We have here the conclusion and application of this whole matter. After a fair trial at the bar of right reason the verdict is brought in on God’s side; it appears that his ways are equal. Judgment therefore is next to be given; and one would think it should be a judgment of condemnation, nothing short of Go, you cursed, into everlasting fire. But, behold, a miracle of mercy; the day of grace and divine patience is yet lengthened out; and therefore, though God will at last judge every one according to his ways, yet he waits to be gracious, and closes all with a call to repentance and a promise of pardon upon repentance.
I. Here are four necessary duties that we are called to, all amounting to the same:—1. We must repent; we must change our mind and change our ways; we must be sorry for what we have done amiss and ashamed of it, and go as far as we can towards the undoing of it again. 2. We must turn ourselves from all our transgressions, Ezek. 18:30, 32. Turn yourselves, face about; turn from sin, nay, turn against it as the enemy you loathe, turn to God as the friend you love. 3. We must cast away from us all our transgressions; we must abandon and forsake them with a resolution never to return to them again, give sin a bill of divorce, break all the leagues we have made with it, throw it overboard, as the mariners did Jonah (for it has raised the storm), cast it out of the soul, and crucify it as a malefactor. 4. We must make us a new heart and a new spirit. This was the matter of a promise, Ezek. 11:19. Here it is the matter of a precept. We must do our endeavour, and then God will not be wanting to us to give us his grace. St. Austin well explains this precept. Deus non jubet impossibilia, sed jubendo monet et facere quod possis et petere quod non possis—God does not enjoin impossibilities, but by his commands admonishes us to do what is in our power and to pray for what is not.
II. Here are four good arguments used to enforce these calls to repentance:—1. It is the only way, and it is a sure way, to prevent the ruin which our sins have a direct tendency to: So iniquity shall not be your ruin, which implies that, if we do not repent, iniquity will be our ruin, here and for ever, but that, if we do, we are safe, we are snatched as brands out of the burning. 2. If we repent not, we certainly perish, and our blood will be upon our own heads. Why will you die, O house of Israel? What an absurd thing it is for you to choose death and damnation rather than life and salvation. Note, The reason why sinners die is because they will die; they will go down the way that leads to death, and not come up to the terms on which life is offered. Herein sinners, especially sinners of the house of Israel, are most unreasonable and act most unaccountably. 3. The God of heaven has no delight in our ruin, but desires our welfare (Ezek. 18:32): I have no pleasure in the death of him that dies, which implies that he has pleasure in the recovery of those that repent; and this is both an engagement and an encouragement to us to repent. 4. We are made for ever if we repent: Turn yourselves, and live. He that says to us, Repent, thereby says to us, Live, yea, he says to us, Live; so that life and death are here set before us.