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THE CHRISTIAN TREASURY.

121

REPENTANCE.

BY THE REV. DAVID KING, LL.D., GLASGOW, If we inquire what is meant by repentance perish.Such is the solemn asseveration of among evangelical Christians generally, the term Him whom we call Lord and Master; and can may be found nearly equivalent in their appre- we be in truth his servants, or can ours be that hension to penitence or contrition for sin. Repen- repentance which averts perdition, if we despise tance, as so understood, stands distinguished the announcement, and so utterly despise it as from remorse, which partakes more of an appal- to take no pains for ascertaining its import! ling nature, viewing God as unpacified and im- Let us not be unwise, but understanding what placable, and filling the mind with a horrible the will of the Lord is. His will is to be learned misery. It is also distinguishable from regret, only from his Word, and not fronı the suggeswhich is a milder term, expressive commonly tions of ingenious speculation ; for genuine reof minor concern, and which, besides being pentance is a scriptural grace, and we must moderate in degree, may have respect to mere find in Scripture itself the true account of its consequences of conduct apart from its intrin- nature. We apply ourselves, then, to determine sic hatefulness.

the scriptural signification of the term repen'i Many have entertained views of the Chris- tance. There are two words so translated in tian virtue now under consideration differing the New Testament. One of them occurs selwidely from those above stated, and also from dom, and is used with considerable latitude of one another. The Church of Rome has con- meaning. It is employed in a good sense, as founded penitence and penance; and numbers, when the Jews (Matt. xxi. 32) are censured without subscribing to a Papistical creed, have for not repenting, that they should believe conceived of repentance as essentially bitter in on the Baptist ; in a bad sense, as when its character-a mental misery whicie the hap- Judas (Matt. xxvii. 3) is said to have reless transgressor must both inflict and endure-pented, and brought again the thirty pieces of a present purgatory, the hidden flames of which silver, and thereafter to have hanged himself; must be fanned by the spirit on which they and in a sense that may be called indifferent, prey, as a painful but indispensable preparation as when Paul says to the Corinthians (2 Cor. for spiritual joy. Recoiling, perhaps, from these vii. 8),“ Though I made you sorry with a letter, stern conceptions of the subject, some of late I do not repent, though I did repent.” ays have passed to an opposite extreme, and

The other word which our translators have have maintained that sorrow for sin, instead of rendered to repent, occurs often in the New being the whole of repentance, is no part of it Testament. It is always employed in a good whatever. The word, they have argued, de- sense, invariably representing the repentance notes in the original, change of mind, by which which it denotes as a religious duty; and it is they seem to understand mere change of of this word we speak in the following observaopinion : and, therefore, brokenness of spirit, tions. they assure us, cannot be one of its constituents, It has been stated to mean, as we have al. though following after, as one of its sequences. ready remarked, change of mind; and this is

Another interpretation, distinguishable from no doubt a fair enough translation, if we view all the foregoing, has been ably advocated—that the mind as inclusive of the heart. Strictly, it scriptural repentance is equivalent to reforma- represents a person as otherwise minded after

uct, and that the sorrow which it wards ; that is, on reconsidering his conduct. implies for former misconduct is a secondary The question, then, arises, If repentance be a matter at most, and not the principal idea sug- change of mind, in what does that mental gested by the language.

change consist ? It will be readily perceived These discrepancies of opinion have been that we cannot, by a direct act of the will, make noticed, not to create any doubtfulness about the mind, as to its essence or powers, different ascertaining the truth, but to stimulate earnest- from what it is; nor does the work of the Holy ness and diligence in seeking it where alone it Spirit properly consist in annulling certain faculcan be discovered. Unless ye repent, ye shall ties, and creating others.

