Графични страници
PDF файл

his thought, thence makes its way into expressions of speech, and possibly also into some bodily gestures conformable to his words: but when such thought entereth into the will, it then gains a place in man, for the will is the very man himself, because his love dwells there; but the thought is without, or extraneous to man, unless it proceed from his will: if this be the case, then will and thought act as one, and together constitute the man. Hence it follows, that repentance, that it may be repentance indeed, and become efficacious in man, must needs affect the will, and thence the thought, and not the thought alone; it must consequently be actual, and not merely of the lips. That repentance is the first constituent of the church, appears evidently from the Word: for John the baptist, who was sent before to prepare men for that church which the Lord was about to establish, whilst he baptized, preached at the same time repentance, so that his baptism was called the baptism of repentance, because by baptism was signified spiritual washing, which is cleansing from sins: this he did in Jordan, because Jordan signified introduction into the church, being the first boundary of the land of Canaan, where the church was established. The Lord Himself also preached repentance for the remission of sins, thus teaching that repentance is the first constituent of the church, and that in proportion as man practises it, his sins are removed, and as they are removed, they are forgiven or remit. ted. Moreover, the Lord enjoined His twelve apostles, and the seventy also, to preach repentance; so that it is evident, that repentance is the first constituent of the church.

511. That man cannot possibly have the church in him until his sins be removed, must be plain to every considerate person, and may also be illustrated by the following comparisons who can introduce sheep, kids, and lambs, into fields or woods, where are all kinds of wild beasts, until he has first driven out those beasts? Who can form a gar

den out of a piece of ground which is over-run with thorns, briars, and nettles, before he has rooted out those noxious plants? Who can establish any form of administration of justice from judgment, or introduce orderly government into a city possessed by enemies, until he hath first expelled those enemies? The case is similar with respect to the evils in man, which are like so many wild beasts, or like thorns and briars, or like so many enemies; with which the church can no more dwell together, than a man could dwell in a den along with tigers and leopards; or lie in a bed strewed over with poisonous and prickly herbs; or sleep soundly all night in a church, the floor of which was lined with graves full of corpses, whilst under the dread that spectres would arise and infest him like so many furies. II. THAT CONTRITION, WHICH AT THE PRESENT DAY IS SAID TO PRECEDE FAITH, AND TO BE FOLLOWED BY EVANGELIC CONSOLATION, IS NOT REPENTANCE. 512. In the reformed parts of the Christian world, mention is made of a certain kind of anxiety, grief, and terror, which is called CONTRITION, and which, with persons about to be regenerated, is said to precede faith, and to be succeeded by evangelic consolation. It is further said of this contrition, that it ariseth from an apprehension of the just wrath of God, and of eternal damnation in consequence, to which every one is exposed by reason of Adam's sin, and of the inherent proneness to evils thence propagated; and that without such contrition, the faith which is imputative of the merit and righteousness of the Lord the Saviour is not bestowed, but that such as obtain that faith, receive evangelic consolation, which implies that they are justified, that is, renewed, regenerated, and sanctified, without any co-operation on their part, and are thus translated from damnation to everlasting blessedness, which is eternal life. But on the subject of this contrition, it ought to be inquired, 1. Whe

ther it be repentance: 2. Whether it be of any moment or importance: 3. Whether there be any such thing.

513. Whether contrition be repentance or not, may be determined from a description that will be given of repentance, in the following pages; for it will be seen, that it can have no place or existence in man, unless he know himself to be a sinner, not only in general, but also in particular, which no one can know except he examine himself, and see the evils that are in him, and condemn himself on account of them. But the contrition which is declared necessary to attain faith, hath nothing in it which tallies with this description, for it consists only in a man's thinking and confessing that he is born in the sin of Adam, and with a nature inclining to all the evils thence resulting, so that he is under the wrath of God, and consequently deserving of damnation, the curse, and eternal death; whence is is evident, that this contrition is not repentance.

