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shall all likewise perish." Both the cases before us afforded a very exact representation of the manner in which many of the impenitent Jews met their death in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans. They were assembled for the feast of the passover, when they were besieged till the city was broken up; and then multitudes of them were slain with the sword, and had their blood, in effect, mingled with their sacrifices; and multitudes were crushed in the ruins of the city. Josephust relates different instances, at different times, in which the temple was besmeared with the blood of the slain: and when he is describing the attack made on the temple by Titus, he says, A multitude of dead bodies lay in heaps round the altar, the blood ran down the steps of the temple, and many perished by the falling ruins of the towers or porches." Our Lord had, probably, a reference to these events. But we are also to consider him as teaching that, in whatever way they may pass through this world, and by whatever means they may be taken out of it, all finally impenitent sinners shall perish, in being condemned to endless misery, by a justly offended God.
Now, there are several lessons which we ought to learn from this passage. We may hence learn,
1. To beware of rashly judging others. On this point enough, perhaps, has been already said. Let us, then, be conscientious with regard to it. Let us think of the guilt which we should thus incur, and also of the retribution in kind, which we should thereby prepare for ourselves. Judge not," saith our Saviour," that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
2. We may hence learn not to be too hasty in interpreting afflictive dispensations of providence against ourselves. We may sometimes hear a person who is labouring under great reverses, or heavy bodily distress, express himself thus, Surely I must be a very great sinner, else such things could never have been laid on me." If his meaning, in expressing himself thus, be that he is a great sinner in himself, that he suffers less than he deserves, that he might justly be cast off altogether, and that he ought to humble himself under the rod, and consider well what ought to be amended in his feelings and character; nothing can be more * Perish thus, or in the same manner, wσavrws and μows. + De Bello, Jud. vi.
proper. But if his meaning be, that such sufferings are a proof that he is a sinner beyond others, and that he is still unpardoned and unrenewed, and that God is treating him as an enemy, and probably will cast him off for ever; nothing can be more hasty. The truth of the case may be the very opposite; and, if his humility be real, probably is the very opposite. Let all afflicted souls learn to seek to God for the sanctified use of their trouble, and support under it; and let none vex themselves with dark surmises whose trust is in the God of mercy. "Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.”. "Wherefore, lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed."
3. We may hence learn to be thankful for our own preservation. When we hear of the heavy calamities, and the sudden removal of others, let us bless God for our own safety. What but his kind care has preserved us? Let us be thankful for our ordinary and daily preservation, and espe-cially for signal deliverances. Let us be thankful, too, for our quietness and safety during our solemn religious services. When we think what blindness, unbelief, wandering of thought, and varied sinfulness, mix even with our very best services, and especially with our worst, how thankful should we be that the Lord has not broken in and made a breach on us, and mingled our blood with our sacrifices.
4. We learn from this passage, that it is our duty to mark and improve calamities, and especially, violent and sudden deaths. It is right to speak of them to each other, with a view to our mutual benefit. When God's judgments are abroad in the earth, the inhabitants of the world should learn righteousness. When we hear of the sudden removal of others, we should remember that we too are exposed to be brought to an equally unexpected death in various ways: and we should feel ourselves called on to attend to the warnalso ready: for, in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh."
ing, "Be ye
But there is one other lesson from this passage, on which I am especially desirous of fixing your attention, namely, the necessity of genuine repentance. Our Lord himself here says twice, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." Consider, then, what is implied in repentance unto salvation; and seek to become possessed of it.
It implies, and indeed chiefly consists in, a change of mind. So the original word employed here exactly signifies. It mainly consists in an inward and radical change. It is true that Christian penitence corrects outward crimes; but then, it has that good effect chiefly by its having made a lodgement in the inner man, and having produced a decided revolution there. It traces the polluted streams to the fountain; it detects the origin of the evil in the disordered state of the soul, and it comes along with the discovery and the rectification of the blindness of the understanding, the perversion of the will, and the disaffection of the heart. It is plain that there may be some outward amendment, where there is no such inward change; that a regard to reputation, worldly interest, and various other inadequate considerations, may produce a restraint on actual habits of sin, where the heart is still hankering after them; that actions may be good, as to their letter and matter, but bad as to their spirit and motives; and that his acquaintances may be pleased, and look on a man as a reformed man, when God considers him as still in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity. Hence the Psalmist, in his desire after repentance, begins at the source, confessing that he was "shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin," and applying for a thorough inward change, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Thus, though repentance has other characteristics, it is, when traced up to its first principles, essentially the same with the great saving change called regeneration, and conversion.
