Repent or Perish! – Arthur Pink

Repent or Perish!

by Arthur Pink

“Unless you repent—you too will all perish!” Luke 13:3

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These were the words of the incarnate Son of God. They have never been cancelled; nor will they be as long as this world lasts. Repentance is absolute and necessary if the sinner is to make peace with God (Isaiah 27:5), for repentance is the throwing down the weapons of rebellion against Him. Repentance does not save, yet no sinner ever was or ever will be saved without it. None but Christ saves—but an impenitent heart cannot receive Him.

A sinner cannot truly believe—until he repents. This is clear from the words of Christ concerning His forerunner, “For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:32).

It is also evident from His clarion call in Mark 1:15, “Repent—and believe the gospel.” This is why the apostle Paul testified “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Make no mistake on this point dear reader, God “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

In requiring repentance from us, God is pressing His righteous claims upon us. He is infinitely worthy of supreme love and honor, and of universal obedience. This we have wickedly denied Him. Both an acknowledgment and amendment of this is required from us. Our disaffection for Him and our rebellion against Him are to be owned and made an end of. Thus repentance is a heartfelt realization of how dreadfully I have failed, all through my life, to give God His rightful place in my heart and daily walk. The righteousness of God’s demand for my repentance, is evident if we consider the heinous nature of sin. Sin is a renouncing of Him who made me. It is refusing Him His right to govern me. It is the determination to please myself; thus, it is rebellion against the Almighty. Sin is spiritual lawlessness, and utter disregard for God’s authority. It is saying in my heart: “I do not care what God requires—I am going to have my own way! I do not care what God’s claim upon me is—I am going to be master over myself!” Reader, do you realize that this is how you have lived?

True repentance issues from a realization in the heart, wrought therein by the Holy Spirit, of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, of the awfulness of ignoring the claims of Him who made me, of defying His authority. It is therefore a holy hatred and horror of sin, a deep sorrow for it, and acknowledgment of it before God, and a heart-forsaking of it. Not until this is done will God pardon us.

“He who covers his sins shall not prosper! But whoever confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). In true repentance the heart turns to God and acknowledges, “My heart has been set upon a vain world, which could not meet the needs of my soul. I forsook You, the fountain of living waters, and turned unto broken cisterns that can hold no water. I now own and bewail my folly!” But more, it says, “I have been a disloyal and rebellious creature—but I will be so no longer. I now desire and determine with all my might to serve and obey You as my only Lord. I flee to You as my present and everlasting Portion!”

Reader, be you a professing Christian or not—it is repent or perish. For everyone of us, church members or otherwise, it is either turn—or burn! Turn from your course of self-will and self-pleasing; turn in brokenness of heart to God, seeking His mercy in Christ; turn with full purpose of heart to please and serve HIM—or be tormented day and night, forever and ever, in the Lake of Fire! Which shall it be? Oh, get down on your knees right now and beg God to give you the spirit of true repentance!

“Him has God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior—to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death!” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Arthur Pink

 

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J. C. Ryle : Repentance

“Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3

Repentance is a thorough change of man’s natural heart on the subject of sin. It is a fact that, being born in sin, everyone takes naturally to it. No child ever needed schooling in doing wrong! The seeds are naturally in the heart, and the aptitude of children to do wrong is an unanswerable proof of the corruption and fall of man. When the heart is changed by the Holy Spirit and this natural love of sin is cast out, then the change, called in the Bible “repentance”, takes place. A person in whom the change takes place is said to “repent”, and he may be called a penitent man. But, in fact, repentance is far more than this, and we must examine it closely.

a) A knowledge of sin.
Repentance begins with a knowledge of sin. The penitent man realises the length and breadth of God’s law, and the extent of his own transgressions. Far from being a “decent sort of fellow”, he realises that he is, in fact, wicked, guilty, corrupt and bad in the sight of God. To realise that one is nothing more or less than a great sinner is the first step in true repentance.

b) Sorrow for sin.
The next step is a real sorrow for sin. The penitent person is filled with remorse because of past sin, and grieves through remembering time wasted, talents mis-spent, God dishonoured, and his own soul injured. The burden of these sometimes becomes almost unbearable.

c) Confession of sin.
A penitent person realises that he must speak to God against whom he has sinned, and talk with Him concerning the state of his soul. His sins are heavy and he cannot keep quiet. He is willing to plead, “I have sinned against heaven and before Thee; my iniquity is great. God be merciful to me a sinner”. This is the third step in true repentance.

