Repentance Is Necessary For All Sins

3. Repentance is necessary for all sins.

Let us be deeply humbled and mourn before the Lord for original sin. We have lost that pure frame of soul that once we had. Our nature is vitiated with corruption. Original sin has diffused itself as a poison into the whole man, like the Jerusalem artichoke which, wherever it is planted, soon overruns the ground. There are not worse natures in hell, than we have! The hearts of the best are like Peter’s sheet, in which there were a number of unclean creeping things (Acts 10:12). This primitive corruption is bitterly to be bewailed because we are never free from it. It is like a spring underground, which though it is not seen—yet it still runs. We may as well stop the beating of the pulse—as stop the motions to sin! This inbred depravity retards and hinders us in that which is spiritual: “I do not do the good that I want to do” (Romans 7:19).

Original sin may be compared to that fish Pliny speaks of, which cleaves to the keel of the ship and hinders it when it is under sail. Sin hangs weights upon us—so that we move but slowly to heaven. O this adherence of sin! Paul shook the viper which was on his hand into the fire (Acts 28:5)—but we cannot shake off original corruption in this life. Sin does not come as a lodger for a night—but as an indweller: “sin which dwells in me” (Romans 7:17). It is with us as with one who has a cancer in him; though he changes the air—yet still he carries his disease with him. Original sin is inexhaustible. This ocean cannot be emptied. Though we sin much—yet the stock of sin is not at all diminished. The more we sin—the fuller we are of sin. Original corruption is like the widow’s oil—which increased by pouring out.

Another wedge to break our hearts, is that original sin mixes with the very habits of grace. Hence it is that our actings towards heaven are so dull and languid. Why does faith act no stronger—but because it is clogged by sin? Why does love to God burn no purer—but because it is hindered with lust? Original sin mixes with our graces. As bad lungs cause shortness of breath—so original sin having infected our heart, our graces breathe now very faintly. Thus we see much in original sin, which may draw forth our tears.

In particular, let us lament the corruption of our will and our affections. Let us mourn for the corruption of our will. The will, not following the dictates of right reason, is biased to evil. The will has a distaste for God, not as he is good—but as he is holy. It contumaciously affronts him: “We will do whatever we want. We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and sacrifice to her just as much as we like!” (Jer. 44:17). The greatest wound has fallen upon our will.

Let us grieve for the corruption of our affections. They are taken off from their proper object. The affections, like faulty arrows, shoot beside the mark. At the beginning, our affections were wings to fly to God; now they are weights to pull us away from him. Let us grieve for the sinful inclination of our affections. Our love is set on sin—our joy on the creature. Our affections, like the lapwing, feed on dung. How justly may the corruption of our affections bear a part in the scene of our grief? We of ourselves are falling into hell, and our affections would thrust us there.

Let us lay to heart actual sins. Of these I may say, “Who can understand his errors?” (Psalm 19:12). They are like sparks of a furnace. We have sinned in our eyes; they have been conduits to let in vanity. We have sinned in our tongues; they have been fired with passion. What action proceeds from us—wherein we do not betray some sin? To compute all these, would outnumber the drops in the ocean. Let actual sins be solemnly repented of, before the Lord.

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