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by some, and over rated by others, at the expence of that
pres found humility--warm affection-active benevolence and discriminating prudence, which give beauty, energy, and utility, to the Christian character ; yet it is certain, that, all that deserves the name of experimental and practical religion, must spring from divine knowledge. Indeed ignorance is not more certainly the mother of devotion in the temple of superstition, than she is the fruitful parent of crimes and cruelt es, almost without number in civilized countries. It is no uncommon thing in this c»untry, where the means of religious information are so abundant, to find persons whose heads are apparently as clear as a lamp, while their hearts are as cold as death
To such it may be said : Take heed that the light that is in you be not darkness. For if the light that is in you be darkness, how great must that darkuess be! In all countries however, a blinded mind will sufficiently account for an impenitent heart, and an unholy life. Hence the importance of the commandment, that “all men every where should repent."
Few subjects have occasioned more controversy in the religious world than faith and repentance. It would rather be aside from the object of this communication, to enter into the merits of either side Suffice it to say, we are of opinion that two different classes of persons seem to have landed in two opposite extremes upon these subjects. The one class so generalize these terms, as to strip them of their specific import --the other, offender at such a palpable abuse of words, have aimed at too much repnement, in their distinctions between the ingrafted principle, and its inseparable effects, until they have reduced faith and repentance like two inanimate peeled skeletons. If it be wrong to generalize these terms, as if they meant nothing more than a blind heartless assent to certain truths, and a partial regret for what is called past failings and infirmities—we think, it cannot be right to define these terms as if nothing more were intended by them, than merely the exercise of the understanding. If the tormer be calculated only to make nominal christians, the latter is equally adapted to make speculative professors. And except they repent in the Scripture sense of the word, they shall both likewise perish. There is surely some appropriate medium between a shapeless monster and a lifeless skeleton. The sacred writers exhibit these subjects, if we mistake not, in an animated, and ramified state. When they enforce faith upon the conscience of the unbelieving sinner, it is, as a vital and operative principle which purifies the heart-works by love, and overcomes the world and repentance, as equivalent to a change of heart, of principles, of dispositions, and actions,
If the above observations be just, it will follow, that repentance is a moral duty. The Lord commands all men every where to repent.
He makes no account of the natural indisposition of the unrenewed heari.
This is indeed the very cause of our disease ; but it forms no excuse for past transgression, nor any plea for future impenitence. The command of God is not more compassionate, than it is peremptory." Seek the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near Let the wicked forsake his way, and the uprighieous man his thoughts : And let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for be will abundantly pardon. Isa. Iv. 6,7" " The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient-and if there be any other thing contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 1 Tim. i. 9, 12.” Ignorance forms no excuse, either for neglecting the gospel, or violating positive precepts, especially if the means of information are within our reach. So Peter taught bis countrymen, who had ignorantly and wickedly crucified the Lord of glory: “ And now brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things that God before hath shiewed, by the mouth of all his Prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. ,
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refresbing shall come from the presence of the Lord, &c. Acts in. 12."
Repentance may also be considered as a spiritual exercise. “Godiy sorrow worketh repentance unto salvacion that needeth not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world orketh death. For, behold, this self-same thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what vehement desire, yea what zeal, yea what revenge, &c." Nor does it affect the truth of this observation, that the repentance of the Corinthians on that occasion was not " from dead works.' For saith the Lord, I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning hiniself thus, “ Thou hast chastised me and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke : turn thou me, and I shall be turned for thou art the Lord my God, &c. Jer. xxxi. 18, 19.” “ Ephraim shall say, What, have I any more to do with idols ? I have heard him, and observed him. I am as a green fir tree; from me is thy fruit found.”
66 Who is wise and he shall understand these things ? prudent, and he shall observe them ? for the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them; but the transgressors shall fall therein."
Repentance can never be considered genuine unless there
be a return in heart and life unto the Lord. 66 If thou reture 0 Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me ; and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not
Take with you words, and turn to the Lord and say, sinto him, Take away all iniguity and receive us graciously : So xvill we render the calves of our lips. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all uurighteousness.
The immediate lesign of the gospel is to open the eyes of impenitent sinners aspon their own misery, and the mercy of God in the mediation of Christ; and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan into God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified. Hence, Sanl of Tarsus, though as one born out of due time, shewed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerúsalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repené and turn to God, and do works mest for repentance. The repentance that he enforced avas radical in its nature, personal in its application, visible in its fruits, and practical in its tendency.
It need scarce be added, that this repentance when possess. ed, is a precious privilege, and in a certain sense the gift of God. This observation is sanctioned by the sure word of prophecy : “ I will pour out upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplicadions; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitter ness for a first born. Zech. xii. 10." The broken heart know. eth its own bitterness ; and a stranger doth not intermeddle with his joy. It is no small source of joy to the church of God, and the ministers of the gospel, that God hath also unto the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. And it is encouragement of no ordinary magnitude, calculated to accelerate the return of impenitent sinners among all nations, that God has exalted his own Son at his right hand, to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance unto Israel and the remission of sins. But alas ! how few avail themselves of the of.
