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we should examine, whether we have not depended on our own supposed abilities, or sought our own honour; instead of relying simply on the Holy Spirit, with a readiness of mind to ascribe to him all the glory of every successful attempt?
They who would enjoy the benefit of an able and faithful ministry, should be instant in prayer for their pastors. If this were more attended to, we should doubtless be enabled to set forth the true ' and lively word of God, both by our preaching ' and living,' with far greater effect; and should be in all respects much more useful.-But our fervent supplications should not be confined to those, with whom we are more immediately connected; for we ought to pray continually for the "pouring "out of the Spirit from on high," upon every part of the visible church, and upon all orders and descriptions of men throughout the world. This should constitute a prominent part of our daily prayers, in our closets and families; and enter particularly into the various circumstances, in which mankind are placed. We ought to intreat the Lord, to render all his ministers faithful, holy, and successful; to send forth labourers into his harvest; to unite all Christians in the bonds of brotherly love; to prosper all means used for the conversion of Jews, Mahometans, Pagans, or infidels; and to "fill the earth with truth and righ"teousness."
We shall not probably live to witness this
glorious scene: yet the Lord may bless some means which we use, in making way for that grand triumph of his cause. Thus David zealously prepared materials for the temple, though assured it would not be built in his day. If we have little else in our power, either to serve our generation, or to sow seed for the good of posterity; we may perform an important service by our persevering prayers: and whenever the Lord shall "pour out "his Spirit from on high," to make his gospel victorious over all opposition; his people will certainly go forth to meet him with their united fervent supplications.
ACTS, XI. 18.
Then hath GOD also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
I HAVE taken this text, my brethren, in con
sequence of a letter which I received from an unknown correspondent, written in a very serious manner, and desiring a publick answer to several interesting questions on the subject of repentance; a subject undoubtedly of great importance, in which we are all most deeply concerned.
The apostles and Christians in Judea, having heard that Peter had associated with Cornelius and other uncircumcised persons, expressed much surprise at his conduct: but when he had related all the circumstances that attended it, "They held "their peace and glorified GOD, saying, Then "hath GOD also to the Gentiles granted repent(( ance unto life:" yet it is remarkable, that there
is nothing expressly about repentance, in the account which Peter had given.
On another occasion, when Paul and Silas returned from Asia to Antioch, "They gathered "the church together, and rehearsed all that GOD "had done with them, and how he had opened the "door of faith to the Gentiles." Mark now these two expressions, used by the apostles on similar occasions. "GOD hath granted the Gentiles re"( pentance unto life." "GOD hath opened the "door of faith unto the Gentiles." Much instruction may be derived from comparing them together. When "God grants repentance unto life," he " opens the door of faith." When "he opens the door of faith," he "grants repentance unto life."-" Repent ye and believe the gospel." Certainly one way of salvation, and not two different ways, was spoken of in both places.
I design at present to shew,
I. That repentance is a principal part of the LORD's plan of mercy and grace to sinners in the gospel. And,
II. To enquire into the nature and effects of repentance unto life.
I. Repentance is a principal part of the LORD's plan of mercy and grace to sinners in the gospel,
I express myself thus, because many suppose that repentance does not properly belong to the gospel; and that when we insist on repentance, "and works meet for repentance," we do not preach evangelically for they seem to think that salvation by grace is salvation for sinners continuing impenitent; and they charge us with returning to the law, and bringing them into bondage, when we maintain the contrary. But indeed, if we distinguish, as no doubt we ought, between the law and the gospel; repentance has nothing to do with the law, except as a man repents that he has broken it. The law says, "Do this and live;" "the soul that sinneth, it shall die:" "Cursed is
every one who. continueth not in all things "written in the book of the law to do them." It does not so much as command repentance, by any immediate injunction. It condemns the transgressor, and leaves him under condemnation.
Would it not be thought a strange thing in an act of Parliament, if after death had been decreed as the punishment of the crime specified, a clause should be added, commanding the criminal to repent, and promising pardon to the penitent? The king indeed may extend mercy to the transgressor, if he judge it expedient. But this is grace, and not law, which does not require repentance; indeed pardons always tend to weaken the authority of the law.
When God delivered the ten commandments