David Black.

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But, without enumerating the many pas-
sages of Scripture that might be quoted,
let me only solicit your attention to a very
remarkable one, which seems to have been
left on record, for the purpose of encou-
raging penitent sinners to hope in the mer-
cy of God : I mean, the parable of the pro-
cligal son. As soon as the poor prodigal

gffeR. 4. ltEI*E^TtAi3■CjE. lis

came to himself, and began to entertain
thoughts of returning to his father's house,
ashamed and grieved at the recollection of
his past misconduct, he scarce knew how to
eome into his father's presence, or in what
way to order his speech before him. But
observe how the indulgent father removes
all his difficulties, and even prevents his
wishes. Wheii he was yet a great zvay off,
his father saw him, and had compassion,
mid ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed
him. Instead of upbraiding him with his
ingratitude, he bids his servants bring forth
the best robe, and put it on him, and put a
ring on his hand, a?id shoes on his feet. For
this my son, says he, was dead, and is alive
again ; he was lost, and is found. See
here, my Brethren, the tender compassion
of our heavenly Father, and his infinite will*
ingness to "receive returning sinners.

But, besides these encouraging declara-
tions, there are many express promises in
the word of God to penitent sinners, under
the titles of Mourners, Poor in Spirit,
Broken Hearted, Humble, and the like.

114 llEPEN^TANCE* S£ll. 4.

Thus saitli the high and lofty One, that in-
habiteth eternity, whose name is holy, I
elwell in the high and holy place ; with
him also that is of a contrite and humble
spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble^
and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord hath anointed me to
preach good tidings unto the meek: he hath
sent 7ne to bind 7ip the broken hearted, to
proclaim liberty to the captives, and the
opening of the prison to them that are
bound ; to proclaim the acceptable year of
the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our
God; to comfort all that mourn; to ap-
point unto them that mourn in Zion, to
give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of
joy for mourning, the garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness.

But, in order to prevent mistakes, it is
necessary to observe here, that repentance
does not, in any degree, entitle us to the
blessings of salvation ; noi' has it any intiu-
ence in procuring these blessings from God.
It is true, God does not pardon any smner


without repentance, but neither does he par-
don any on account of it. In the forgive-
ness of sin, he has respect solely and exclu-
sively to the atonement of Christ, on ac-
count of which, without any other consider-
ation whatever, lie ujust^ in juatififing the
tingodlii zcho believe in Jesus, lliat peni-
tence which is trusted in for acceptance with
God, is not the repentance wrought in the
soul by the Holy Spirit, but a proud pliari-
saical repentance which needs to be repent-
ed of. Do not imagine, then, t'lat vour
prayers, or your tears can atone for your
past guilt, or recommend you to the divnie
favour : nor think that it is presumption to
trust in the Saviour, unless you can ieel
those sentiments which you have been
taught to consider as necessary to true re-
pentance. The design of the Spirit of God
in working repentance in the soul of a sm-
ner, is just the reverse of what many sup-
pose. It is not to furnish any ground of
confidence before God. It is not to make us
think that we have any better plea, than o-
thers, for mercy and grace. But it is to de-
stroy the natural pride of our hearts. Jt i^


to make us sensible, that, in point of accep-
tance with God, we stand upon a footing
with the poorest and vilest of our fellow-
sinners ; and that we have nothing, and can
do nothing, to obtain the favour of our Mak-
er. This humbling truth, no impenitent
sinner is disposed to admit, and the convic-
tion of it is essential to the repentance which
is necessary? to prepare the heart for receiv-
ing the glad tidings of the gospel ^

3. The examples recorded in scripture, of
sinners who obtained mercy, notwithstand-
ing the peculiar greatness of their guilt,
may afford another motive and encourage-
ment to repentance.

Such were Manasseh — the thief upon the
cross — Mary Magdalene— Saul the perse-
cutor — and some of the very men who cru-
cified the Prince of Life. These instances
are recorded, not to encourage any to go
on in a course of iniquit}^, but to shew us,
that none who are sincerely desirous to for-
sake their sins, and turn to the Lord, need
despair of mercy, on account of the ijum-


ber, or greatness of their former transgres-
sions. Our Lord, indeed, speaks of some who
sin against the Holy Ghost, whose sin shall not
be forgiven. But, as it is impossible to renew^
such to repentance, what is said respecting
them ought not to discourage the trembling
penitent soul. Let persons of this last descrip-
tion, consider for their comfort, the bound-
less extent of divine merc}^ and be assured,
that all manner of sin and blasphemy shall
be forgiven, yb?' the blood of Jesus Christ
cleanseth from all sin.

