he is enhghtened to see the glory of
God, the more deeply is his mind affected
with the number and greatness of his trans-
srressions. And because all the sins he has
committed, whether in heart or life, are the
effects of an originally depraved nature, he
traces back the streams of actual transgres-
sion to this polluted fountain, acknowledging
with the Psalmist, Behold, I zvas shapen in
iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive
me. Genuine sorrow for sin never fails to
be accompanied with very humbling appre-
hensions of ourselves. Whatever opinion
the penitent sinner may have formerly en-
tertained of his own character, no sooner
does he feel the influence of true repentance,
than he sinks m his own esteem, and re-
nounces all his own righteousness as filthy
rags. His high imaginations are cast down,
and so far from thinking that his repentance
can merit any thing at the hand of God, he
mourns over its detects. He is ashamed
that he is so little affected, and abhors him-
self on account oi the remaining hardness
and insensibility of his heart.


Such were the feehngs of Job, when he
obtained a clearer discovery of the majesty
and hohness of God : I have heard of thee,
says he, bi/ the hearing of the ear, but now
mine eye seeth thee ; zvherefore I abhor my^
aelf, and repent in dust and ashes,

2. True repentance includes in it an un-
reserved and ingenuous confession of sin.

This is the natural consequence of a ge-
nuine sorrow for sin ; for confession is no-
thing else than the outward expression of
those inward sentiments, which constitute
the temper of a real penitent. I acknow-
ledged my sin unto thee, says the Psalmist,
and mine iniquity have I not hid : I said,
I will confess my transgressions unto the
Lord; and thou for gave st the iniquity of
my sin. Corresponding to this is the ac-
count given of returning Ephraim, (Jer. xxxi.
18, 19-) in which we discern all the genu-
ine characters of true repentance. I have
surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself
thus. Thou hast chastised me, and I was

UTirighfeousiiess of men. Hence, when ad-
dressino- the Athenians, who had erected an
altar to The UnivNown God, he said to
them, The times of this ignorance God
Jiinked at ; but now cotnmandeth all 7nen
every^ where to repent : Because he hath
appointed a daij, in the tvhich he rcill judge
the world iri righteousness, hif that man
whom he hath ordained ; whereof he hath
given assurance unto all 7?ien, in that he
hath raised him from the dead. Acts xvii.
30, 31. The words of our Lord to this
purpose are express and decisive, Except ye
repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Clear and com incing, however, as 'the
words of Scripture are, to those who respect
its djyine authority, it has been the business
of the great adversary of souls, from the be-
ginning pf the world, to persuade men that
they may sin with impunity. Ye shall not
surely diCfW^iB the temptation by which he de-
ceived our first parents : and the same strata-
gem has been, alas ! too successfully em-
ployed, to the ruin of many souls. The
great deceiver knows well, that nothing so

efF&ctually increases thfe number of the dam-
ned, as the disbehef of eternal damnation ;
and, therefore, against this awakening tru'th,
his strongest batteries have been planted in
every age. But let no man deceive you
with vain words. If there be any meaning
in language, if the' most solemn and repeat-
ed declarations be entitled to our serious
attention, if the Bible be what we believe
it to be, the faithful word of Him who cannot
lie, then it is certain, that TJie wicked shall

go away into everlasting punishment To

them, who, hi/ patient continuance in zi^cll-
doing, seek for glori/, honour, and immor-
tality, God will render eternal life : Bui
unto them that are contentious, and do not
obey the truth, hut obey nnrighteoiisness,
indignation and wrath, tribulation ajid an-
guish upon every soul of man that doth e-
vil, of the Jez0 first, and also of the Gen-

Without repentance there is no forgive-
ness of sin. He that covercth his sins
shall not prosper ; but zvhoso confesseth
and for iaketk them shall find mercy. If



we confess our sins, God is faithful and
just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness^

Without repentance there can be no true
holiness ; for humihty, and poverty of spirit,
which are essential ingredients in the nature
of true repentance, are virtues, of the first

importance in the Christian character

And finally, without repentance there can
be no meetness for heaven. An impenitent
sinner is altogether unfit for the enjoyments
of the heavenly state. Possessed of proud,
.unsanctified dispositions, the glories of hea-
ven, which fill with rapture the souls of the
Kedeemed, could afford him no satisfaction.
The objects to be found in those blissful
jnansions, are in no respect suited to the
taste of his carnal, unrenewed mind. £a-
cept ye he converted, then, and become as
little childre7i, ye shall not, ye cannot en-
ter into the kingdom of heaven.