d) Breaking off from sin.
The whole life of a penitent person is altered. With a new King in his heart the “old man” is put away. He seeks to do God’s will and to keep clear of sin. He breaks away from bad ways and companions, and tries to live a new life.

e) Deep hatred of all sin.
True repentance produces a deep hatred of all sin. The penitent person abhors evil and delights in the law of the Lord. Of course, he frequently falls short of his own standards, and is conscious of his shortcomings. But, for all that, his general tendency is towards God and away from evil. With David, he says, “I count all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way” (Ps. 119, 128). This is indeed the crowning step of true repentance.

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But yet this is not a complete picture of repentance. One further thing must be mentioned, for without it, there must be a barrier between men’s souls and heaven. True repentance is never alone; it is always accompanied by lively faith in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith must go together. It cannot be said which comes first—it may be either. But you cannot have one, without the other—true repentance and lively faith.

The experience of all truly penitent people does not necessarily tally exactly. Nor does any man know, mourn, confess or forsake sin perfectly. But all true Christians will recognise something of these matters, and repentance such as this will be, generally, the experience of every true believer.

It is easy to be mistaken over repentance, for the Devil, knowing its value, always produces spurious imitations. Let everyone examine his own heart and be sure that he is not mistaken, but does know true repentance. It must be a business of your heart and not of outward expression in any form. Ahab, remember, could put on sackcloth and ashes when he felt like it, but he never repented in his heart.

Then repentance must include a turning to God. Felix trembled when Paul preached, but that was not true repentance. Repentance must turn a man to God, and make him go to God as his best friend. There must also be a thorough forsaking of sin. Herod liked to hear John preach, but he continued in sin. Feelings in religion are useless, unless accompanied by practice. God does not approve of mere sentimental excitement.

Lastly, repentance must be closely allied with faith in Christ. Judas Iscariot said “I have sinned”, but he never turned to Christ and so he died in his sins. There must be such conviction of sin that it sends us to Christ. Hearing about the Ten Commandments, looking at hell, and thinking about damnation may make people afraid, and they have their use. But repentance is at Calvary, not Sinai, and such repentance starts from heaven, planted in men’s hearts by the Holy Ghost.
THE NECESSITY FOR REPENTANCE

We must now consider why repentance is necessary; and, in fact, the text at the beginning gives a clear answer, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”. Notice that it says all, without exception, need repentance towards God. Everyone, whoever and whatever they may be, is born in sin and must repent and be converted if they would be saved. But why is such strong language used about this necessity—why is repentance so needful?

a) There is no forgiveness of sins without repentance.
Firstly, it must be clearly understood that repentance itself does not clear sins. That is the work of the blood of Christ. “We are counted righteous before God only for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith, and not for our own works or deservings”.

But it is no less true that justified people are always penitent people, and that a forgiven sinner will always be a man who loathes his sin. Without repentance there is no forgiveness of sin.

b) There is no happiness in life without repentance.
Secondly, it is impossible to be really happy in this life unless one is repentant. There may be excitement and merriment so long as health is good and money is in the pocket. But these are not solid happiness. Conscience must be satisfied, and so long as conscience feels that sin has not been really forsaken, it will not be quiet.

Conscience—the inner man—unknown to the outside world, has a burden upon it, and until that burden is removed and repentance made, it has no real comfort. No one can be comfortable unless he is in the right position, and man’s right position is facing God with his back to sin. Until God is King in a person’s life, there can be no peace within and no true happiness. There must be true repentance in all who want to be really happy.

c) There is no preparedness for heaven without repentance.
Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people, and in order that we may be in harmony with the inhabitants of heaven, we need to repent now. An unconverted impenitent man just could not be happy in heaven. There is nothing in heaven for a heart that loves sin, and further, such a heart has no faculties for enjoying the blessings of heaven. We must repent if we want to go to heaven (Col. 1, 12).

Everyone ought to think about this matter most seriously. It is true that many things which we have in this world are not absolutely essential; things like wealth, health, decent clothes, friends and education. Many have reached heaven without these. But no one ever got to heaven without “repentance towards God and faith towards Jesus Christ”. Would that professing Christians realised the absolute necessity of true repentance towards God.