But more particularly, true repentance implies a conviction of sin-a conviction not merely of the fact of sin, but of the evil of sin-of its unreasonable, base, odious, and defiling nature of its exceeding sinfulness. It implies grief on account of sin, and a hatred of it;-not merely in reference to its painful consequences (though that view of it is not to be excluded), but in reference to its own enormity. That man has obviously not truly repented of his profligate habits, who is sorry, only because they have ruined his health, or substance, or character, and who would have continued quite easy in his mind, if none of these disagreeable consequences had followed. So, in general, that is not true repentance, which is only a hatred and a dread of hell, and not a hatred and a dread of sinning-only a regret that a man has disregarded his own happiness, and not a regret that he has been guilty of the baseness and ingratitude of disregard
ing God. The true penitent says, " Against thee," O Lord, "thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight." It implies, too, actual reformation. Who would believe that man to be sincere, who, having injured a person, came repeatedly to express his sorrow, but always persevered in the same conduct? But the life of some people seems to be a perpetual struggle between conscience and vice, or carelessness a perpetual alternation of a certain kind of repenting, and of actual sinning. Such repentance is spurious and useless. There is an inseparable connexion between true repentance and actual reformation. "Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin."—" Bring forth fruits meet for repentance."
Genuine repentance, farther, cannot be without faith in the Redeemer. Without this, repentance can only be the sorrow of the world that worketh death. Natural convic
tions of sin may, and indeed must, arise before there is any true religion: but, in order to convictions of that kind being of any use, there must be a discovery of the way of pardon; and in order to their issuing in repentance unto salvation, there must be an actual apprehension, or laying hold of that pardon. Now, the gospel scheme clearly teaches that the divine mercy flows to sinners through the meritorious obedience and death of Christ, by faith. Hence, repentance is neither the ground of forgiveness, nor the means of obtaining it. They greatly err who speak, or think, of making atonement for their sins by repentance; or, of being forgiven for Christ's sake through repentance. All the atonement which ever can be made for sin, is made already, and made by Jesus Christ: and he is "set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood." Repentance unto life, being a particular description of the saving change, comes in the way of the knowledge and belief of the truth: it neither goes before, nor tarries long behind, the reception of the gospel; but it comes in immediate connexion with it. The Christian preacher, therefore, testifies both "repentance towards God, and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, nothing but the believing view, the actual apprehension of the love of God in Christ, can excite feelings of genuine, holy, filial contrition. As long as God is looked on as an enemy, there can be no adequate feeling of the baseness of offending him; but when he is seen to be a friend and a reconciled Father, then sin, which is committed against him, is seen to be exceedingly vile and abomin
able. It is right that the law should be preached in all its terrors, that the tremendous consequences of sin should be dwelt on in all their bearings, and that remorse should be felt in all its bitterness: but these are only like the messenger of the wilderness preparing the way for the Messenger of the covenant; these are useful to alarm the conscience, but they cannot pacify, or purify it; these may sweep away the refuges of lies, but they cannot conduct to a place of safety; these may shake the heart, but they cannot soften it. Something more is necessary to turn into repentance unto life that first repentance, of which it is difficult to know how it may terminate. Something more is wanting to melt down the soul into true contrition, to effect a permanent and decided change on the mind itself, to draw off the affections from the love of sin, and to operate as a constant and sweetly constraining motive to outward reformation; and that is found in the gospel-that is felt in the grace of God which bringeth salvation—that is received in the reception of pardon-that is clearly seen in the believing looking unto Jesus, even Jesus crucified for our sins. According to Zechariah, it is in looking to Him whom they have pierced, that sinners mourn aright. This union of repentance with faith and love is finely illustrated in the case of the woman who was a sinner: "She brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at Jesus' feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment."—" And he said unto the woman, Thy sins are forgiven,”—“ Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace."
To all this let there be added the consideration that true repentance is the gift of God. Nature cannot produce such fruit. Conscience, if not utterly seared, may be stung with remorse; fear, the companion of guilt, may agitate the mind which still clings to its idols; and the determined dwelling of a man's own thoughts on his state, or the faithful warnings of his monitor, may excite an apprehension of coming wrath, but it is only the Author of our nature that can renovate it; it is only the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost that can root out the love of sin, and implant the love of holiness. Speaking of Jesus who was crucified, Peter says (Acts v. 31), “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of