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of the sanctifying influences of his Spirit, to qualify you for the eternal inheritance ? For the Amen, the true and faithful Witness, has given you his word for it, that if you thus come to him, he will in no. wift cast you out

I might sum up this important point in a yet fhorter view. If you so heartily approve of, and delight in the gospel-way of salvation by Chrift alone, that you can cheerfully venture your soul and your eternal interests upon it, as the sure and only foundation of hope and safety, you have then the faith of God's etest. And in this case he that has bestowed such grace upon you will carry on his own work in your soul, will give you those several qualifications and evidences of a gracious state, which I have above described ; and will at last present you faultless before his throne with exceeding joy.That you may have the delightful experience of such a progress of grace in your soul, is the prayer of, SIR, Your, c.

LETTER IX. Wherein the Difference

between a legal and an evangelical Repentance is distinctly considered.

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SIR,
TOU juftly observe, “ It is of infinite concern,

" that your repentance towards God (as well " as your faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ) be " sincere ; and that you have therefore cause to be “ folicitous, not to be deceived with a repentance s which must be repented of :" And you have therefore just reason to desire a clear apprehension " of the difference, between a legal and an evange** lical repentance." I thall therefore endeavour,

according

according to your defire, “ to thew you the diffe.

rence, in as easy and familiar a light as I can." And perhaps it may give you a clearer view of the case, if I should thew you first negatively, wherein the distinction does not confift, under a few particu. lars, before I proceed to a direct illustration of it.

It may then be observed, that a deep distress of mind on account of sinning against God, is common both to a legal and evangelical repentance. Even Judas could cry out with agony of foul, I have finned in betraying innocent blood; as well as the Psalmist groans out his complaint, that there was no rest in his bones becaufe of his sins. A distreffing sense of sin, in itself considered, is therefore no evidence for, nor against, the truth and sincerity of repent

ance,

Moreover, a fearful apprehension of the divine displeasure may be common to both forts of penitents. Mere legal convictions may make finners in Zion afraid, and fearfulness furprise the hypocrite ; and destruction from God may be a terror to a holy Fob, in as great reality, though not with such despairing infidelity, as to a Cain or judas; that this can be no distinguishing mark of a true or false repentance.

I may add, dread of, and a temporary reformation from outward and known courses of jinning, may likewise be the consequence of both a legal and evangelical repentance. Ahab humbled himlelf, lay in fackcloth, and went softly; and Herod reformed many things, as well as David refrained his feet from every evil way. It is impoffible for a finner to give the reins to his lufts, while under the se. vere lashes of an awakened conscience, that a mere legal conviction must, while it lasts, procure an external reformation. Such a reformation, of itfelf, can therefore be no evidence of a sincere re

pentance, duty,

ance.

pentance, how great foever it may appear; and be sure it can be no evidence against it.

Besides, men may be put upon diligence and acli. vity in duty, by both a legal and evangelical repent

An insincere repentance may bring men, with the hypocritical Jews, to feek the Lord daily, and delight to know his ways, as a nation that did righteousness. In their affli&tions they may feek him early. They may seek him and return, and inquire early after God. This may be the fruit of a legal repentance, as well as that a true repentance may, and always does, bring men to lift up their hearts and their hands to God in the heavens. This there. fore can be no distinguishing criterion in the case before us.

Once more, a comforting persuasion of having obtained pardoning mercy is common to both kinds of penitents.-God's ancient people, when most incor. ruptible in their impiety, would trust in lying words, come and stand before bim in the house that was called by his name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations. The Ifraelites in the wilderness con. cluded, that God was their rock, and the moji high God their Redeemer, when they flattered him with their lips, and lied to him with their tongues, and their hearts were not right with him. ---And, on the other hand, the true penitent may say with David, I said I will confess my transgresjons unto the Lord, and thou forgavest me the iniquity of my fin.--A mere persua. fion of forgiveness therefore, how comfortable or joyful foever, does not distinguish the nature of that repentance, on which such a persuasion is founded.

In short, it is not the deepest sense of fin or guilt, nor the most distressing forrow on that ac. count ; it is not the fear of God's wrath, nor the greatest external reformation of life ; it is not the most diligent external attendance upon all known

duty, nor the most quieting persuasion of having made our peace with God, nor all these together, that will denominate a man sincerely penitent. For all these may be, and have been, attained by mere hypocrites, and often are found with the false, as well as the true professor.

Having, by way of precaution, given you these remarks, I now proceed directly to consider the important case before us. And,

1. A legal repentance flows only from a sense of danger, and fear of wrath; but an evangelical repentance is a true mourning for fin, and an earnest desire of deliverance from it.. When the conScience of a finner is alarmed with a sense of his dreadful guilt and danger, it must necessarily re. monstrate against those impieties, which threaten him with destruction and ruin. Thence those frights and terrors, which we so commonly see in awakened sinners. - Their sins (especially fome grosser enormities of their lives) stare them in the face, with their peculiar aggravations. Conscience draws up the indictment, and sets home the charge against them. The law passes the sentence, and condemns them without mercy.- -And what have they now in prospect, but a fearful looking for of fiery indignation to confume them ? -Now with what distress will they cry out of the greatness and aggravations of their sins? With what amazement will they expect the dreadful iffue of a finful course?-How ready are they now to take up re. solutions of a more watchful and holy life?--Now they are brought upon their knees before God, to acknowledge their fins, and to cry for mercy; and now conscience, like a flaming sword, keeps them from their former course of impiety and sensual gratifications. And what is all this repentance, but mere terror and fear of hell? Let but con.

science

ance,

science be pacified, and their fear blown over, and the dog will quickly return to his vomit again, till some new alarm revive the conviction of their sin and danger, and their former process of repent

I hus some will fin and repent, and repent and fin, all their lives, and yet lie open to eternal repentance after all. --Or if the distress of con. science make so deep an impression, and fix fuch an abiding awe of particular sins upon the mind, that there remains a visible and continuing reformation, yet their lusts are but dammed up by their fears, and were but the dam broken down, they would run again in their former channel with renewed force. It is true, the law sometimes proves a schoolmaster to drive sinners to Christ; and coll. viction of fin, and a legal repentance, is a necessary preparative to a saving conversion ; but this alone gives no claim to the promise of the gospel.--The house may be thus empty, swept and garnished, but for the reception of seven worse Spirits than were driven out of it; and a sinner may thus escape the pollutions of the world, and yet have his latter end worse than his beginning.

If, on the other hand, we consider the character of a sincere gospel-repentance, though such legal terrors may lead to its exercise, they do not belong to its nature, nor are they any part of its defcrip. tion. Sin itself becomes the greatest burden and aversation to a truly penitent soul.--I hate (says the Psalmist) every falfe way..I wretched man that I am, (says the Apostle), who shall deliver me from the body of this death! - Thus the penitent groans, be. ing burdened, not for fear of hell; fuch fear being no part of a true repentance, though it may some. times accompany a lincere and godly forrow for fin : But this forrow arises from an affecting, hum. bling, mourning sense of fin; from a view of the

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