Repentance towards God has a most prominent place in the Gospel, and any teaching which does not give it a principle place is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A person may talk as much as he likes about the Gospel, but while he hangs on to his sins, they are not forgiven. It may be said that God is loving and merciful, and that all will be well in the end. But this idea tramples underfoot the blood of atonement. So long as a person does not repent of sin, then the Gospel of Christ is no Gospel to his soul. Christ is a saviour from sin; not a saviour for man in sin. If a man will stick to his sins, then one day that merciful Saviour will say, “Depart from me, thou worker of iniquity” (Matt. 25, 41).

Some may try to say that it is possible to be happy in this world without repentance. You may laugh and joke and say, “There’s a good time coming”, but this is no proof of true happiness. Many carry on like this, but carry a sorrow in their hearts, and they do not like being alone, for then they are low and miserable. They are always looking for new pleasures and new excitements, and since they do not seek happiness in God, they need
greater excitement all the time. Further, the longer they go without repentance, the more unhappy the heart becomes; and in old age the time will come when conscience will speak and bring unhappiness to the soul.

Above all, some may think there is a possibility of reaching heaven without repentance towards God. Everyone wants to go to heaven—only a madman would wish otherwise. But only those prepared by the Holy Ghost ever do go. The Bible flatly contradicts the modern idea that everyone will eventually go to heaven. The inhabitants of heaven are people of one mind—they are God’s people and they do not include the unrepentant. For these, says the Bible, there is only hell.

It is a solemn thought that an impenitent man is unfit for heaven. It would not be merciful to put him there for he just would not be happy. There will be many wonders at the last day. We shall see many enter heaven whom we had thought would never be there. But one thing is certain; there will be not one unrepentant person amongst them. Those who, following the final judgment day of God, go on to enjoy His presence for eternity, will all be of like mind; men and women who have hated, confessed and forsaken sin, who have repented as well as believed; and who will say, “By the grace of God, I am where I am”, as well as “By the grace of God, I am what I am”.
ENCOURAGEMENTS TO REPENTANCE

It is important now to point out that there are many things which will encourage a person to repent. Many difficulties arise when this subject is brought before us, for every man is very slow to give up sin. Most would rather cut off a right hand than give up their sins, for sins begin like cobwebs, but become iron clamps. Then too, there is a dislike of being thought a saint, and one who is concerned about religious matters. There is a fear of being laughed at because of a care for the soul. Further, the Devil himself will never part with those who are his captives, without a fight. He is indeed the “roaring lion that walketh about seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5, 8). He will never let a man repent without a struggle.

In the face of all this, men need many encouragements to make them repent. And there are indeed many great and free encouragements. There are things in the Bible which ought to move everyone to repentance, and as these are examined it will be seen that there is hope; that it is possible; that by the grace of God a man may repent.

a) The Lord Jesus Christ is a Gracious Saviour.
Christ Himself is the first and great argument to encourage a man to repent. If any doubt concerning repentance, let them look at Christ. He is one “able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by Him”. He “came to seek and to save that which is lost”. It is written concerning Him that “As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”. Here is the simple answer to doubt and fears. Consider Christ, and doubt about repentance no more. (Study Heb. 7, 25; Acts 5, 31; Luke 19, 10; Mark 2, 17; Matt. 11, 28; John 6, 37; John 1, 12.)

b) The promises in the Word of God.
The Bible contains many glorious promises concerning repentance. “Whosoever confesseth and forsaketh his sins shall find mercy.” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” “Blessed are the poor in spirit for their’s is the kingdom of God.” Surely these are encouragements which mean there need be no doubt about repentance. (Study Prov. 28, 13; 1 John 1, 9; Matt. 5, 3, 4, 6.)

c) The declarations in the Word of God.

The Bible contains many gracious declarations which certainly encourage repentance. “When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.” “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” “There is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” Surely these words are encouraging and mean there is no need to doubt about repentance any more. (Study Ezek. 18, 27; Ps. 51, 17; II Pet. 3, 9; Ezek. 33, 11; Luke 15, 10.)

d) Christ’s parables on the subject.

I would particularly draw your attention to two parables which Christ spoke on this subject. Firstly, the parable of the pharisee and the publican (Luke 18, 10-14), and secondly, the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15, 11-24). Both of these parables show how receptive is the Father to those who come to Him in penitence, and mean that we have no need to doubt concerning repentance.

e) The examples of God’s mercy and kindness to penitent men.