The signification, No. 11. *

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then, is, that we are to change our minds in rela- ness.” Did this repentance import any change tion to certain subjects ; in other words, we are to of mind as to sin, short of deep-felt sorrow for ponder them seriously, and thus become other-it ? Certainly not ; and if so, such sorrow bewise and more justly minded concerning them. longs to repentance. To put the case more explicitly, we may lay It would be easy to adduce more citations down the proposition that,

of kindred character, but further multiplication Repentance denotes a change of mind in re- of them appears superfluous. These may suflation both to evil and to good.

fice to excite our marvel that the love of paraIt may be useful, for the sake of illustration, dox could be carried so far as to induce any to to divide this twofold statement, and consider denude repentance of all penitence, in opposiits different parts successively.

tion to such Biblical testimonies, as well as the First, then, repentance involves a change of general sense of the Christian Church in all mind in relation to evil. To exclude the idea of ages. mere opinion being hence altered, while feeling Secondly, Repentance denotes a change of remains unaffected by the process, I think it may mind in relation to what is good. be of some moment to prove satisfactorily that It may be admitted that this view of the repentance, as a change of mind in relation to subject, though by no means expressing the evil, comprehends sorrow for sin. The accuracy whole duty, is too much overlooked. In speak. of this sentiment must be judged of by its con- ing of repentance, persons are too apt to think sistency with Scripture, by collating it with of penitential grief exclusively, and are led by those scriptural passages in which the term re- this misapprehension into great practical danpentance occurs. We are informed (Matt. iii.1,2) gers. They are tempted to suppose that aftlicthat “in those days came John the Baptist preaching tion of the soul separately, and by itself conin the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye, for the sidered, constitutes a virtue; that to be troubled kingdom of heuten is at hand.” This was the sum about sins, and to repent of them, are one and of the Baptist's preaching; and, as an exemplifi- the same thing; and that this mental penance cation of its success, we are told of many(verse 6) is all the mental change which they require who were baptized of him in Jordan, “confessing to undergo. Whereas they must repent of their sins.” Now, when repentance was the duty wickedness in such a manner as to practise reenjoined, and confession of sin was the ostensible pentance towards God. There must be a turning compliance with the injunction, these seem to be of mind from it to him. Where the one of these associated in the record as expository of one is genuine, the other must attend it; and, inanother. We are told (Matt. xi. 20) that “then deed, they portray the same frame of soul began Jesus to upbraid the cities wherein most of his directing its contemplation to different objects. mighty works were done.” He subjoined that “had When we come to loathe evil, we must, in the such mighty works been done in Tyre and Sidon, they nature of the case, love its opposite. Propor would have repented long ago in dust and ashes.” tional to our abhorrence of evil will be our adBut dust and ashes were not put upon the head miration of good, and more especially of the to bespeak mere change of notion, or visible God of goodness; so that, deprecating what reformation: they were the appropriate em- we once esteemed, and esteeming what we once blems of deep, sorrowing, and self-abasing hu- deprecated, we inhabit a new world;" all things miliation. We find our Lord saying (Luke xvii. are changed, and all things become new." 3, &c.) If thy brother trespass against thee rebuke Some have taken exception to such an expohim, and if he repent forgive him. And if he trespass sition of repentance as being twofold, and against thee seven times in a day, and seren times in a therefore complex, and as placing its constiday turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt tuent ideas in a false order. It calls upon forgive him.” This passage I regard as very de- sinners, they say, to change their minds first cisive of the point at issue. It would be a waste in relation to sin, and then in relation to the of time to show that repentance in this connec- Saviour; while an afflictive sense of sin cannot tion means anything else, or anything less than be experienced before looking to Christ; and a sorrowful acknowledgment of one's fault: and a just view of him, instead of coming after so often as this satisfaction shall be rendered, contrition, is the grand and only source of the offended party is ordered to forgive. We genuine self-abasement. In reply we repeat a learn (Acts viii.) that when Simon Magus had former observation—that the two views which manifested blasphemous impiety, Peter said to have been offered of repentance, denote but him (verse 22), “ Repent therefore of this wicked- one frame of mind. We do not first sorrow for

