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by a system of temporal rewards and punishments. The peaceful and prosperous possession of their land, was to be the reward of the people's obediencedirect and immediate chastisement, the consequence of their sin. In almost all cases, therefore, under the old dispensation, repentance arose from fear-the lowest salutary motive by which a rational being can be actuated. sinned. The severity of God's vengeance was denounced against them-and if they departed from evil, it was because they feared the Lord. What was that preaching of Jonah at which the Ninevites repented?" Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown 1."-Hence it was that they put on sackcloth from the greatest of them, even to the least of them, and began to ask, "Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not 2?"-But this perhaps is an example not strictly in point.-Turn then to the
1 Jonah iii. 4.
2 Ibid. ver. 9.
case of Aaron, when he and Miriam had "spoken against Moses, because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married," and when Miriam had been stricken with leprosy for her sedition. Which did he think most of, the punishment or the sin ?-" And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas! my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb1?"-Examine the repentance of Ahab', of Hezekiah3, of Manasseh, of Josiah 5;—all of whom humbled themselves before God, and obtained mercy-though their contrition was occasioned only by a sense of present suffering, or a dread of threatened vengeance. Thus the Almighty says to the last of these, Josiah-" Because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled
1 Numb. xii. 11, 12.
2 Kings xx. 3.
2 1 Kings xxi. 19—29. 42 Chron. xxxiii. 12, 13.
5 2 Chron. xxxiv. 21-27.
thyself before the Lord, when thou heardest what I spake against this place, and against the inhabitants thereof, that they should become a desolation and a curse, and hast rent thy clothes and wept before me, I also have heard thee, saith the Lord'." In many passages of the prophetic writings, indeed, traces may be recognised of a better feeling. Thus Jeremiah, speaking in the name of the children of Israel says, "We lie down in our shame, and our confusion covereth us for we have sinned against the Lord our God, we and our fathers from our youth even unto this day, and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God2." Thus Daniel also, “O Lord, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against thee "." And in many other places we find these holy men exhorting their brethren to repentance-not SO much from fear of the punishment due to
2 Kings xxii. 20.
3 Dan. ix. 8.
2 Jer. iii. 25.
sin, as from a remembrance of all God's mercies and loving-kindnesses, and the shamefulness of offending so good and gracious a benefactor. Such feelings, nevertheless, belong rather to the Gospel than to the law. They were expressed
by men who were blessed probably with greater light than their fellows-who had caught some upward beams from that Sun of Righteousness which was as yet below the horizon-beams to which the eyes of the supine and heedless multitude were blinded.-At all events, no such sentiments appear ever to have influenced their conduct.-They regarded not his wonders, neither kept they his great goodness in remembrance'." It was only "when he slew them, that they sought him," and remembered that "God was their strength, and that the high God was their Redeemer 2." Repentance, in fact, under the Law, fixed all its attention upon the punishment, and thought nothing of the sin. In almost every case (David,
1 Ps. cvi. 7. P. B. T.
2 Ps. lxxviii. 34, 35. P. B. T.
and perhaps one or two others may be exceptions) the penitent was prepared to plead, as did Jeroboam, when the hand that he had stretched out against the prophet of the Lord had withered up. "Entreat now the face of the Lord thy God, and pray for me"-for what? that the numberless sins and offences of his past life might be forgiven ?-that God would be graciously pleased to blot out the remembrance of them, and create in him a clean heart, and a right spirit?No!" that my hand may be restored me again."
How different, my brethren, is the feeling which works in the repentance of the Gospel!-Fear, no doubt, may still have its share in producing it. We do not mean to say that it is to be excluded altogether from the number of Christian motives. Our God still has his terrors -and it may, and often does please him to touch the sinner's heart by these when his mercies have failed to persuade him.
1 1 Kings xiii. 6.