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means of repentance. Again, if an irresistible degree of grace be necessary to true repentance, it is plain, Chorazin and Bethsaida had it not, because they did not repent; and yet, without this, Tyre and Sidon could not sincerely have repented: therefore our Saviour here mult speak of a mere external repentance. Thus some argue, as they do likewise concerning the repentance of Nineveh, making that also to be merely external, because they are loth to allow true repentance to Heathens,
But it seems very plain, that our Saviour does speak of an inward, and true and sincere repentance; and therefore the doctrines that will not admit this, are not true: for our Saviour speaks of the same kind of repentance, that he upbraided them with the want of, in the verse before the text. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not; that is, because they were not brought to a lincere repentance, by his preaching, which was confirmed by such great miracles. It is true, indeed, he mentions the outward figns and expressions of repen. tance, when he says, they would have repented in fackcloth and ashes; but not as excluding inward and real repentance, but supposing it, as is evident from what is said in the next yerse, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Siden at the day of judgment than for you : for though an external and hypocritical repentance may prevail with God to put off temporal judgments, yet surely it will be but a very finall, if any mitigation of our condemnation at the day of judgment : fo that the repentance here spoken of cannot, without great vion lence to the scope and design of our Saviour's argument, be understood only of an external ihew and appearance of repentance.
II. The next difficulty to be cleared, is, in what sense it is here faid, that if the mighty works which were done by our Saviour among the Jews, bad been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented,
Some, to avoid the inconvenience which they appres. hend to be in the more ftrict and literal sense of the words, look upon them as hyperbolical, as we say, . Such a thing would move a stone," or the like, when we would express something to be very fad and grievous; so here, to aggravate the impenitence of the Jews, our Saviour says, that they resisted those means of repentance, which one would think fhould almost have prevailed upon the greatest and most obdurate finners that ever were; but not intending to affirm any
But there is no colour for this, if we consider that our Saviour reasons from the supposition of such a thing, that therefore the case of Tyre and Sidon would really be more tolerable at the day of judgment than theirs, bea cause they would have repented, but the Jews did not.
Others perhaps understand the words too ftri&tly, as if our Saviour had spoken according to what he certainly foreknew would have happened to the people of Tyre and Sidon, if such miracles had been wrought among them. And no doubt but in that case God did certainly know what they would have done ; but yet I should rather chuse to understand the words as spoken popularly, according to what in all human appearance and proba-bility would have happened if such external means of repentance, accompanied with an ordinary grace of God, had been afforded to them of Tyre and Sidon. And thus the old Latin interpreter seems to have underftood the next words, If the mighty works which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, čusivey áv, forte manlıssent, it would perhaps have remained to this day, in all likelihood it had continued till now. Much the same with that passage of the Prophet, Ezek. iii. 5. 6. Thoue art not sent to a people of a strange speech, and of a hard language, but to the house of Ifrael: Surely had I fent thee to them, they would have hearkened unto thee; that is, in all probability they would; there is little doubt to be made of the contrary. And this is sufficient foun. dation for our Saviour's reasoning afterwards, that it mall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for them. And if we may judge what they would have done before, by what they did afterward, there is more than probability for it: for we read in the 21st chapter of the Acts, ver. 3. and ver. 2.7. that the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon received the gospel, and
kindly entertained St. Paul, when the Jews rejected them both. The : III. Thing to be cleared is,' What is meant by long ago; tbey would have repented long ago.
Some understand this, as if our Saviour had said, they would not have stood out so long against so much predching, and so many miracles; But would at first have repented, long before our Saviour gave over Chorazin and Bethsaida for obstinate and incorrigible finners; they would not only have repented at laft, but much fooner, and without fo much ado.
But this does not feem to be the meaning of the words; but our Saviour seems to refer to those ancient times long ago; when the Prophets denounced judgments against Tyre and Sidon, particularly the Prophet Ezen. kiel; and to say, that if in thofe days the preaching of that Prophet had been accompanied with fûch miracles ás our Saviour wrought in the cities of Galilee, Tyre and Sidon would in those days have repented.
