A
TREATISE
ON
CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE,
COMPILED
FROM THE HOLY SCRIPTURES ALONE;

BY
JOHN MILTON.

TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL
BY
CHARLES R. SUMNER, M. A.

LIBRARIAN AND HISTORIOGRAPHER TO HIS MAJESTY, AND PREBENDARY OF CANTERBURY.

FROM THE LONDON EDITION.

VOLUME II.

BOSTON.

PUBLISHED BY CUMMINGS, HILLIARD, AND CO. — RICHARDSON AND LORD — CHARLES EWER — CROCKER AND BREWSTER — TIMOTHY BEDLINGTON — R. P. AND C. WILLIAMS.

1825.

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CHAPTER XIX.
OF REPENTANCE.

THE effects of regeneration are repentance and faith.

Repentance, or rather that higher species of it called in Greek μετάνοια is the gift of God, whereby the regenerate man perceiving with sorrow that he has offended God by sin, detests and avoids it, humbly turning to God through a sense of the divine mercy, and heartily striving to follow righteousness.

The gift of God; namely, of the Father through the Son. Acts. v. 31. "him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel." Jer. xxxi. 18. "I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus... turn thou me and I shall be turned, for thou art Jehovah my God." Acts xi. 18. "then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." Rom. ii. 4, 5. "thinkest thou this not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up," &c. 2 Tim. ii. 25. "if God peradventure will give them repentance."

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Perceiving with sorrow. Psal. xxxviii. 4. "mine iniquities are gone over mine head: as an heavy burden they are too heavy for me." 2 Kings. xxii. 19. "because thine heart was tender, and thou hast humbled thyself before Jehovah, when thou heardest what I spake against this place... and hast rent thy clothes and wept before me." Psal. li. 3, 4. "I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me: against thee, thee only have I sinned." Jer. iii. 13. "only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against Jehovah thy God." Ezek. xxxvi. 31. "then shall ye remember your own evil ways, and your doings that were not good, and shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities." v. 32. "be ashamed and confounded for your own ways." xliii. 10. "that they may be ashamed of their iniquities." Rom. vi. 21. "those things whereof ye are now ashamed." 2 Cor. vii. 10. "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of." v. 11. "for behold this self-same 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."

Through a sense of the divine mercy. Deut. iv. 29-31. "but if from thence thou shalt seek Jehovah thy God... with all thy heart." 2 Chron. xxx. 9. "for Jehovah your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him." Psal. li. 17. "the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise." cxxx. 4. "there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared." Isai. xix. 22. <11> " they shall return even to Jehovah, and he shall be intreated of them, and shall heal them." lv. 7. "let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto Jehovah, and he will have mercy upon him." lxvi. 2. "to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word." Jer. iii. 12. " return... for I am merciful." Dan. ix. 4. 5. "I made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God —." Hos. xi. 8. "how shall I give thee up, O Ephraim?... mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together." Jonah. iv. 10, 11. "thou hast had pity for the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured... and should not I spare Nineveh?" James. iv. 9. "be afflicted, and mourn, and weep, let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness; humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up." Prov. xxviii. 13. "he that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy."

Humbly turning to God. 1 Kings. viii. 48. "and so return unto thee with all their heart and with all their soul." Jer. iv. 4. "circumcise yourselves to Jehovah, and take away the foreskins of your heart." Hos. v. 15. "I will go and return to my place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face." Acts. iii. 19. "repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."

Detests and avoids sin, striving to follow righteousness. Psal. xxxiv. 14. "depart from evil, and do good." Isai. i. 16, 17. "wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before <12> mine eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good." Amos. v. 14, 15. "hate the evil, and love the good." Matt. iii. 8. "bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance." Acts. xxvi. 18. "to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God." v. 20. "that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance."

By a comparison of these and similar texts, we may distinguish certain progressive steps in repentance; namely, conviction of sin, contrition, confession, departure from evil, conversion to good: all which, however, belong likewise in their respective degrees to the repentance of the unregenerate.