4. In the last place, let the unspeakable
happiness which awaits the true penitent, in
a future and eternal world, be improved as
a motive and encouragement to repentance.

Even in the present life, the penitent sinner
is not without comfort. Beijig justified hy
faith, he has peace with God through our
Lord Jesus Christ. As the heart knoweth
its own bitterness, so there is a joy, with
which a stranger cannot intermeddle. E-
ven the tears of repentance are mingled
with inexpressible dehght ; and the true pe-


nitent, in mourning for sin, enjoys a purer
and higher satisfaction, than h(^ ever found
in all the boasted pleasures of the world.
But it is in heaven only that the mourn-
ers in Zion shall be fully comforted. There,
they who have soxved in tears shall reap in
joy. He that goeth forth weeping, bear^
ing precious seed, shall doubtless come a-
gain with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves
TiDith him.

O blessed day ! when sin, with all its bit-
ter effects, shall be for ever done away —
when the voice of lamentation shall be
heard no more — when temptation, affliction,
and remaining corruption, the great sources
of uneasiness to the people of God in the
present state, shall be completel}^ removed
— and when the ransomed of the Lord,
who were led on with weeping and suppli-
cations, shall return, and come to Zion
with songs, and everlasting joy upon their
heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness^
/md sorrozs) ajid sighing shall flee away.


I shall now conclude this Discourse, with
a short address to two different classes of

1. To those who are in danger of delay-
ing repentance, from a presumptuous con-
fidence that they shall have time enough for
it afterwards.

Persons in the season of youth, and in
the bloom of health, are in peculiar danger
from this fatal snare. The delusion, how-
ever, is by no means confined to them, for it
pervades all ages, and all conditions. Ah !
thoughtless infatuated fellow-mortals, how
long will you be duped by this stale arti-
fice ? How many are now m hell, who once
intended, as much as you do, to repent, but
who delayed it from time to time, till their
race was run, and their eyes were closed in
the shadows of eternal death. Like Felix,
perhaps, theu trembled ; but saying to their
convictions, as he said to Paul, Go your
way for this time; when I have a conve-
nient season, 1 will call for you, they lost
that opportunity, and never saw their ruin-

120 REPENTANCE. SEll, 4*

ous mistake till it was too late. Consider,
I beseech you, that repentance is not in
your own power. It is, as jou have heard,
the gift of God ; and have you not reason
to fear, that by stifling conviction, you may
provoke the divine displeasure. Though
God may call, even at the eleventh hour,
yet nothing can be more dangerous and
foolish, than to trust to an uncertain here-
after. To day if ye will hear his voice ^
harden not your hearts, lest he swear in
his wrath that ye shall not enter into his

2. To those who are tempted to think it
is now too late to repent ; that their day of
grace is past, and the door of mercy for e-
ver shut against them.

This is a mistake no less dangerous than
the other. Poor sinners ! give no heed to
the tempter's lying suggestions. However
long you may have lived without God,
and without hope in the world, if now, at
last, you are convinced of your folly and
sinfulness, and of your need of the Saviour's

SER. 4. ktPEXTANCE. 121

grace, despair not of mercy. Apply in-
stantly, and earnestly to the blood of sprink-
ling. Look unto me, says the compassion-
ate Redeemer, and he ye sated, all the
ends of the earth. He assures you of a gra-
cious welcome ; Him that cometh unto me,
I rcill in no wise cast out. It is daring, and
must be highly provoking in the sight of
God, to delay repentance on the presump-
tion of obtaining mercy at last ; but it is no
less displeasing to him to despair of his
mercy, after the declarations he hath made,
and especially after the proof he hath given
of his boundless love to sinners, in 7wt spar-
ing his ozcm Son, but delivering him up for
us. Wherefore, seek ye the Lord while he
may he found, call ye upon him zchile he is
near. Let the wicked forsake his nay, and
the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let
him turn unto the Lord, and he will have
mercy upon him ; and to our God, for he
will abundantly pardon.




