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ing with their neighbour ? When they are reproving sin, do they feel no anger or unkind temper to the sinner ? When they are instructing the ignorant, do they not find any pride, any self preference? When they are comforting the afflicted, or provoking one another to love and to good works, do they never perceive any inward self commendation ; “ Now you have spoke well ?" Or any vanity, a desire that others should think so, and esteem them on the account? In some or all of these respects, how much sin cleaves to the best conversation even of believers ? The conviction of which is another branch of the repentance, which belongs to them that are justified.
13. And how much sin, if their conscience is thoroughly awake, may they find cleaving to their actions also ? Nay, are there not many of these, which, though they are such as the world would not condemn, yet cannot be commended, no, nor excused, if we judge by the word of God? Are there not many of their actions, which, they themselves know, are not to the glory of God ? Many, wherein they did not even aim at this ; which were not undertaken with an eye to God? And of those that were, are there not many, wherein their eye is not singly fixed on God? Wherein they are doing their own will, at least as much as his; and seeking to please themselves as much, if not more, than to please God ? --And while they are endeavouring to do good to their neighbour, do they not feel wrong tempers of various kinds ? Hence their good actions, so called, are far from being strictly such; being polluted with such a mixture of evil ? Such are their works of mercy. And is not the same mixture in their works of piety? While they are hearing the word, which is able to save their souls, do they not frequently find such thoughts as make them afraid lest it should turn to their condemnation, rather than their salvation ? Is it not often the same case, while they are endeavouring to offer up their prayers to God, whether in public or private ?
Nay, while they are engaged in the most solemn service, even while · they are at the table of the Lord, what manner of thoughts arise in them?
Are not their hearts sometimes wandering to the ends of the earth? sometimes filled with such imaginations, as make them fear lest all their sacrifice should be an abomination to the Lord ? So that they are now more ashamed of their best duties, than they were once of their worst sins.
14. Again : How many sins of omission are they chargeable with ? We know the words of the apostle, “ To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” But do they not know a thousand instances, wherein they might have done good, to enemies, to strangers, to their brethren, either with regard to their bodies or their souls, and they did it not ? How many omissions have they been guilty of, in their duty towards God! How many opportunities of communicating, of hearing his word, of public or private prayer, have they neglected ! So great reason had even that holy man, Archbishop Ussher, after all his labours for God, to cry out, almost with his dying breath, “ Lord, forgive me my sins of omission !”
15. But, besides these outward omissions, may they not find in themselves inward defects without number ? Defects of every kind: they have not the love, the fear, the confidence, they ought to have, towards God. They have not the love which is due to their neighbour, to every child of man; no, nor even that which is due to their brethren, to every child of God, whether those that are at a distance from them, or those
with whom they are immediately connected. They have no holy temper in the degree they ought; they are defective in every thing ;-in a deep consciousness of which they are ready to cry out with M. De Renty, “ I am a ground all overrun with thorns ;” or with Job, “I am vile : I abhor myself, and repent as in dust and ashes."
16. A conviction of their guiltiness is another branch of that repentance which belongs to the children of God. But this is cautiously to be understood, and in a peculiar sense. For it is certain, “ there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus,” that believe in him, and, in the power of that faith, “ walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Yet can they no more bear the strict justice of God, now, than before they believed. This pronounces them to be still worthy of death, on all the preceding accounts. And it wouid absolutely condemn them thereto, were it not for the atoning blood. Therefore they are thoroughly convinced, that they still deserve punishment, although it is hereby turned aside from them. But here there are extremes on one hand and on the other, and few steer clear of them. Most men strike on one or the other, either thinking themselves condemned when they are not, or thinking they deserve to be acquitted. Nay, the truth lies between : they still deserve, strictly speaking, only the damnation of hell. But what they deserve does not come upon them, because they “ have an advocate with the Father." His life, and death, and intercession, still interpose between them and condemnation.
17. A conviction of their utter helplessness, is yet another branch of this repentance. I mean hereby two things: First, that they are no more able now of themselves to think one good thought, to form one good desire, to speak one good word, or do one good work, than before they were justified ; that they have still no kind or degree of strength of their own; no power either to do good, or resist evil; no ability to conquer or even withstand the world, the devil, or their own evil nature. They can, it is certain, do all these things; but it is not by their own strength. They have power to overcome all these enemies; for “ sin hath no more dominion over them :" but it is not from nature, either in whole or in part ; it is the mere gift of God: nor is it given all at once, as if they had a stock laid up for many years; but from moment to moment.
