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Chapter IV.—Repentance Applicable to All the Kinds of Sin. To Be Practised Not Only, Nor Chiefly, for the Good It Brings, But Because God Commands It.

To all sins, then, committed whether by flesh or spirit, whether by deed or will, the same God who has destined penalty by means of judgment, has withal engaged to grant pardon by means of repentance, saying to the people, “Repent thee, and I will save thee;”84408440    Comp. Ezek. xviii. 30, 32. and again, “I live, saith the Lord, and I will (have) repentance rather than death.”84418441    The substance of this is found in Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Repentance, then, is “life,” since it is preferred to “death.” That repentance, O sinner, like myself (nay, rather, less than myself, for pre-eminence in sins I acknowledge to be mine84428442    Compare 1 Tim. i. 16.), do you so hasten to, so embrace, as a shipwrecked man the protection84438443    Comp. c. xii. sub fin.  [Ut naufragus alicuius tabulæ fidem; this expression soon passed into Theological technology, and as “the plank after shipwreck” is universally known.] of some plank. This will draw you forth when sunk in the waves of sins, and will bear you forward into the port of the divine clemency. Seize the opportunity of unexpected felicity: that you, who sometime were in God’s sight nothing but “a drop of a bucket,”84448444    Isa. xl. 15. and “dust of the threshing-floor,”84458445    Dan. ii. 35; Matt. iii. 12. and “a potter’s vessel,”84468446    Ps. ii. 9; Rev. ii. 27. may thenceforward become that “tree which is sown beside84478447    Penes. the waters, is perennial in leaves, bears fruit at its own time,”84488448    Ps. i. 3; Jer. xvii. 8. Compare Luke xxiii. 31. and shall not see “fire,”84498449    Jer. xvii. 8; Matt. iii. 10. nor “axe.”84508450    Matt. iii. 10. Having found “the truth,”84518451    John xiv. 6. repent of errors; repent of having loved what God loves not: even we ourselves do not permit our slave-lads not to hate the things which 660are offensive to us; for the principle of voluntary obedience84528452    Obsequii. consists in similarity of minds.

To reckon up the good, of repentance, the subject-matter is copious, and therefore should be committed to great eloquence. Let us, however, in proportion to our narrow abilities, inculcate one point,—that what God enjoins is good and best. I hold it audacity to dispute about the “good” of a divine precept; for, indeed, it is not the fact that it is good which binds us to obey, but the fact that God has enjoined it. To exact the rendering of obedience the majesty of divine power has the prior84538453    Or, “paramount.” right; the authority of Him who commands is prior to the utility of him who serves. “Is it good to repent, or no?” Why do you ponder? God enjoins; nay, He not merely enjoins, but likewise exhorts. He invites by (offering) reward—salvation, to wit; even by an oath, saying “I live,”84548454    See ref. 1 on the preceding page. The phrase is “as I live” in the English version. He desires that credence may be given Him.  Oh blessed we, for whose sake God swears! Oh most miserable, if we believe not the Lord even when He swears! What, therefore, God so highly commends, what He even (after human fashion) attests on oath, we are bound of course to approach, and to guard with the utmost seriousness; that, abiding permanently in (the faith of) the solemn pledge84558455    “Asseveratione:” apparently a play on the word, as compared with “perseverare,” which follows. of divine grace, we may be able also to persevere in like manner in its fruit84568456    Or, “enjoyment.” and its benefit.


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