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sin, and then come to Christ; we sorrow for culty, though he found it an imperative duty, sin in coming to Christ. A person does not first to punish a criminal who afforded unequivocal travel from the east, and then towards the west; evidence of true sorrow for his crime. Had in the act of doing one he is doing both; and Pilate passed by Calvary when the contrite maleso he that repents is coming to Christ, and he factor was vindicating his own terrible punishthat comes to Christ is repenting. If the change ment, and heard him say, We indeed suffer of mind as to evil and good should be distin- justly, for we receive the due reward of our guished at all, the changes are co-temporaneous deeds,” it is supposable that the Roman governor and reciprocally affect each other. Just views might have felt disposed to relieve the sufferer. of sin enhance our estimate of the Saviour, But, at all events, a greater than Pilate was and just views of the Saviour cause sin to there, who heard the words, and was moved by appear more exceeding sinful. An humbling them, and who, in evidence that a man is justisense of demerit quickens our application to fied by faith without the deeds of the law, and the blood of sprinkling, and when we have that a broken and contrite spirit will not be washed there, we abhor the iniquities more despised by him, replied, “ To-day shalt thou than ever that could not be washed elsewhere; be with me in Paradise.” and the saying comes to be fulfilled : “ Then Penitence, I have said, is amiable in whatshalt thou remember and be confounded, and ever relation it may be exhibited. But while never open thy mouth any more for shame, we should all confess our faults one to another, when I am pacified towards thee for all that or, in other words, each his offences to the thou hast done."

person offended against, still penitential conHaving endeavoured to give the full view of fession to God is pre-eminently becoming, bescriptural repentance, it may be proper to cause pre-eminently binding. We have sinned add, that a change of mind as to evil, or, in against the Creator so much more than against other words, true sorrow for sin, seems to be our fellow-creatures as to warrant the comthe predominating idea which it expresses. parative ejaculation—“Against thee, thee only, For as to the other element-a change of mind have I sinned, and in thy sight done this ill.” in relation to good—that change partakes of The majesty of God also demands a profound the nature of faith, and is commonly enforced obeisance, to which fellow-men, from their in an associated command to believe the Gos- meanness, can have no title. Generally speakpel. Accordingly, we have seen that repen- ing, it is a false consequence that indisposes to tance is more specially and emphatically iden- own faults, even to each other; and many a time tified with confession of sin, or that frame when dignity is consulted, by concealing and in which penitence has subdued pride, and equivocating, the end would be far better which shuns not to avow its condemnation of gained by following an opposite line of conitself. We need not wonder at this ascendant duct, and unfeignedly admitting. The ingeplace being assigned in Scripture to the prin nuousness of acknowledgment often obliterates ciple of contrition. It is an amiable property, the impression of misdemeanor, and even elieven as exemplified in subordinate and social cits the admiration awarded to moral greatrelations. A kind parent may exercise severity ness. But while there may be a semblance of towards an obdurate child, but that parent has ignominy in one creature making confession to little of parental feeling who can see his child another, there can be no pretence of this relasubdued into tearful acknowledgment of wrong, tively to the Creator. In this case, also, there and inflict severities still. To take a homely is undoubted condescension, but it is not with us but illustrative instance. 6 You shall stand -it is with God. He humbleth himself when there yet two hours,” said a pious mother to an he beholds the things that are in heaven, and offending child, who had been stationed for his how much more when he listens to the accents offence on the domestic pillory.“ Oh, I have of a sinner that repenteth! In a word, there done wrong," said the child, “andif you will only is none good as God, and the goodness of God forgive me, mother, and not be angry with me, I leadeth us to repentance ! His clemency is inwill stand here all day.” Such a simple saying, dicated by the very opportunity of repenting. from its touching expressiveness of a becom- Were he not gracious, there would be no place ing grief, not only disarms rigour at the time, for it: it would be wholly and for ever hid from but ever after endears to the heart the amiable his eyes. They have sadly misapprehended penitent from whose lips it has proceeded. repentance who have classed it with irksome Even a just judge would experience great diffi- service rendered to a hard task-master. It is

BY MRS HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.