18. By this helplessness I mean, secondly, an absolute inability to deliver ourselves from that guiltiness or desert of punishment whereof we are still conscious; yea, and an inability to remove, by all the grace we have, (to say nothing of our natural powers,) either the pride, self will, love of the world, anger, and general proneness to depart from God, which we experimentally know to remain in the heart, even of them that are regenerate; or the evil which, in spite of all our endeavours, cleaves to all our words and actions. Add to this, an utter inability wholly to avoid uncharitable, and much more unprofitable, conversation; and an inability to avoid sins of omission, or to supply the numberless defects we are convinced of; especially the want of love, and other right tem pers, both to God and man.
19. If any man is not satisfied of this, if any believes that whoever is justified is able to remove these sins out of his heart and life, let him make the experiment. Let him try whether, by the grace he has already received, he can expel pride, self will, or inbred sin in general. Let him try, whether he can cleanse his words and actions from all mixture of evil; whether he can avoid all uncharitable and unprofitable conversation, with all the sins of omission; and, lastly, whether he can supply the numberless defects which he still finds in himself. Let him not be discouraged by one or two experiments, but repeat the trial again and again; and the longer he tries, the more deeply will he be convinced of his utter helplessness in all these respects.
20. Indeed this is so evident a truth, that well nigh all the children of God, scattered abroad, however they differ in other points, yet generally agree in this; that although we may,“ by the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body ;' resist and conquer both outward and inward sin; although we may weaken our enemies day by day ;-yet we cannot drive them out. By all the grace which is given at justification, we cannot extirpate them. Though we watch and pray ever so much, we cannot wholly cleanse either our hearts or hands. Most sure we cannot till it shall please our Lord to speak to our hearts again, to speak the second time, Be clean : and then only the leprosy is cleansed. Then only, the evil root, the carnal mind, is destroyed; and inbred sin subsists no more. But if there be no such second change, if there be no instantaneous deliverance after justification, if there be none but a gradual work of God, (that there is a gradual work none denies,) then we must be content, as well as we can, to remain full of sin till death; and, if so, we must remain guilty till death, continually descrving punishment. For it is impossible the guilt, or desert of punishment, should be removed from us, as long as all this sin remains in our heart, and cleaves to our words and actions. Nay, in rigorous justice, all we think, and speak, and act, continually increases it.
II. 1. In this sense we are to repent, after we are justified. And till we do so, we can go no farther. For, till we are sensible of our disease, it admits of no cure. But, supposing we do thus repent, then are we called to “ believe the gospel."
2. And this also is to be understood in a peculiar sense, different from that wherein we believed in order to justification. Believe the glad tidings of great salvation, which God hath prepared for all people. Believe that he who is "the brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his person,” is “able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God through him." He is able to save you from all the sin that still remains in your heart. He is able to save you from all the sin that cleaves to all your words and actions. He is able to save you from sins of omission, and to supply whatever is wanting in you. It is true, this is impossible with man; but with God-man all things are possible. For what can be too hard for Him, who hath “all power in heaven and in earth ?" Indeed his bare power to do this is not a sufficient foundation for our faith that he will do it, that he will thus exert his power, unless he hath promised it. But this he has done: he has promised it over and over, in the strongest terms. He has given us these “exceeding great and precious promises,” both in the Old and the New Testament. So we read in the law, in the most ancient part of the oracles of God, “ The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul," Deut. xxx, 6. So in the Psalms, “He shall redeem Israel (the Israel of God) from all his sins.” So in the prophet: “ Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall
be clean : from all your filthiness and from all your idols will [ cleanse you. And I will put my Spirit within you, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.' I will also save you from all your uncleannesses," Ezek. xxxvi, 25, &c. So likewise in the New Testament: “ Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us—to perform the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, should serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life,” Luke i, 68, &c.
3. You have therefore good reason to believe, he is not only able, but willing to do this; to cleanse you from all your filthiness of flesh and spirit; to “ save you from all your uncleannesses.” This is the
hing which you now long for; this is the faith which you now particularly need, namely, that the Great Physician, the Lover of my soul, is willing to make me clean. But is he willing to do this to morrow or to day ? Let him answer for himself. “To day, if ye will hear” my “ voice, harden not your hearts.” If you put it off till to morrow, you harden your hearts; you refuse to hear his voice. Believe therefore that he is willing to save you to day. He is willing to save you now. “Behold, now is the accepted time.” He now saith, “ Be thou clean!” Only believe; and you also will immediately find, “ All things are possible to him that believeth.”