514. The second point to be considered is, Whether it be of any moment or importance. It is said, that it contributeth to the attainment of faith, as that which precedes to that which follows, but still that it doth not enter faith, so as to conjoin itself with it. Now what is the faith that follows such contrition, but this, that God the Father imputes His Son's righteousness, and immediately declareth a man righteous, new, and holy, although he is not conscious of any sin, and thus clothes him with a robe? washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb? and when he walketh in this robe, what are the evils of his life but like stones of sulphur cast into the bottom of the sea? and what the sin of Adam but something covered or removed, or taken away by the imputed righteousness of Christ? When he thus walks, by virtue of such a faith, in the righteousness, together with the innocence, of God the Saviour, to what purpose does the before-mentioned contrition serve, but to inspire a confidence that he is in

the bosom of Abraham, from which place he regardeth all who have not received the contrition which precedes faith, as condemned criminals in hell, or as dead persons; for it is insisted that a living faith doth not abide in those who have not experienced contrition? Wherefore it may be affirmed, that should persons so clothed have immersed, or continue to immerse themselves in damnable evils, they take no more heed and have no more perception of them, than young pigs have of the stench arising from the mire in which they wallow. Hence it is evident, that such contrition, not being repentance, is of no moment or import


515. The third point to be considered is, Whether there be such a thing as contrition without repentance. I have asked many in the spiritual world, who have confirmed themselves in the faith imputative of the merit of Christ, whether they have had any contrition and they have

answered, "What have we to do with contrition, when we have firmly believed, from our infancy, that Christ has, by His passion, taken away all our sins? Contrition doth not square with this belief, for it consists in a man's casting himself into hell, and enduring pangs of conscience; whereas we know that we are redeemed, and so rescued out of hell, and consequently secure from all danger." To this they added, that the doctrine of contrition is a mere trick, invented to take place of repentance, which is so often mentioned and insisted on in the Word; that possibly, however, some emotion may be excited in simple minds, that are but little acquainted with the Gospel, when they hear or think of hell-torments: they said moreover, that the consolation of the Gospel, impressed on their minds in their early years, had so far removed contrition, that they smiled at the very mention of it, and that hell had no more power to strike terror into them, than the fire of Vesuvius and Ætna had to alarm the inhabitants of Warsaw

and Vienna, or the basilisks and serpents in the deserts of Arabia, or the tigers and lions in the forests of Tartary, to terrify those who live in safety, tranquillity, and peace, in some city of Europe; and that the wrath of God affected them no more with fear and contrition, than the wrath of the King of Persia, the people of Pennsylvania. From this relation, and the reasonings which it suggested, I am fully persuaded, that contrition, if unconnected with repentance, such as is described in the following pages, is nothing but a sleight and deceit of the imagination. But the Reformed substituted contrition in the place of repentance, that they might be separated as far asunder as possible from the Roman Catholics, who urged the necessity of repentance together with charity and after they had es. tablished justification by faith alone, they alleged this as a reason for accepting contrition in the place of repentance,that by repentance, as by charity, something of man's own, which must savour of merit, would enter into his faith, and so blacken and defile it.



516. On the subject of this lip-confession, the Reformed, who subscribe to the Augsburgh confession, thus express themselves: "No man can ever possibly know his sins, "wherefore they cannot be enumerated; they are, besides, "hidden deep in the inner parts, wherefore confession "would be false, uncertain, imperfect, and mutilated; but "whosoever confesseth himself to be altogether mere sin, "comprehendeth all sins, excludeth none, and forgetteth "none. Still, however, the enumeration of sins, although "it be not necessary, ought not to be forbidden, for the "sake of tender and timid consciences; but this is only a "puerile and common form of confession for the simple

"and ignorant.' FORMULA CONCORDIE, pages 327,

331, 380. This confession was substituted by the Reformed,

« ПредишнаНапред »