JESUS.

not the homage which a serf pays to his des solution of these intricacies argumentation may pot, or the victim of war to an imperious con- afford, let us seek experimental evidence that queror, or the deluded idolater to imaginary God's requirements and promises happily coagods, whom an accusing conscience has armed lesce. Let us engage the appointed means of with fury. It is the homage paid to benevo- spiritual renovation, and implore the aid of lence-paid by a heart which benevolence has God's Spirit, to give the means effect. As we melted-an acknowledgment of transgressions look on truth illumined by the Spirit of truth, disclosed to the transgressor's own view by we shall change our minds with regard to it, no the light of divine love shed abroad upon his longer spurning it as fabulous or offensive, but soul. Perhaps it may seek vent in tears, but under its moulding influence, hating what it they are such tears as purify vision, and reproves, and loving what it commands; and even while filling the eye, sparkle with joy- this mental change will constitute a repentance brightening the moral landscape like clear not to be repented of—a change of mind never shining after rain. Let not sinners, then, be to be regretted. alarmed at the call to repent. Let them hail it as a joyful sound, a benignant proclamation

LUTHER'S ONE IDEA. from a dishonoured Lord, that he is slow to anger and willing to forgive.

It is a remarkable fact that we noticed the To repent, is a duty which we are bound to other day, in turning over the fine volume of perform. It does not follow that the perform- De Witt's edition of Luther's Letters, that every ance of this duty by us excludes the aid of one of them, to whomsoever addressed, and on divine influence. We are required to turn, whatsoever subject, bore over the top the inwhich is another form of the command to re- scription pent; and lest we should decline compliance, as impracticable, we are told that God will pour

We are informed that this habit was pecuout his Spirit upon us, and make known his liar to himself, and was not common to other words unto us. In promising to send the in his history, it is very affecting. Luther, like

writers of the period; and connected with facts Comforter, our Lord also foretold that he would all great Reformers, was a man of one idea; but convince the world of sin, and we have seen that that one idea was not what historians have a conviction of sin belongs very essentially to generally supposed—it was not civil liberty, the nature of repentance. The account which nor liberty of opinion, nor opposition to forms, has been given of this grace harmonizes with

nor any abstract love of truth; but the one idea the representations which the Scriptures furnish felt with deeper anguish what it was to be lost.

was—JESUS—Saviour. No human being ever of the work of the Holy Spirit. We repent Language cannot have a more terrible earnestwhen we change our minds on subjects of eter- ness than that wherein he has described the nal interest, so that the understanding is en- death-agony through which he passed when he lightened and the heart is renewed; we thus felt his sins, and the majesty of God, and the change our minds on these subjects when we desperate hopelessness of any effort to approach apprehend the truth respecting them; and we

him, or bring his fallen nature up to that imapprehend the truth when the Spirit takes of measurable height of purity. “It was all over!'

with me,” he says; “the sin of my nature tor: the things of Christ and shows them unto us.

mented me night and day-there was no good We are sanctified by the Spirit, and a belief of in life; sin had taken possession of me-my free the truth; by the Spirit as the agent, and a will hated God's judgments--it was dead to good; belief of the truth as the instrumentality by anguish drove me to despair-nothing remained

“Let them which he works; and a sinner, in repenting, but to die and sink to hell.”

threaten me with banishment and death, with! exemplifies that moral transformation, which

the torture and the stake,” he says in a later! in sanctification is more and more advanced, letter, “what is all this to me? it all makes no till we all come in the unity of the faith

impression on me, it is all the merest trifle to the and the knowledge of the Son of God unto agony I endured in my religious life before I a perfect man, unto the measure of the sta- found a Saviour.” Now, to a soul in this state ture of the fulness of Christ. Difficulties of of religious anxiety, the whole Catholic system a metaphysical character might be raised on

is one great and gloomy barrier standing bethis subject of divine influence, as on most like a giant; he fought as for life, and broke

tween it and its Redeemer. Luther struggled other subjects, and not less on those of common through the dark obstacle, and found a Saviour life and every-day experience, than the leading -he found, he embraced, he believed, he felt, articles of Christian doctrine. But whatever he knew that he was saved, and he felt it with

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a joy as mighty and overwhelming as had may, perhaps, make me poorer by an hour or been his anguish. Thenceforth there was to two of life. It is enough for me that I have my him but one mighty idea--SALVATION and a sweet Redeemer and Saviour, my Lord Jesus SAVIOUR.

