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then, aim at that holy separation from the world, tó which the Apostle exhorted them when he said, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Let him be unmoveable in his profession of the Gospel, after the example of these converts, who Continued steadfast in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship. Let him cultivate gratitude to God, charity and benevolence towards others, and cheerfulness and simplicity as to his own character; even as they Praised God for his mercies, parted their goods to all men, and did eat their bread with gladness and singleness of heart. And, to these holy and devout exercises, let him ever add his fervent prayer that numbers may be gathered into the spiritual church; that faithful ministers may be raised up to imitate the boldness, and convincing reasoning and undaunted appeals of the holy Apostle; that many, bearing the word of truth, may be pricked in their hearts, be led to serious inquiry as to their salvation, and never rest till they have truly repented and obeyed the Gospel; that the numbers of such converts may recal to our minds those days of the Spirit, when three thousand souls were in one day joined to the infant church; and that, to this end, God may grant us primitive faith and zeal, primitive fervour in prayer and preach
ing, primitive love to Christ, and primitive measures of the sanctifying grace of the Holy Ghost : so that the Lord may both increase continually the piety of his faithful servants, and add to their body daily such as shall be saved.
ZECHARIAH, XII. 10.
And I will pour upon the house of David and
upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications ; and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.
The necessity of repentance is established in every part of Scripture. It is the first duty of a sinner under a dispensation of mercy; prepares for a right reception of Christ as a Saviour; and is a part of that new and holy course of life which every true Christian leads. It accompanies, indeed, every other exercise of piety, and terminates only when we arrive at heaven. Its extent and spirituality, its connexion with faith and salvation, the way in which it is to be obtained, and the effects which it produces, are all points of the first moinent. On inany of them the text which I have read will afford us
instruction. It contains a very remarkable
prediction of the repentance and conversion of the Jewish nation. This was in part fulfilled when the Spirit of grace was poured out on the Christian church at the day of Pentecost, and many of those who had crucified the Son of God, looked to Him whom they had pierced : but it will be accomplished in its fullest sense, when the vail shall be taken from the heart of that interesting but obdurate people, and all Israel shall be saved. It cannot, however, be reasonably doubted that the promise contained in it, like many others expressed in similar terms, respects the whole church of Christ, and is continually fulfilled in the case of every particular revival of religion, and of every individual conversion to God. It is in this point of view that I intend to consider it; and it will be my object to illustrate from it three particulars connected with true repentance.
I. The source from which it flows;
III. The effects of it in the life and character of the penitent.
I am to consider, then,
If true repentance imply, as it evidently does in Scripture, an entire change of heart,
comprehending a genuine sorrow for sin as committed against God, a hearty forsaking of it, and an acceptance of God's mercy as revealed in Jesus Christ, then it is obvious that it must spring from the influences of divine grace. Accordingly, in the prediction of the repentance of the Jewish nation before us, the source of it is first spoken of-I will pour upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications. The allusion is to the pouring out of water, which is an usual emblem for the bestowing of the influences of the Holy Ghost. The image is most natural and just; for, refreshing as water to the thirsty, is the grace of the Holy Spirit to the church of God. Such language is common in the Prophets. One example may suffice: I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground; I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring. Isa. xliv. 3. The plentiful measure also of the grace bestowed is implied in this striking image. The POURING out the Spirit conveys the idea, not of a small and inconsiderable blessing, as of a few drops only; but of showers of blessings, as the Prophet Ezekiel expresses it, when the influences of the Spirit shall be granted in rich and copious abundance.
The peculiar effect of the Spirit of God in his operations on the heart, is described in the