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reason that he accounts a man guilty of the sin which he meditates, but cannot find an opportunity of committing.
Much has been insisted upon in regard of disqualifications which render people unfit to take the Sacrament: I know of none, but wilful sin persevered in ; doubt, fear, and ignorance of the nature of the rite; and what I have previously said on those points renders further remark unnecessary.
Repentance being the first essential of practical Christianity and the leading step to our gracious Lord's table, a few remarks on it are necessary; superstition having substituted for it a service of terror and sadness, whereas Christian repentance induces hope and joy. In consequence of such misrepresentations, young and weak minds are often either deterred from engaging in this indispensible duty, or become so oppressed by it, that they are sometimes driven to despair, or induced to throw off the restraints of religion altogether.
Superstition and enthusiasm are two of the greatest enemies Christianity has to contend with; the one serves God in sorrow and dejection, as if he were a tyrant; while the other approaches him with a shocking familiarity, as if he were an equal. I gave a part of Dr. Johnson's definition of repentance in a previous section; I will now introduce the whole.
Repentance, however difficult to be practised, is, if it be explained without superstition, easily understood.
Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice from the conviction that it has offended God: sorrow and fear are properly not parts but adjuncts of repentance; yet they are too. closely connected with it to be easily separated ; for they not only mark its sincerity, but promote its efficacy.”
Where, then, is the terrible character of repentance? we consent to have a limb, or even limbs, amputated to save life, and can we think the abandonment of a destructive habit too hard a sacrifice to save the soul? reformation being the true end of repentance, if we actually relinquish our sins, without even a tear, and seriously engage in a new life, such an act is real repentance: but, when a man comes to a true sense of sin, the fear of God's anger instantly operates upon his mind; and he who can think of that without trembling and grieving; must have a spirit too insensible for reflection, and too daring, or at least unthinking, for repentance: this fear of God's anger naturally produces grief; but it is not grief without hope; for, as the Christian religion is founded upon the doctrine of mercy granted to repentance, through the merits of Christ, the mourner has only to fly to God by prayer, amending his life, and his pardon is pronounced ; then, fear and grief depart from him, hope takes possession of his heart, and joy of bis soul. In our commerce with society when we have seriously offended any one whose affection we highly value and whose favour we earnestly covet, how are we depressed! how do we grieve! and how often do we “refuse to be comforted” till such an one is reconciled to us? how, then, when we discover that we are living in such a manner as deprives us of the favour of God, can we think much of mourning for our disobedience if our mourning will recover his favour? But it is not to be understood that there is always to be “ weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.” No-if our sorrow is grievous let us lighten it as fast as we can, by reforming our lives, which is the true end of repentance; for sorrow without reformation is mocking the deity, and the sooner we reform our lives the sooner will our “ sorrow be turned into joy."
Extremes are to be avoided in religion as well as in every other system; hence, as extreme grief bows down the spirit so as to disable it from attending to its proper duties, whenever it accompanies repentance it retards reformation: for it is not merely crying “ Lord! Lord !” that saves us,“ but doing the will of our Father who is in heaven."
If any one doubt the sincerity of his repentance let him look to his life; and if he discover that he takes as much delight in righteousness as he formerly did in vice, he may depend upon it that he has repented.
I am the more particular upon this subject for two reasons ; first, because, although I would by no means lead people to imagine that they can go to heaven by taking less pains than they must use for the obtaining other great advantages ; (although it is as true as it is trite that