The Bible has many examples of God’s mercy and kindness. David’s sin was great, but when he acknowledged that he had “sinned against the Lord”, the reply came, “The Lord hath put away thy sin”. Manasseh killed his own children and turned his back upon God. He even put idols in the Temple. But when he humbled himself, in prison, the Lord answered and released him.

Peter denied his Master three times; but when he wept over his sin, there was mercy, and he was restored to his Master’s favour. And what case could be more desperate than the penitent thief—a dying man on the brink of hell. But when he called on Christ the answer came immediately. (Study II Sam. 12, 13; II Chron. 33, 1-19; Mark 16, 7; Luke 23, 39-43.)

These cases are recorded for our learning, and no greater encouragement to repentance can be imagined. They are proofs of what God’s grace can do, and are intended to lead men to repentance. God is ready at any time to receive anyone who returns to Him. Any man, no matter what he may have been, will find God willing to receive him, to pardon him and glad to have him “home”.

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Every year, thousands of people repent of their sins, but none of these ever regrets his decision. Many repent concerning time misspent and opportunities neglected. But no one has ever declared that he repents of repenting, and turning towards God. No one was ever sorry that he served the Lord. No man ever said, at the end of his days, “I have read my Bible too much, I have thought of God too much, I have prayed too much, I have been too careful about my soul”. Rather, a Christian will say, “Had I my life again, I would walk more closely with God. The way of Christ may have its cross, but it is a pleasant and peaceful path.”

This is a fact which speaks volumes, and shows that it is worth while for a man to repent. The impenitent man is without excuse.

PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS

Having seen the nature of, the necessity for, and the encouragements to repentance, it remains to give some practical applications for all who read this paper.

a) A warning.
It cannot really be supposed that all who read this paper are repentant and lively believers in Christ. For those who have not repented, there can be no more solemn warning than the words of Christ Himself, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”. These words should come powerfully to anyone who is not really at peace with God, and who is undecided in religion. They are a terrible warning and no one can describe fully their meaning. “Shall perish”—perish in body and soul; and in hell. Let it never be forgotten that everyone, of whatever background or education, is travelling towards hell, and unless they repent, they will certainly arrive in hell.

Think for a moment of the danger which you are in, if you have never repented. You are a sinner—you cannot pretend that you have never sinned. And if you have never repented and found pardon through Christ, then hell must be your destination. Remember Christ’s words, “Except thou repent, thou wilt certainly perish”.

Secondly, think of your guilt. It is guilt when a man does not repent, for we are all responsible to God for repentance. It is the express testimony of Christ that anyone who has been called to repentance and refuses to obey, is more guilty than the man who has never been urged to repent.

Thirdly, remember how foolish it is not to repent. Most people spend their time trying to get on in the world, or trying to obtain more money—more wealth. But without the grace of God, and true repentance everyone is a very poor man in the eyes of God. Time will come when everything of this world will have to be left behind—it is of no use in eternity. Only repentance now will be of use then. It is folly to ignore Christ’s words— “Except you repent you will likewise perish”.

b) An invitation.
The second practical application is an invitation to all who feel their sins, and desire to repent, but yet are not sure what to do. There is only one answer; Repent without delay.

The apostle Paul continually commanded the unconverted to repent; I can only do the same. If a person wants to go to heaven, he must act; he must break off from his sins and turn to Christ. Otherwise, he will perish. The best time to do this is now! Repent without delay.

This means pouring out your heart to Christ; tell Him you are a sinner and want to be saved. He will hear you, give you His power and grace and pour out His Spirit on you. He will listen and save you. He died for everyone, so you only need to approach Him humbly and He will grant you pardon, peace and everlasting life.

Then resolve to break away from every known sin. Cease to do evil (Is. 1, 16). Determine that by God’s grace you will have no more to do with your besetting and favourite sins.

Some may be ashamed of the idea of repentance. But there is no need to be. Ashamed of sin, yes; but not of repentance. Never be ashamed of seeking God; nor is there any need to be afraid to repent. No one is so bad that Christ will not have him. There is no need for any intermediary to bring a person to Him. Anyone can come directly to Christ, and He, loving as He is, will give the absolution and peace of mind you need.

c) An exhortation.
Lastly, to all who know repentance by experience, I would give this exhortation. Keep up your repentance. Whenever you feel slack or dull and are careless about even little sins, look to your own heart and take heed that you do not fall. There will always be sins to deplore and confess. Take them daily to Christ and receive His mercy and grace every day.