Rev. xxii. 17.

And the Spirit and the Bride say^ Corhe ;
and let hitn that heareth say, Come ; and
let him that is athirst come ; and who-
soever will, let him take of the water of
life freely.

1 HESE words contain one of the fullest
displays of the riches and freeness of di-
vine grace that is to be found in the sa-
cred writings; and, as they occur at the
close of the inspired volume, they may be
considered as a concluding exhortation, ad-
dressed to sinners in every country and age
of the world. The Spirit and the Brides

8ER. 5. THE GOSPEL, &:c- 123

sayy Come. The Spirit, by whom the scrip-
tures were indited, and by whose inspiration
holy men of old spake, says, by the mouth
of prophets and apostles, Come — Hear,
and your souls shall live-^Let the wicked
forsake hh way, and the unrighteous man
his thoughts ; and let him return unto the
Lord, and he will have mercy upon him ;
and to our God, for he will abundantly
pardon — Repent, and be converted, that
your sins may be blotted out. With these
invitations, the Spirit also concurs by his
gracious influences on the heart.

And the Bride says, Come ; — that is, the
Church, who is called in this book the
Lamb's Wife, and who is espoused as a
chaste virgin unto Christ. She joins with
the Spirit in these gracious invitations. To
the church are committed the oracles of
(jod ; and the ministers of the churches are
from time to time sent forth, as heralds, to
proclaim to men the Redeemer's boundless
compassion, and infinite readiness to receive

returnmg sniners.



And let him that hcareth sai/, Come

Let every one who hears and obeys the voice
of Christ in the gospel, echo back the voice of
sovereign mercv, and invite others to share
with him in the unsearchable riches of
Christ, saying, " Come, my fellow-sinners,
'* be no longer faithless, but believing; ac-
*' cept the blessings of salvation; and rejoice
*' in the manifestations of the Saviours love.
" From comfortable experience M-e can as-
" sure you, that these blessings are as free-
'* Ij bestowed as they are freely offered/'

A7id let him that is athirst come

He who is hungering and thirsting after
rio-hteousness — he who is labourino- "and

o o

heavy laden — he who is ardently longing af-
ter happiness, but cannot find it in the bro-
ken and empty cisterns of creature comforts,
let him come to Jesus, and he shall have all
his wants supplied, and the desires of his
heart completely satisfied.

And whosoever will, let him take of the

water of life freely Lest any should think

themselves excluded by the former invito,-


tion — lest any poor convinced sinner should
suppose that he was not the person whose
soul was properly athirst for the blessings of
salvation, it is here extended, so as to take-
in every case, and to silence every objec-
tion which unbehef, fruitful in apologies for
itself, can possibly suggest. Whosoever
uill — whatever his former character may
have been, however great his present guilt
and unworthiness are — let him take the zca^
ter of life freely.

Having thus shortly explained the words
of the text, I propose in what follows,

I. To point out some of those inestimable
blessinscs of which we are here invited to

II. To explain the extent of the invita-
tion ; and particularly, to shew the absolute
freeness with which these blessings are be-
stowed on all who are willing to receive


I. I propose to point out some of those
inestimable blessings of which we are here
invited to partake.

The blessings of the gospel are spoken of
in the text under the general and compre-
hensive name of " The Water of Lite/'
Whosoever wilU let him take the Water of
Life freely. Water is a very common,
and favourite metaphor with the sacred
writers, m hen speaking of the blessings of
salvation. When the poor and needy seek
ti;ater^ and there is none, and their tongue
failethfor thirst, I the Lord will hear
them, I the God of Israel will not forsake
them. I will open rivers in high places,
and streams in the midst of the vallies. I
will make the wilderness a pool of water,
and the dry land springs of water — Ho !
every one that thirsteth, come ye to the wa-
ters. In similar language, our Saviour
speaks, when describing the same blessings ;
Jn the last day, that great day of the feast,
Jesus stood, and cried, saying. If any man
thirst, let him come unto me and drink.
And in like manner he addresses the woman


of Samaria, If thou knewest the gift of
God, and who it is that saith to thee^
Give me to drink ; thou woukiest have ask^
ed of him, and he would have given thee
living water. Whosoever drinketh of the
water that I shall give hi?n, shall iiever
thirst; hut the water that I shall give
him, shall be in him a well of water , spring-
ing up into everlasting life.