Christ, to whom I will sing as long as I have When, late in life, he was complimented on

my being." the wonderful courage and energy he had It ought to be known that the great body of showed in conceiving and carrying on the great Luther's preaching was not controversial, but enterprise of civil and religious reform, he consisted of such plain, practical efforts to lead seemed lost in thought for a time, and then the weak and ignorant to a Saviour, as would said: “Strange, I never thought of any of those befit a city missionary of our own times; for things; all I wanted was salvation, saltation, if “when I preach,” said he, “I preach not for salvation were possible.”

learned men and magistrates, of whom there And having found Jesus, he proclaimed him; are but few; but for the poor, the women, and and when he saw the Catholic Church putting children, and servants, of whom there are some anything in place of Jesus, he tore it down; thousands.” Might not some modern ministers and when he found, to his amazement, that the derive a useful hint from this? whole Catholic establishment was not acciden- It would seem to be a time now, when it is tally but designedly standing between the simple, necessary for every minister and private Chriscommon people and their Saviour, and meaning tian, like Luther, to inscribe the name of Jesus ! still to stand there, then it was that he under- on every effort, and set him always before them. took to fight the whole Church.

Preaching Christ, has in these days become a | Historians have dilated on the incredible phrase for anything which a man chooses to say courage that Luther showed in thus relying on in the pulpit. A man preaches on the diffehimself in the face of the world, but his courage rences between Old School and New, and that is all accounted for in this one passage of Scrip is preaching Christ. If he preaches all sorts ture : “ I have set the Lord always before me; of philosophical speculations, that is preaching because he is on my right hand, I shall not be Christ. If he preaches on temperance, moral moved,"

reform, anti-slavery, and all the various out| When on his way to the Diet at Worms, he works, that is preaching Christ; in short, if he stopped at Erfurt, and crowds flocked to see preaches at all, he is preaching Christ, of the doomed man, alone and helpless, marching course. onward, to all human view, to certain and hor- But preaching Christ, according to the aposrible death-the church was crowded to over- tolic sense, is preaching the person, the indiviflowing; and at this time, when, like Jesus, he dual, Christ Jesus as he is in himself, as he is was going up to Jerusalem, or, like Paul, was in his adaptation to the wants of every human bound in the spirit, knowing nothing, except creature. It is preaching so as to produce a that in every city bonds and afflictions should vivid, constant impression of the present reality abide him, of what did he speak? Of Luther, of Christ, and his present activity in the affairs and Luther's trials, and Luther's dangers—of of the world. One sermon a-year on the chaCharles, of the pope, and princes of the em- racter of Christ, a philosophical exemplification pire ? No, none of these; nor yet of civil of the rationale of the atonement, an occasional liberty and rights of conscience. Hear his dash at some historical fact in the life of Jesus, text : “ Then the same day at evening, when will not do it. There is given in the Evangethe doors were shut where the disciples were lists the most noble, the most inconceivably assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus, and beautiful ideal, far beyond the poet's dream, stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace far beyond anything the highest human ideality be unto you! and when he had so said, he ever hoped; and this vision of beauty and glory showed them his hands and his side;" and the it is the minister's duty to reproduce, and make 'whole discourse was a simple and pathetic illus- real and vivid on every mind in his audience. tration of this truth, that the presence of Christ, He must measure his success by this question, and the remembrance of his sufferings, is the “How much reality and personal power among Christian's support in times of affliction and my people do I give to Christ ?” And as no danger.

one can reproduce the enchantments of art, but When forsaken by all his friends, and threa- one who has been himself enchanted, who has tened with instant destruction by his es, gazed whole days, who has lingered on every he writes : " But in regard to their threats, I line and lineament, marked every tone of have nothing to say to my friends, but that colour and tremulous vibration of shade; so no sentence of Reuchelin's : “He who has nothing one can reproduce Christ who has not seen him, fears nothing, for he can lose nothing;' property felt him, and been thrilled to the heart's depths I have none, and desire none; fame and hon- by his loveliness, and with whom he is not, as our, if I have had them, the destroyer has now with Luther, the one idea, so that over every entirely destroyed; one thing only' remains—a effort, of whatever kind, it should be the strong feeble body, worn down by constant labour; and impulse of his heart to inscribe the name if by force or fraud they take this away, they Jesus.--New York Evangelist.

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