Let repentance towards God and faith towards the Lord Jesus Christ be the great pillars of our religion. May we, while we repent, believe; and while we believe, repent. May these be uppermost in the creed of our souls.

 

John Charles Ryle, the first Bishop of Liverpool, lived from 1816-1900. He was a prolific writer of both Devotional and Doctrinal books and tracts. This present booklet is an edited version of his pamphlet, originally published as a tract, but later included in his collection of tracts, entitled “Old Paths”, published in 1897. This book was sub-titled, “Plain Statements on some of the Weightier Matters of Christianity.” The preface begins, “This volume consists of a series of papers, systematically arranged, on the leading truths of Christianity which are ‘necessary to salvation’.”

 

THE BACKSLIDER’S RETURN

THE BACKSLIDER’S RETURN

“Yet return again to Me, says the Lord.”–Jer. 3:1

Could there be a more touching “Thus says the Lord” than this? The voice of Jesus, as it echoed over the mountains and along the valleys of our unregenerate distance from God, seeking and finding and bringing us home, was inexpressibly sweet and irresistibly gracious. But, to hear that same voice, after our many wanderings, our repeated relapses, our sad backslidings, still seeking, still inviting, still imploring us to return, though we had “played the harlot with many lovers,” oh, there is music in that voice such as the heavenly minstrelsy must bend their ear to catch.

My soul, you are “bent upon backsliding, even as a backsliding heifer.” Your heart is as a broken bow, treacherous to the arrow fixed upon the string, and ready for its flight. Your purposes of good formed, but thwarted; resolutions of amendment made, but broken; plans of usefulness laid, but frustrated; prayers for grace offered, but forgotten; desires and aspirations after God sent up, but, through a deceitful and wicked heart, dissolving into air. Oh! how many and aggravated have your backslidings from God been–backslidings in heart, backslidings in deed–secret wanderings, open wanderings. You have “left your first love,” have “forgotten your resting-place;” and, straying from the cross, have gone back to walk no more with Jesus. Truly, your “heart is like a deceitful bow.”

But, has the Lord, by some gentle movement of His grace, or by some solemn event of His providence, aroused, overtaken, arrested you? Has He set a hedge around your path, that you could not find your lovers, bringing you to reflection, to penitence, to prayer? Then, listen, O my soul, to the gracious words of your “first husband;” “Yet return again to Me, says the Lord.”

Spiritual restoration implies a spiritual re-conversion. In this sense we are to interpret our Lord’s words to His fallen apostle Peter–“When you are converted, strengthen your brethren,”–that is, when you are restored, recovered, turned back again, employ your restored grace, the experience you have derived, and the lessons you have learned by your fall and recovery, in strengthening your weak brethren–in warning and exhorting, in restoring and comforting those who have been alike tempted, and have alike fallen.

There is something very expressive, tender, and touching in the word–“Again.” “Yet return again.” It sounds like the “forgiveness of seventy times seven.” Lord! I have wandered from You times without number–“Yet return again.” Lord! I have so often sinned and repented–“Yet return again.” Lord! You have received and forgiven me more than seventy times seven–“Yet return again.” Lord! I come confessing the same sins, deploring the same backslidings, acknowledging the same self-will and base ingratitude–“Yet return again to me, says the Lord.” Then, Lord! I come with weeping, and mourning, and confession, since Your tenderness, grace, and changeless love, and outstretched hand bid me.

“Return to Me.” My soul, rest not until you rest in Jesus. Let nothing come between your returning heart and your advancing, loving, forgiving Father. There is no true return of a backsliding believer but that which takes him past his repentance, past his tears, past his confessions, past his amendments, past his minister, and brings him at once close to Christ. There is no healing of the hurt, no binding up of the wound, no cleansing, no peace, no comfort, no joy, but as the soul comes to the blood, and nestles once more within the very heart of Jesus. “Return unto ME.”

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Octavius Winslow (1808 – 1878)

 

Tears of Repentance – Thomas Watson

 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.“  —  Revelation 3:20

There is no rowing to paradise except upon the stream of repenting tears. Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet. Why are the wells of repentance stopped? Do not the sinners of the land know that they should repent? Have they no warning? Have not God’s faithful messengers lifted up their voice as a trumpet and cried to them to repent? But many of these tools in the ministry have been spent and worn out upon rocky hearts. Do we think that God will always put up with our affronts?