A sinner who lives and dies without re-
pentance, is termed by the apostle, a vessel
(if wrath, Jitted to destruction. Howevej


much he may have flattered himself in his
iniquity, saying in his. heart, I shall have
peace, though I walk after the imagination
of my ozcn heart, yet, when death, that
unwelcome messen^rer, comes to summon
him into the eternal world, he will find hmi-
self awfully disappointed. He will tlien
know, alas ! when it is too late, that those
objects, which he has pursued as substantial
gvood, have been delusive phantoms, while
the things which he once treated as idle
tales, are great and dreadful realities. A-
waking, as out of a dream, he will begin to
see his sins in their true colours, and to la-
ment, with hopeless and unavailing regret,
the seasons of grace, and the opportunities of
salvation which he once enjoyed, but which
are now past — never to return. like the rich
man in the parable, who in hell lift up his
ey^es, being in torments, and could not ob-
tain so much as a drop of water to cool his
tongue, the impenitent sinner shall wish, but
>vish in vain, to obtain deliverance from his
sufierings, or even the least mitigation of
them : Doomed to pass a wretched eternity,
in bitter reproaches, and self-condemnation,

110 RiiPENTANCE. SEll. 4.

heightened by the reflection, that, by a
timely repentance, and faith in a crucified
Saviour, all this misery might have been

You see then, my Brethren, the necessi-
ty, the absolute necessity of repentance, if
ever you expect to escape the dis])leasure of
your dfFended God. And, now, may I not
hope, that some sinners in Zion are afraid^
and that fearfulness surprises the hypocrite ;
for who can dwell with devouritigjire, who
can dwell with everlasting hurnings ? But
is there any hope, are not some ready to
exclaim, that such sinners as we are, who
have misimproved so many privileges, abus-
ed so many mercies, and lived so long in
the neglect of our souls, and of salvation,
shall obtain mercy from God ? Yes, my
Brethren, there is. And this naturally
brings me to mention,

III. Some motives, and encouragements to
the performance of this duty.

,SER. 4. reJ^entance. Ill

1. The very call, and command to repent,
may afford encouragement to returning sin-
ners. There is no such command given to
the angels who kept not their first estate.
For them, no Saviour is provided ; and,
therefore, how much cause soever they have
for repentance, they have neither motive,
nor encouragement to the performance of
this duty. Such a command, coming from
an offended Sovereign to his rebellious sub-
jects, coul.d not fail to excite a hope in their
breasts, that the prince who required their
submission, was disposed to exercise cle-
mency towards them. On this ground, the
Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jo-
nah ; JVho can tell, said they, if God z^ill
turn, and repent ; and turn away from Im
fierce anger that we perish not. But, bless-
ed be God, we are not left to uncertain con-
jecture, nor to hopes built on obscure and
scattered hints in the word of God, amount-
ing to nothing more than this, It may he
the Lord z^ill be gracious. For, I add,

2< Tliat the word of God is full of th^


most encouraging declarations, and express
promises to penitent sinners.

It contains the most encouraging decla-
rations It assures us, that the Lord God

is merciful and gracious, slow to ana;er, and
ready to forgive : that he will not always
chide, neither will he keep his anger for
ever. A II things are of God, (says the a-
postle, 2 Cor. v. 18 — 20.) who hath recon-
ciled us to liimself by Jesus Christ, and
hath given to us the ministry of reconcili-
ation ; to wit, that God was in Christ, re-
conciling the world unto himself, not im^
yuting their trespasses unto them ; and
hath committed unto us the word of re-

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Online LibraryDavid BlackSermons on important subjects → online text (page 6 of 23)