No blessing is more necessary tlian wa-
ter to the sustenance of life ; nothing com-
monly is less valued ; yet there is nothing,
of the want of which we are sooner sensi-
ble. In the warm and sultry regions of
Judea, where this invaluable comfort was
often scarce, and difficult to be procured,
the metaphor must have appeared with pe-
culiar force and beauty. But whether men
are sensible of it or not, sure we are, that
water is not more necessary to the suste-
nance of our bodies, than the blessings of
the gospel are to the life of our souls. The
gospel is truly living water, more refreshing
to the weary soul, than the cooling draught
^ the traveller parched with thirst. Its

128 TiiJE. GOSPEL s£r. 5.

blessings are exactly suited to the wants arid
distresses of poor guilty sinners. To shew
how necessary and important they are, I
shall now mention a few of them.

1. The pardon of sin.

- This I mention first, not only because it
is a blessing of inestimable value, but be-
cause it lies at the foundation of all the
rest, and is indispensibly necessary to the
enjoyment of true and solid happiness.
While sin is unpardoned, and guilt lies on
the conscience, nothing in heaven or on earth
can ease the troubled mind. To abide un-
der the wrath of the Almi2,htv, to be con-
tinually exposed to the just and everlasting
displeasure of him who made us, must ap-
pear inexpressibly awful to every reflecting
person. Like the hand-writing which ap-
peared to Belshazzar in the midst of his
feast, it must embitter all the pleasures of
life, and cause trembling and astonishment
to seize the awakened sinner. But hh^^sed
is the man zvhose transgremon is forgiven,
and zi'/wse sin is covered. Blessed is the


man to whom the Lord imputeth not ini^

This, my Brethren, is the blessedness
which the gospel proposes, and of which we
are here invited so freely to partake. The
gospel lays a solid foundation for the en-
joyment of this blessedness. It reveals God
as reconciled by the death of his Son. It
informs us of this gladdening, of this peace-
inspiring truth, that God is in Christ recon-
ciling the world unto himself, not imputing
unto men their trespasses. It assures us,
that if we confess our sins, he is faithjul
and just to forgive us our sins, and to
cleanse us from all unrighteousness. For
the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth
from all sin. How reviving and comfort-
ing to the mind of the awakened sinner is
this discovery ! To be assured from the
wpm of God, that there is forgiveness with
him ; that every obstruction is removed out
of the way of our reconciliation to God ;
that though our sins be as scarlet, through
the blood of his dear Son, thei/ shall be



Z0hite as snow ; though they he red like
crimson, they shall be as tcooL

Come, therefore, ye labouring, heavy lad-
en sinners, to Jesus the Saviour, for this in-
estimable blessing. He invites you to par-
take of it, without money, and without
price. He himself has paid the ransom.
Nor can any thing prevent jour enjoyment
of this unspeakably precious blessing, but
an obstinate rejection of his rich redeeming
mercy. To every penitent believing sin-
ner, he addresses these comfortable words.
Be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven

3. Another blessing offered in the gospel,
and of w hich we are here invited to partake,
is the sanctification of our corrupted nature.

Not only has sin brought guilt upon the
conscience, and exposed us to the awful
curse, and eternal wrath of God, but it has
likewise v itiated all the powers of our souls,
and rendered us the miserable slaves of our
own headstrong and unruly passions. No


captivity is so disgraceful as the bondage of
sin ; no pollution so loathsome as that
which defiles the conscience. As there can
be no true enjoyment under a sense ot un-
pardoned guilt, so neither can there be any
so Ion 2: as sin retains its dominion in the
soul, and the enslaved sinner is led captive
by the devil at his will. Accordingly, the
salvation which the gospel oftbrs, is not a
partial, but a complete salvation. It in-
cludes deliverance from the power and pol-
lution, as well as from the guilt and punish-
ment of sin. It is designed to make us ho-
ly, as well as happy ; nay, to make us holy,
in order that we may be happy. For it is im-
possible to conceive any degree of perma-
nent happiness, unconnected with inward
purity ; nor does the gospel give the least
countenance to any joy, that has a tendeur
cy to relax the obligations of holiness.