Some bless themselves that they have a stock of knowledge, but what is knowledge good for without repentance? Learning and a bad heart is like a fair face with a cancer in the breast. Knowledge without repentance will be but a torch to light the way to hell. Repentant tears may be compared to myrrh, which though it is bitter in taste, has a sweet smell and refreshes the spirit. So repentance, though it is bitter in itself, yet it is sweet in the effects. It brings inward peace.

We are to find as much bitterness in weeping for sin as ever we found sweetness in committing it. Surely David found more bitterness in repentance than ever he found comfort in Bathsheba. Tears have four qualities: they are moist, salt, hot, and bitter. It is true of repenting tears, they are hot to warm a frozen conscience; moist, to soften a hard heart; salt, to season a soul decaying in sin; bitter, to wean us from the love of the world. And I will add a fifth, they are sweet, in that they make the heart inwardly rejoice.

David, who was the great weeper in Israel, was the sweet singer of Israel. The sorrows of the repentant are like the sorrows of a travailing woman: “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world”   (John 16:21).

Be as speedy in your repentance as you would have God be speedy in His mercies. Many are now in hell that purposed to repent. Satan does what he can to keep men from repentance. When he sees that one begins to take up serious thoughts of reformation, he bids them wait a little longer. It is dangerous to procrastinate repentance. The longer any go on sinning, the harder they will find the work of repentance. Delay strengthens sin and hardens the heart and gives the devil fuller possession.

A plant at first may be easily plucked up, but when it has spread its roots deep in the earth, a whole team cannot remove it. It is hard to remove sin when it comes to be rooted. The longer the ice freezes the harder it is to be broken. The longer a man freezes in security, the harder it will be to have his heart broken.

Presuming upon God’s mercy can be eternally fatal. Many suck poison from this sweet flower. Oh, one says, “Christ has died; He has done all for me; therefore I may sit still and do nothing.” Thus they suck death from the tree of life and perish by a savior. So I may say of God’s mercy, it accidentally causes the ruin of many. Because of mercy, some men presume and think they may go on sinning. But should a king’s clemency make his subjects rebel? The psalmist says, “there is mercy with God, that he may be feared,” (Psalms 130:4) but not that we may sin. Can men expect mercy by provoking justice? God will hardly show those mercy who sin because mercy abounds. Many would rather go sleeping to hell than weeping to heaven.

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— Body of Divinity, Thomas Watson

What do you think of Christ? George Whitefield

“What do you think of Christ?” (Matt. 22:42.)

“O my brethren, my heart is enlarged towards you. I trust I feel something of that hidden but powerful presence of Christ, while I am preaching to you. Indeed it is sweet—but it is exceedingly comfortable. All the harm I wish you who without cause are my enemies, is that you felt the like. Believe me, though it would be hell to my soul to return to a natural state again, yet I would willingly change states with you for a little while, that you might know what it is to have Christ dwelling in your hearts by faith.

Do not turn your backs. Do not let the devil hurry you away. Be not afraid of convictions. Do not think worse of the doctrine because preached outside the church walls. Our Lord, in the days of his flesh, preached on a mount, in a ship, and a field; and I am persuaded many have felt his gracious presence here. Indeed, we speak what we know. Do not therefore reject the kingdom of God against yourselves. Be so wise as to receive our witness.

“I cannot, I will not let you go. Stay a little, and let us reason together. However lightly you may esteem your souls, I know our Lord has set an unspeakable value on them. He thought them worthy of his most precious blood. I beseech you, therefore, O sinners, be reconciled to God. I hope you do not fear being accepted in the Beloved. Behold, he calls you. Behold, he follows you with his mercy, and has sent forth his servants into the highways and hedges to compel you to come in.

Remember, then, that at such an hour of such a day, in such a year, in this place, you were all told what you ought to think concerning Jesus Christ. If you now perish, it will not be from lack of knowledge. I am free from the blood of you all. You cannot say I have been preaching damnation to you. You cannot say I have, like legal preachers, been requiring you to make bricks without straw. I have not bidden you to make yourselves saints and then come to God. I have offered you salvation on as cheap terms as you can desire. I have offered you Christ’s whole wisdom, Christ’s whole righteousness, Christ’s whole sanctification and eternal redemption, if you will but believe on him. If you say you cannot believe, you say right; for faith, as well as every other blessing, is the gift of God. But then wait upon God, and who knows but he may have mercy on you.

