« AnteriorContinuar »
rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you; yea, what clearing of yourselves; yea, what indignation; yea, what fear; yea, what vehement desire; yea, what zeal; yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
6. Q. What then is that sorrow, which leads to a true repentance?
A. It is that godly sorrow which proceeds from a sense of our duty, and of the obligations we lie under to the performance of it. When we are sorry for our sins upon the account of our having thereby offended God, broken the covenant of the gospel, and grieved the Holy Spirit which was given to us; and are therefore resolved immediately to forsake our sins, and never to return any more to the commission of them.
7. Q. How is such a sorrow to be wrought in a sinner?
A. Only by the grace of God, and the serious consideration of our estate towards him: the former to be attained by our constant prayer for it; the latter, by accustoming ourselves often to examine our souls, and to try our ways by the measures of that obedience which the gospel of Christ requires of us.
8. Q. Does not God make use of many other ways to bring men to such a sorrow?
A. God has many ways whereby to bring sinners
to repentance. Sometimes he does it by sending some temporal evils and calamities upon them: sometimes by visiting them with terrors and disquiets of mind: sometimes he calls upon them by the outward ministry of his word; and sometimes by the evils which befal others, especially those who were their companions in their sins. But whatever the occa. sions be which God is pleased to make use of to bring us to repentance, it is still the Grace of his Holy Spirit, and the serious consideration of our own wretched estate, that must begin the work, and produce in us that godly sorrow, which finally ends in a true repentance.
9. Q. What are the chief motives, with respect to ourselves, that will be the most likely to engage us thus to sorrow for our sins?
A. The threats of God denounced in the Holy Scriptures against impenitent sinners; and the 'promises there made of pardon to all such as shall truly repent, and return to their duty, as they ought to do.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Luke, xiii. 3. Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Prov. xxviii. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. b Isaiah, lv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, and he will abundantly pardon. Ezek. xviii. 30. Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God. Repent and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. xxxiii. 11. As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked
turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel.
10. Q. What is the next thing required in order to a true repentance?
A. Confession of sin: not that God has any need of being informed by us of what we have done amiss; but to the end we may thereby both raise in ourselves a greater shame and sorrow for our evil doings; and give the greater glory to God by a solemn humbling of ourselves in confession before him.
PROOF SUBJOINED.-1 John, i. 8, 9. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
11. Q. Is such a confession necessary to our forgiveness?
A. So necessary that we have no promise of any pardon without it: Prov. xxviii. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. 1 John, viii. 9. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
12. Q. To whom is our confession to be made? A. Always to God: and in some certain cases to man also.
13. Q. What are those cases in which we ought to confess our sins to man, as well as unto God?
A. They are especially these three. 1. In case we have offended or injured our neighbour; and upon that account need to obtain his pardon, as well as God's. 2. If by any open and notorious transgres
sion, we shall happen to have either deserved, or, it may be, to have fallen under the censures of the church, and so confession to the church be necessary to restore us to the peace of it. Or, 3, If we shall have any private reason that may move us to acquaint any person with our sins; for advice, for prayer, for absolution, or for any other the like spiritual advantage, which cannot be had without it.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Matt. v. 23. If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 1 Cor. v. It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 1 Tim. v. 20. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. James, v. 16. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
14. Q. What think you of that confession (commonly called auricular confession,) which the church of Rome requires as necessary to forgiveness?
A. I look upon it as a great and dangerous imposition, that has no warrant from the Holy Scriptures, but is a rack and snare to the consciences of good men; and may be apt to encourage those who are evil-inclined to commit sin: whilst by the absolution which is so readily given them thereupon, (and the efficacy of which is so highly magnified in that church,) they are taught to entertain a much less
opinion both of the heinousness and danger of their evil doings, and of the easiness of obtaining the forgiveness of them, than either the scripture warrants, or their own interest should prompt them to admit of. 15. Q. Is there not somewhat yet required beyond this, in order to our forgiveness?
A. Yes, there is; for to all this there must be superadded, an actual forsaking of those sins which we confess, and that absolute, and without reserve: so that we must firmly resolve, and as much as in us lies, heartily endeavour not to return any more to the commission of them.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Prov. xxviii. 13. He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Isaiah, Iv. 7. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Say unto them, as I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel.
16. Q. But ought there not, beyond all this, some satisfaction to be made to God for the sins which we have committed?
A. Yes, certainly; and such there has been made by our Saviour Christ for us; who has fully satisfied the justice of God for our sins, and left nothing more for us to do in that behalf.
PROOFS SUBJOINED.-Heb. ix. 25, 26, 28. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into hea