66 I hearkened and heard, but they spoke not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying what have I done!" What time bave I misspent-what talents have I missapplied—what mercies have I misimproved-what judgments have I despised—what wickedness have I wrought !
every one turneth to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle."
The progress of impenitence in sinners, is seldom so per
ceptable to themselves as it is to others who are spiritually minded. The reproof that once made them shed tears,
the sermon that made them tremble, the conviction that made them mourn, and the providence that made them pale for fear, all now pass over them, and leave them as much unmoved as 3 block of marble. The co cience is now more callous, the feelings more blunt, the affections more carthly, the dispositions more depraved, and the soul more firmly fettered with the bonds of iniquity, than it was a few years ago. Repent, and pray God, if, perhaps the thoughts of thine heart may be forgiven thee, or despisest thou the riches of goodness and forbearance, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ?
Let not christians suppose that they have no more to do with repentance after they obtain rest to their souls in the atonement of Christ. It is a work for life.
It is a work for life. So long as a vestige of the old man remains, there will be ground for godly sorrow; your short comings, your wanderings, your positive sins, and general lukewarmness call loudly for repentance. “ I have some-what against thee, because thou hast fallen from thy first love. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, and repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of its place except thou repent. Rev. ii. 4, 5."
Finally, the prophetic page affords us the strongest assurance of an approaching period under the Messiah's adminis. tration, when abundance of pure and practical knowledge shall prevail over the earth. " The Lord is exalted, for he dwelleth on high; he hath filled Zion wiib judgment and righteousness. Wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times and strength of salvation : the fear of the Lord is his treasure.” He will not only give the means and instruments of information to mankind, but also the disposition to learn the heart humbling doctrine of the cross.
66 Is it not yet very kittle while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest ? And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity sod Harkness. And the meek shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel; then they that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that have murmured learn doctrine." Meanwhile, let the church of Christ in general, and the ministers of the gospel in particular, remember the well established connexion between the universal circulation of the Scriptures, und the preach ing of the cross, in order that all men every where may repent. May the Lord hasten it in his time!
PHILOLOGOS. Vol. II.-No. 11.
THE WISDOM OF GOD.
we have abused it, and renders
the thought of his justiće more (Concluded from page 390.)
terrible. Conscious as we are, that The eternal power of God has we have incurred his displeasure, been clearly seen from the foun- and filled with anxiety about our dation of the world, being under- future destiny, we can obtain no stood by the things that are made. satisfactory answer to our enquiries The heavens declare the glory of from the works of nature. The God, and the earth sheweth his sun, or the moon, or the stars, handy work. Were we not ac
cannot tell us whether God has countable creatures, we might be thought of mercy towards us, nor satisfied with perceiving the traces to what unseen world we shall be of the being and perfections of conveyed after death. Hence the God, which are to be discovered necessity of a revelation from God in the works of his hand; but himself. In the midst of this since this God of power, and fearful uncertainty the light has might, and wisdom, is the God broken forth. It has opened to with whom my young readers our view. the true character of and myself have to do, and since God, and made known his will our consciences loudly testify that concerning us. The revelation of we are guilty in his sight, a fur- God is a revelation of mercy ; ther knowledge of his character it is the history of redemption. becomes a subject of the deepest Our design at present is to coninterest and importance. In his sider this great work more partiworks, much of God is seen, but cularly as displaying the divine much is concealed or rather, wisdom, but to confine ourselves they give us only some faint con- to this view of it, would be to ceptions of him, for he himself treat of it in a very imperfect and “ dwells in light inaccessible.” defective manner--wemust thereThe very indications of his
fore contemplate it as a glorious and wisdom in the universe around exhibition of the wisdon, the us, while they seem to ciiscover power, the holiness, the justice, him, only serve to convince us the mercy, and the love of God. that we know him not. « Lo These attributes shine with the these are part of his ways, but brightest lustre in the plan of re. how little a portion is heard of demption—they unite their rays, him."
and create a splendour which daz" The great Sovereign sends ten thou- zles and overwhelms our feeble
Indeed we view in vain To tell us he resides above them all,
to grasp at or view the whole er, In glory's unapproachable recess.
tent of the great scheme. It will His power
makes us afraid furnish matter to exercise the perhis wisdom makes it hopeless for fected: faculties of redeemed sin. us to think of deceiving him ners through the ages of eternity, his goodness aggravates our guilt soon as the reign of sin tegan, and our apprehensions, because The light of mercy dawn'd on inah.