“Why do we not entertain more loving thoughts of Christ? Do you think he will have mercy on others and not on you? Are you not sinners? Did not Jesus Christ come into the world to save sinners?

“If you say you are the chief of sinners, I answer that will be no hindrance to your salvation. Indeed it will not, if you lay hold on Christ by faith. Read the Gospels, and see how kindly he behaved to his disciples, who had fled from and denied him. ‘Go, tell my brethren,’ says he. He did not say, ‘Go, tell those traitors,’ but, ‘Go, tell my brethren and Peter.’ It is as though he had said, ‘Go, tell my brethren in general, and Peter in particular, that I am risen. Oh, comfort his poor drooping heart. Tell him I am reconciled to him. Bid him weep no more so bitterly. For though with oaths and curses he thrice denied me, yet I have died for his sins; I have risen again for his justification: I freely forgive him all.” Thus slow to anger and of great kindness, was our all-merciful High Priest. And do you think he has changed his nature and forgets poor sinners, now he is exalted to the right hand of God? No; he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and sits there only to make intercession for us.

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Come, then, you harlots; come, you publicans; come, you most abandoned sinners, come and believe on Jesus Christ. Though the whole world despise you and cast you out, yet he will not disdain to take you up. Oh amazing, oh infinitely condescending love! Even you, he will not be ashamed to call his brethren. How will you escape if you neglect such a glorious offer of salvation? What would the damned spirits now in the prison of hell give if Christ was so freely offered to them? And why are we not lifting up our eyes in torments? Does any one out of this great multitude dare say he does not deserve damnation? Why are we left, and others taken away by death? What is this but an instance of God’s free grace, and a sign of his good-will toward us? Let God’s goodness lead us to repentance. Oh, let there be joy in heaven over some of you repenting!”

George Whitefield

LITTLE SINS J. C. RYLE

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Reader never trifle with little sins. A small! leak will sink a great ship, and a small spark will kindle a great fire, and a little allowed sin, in like manner, will ruin an immortal soul. Take my advice, and never spare a little sin. Israel was commanded to slay every Canaanite, both great and small. Act on the same principle, and show no mercy to little sins…

Depend on it, no wicked man ever meant to be so wicked at his first beginnings. But he began with allowing himself somelittle transgression, and that led on to something greater still, and thus he became the miserable being that he now is.

There are two ways of coming down from the top of a church steeple: one is to jump down, and the other is to come down by the steps; but both will lead you to the bottom. So also there are two ways of going to hell: one is to walk into it with your eyes open–few people do that; the other is to go down by the steps of little sins; and that way, I fear, is too common. Put up with a few little sins, and you will soon want a few more. Even a heathen could say, “Who ever was content with only one sin?” And then your course will be regularly worse and worse every year. Well did Jeremy Taylor describe the progress of sin in a man: “First it startles him, then it becomes pleasing, then easy, then delightful, then frequent, then habitual, then confirmed: then the man is impenitent, then obstinate, then resolves never to repent and then he is damned.

Reader, the devil only wants to get the wedge of a little allowed sin into your hearts, and you will soon be all his own. Never play with fire. Never trifle with little sins.

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J.C. Ryle

John Flavel – True repentance is a drop out of the eye of faith

The Whole Works of John Flavel Volume 1
Ah! Christian, canst thou look upon #Jesus as standing in thy room, to bear the wrath of a Deity for thee? Canst thou think on it, and not melt? That when thou, like Isaac, wast bound to the altar, to be offered up to justice, Christ, like the ram, was caught in the thicket, and offered in thy room. When thy sins had raised a fearful tempest, that threatened every moment to entomb thee in a sea of wrath, Jesus Christ was thrown over to appease that storm! Say, reader, can thy heart dwell one hour upon such a subject as this? Canst thou with faith, present Christ to thyself, as he was taken down from the cross, drenched in his own blood, and say, These were the wounds that he received for me; this is he that loved me, and gave himself for me: out of these wounds comes that balm that heals my soul; out of these stripes my peace: When he hanged upon the cross, he bore my name upon his breast, like the high priest. It was love, pure love, strong love to my poor soul ; to the soul of an enemy that drew him down from heaven, and all the glory he had there, to endure these sorrows in soul and body for me.
O then, for ever bless the Lord, that hath done that for you, which none else could do, and which he has done but for few be sides you.
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The Whole Works of John Flavel Volume 1