4. Continue to believe in Him that loved thee, and gave himself for thee; that bore all thy sins in his own body on the tree; and he saveth thee from all condemnation, by his blood continually applied. Thus it is that we continue in a justified state. And when we go on “from faith to faith,” when we have faith to be cleansed from indwellimg sin, to be saved from all our uncleannesses, we are likewise saved from all · that guilt, that desert of punishment, which we felt before. So that then we may say, not only,
“Every moment, Lord, I want
The merit of thy death ;" but, likewise, in the full assurance of faith,
"Every moment, Lord, I have
The merit of thy death!” For, by that faith in his life, death, and intercession for us, renewed from moment to moment, we are every whit clean, and there is not only now no condemnation for us, but no such desert of punishment as was before, the Lord cleansing both our hearts and lives.
5. By the same faith we feel the power of Christ every moment resting upon us, whereby alone we are what we are; whereby we are enabled to continue in spiritual life, and without which, notwithstanding all our present holiness, we should be devils the next moment. But as long as we retain our faith in him, we “ draw water out of the wells of salvation.” Leaning on our beloved, even Christ in us the hope of glory, who dwelleth in our hearts by faith, who likewise is ever interceding for us at the right hand of God, we receive help from him to think, and speak, and act what is acceptable in his sight. Thus does he prevent” them that believe, in all their “ doings, and further them with his continual help,” so that all their designs, conyersations,
and actions are “begun, continued, and ended in him.” Thus doth he “ cleanse the thoughts of their hearts, by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, that they may perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy name.”
6. Thus it is, that in the children of God, repentance and faith exactly answer each other. By repentance, we feel the sin remaining in our hearts, and cleaving to our words and actions : by faith we receive the power of God in Christ, purifying our hearts, and cleansing our hands. By repentance we are still sensible that we deserve punishment for all our tempers, and words, and actions : by faith we are conscious, that our Advocate with the Father is continually pleading for us, and thereby continually turning aside all condemnation and punishment from us. By repentance we have an abiding conviction, that there is no help in us : by faith we receive not only mercy, “but grace to help in” every “time of need.” Repentance disclaims the very possibility of any other help: faith accepts all the help we stand in need of, from him that hath all power in heaven and earth. Repentance says, “Without him I can do nothing:" Faith says, “I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.” Through him I can not only overcome, but expel, all the enemies of my soul. Through him I can “ love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength;" yea, and “ walk in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of my life.”
III. 1. From what has been said, we may easily learn the mischievousness of that opinion, that we are wholly sanctified when we are justified ; that our hearts are then cleansed from all sin. It is true, we are then delivered, as was observed before, from the dominion of outward sin ; and, at the same time, the power of inward sin is so broken, that we need no longer follow, or be led by it: but it is by no means true, that inward sin is then totally destroyed ; that the root of pride, self will, anger, love of the world, is then taken out of the heart; or that the carnal mind, and the heart bent to backsliding, are entirely extirpated. And to suppose the contrary, is not, as some may think, an innocent, harmless mistake. No: it does immense harm : it entirely blocks up the way to any farther change : for it is manifest, “ They that are whole do not need a physician, but they that are sick.” If, therefore, we think we are quite made whole already, there is no room to seek any farther healing. On this supposition it is absurd to expect a farther deliverance from sin, whether gradual or instantaneous
2. On the contrary, a deep conviction that we are not yet whole; that our hearts are not fully purified; that there is yet in us a "carnal mind,” which is still in its nature " enmity against God;" that a whole body of sin remains in our heart, weakened indeed, but not destroyed; shows, beyond all possibility of doubt, the absolute necessity of a farther change. We allow, that at the very moment of justification, we are born again: in that instant we experience that inward change, from “ darkness into marvellous light;" from the image of the brute and the devil, into the image of God; from the earthly, sensual, devilish mind, to the mind which was in Christ Jesus. But are we then entirely changed? Are we wholly transformed into the image of him that created us ? Far from it: we still retain a depth of sin: and it is the consciousness of this, which constrains us to groan for a full deliverance,