« PreviousContinue »
or 3. From the weakness of their christian graces; or 4. From misconception respecting the nature of their religious affections; or 5. From constitutional melancholy or infirmity. But when under these doubts, it becomes Christians to examine themselves by the evidences of true piety, to be much in prayer to God for more spiritual light and life, and to live nearer to Him in holy obedience.
Q. 15. At what time of life do the greater part of Christians experience religion?
A. Much the greatest number, no doubt, are renewed in youth, or the early part of life, though some are regenerated in infancy, some in manhood, and a few in old age.
Q. 1. How is holy love distinguished?
It is distinguished into the love of benevolence, and the love of complacency, according to the character of the object on which it terminates.
What is meant by the love of benevolence? A. A desire for the happiness of beings susceptible of pleasure and pain.
Q. 3. In what proportion should the love of benevolence be exercised towards beings susceptible of happiness and misery?
A. The proportion should be according to their capacity for happiness, other things being equal. God is to be loved more than all His creatures, because of the infinitude of His being. Our fellow men are to be loved as we ought to love ourselves. This benevolent affection will act most vigorously towards those who are most in view, and with whom we are most conversant and most connected, because of the relation thus sustained, and the duties thence arising.(a)
(a) Mark xii. 30, 31. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy
Q. 4. By what property is this love of benevolence distinguished?
A. True love of benevolence is disinterested; that is, it does not regard our own private interest merely, but fixes also upon the welfare of others, and is exercised towards all beings susceptible of pleasure in proportion to their intrinsic, relative, and comparative worth and importance in the scale of existence.
Q. 5. How is disinterested benevolence or affection regarded by mankind in general?
A. It is applauded by most men, but exercised by only a few.
What is meant by the love of complacency? A. Delight in beings for their goodness or holiness. Of this kind is the love of God to His holy creatures, and their love towards Him, and towards each other. In this love is included the fraternal affection of Christians towards one another on account of their holiness. This love, too, is disinterested because irrespective of rewards. Q. 7. What is the ground of distinction between love of benevolence and love of complacency?
A. This is the ground of distinction; when it has for its object the good of others, it is called love of benevolence; when it has for its object true moral excellence, it is called love of complacency. Thus every being susceptible of pleasure is a proper object for the love of benevolence, and a being that is holy is a proper object for the love of complacency; and a being susceptible of pleasure, possessed of holiness, is a proper object both for the love of benevolence and of complacency. We should exercise benevolent feelings towards God, in a supreme degree, because He is supremely great, and possesses capacity for infinite happiness; and we should delight in God supremely, because He is supremely good or infinitely holy.
Q. 8. Are all mankind bound to exercise this holy love?
A. They are. This duty is enjoined by reason and revelation.(b)
strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely, this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
(b) Rom. xiii. 10. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.-1 John iv. 8. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.-Matt. v. 43-45.
Ye have heard
Q. 9. How ought this holy love to be viewed by all intelligent beings?
A. It ought to be viewed as most excellent and lovely, and as constituting the true glory of men, of angels, and of Jehovah Himself.
Q. 1. What is repentance?
A. The radical idea of repentance is after-thought. According to the original word used in the Scriptures, it means change of mind, coming to one's senses. In a more extended construction it means reformation in heart and life, change in feelings and action.
What is evangelical repentance?
A. It is turning from sin to holiness; and implies a sense and hatred of sin, and a sense and love of holiness; and is attended ordinarily with hope of pardon and favor through the atonement of the Redeemer; and is followed by obedience. It implies love to the character, law and gospel of God, and has particular respect to sin as its object. This repentance, therefore, does not con
that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you, that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.-Ps. xi. 7. For the righteous Lord loveth righteousness; his countenance doth behold the upright.-Is. xliii. 4. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee.-Matt. xxii. 37-39. Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.-John xiii. 34, 35. A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another-1 Pet. ii. 17. Love the brotherhood.-Rom. xii. 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another.-Phil. ii. 3, 4. Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory; but in lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
sist in any of the natural affections, such as gratitude, remorse, fear of punishment, pity, and sympathy. These, though given for wise and benevolent purposes, constitute no part of true repentance. (a)
Q. 3. What is legal repentance?
A. It is that sorrow for sin, which arises principally from the consideration, that it exposes to punishment, and which does not imply hating and forsaking sin, or loving and practising holiness. Such was the repentance of Judas. It is true his repentance was real and not feigned, was deep and distressing, was attended with full conviction of guilt, frank confession of it, and external reformation in part; but it arose not from true love to God and hatred to̟ sin, but from selfishness and fear of punishment. Such, too, is often the repentance of thieves and murderers, when detected and brought to justice. They sorrow for the consequences of sin, but not for sin itself.(b)
Q. 4. What are the motives to repentance? A. 1. Repentance is reasonable. Sin is unreasonable, base, and hateful to God, a violation of His law, and opposition to the good of His moral kingdom. If not prohibited and restrained, it would dethrone Him, and subvert the benevolent end of His government. And it does actually involve its subjects in misery in the present life. These considerations show the propriety and reasonableness of repentance. 2. Repentance is an indispensable
(a) Joel ii. 12, 13. Therefore also now saith the Lord, Turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning. And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.-Ezek. xiv. 6. Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God, Repent and turn yourselves from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.-Ezek. xxxvi. 31. Then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abominations. -Is. lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
(b) Matt. xxvii. 3-5. Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
prerequisite to pardon and salvation. The promises are made to the penitent, and the threatenings are denounced against the impenitent. This consideration is a motive to repentance.(c) 3. The duty of repentance is much inculcated by God in His word.(d)—All men, therefore, everywhere, and in all circumstances, ought to repentto repent generally, and particularly. Christians, as they sin daily, need to repent daily.
Q. 5. Is repentance man's immediate duty?
A. It is. If he may remain impenitent, and not sin in doing it one day, he may two; and if two, he may a year; and if a year, he may during life, and to all eternity. But none will pretend this. To neglect this duty for the shortest time is, therefore, criminal.(e)
Q. 6. Is the time for repentance limited to the present life?
A. It is. There is no space for repentance in the world to come.(f)
(c) Acts iii. 10. Repent ye, therefore, and be converted; that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.-Is. lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.-Luke xiii. 3. I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
(d) Matt. iv. 17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.-Acts xxvi. 20. But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.-Luke xxiv. 47. And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.-Mark vi. 12. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.-Acts xx. 21. Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance towards God, and faith towards our Lord Jesus Christ.
(e) Acts xvii. 30. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.-Ps. cxix. 59, 60. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.-Heb. iii. 7, 8. Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness.
(f) Eccl. ix. 10. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave whither thou goest.-Rev. xxii. 11. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let bim be holy still,