Repentance Is Necessary For The Flagitious Sinners In The Nation

2. Repentance is necessary for the flagitious sinners in the nation. England needs to put itself in mourning and be humbled by solemn repentance. What horrible impieties are chargeable upon the nation! We see people daily listing themselves under Satan. Not only the banks of religion—but those of civility, are broken down. Men seem to contend, as the Jews of old, who should be most wicked. “It is the filth and corruption of your lewdness and idolatry. And now, because I tried to cleanse you but you refused, you will remain filthy until my fury against you has been satisfied” (Ezek. 24:13). If oaths and drunkenness, if perjury and luxury will make a people guilty, then it is to be feared that England is in God’s black book. Men have cancelled their vow in baptism and made a private contract with the devil! Instead of crying to mercy to save them, they cry, “God damn us!” Never was there such riding posthaste to hell—as if men despaired of getting there in time. They have boasted how many they have debauched and made drunk. Thus “they declare their sin as Sodom” (Isaiah 3:9). Indeed, men’s sins are grown daring, as if they would hang out their flag of defiance against God—like the Thracians who, when it thunders, gather together in a body and shoot their arrows against heaven. “For they have clenched their fists against God, defying the Almighty. Holding their strong shields, they defiantly charge against him.” (Job 15:25-26). They are desperate in sin—and run furiously against God.

Oh to what a height is sin boiled up! Men count it a shame not to be impudent. May it not be said of us, as Josephus speaks of the Jews. Such was the excessive wickedness of those times, that if the Romans had not come and sacked their city, Jerusalem would have been swallowed up with some earthquake, or drowned with a flood, or consumed with fire from heaven. And is it not high time then for England to enter into a course of remedy, and take this pill of repentance, which has so many vile sins spreading in her? England is an island encompassed by two oceans, an ocean of water—and an ocean of wickedness. O that it might be encompassed with a third ocean—that of repenting tears!

If the book of the law chances to fall upon the ground, the Jews have a custom presently to proclaim a fast. England has let both law and gospel fall to the ground, therefore needs to fast and mourn before the Lord. The ephah of wickedness seems to be full. There is good reason for tears to fall apace, when sin fills so fast! Why then, are the wells of repentance stopped up? 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. Has not God blessed us with many preachers to call men to repentance—but still they are settled on their lees (Zeph. 1:12)? Do we think that God will always put up with our affronts? Will he endure thus to have his name and glory trampled upon? The Lord has usually been more swift in the process of his justice, against the sins of a professing people. I say therefore with Bradford, “Repent, O England!” You have belepered yourself with sin, and must needs go and wash in the spiritual Jordan. You have kindled God’s anger against you. Throw away your weapons, and bring your holy tears of repentance, that God may be appeased in the blood of Christ. Let your tears run—or God’s scroll of curses will fly (Zech. 5:2). Either men must turn—or God will overturn. Either the fallow ground of their hearts must be broken up—or the land broken down. If no words will prevail with sinners, it is because God has a purpose to slay them (1 Sam. 2:25). Those who, by their prodigious sins have so far incensed the God of heaven that he denies them the tears of repentance, may look upon themselves as condemned people.

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