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by having conferred upon it the precedence to forgiveness. At any rate, so closely are the two conjoined that you cannot look upon either without seeing both. And when you read the passage, before you can come to the blessing of forgiveness, you must recognise the virtue of repentance. Well, then, you go off in joy and triumph with the forgiveness which is here set forth, as if
you had received every thing that is indispensable for time and for eternity! But why do you
leave repentance behind
which is here set forth with the same explicitness and the same prominence ? The divine authority stamps importance and necessity upon each of them; and they are placed side by side, that to neither may you
feel yourselves at liberty to cherish indifference, and that your being mindful of the one may secure your being mindful of the other. And if it is the sanction of God's appointment which gives you a warrant to appropriate any part of the salvation that is provided, is it not clear that by taking only what is most agreeable to your own inclinations, you are destroying, so far as you yourselves are concerned, the efficacy of the whole scheme, and not only foregoing what he has ordained in adaptation to your moral circumstances, but by wil. fully foregoing that, rendering null and void every thing else which you may have thought proper to select, as sufficient for the supply of your spiritual wants ?
And besides this, consider repentance and forgiveness as proceeding alike from Christ. Tracing them to their source, they are found to converge in him. He died to purchase them-he is exalted to communicate them. And could this have been the case, unless both of them had been necessary for you? If both of them are thus demonstrated to be necessary for you, upon what principle consistent with duty or with safety, can you be contented with only one of them ? Are not you, in rejecting the other, doing what you can at once to frustrate the Saviour's sufferings on the cross, and to dishonour the
which he exercises, the mercy which he manifests, on his throne ? And how then can you for a moment flatter yourselves, that any of your trespasses shall be forgiven while you continue strangers to penitence, or fail to see that, acting upon such an unscriptural supposition, you are only aggravating your sinfulness, and increasing the urgency that is upon you to repent of it?
No longer, then, delude yourselves with the vain, unhallowed, presumptuous, destructive notion that you can obtain the forgiveness of your sins, either here or hereafter, though you remain in that " gall of bitterness,” and in those “ bonds of iniquity,” which impenitence implies. Let the proclamation, that Christ is “ exalted to give repentance and the forgiveness of sins,” banish all that ruinous folly for ever from your
minds. And while it teaches you with so much distinctness the necessity of repentance, let it also encourage you to undergo that change, to exercise that grace. For though you have no strength in yourselves adequate to the attainment of it, yet “ Christ is your strength,” and you will find him both able and willing to effectuate in you and upon you whatever the true penitent is required to have. He is willing, for he died that he might save you, and “ turn you away from your iniquities.” He is able, for he is invested with mediatorial power to confer the blessings of his mediatorial purchase. And, therefore, we bid you come to him in the belief that, according to your heart's desire, he will grant unto you repentance, as freely and as fully as he will grant unto you the forgiveness of your sins.
It may be, however, that some of you will go as far wrong as to the nature and extent of the repentance which is exercised. How many are there who acknowledge that repentance is necessary for them, and that without it they neither can nor do expect forgiveness, and moreover flatter themselves that they have repented, and have, therefore, nothing to fear; but who, notwithstanding this, exhibit such a conduct, and hold such sentiments, as indicate that they have yet much to learn and much to do, before they can be justly ranked among those to whom Christ has given repentance and the forgiveness of sins ! There are two leading radical defects, with which they are chargeable.
First, Their repentance is not of the requisite dimensions-so to speak. It is a sort of exter. nal reformation--having no alliance with evangelical motives—and as partial in the acts of self-denial, or of positive obedience, by which it is manifested, as it is worldly, or selfish, or otherwise imperfect, in its originating principles. Now we have seen that the repentance here spoken of, stands for the whole of that character, which the Gospel is intended to form in those who are partakers of its great salvation. It comprehends every step, from first to last, of that mighty revolution in our nature, our dispositions, and our doings, which God requires of his fallen offspring, and for accomplishing which, the Son of God is " exalted as a Prince and a Saviour.” And in order to ascertain the length, and breadth, and heighth, and depth of that, we must carefully consider all that is forbidden, and all that is commanded, in the divine word.
And thence we learn, that both as to heart and character, the change is spiritual, thorough, pervading, including all the powers and susceptibilities of the mind, and issuing in cordial, unreserved, unceasing devotedness to the will of the holy and redeeming God.
It is such a change on the whole man, as comes up in reality, and in