Confession of sin is made sometimes to God: 2 Sam. xxiv. 10. "David said unto Jehovah, I have sinned greatly in that I have done." Psal.. xxxii. 5. "I acknowledged my sin unto thee, &c." 2 Chron. xxx. 22. "making confession to Jehovah, God of their fathers." Isai. lxiv. 6. "we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." Dan. ix. 4. "I made my confession, and said —." Sometimes to men: and that either privately, as James. v. 16. "confess your faults one to another;" or publicly, Neh. ix. 2. "the seed of Israel stood and confessed their sins." Matt. iii. 6. "they were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins." Acts. xix. 18. "many that believed came and confessed, showing their deeds." Sometimes both to God and men: Josh. vii. 19. "give, I pray thee, glory to Jehovah God of Israel, and make confession unto him, and tell me now what thou hast done, hide it not from me." Confession of faith, which is another kind, does not belong to the present subject.

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Repentance is either general, which is also called conversion, when a man is converted from a state of sin to a state of grace; or particular, when one who is already converted repents of some individual sin. General repentance is either primary or continued; from which latter even the regenerate are not exempt, through their sense of in-dwelling sin. Particular repentance is exemplified in the cases of David and Peter.

Repentance, in regenerate man, is prior to faith. Mark. i. 15. "repent ye, and believe the gospel." Acts. xix. 4. "John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe." xx. 21. "testifying repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Therefore that sense of the divine mercy, which leads to repentance, ought not to be confounded with faith, as it is by the greater number of divines.

Chastisement is often the instrumental cause of repentance. Job. v. 17, &c. "behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth; therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." Psal. xciv. 12. "blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Jah." cxix. 71. "it is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes." Prov. i. 23. "turn you at my reproof." iii. 11,12. "my son, despise not the chastening of Jehovah, neither be weary of his correction; for whom Jehovah loveth he correcteth, even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." Isai. i. 25. "I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin." xlviii. 10. "behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction." Jer. x. <14> 24. "O Jehovah, correct me, but with judgment; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing." Lam. iii. 27, 28. "it is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth." Dan. xi. 35. " some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white." Hos. v. 15. "in their affliction they will seek me early." 1 Cor. xi. 32. "when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." Heb. xii. 7, 8. "if ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? but if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons." Psal. xc. 3. "thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men." God however assigns a limit to chastisement, lest we should be overwhelmed, and supplies strength for our support even under those inflictions which (as is sometimes the case) appear to us too heavy to be borne. Psal. cxxv. 3. "the rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the righteous, lest the righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity." Isai. lvii. 16. "I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always wroth, for the spirit should fail before me, &c." 2 Cor. i. 8-10. "we would not have you ignorant..... that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, &c..... that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: who delivered us from so great a death-." He even seems to repent of what he had done, and through his abounding mercy, as though he had in his wrath inflicted double punishment for our transgressions, compensates for our affliction with a double measure of consolation. Isai. <15> xl. 2. "speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the hand of Jehovah double for all her sins." lxi. 7. "for your shame ye shall have double, and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion; therefore in their land they shall possess the double; everlasting joy shall be unto them." This compensation is more than an hundred-fold, Matt. xix.29. "even an infinite weight of glory." 2 Cor. iv. 17. "for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." Rom. viii. 18. "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Psal. xxxiv. 18, 19. "Jehovah is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit: many are the afflictions of the righteous, but Jehovah delivereth him out of them all." lxxi. 20. "thou which hast showed me great and sore troubles, shalt quicken me again." cxxvi. 5. "they that sow in tears shall reap in joy." Acts. xiv. 22. "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God."

We ought not therefore to form rash judgments respecting the afflictions of others. This was the error of Eliphaz, Job. iv. and ix. 22, 23. and of the most despicable of men, chap. xxx. Psal. iii. 2. "many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God." xli. 8. "an evil disease, say they, cleaveth fast unto him." John. ix. 3. "neither hath this man sinned."

On the contrary, it is said of those who are not chastened, Psal. xvii. 14. "they have their portion in <16> this life." Hos. iv. 17. "Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone."

Hence arises consolation to the afflicted. 2 Cor. i. 4. "who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them that are in any trouble by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." 1 Thess. iii, 3. "that no man should be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." 2 Tim. ii. 3. "thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." Rev. ii. 9. "I know thy works and tribulation."

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