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impenitent person is not in his right mind, in a spiritual view. This is certainly the case : for he has not right apprehensions of God and of himself, of his state and conduct, of sin and holiness. He thinks highly of himself; justifies himself; and seeks his happiness in worldly things. He forms no sound spiritual judgment of these matters. But the enlightening and enlivening power of divine grace causes him to see, and think, and feel, and speak in a different manner. It is a restoring influence, by which the faculties are properly exercised. The soul is no longer the dupe of error and illusion.

But if repentance be made merely to consist in a restoration to a right mind, it seems to be only an intellectual matter : and he who knows what is good and bad, and speaks correctly about them, must be accounted a penitent. But this is not the

The penitent mind is not only one which discovers right, but which also feels in agreement with the discovery. Here the question meets us -What sort, and what quantity of feeling is essential to the existence of a truly penitent frame of soul? I may with safety answer in general terms—that sort and that quantity of it which lead to a sound conversion, as that term has been already explained. If repentance do not issue in real conversion, whatever darkness, distress, and anguish may have been felt, it cannot be pronounced a true repentance. If, on the other hand, repentance issue in real conversion, though it was attended with comparatively little darkness, distress, and anguish, there is every possible reason to account it a true repentance. If a person be now living in the fear and love of God, in the faith of Christ, in dependance on the Holy Spirit, in the cultivation of universal holiness, and in the performance of every duty, he has been regenerated; he has been a penitent; he has been converted; though he may not be able to detail chronologically all the circumstances in regular succession of that great spiritual process by which he was brought into his present state. Thus where there is that kind and degree of feeling against all sin, and towards all holiness, as really leads to the renunciation of the former, and to the seeking and attainment of the latter, that feeling is repentance.


This statement, however, is not sufficiently minute to afford you satisfaction. It is easy, then, to be more particular: and yet after the greatest prolixity of statement, I should be compelled to recur to my general statement, as the firm ground, as the sure test of a repentance that is sound and genuine.

The common idea respecting repentance seems to be, that it is invariably connected with darkness, doubt, fear, and anguish ; with every element and form of mental bitterness.—But it ought to be observed, that various things may modify repentance, as to the feelings that attend it: such as

natural constitution, moral habits, and education. In addition to this, the agency of the Holy Spirit may be infinitely diversified. In a person of cool temperament and firm nerves, and in one of a sensitive and trembling frame; in one who has spent many years in sin, or been profligate, and in one who is in the morning of life, and moral; in one whose education has taught him to restrain feeling, to exercise judgment, and to speak correctly, and in one who follows the first impulses of an honest but untaught breast; it is but reasonable to expect that the feelings of repentance may greatly vary. It is also impossible for us to tell, how the Holy Spirit may act in different ways, with different measures of influence, exhibiting different truths to the contemplation of the soul, in different cases. Hence it is evident, that the common idea, whatever truth it may contain, cannot with justice be adopted as a universal rule.

There are Christians who, to speak so, were compelled to be religious; and that when they thought of no such thing, and when their hearts were strongly set against it: and this change takes place in a short time. We find others who were taught and influenced so gradually and imperceptibly, and through such a length of time, that they can give no other account of their piety than that they are by the grace of God what they

The interval between these extreme points is filled up with such a variety of character with respect to repentance, that no human skill can possibly delineate it *.


There are cases, then, in which religion suddenly lays hold of a person, and tears him away from sin, and pours into his soul the bitterness of a painful conviction, and leads it through a painful process. But the storm is soon hushed, the cloud is scattered, and he rejoices in the believing apprehension of the Saviour whose blood cleanses from all sin, and proceeds in the maintenance and exercise of a peaceful and happy piety.

There are cases in which the commencement of

a “Your account of 's mental struggle is highly interesting and instructive. It is a faithful picture of some of those internal workings, which, I believe, almost universally, and by a sort of moral necessity, precede the growth, and even accompany the progress, of religion in the heart. These, we may believe, will be more or less painful and afflictive, according to the degree of moral criminality, and also sensibility, in the person by whom they are experienced. The pangs which the Prodigal felt, “before he came to himself,” were probably most poignant and severe: and when those who have never, like him, incurred any considerable degree of positive criminality, feel affected with similar intenseness, their mental sufferings flow, chiefly, from a keener susceptibility; and are usually repaid with a very high degree of peace, and enjoyment in believing, when the pangs are over, and the Christian character is completely formed.”

Forster's Life of Bp. Jebb, vol. ii. p. 22.

repentance is not so clearly marked: the darkness is not so deep: the anguish is not so keen. The process, however, is painful, and of much longer continuance. The individual walks as in a shady valley, with little light, and in much solicitude. He arrives at last to a satisfactory acquaintance with the method of salvation revealed in the gospel; and then he obtains rest to his soul.

There are cases in which religion acts with a gentle efficacy, but it leads more especially to the discovery of human corruption and weakness and unworthiness. The individual hears the gospel, and admits its merciful and gracious character; but he takes little or none of its consolation to himself. He walks onward with a sad, a tender, a mourning, a pensive spirit. There is a deep shade of melancholy about him. He is more acquainted with the disease than with the remedy. In this manner he is led into the religious life ; and perhaps somewhat this darkness of view and sadness of feeling may be discernible in him through life.

In some cases religion acts with a gentle influence, and penitents are soon led to the enjoyment of happiness. They are soon brought to the discovery and to the acknowledgment of Christ. They are conducted from error to truth, from sin to holiness, from the world to God, from themselves to Christ, without any painful exercises of the heart. The light and power of religion sweetly

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