Come then, ye weary find heavy laden
sinners, who are groaning under the bon-
dage of corruption, to you the gospel brings
Q glorious deliverance. It is admirably fit-
ted to purif^y, refine, and ennoble your souls j



to elevate them above the groveUing plea-
sures of sin, and exalt them to higher
and more dignified pursuits. Jesus invites
you to aspire after sublimer objects than
any which this world can bestow. He is
able to heal all the diseases of your nature.
He can cure you of your pride, your sensu-
ality, your covetousness, and earthly-mind-
edness. He can subdue the most powerful
corruptions of the human heart, overcome
the most inveterate habits, and implant the
graces of his Spirit in the souls, where sin
and Satan ruled before, with uncontrouled
dominion. Only commit your souls to the
government of his grace, and the guidance
of his Spirit, and you shall experience his
all-conquering power.

3. Access to God, and communion with
him in the ordinances of his grace, is ano-
ther blessing of which we are here invited
to partake.

The value of this blessing can be known
by those only who have tasted its sweet-
ness, i^ure and §atistymg are the joys of a


pious and devout mind. When retired from
the world, with no eye upon him but that of
his God, the Christian holds fellowship with
his heavenly Father. When he turns over
the sacred page, and there reads with asto-
nishment and delight, the counsels of hea-
ven respectmg the salvation of guilty per-
ishing man ; the exceeding great and pre-
cious promises which God hath given him ;
and the returns of love and gratitude
which all this kindness demands — when his
thoughts take a wider range, and he medi-
tates on the boundless variety of objects
which nature, providence, and grace, pre-
sent to his mind — when he pours out his soul
in the humble confidence of faith, and
spreads before his heavenly Father, his wants
and cares, his sins and sorrows, his fears,
and hopes, and joys — what inexpressible sa-
tisfaction diffuses itself through his soul, and
with what pity and contempt does he look
down on the mean, sordid pleasures of
worldly men, which, in comparison of those
which he enjoys, are likie the crackling of
thorns under a pot. Or, when he mingles
with his fellow-saints ; when he comes to


the house of God, and joins in the solemn
acts of social worship ; when M'ith meek-
ness he receives the ingrafted word of truth;
when he offers up with the congregation
the fervent and united prayer, or lifts his
cheerful voice in praises to their common
Father and God ; or, when in more retired
converse with a few Christian friends, he
talks of the thino;s which belono^ to their
peace, till their hearts burn within them ;
or, when in a more public and solemn man-
ner he holds communion with his Saviour
and all the faithful, in the holy ordinance of
the Supper, — in all these exercises he expe-
riences a pleasure with which strangers do
not intermeddle ; nay, often a joy that is
unspeakable and full of glory.

Now, my Brethren, the gospel invites you
i;o partake of all this happiness. It removes
the distance which sin has made betwixt a
pure and holy God, and a guilty polluted
soul. It brings those who were afar oft*
nigh by the blood of Christ. It gives us
access to the holiest of all, and opens aM-ay,
not onjy to the altar of God, but unto God


himself as our exceeding joy. Being justi-
Jied by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ ; by whom
also we have access by faith into this grace
wherein we stand.

Come then, ye who spend your money for
that which is not bread, and your lal)our
for that which satisfieth not. Hearken
diligently unto Christ, and eat ye that
which is good, and let your soul delight it-
self i?! fatness. I shall only add,


4. That victory over death, and the sure
hope of eternal life, belong to the blessings
of which we are here invited to partake.

Whatever pleasures worldly men may
boast of, there are none of them that reach
beyond the grave. Death puts an end to
all their schemes and pursuits, to all their
hopes and joys. To say the least, it affords
to them nothing but a dreary, melancholy
prospect ; a vast, unknown, uncertain futu-
rity, in which they cannot tell how it shall
fare with them, or what shall become of


them. On this account, men who are stran-
gers to religion endeavour to banish the
thought of death as much as possible from
their minds ; and, by means of business and
amusement, they in general so far succeed,
as to keep themselves tolerably easy and
secure, except in the hour of sickness and of
danger, when, in spite of their utmost en-
deavours, the prospect of this frightful mes-
senger frequently occasions the most dread-
ful apprehensions.

But the gospel, my Friends, delivers from
the fear of death. It destroys this bane of
human happiness, not by banishing the
thought of it from the mind, but by open-
ing up such prospects beyond it, as com-
pletely change its nature, and render it
the object of desire. The gospel brings life

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