The last and greatest difficulty of all is, how this aro sertion of our Saviour, that miracles would have converted Tyre and Sidon, is reconcilable with that discourse of our Saviour's, Luke xvi. in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, that those who would not believe Moses and the Prophets, would not have been per fuaded though one had rofe from the dead.
The true answer to which difficulty, in short, is this ; that when our Saviour fays, if they believe not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be perfuaded though one rose from the dead; he does not hereby weaken the force of miracles, or their aptness to convince men, and bring them to repentance, but rather confirm it, because Moses and the Prophets had the attestation of many and great miracles; and therefore there was no reason to think, that they who would not believe the writings and doctrine of Moses and the Prophets, which had the confirmation of so many miracles, and was own. ed by themselves to have fo, should be wrought upon by one particular miracle, the coming of one from the dead, and speaking unto them : or, however this might inove and astonish them for the pro ht; yet it was not likely that the grace of God should concur with such
an extraordinary means, to render it effe&tual to their conversion and repentance, who had wilfully despised, and obstinately rejected that which had a much greater confirmation than the discourse of a man risen from the dead, and was appointed by God for the ordinary and standing means of bringing men to repentance. So that our Saviour might with reason enough pronounce that Tyre and Sidon, who never had a standing revelation of God to bring them to repentance, nor had rejected it, would, upon miracles extraordinarily wrought among them, have repeated; and yet deny it elsewhere to be likely, that they who rejected a standing revelation of God, confirmed by miracles, which called them to repentance, would probably be brought to repentance by a particular miracle; or that God should afford his grace to make it effectual for their repentance and salvation.
The words being thus cleared, I come now to raise such observations from them, as may be instructive and useful to us. : I. I observe from this discourse of our Saviour, that miracles are of great force and efficacy to bring men to repentance.
This our Saviour's discourse here supposeth ; otherwise their impenitence had not been so criminal and inexcusable upon that account, that such righty works had been done among them, as would probably have vailed upon some of the worst people that had been in the world; for such were the inhabitants of Tyre and Sidon, guilty of great covetousness and fraud, pride and luxury, the usual lins of places of great traffick and commerce: and such, to be sure, was Sodom; and yet our Saviour tells us, that the miracles which he had wrought in the cities of Israel, would, in all probability, have brought those great finners to repentance, namely, by bringing them to faith, and convincing them of the truth and divinity of that doctrine which he preached unto them, and which contains such powerful arguments to repentance and amendment of life.
II. I observe likewise from our Saviour's discourse, that God is not always obliged to work miracles for the conversion of finners. It is great goodness in him
to afford fufficient means of repentance to men, as he did to Tyre and Sidon, in calling them to repentance by his Prophet ; though such miracles were not wrought among them, as God thought fit to accompany our Sa• viour's preaching withal.
This I observe, to prevent a kind of bold and faucy objection, which fome would perhaps be apt to make; If Tyre and Sidon would have repented, had such miracles been wrought among them, as our Saviour wrought in Chorazin and Bethsaida, why were they not wrought, that they might have repented ? To which it is sufficient answer to say, that God is not obliged to do all that is possible to be done, to reclaim men from their sins; he is not obliged to overpower their wills, and to work irresistibly upon their minds, which he can easily do; he is not obliged to work miracles for every particular man's convi&ion ; nor where he vouchsafeth to do this, is he obliged always to work the greatest and molt convincing miracles; his goodness will not suffer him to omit what is necessary and fufficient to bring men to repentance and happiness; nay, beyond this he many times does more; but it is fufficient to vindicate the justice and goodness of God, that he is not wanting to us, in affording the means necessary to reclaim us froin our sins, and to bring us to goodness. That which is properly our part, is to make use of those means which God affords us to become bet. ter, and not to prescribe to him how much he should do for us ; to be thankful that he hath done so much, and not to find fault with him for having done no more.
III. I observe farther from our Saviour's discourse, that the external means of repentance which God affords to men, do suppose an inward grace of God accompanying them, sufficiently enabling inen to repent; if it be not their own fault; I say, a sufficient grace of God accompanying the outward means of repentance, till, by our wilful and obstinate neglect and resistance, and opposition of this grace, we provoke God to withdraw it from the means, or else to withdraw both the grace, and the means from us; otherways impenitence after such external means afforded, would be no new and special fault. For if the concurrence of God's