by Thomas Boston
"I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." - Luke 13:5
WHEN we consider the abounding sin and hardness of heart prevailing under a preached gospel, it must needs let us see, that the doctrine of repentance is both necessary and seasonable, to pluck the brands out of the burning; or if that will not do, to leave men without excuse. Sinners stave off repentance, as if they were resolved to persist in sin come what will, or at least as halting betwixt two opinions: But here is a peremptory decision of the case in this text, "I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
In these words we have two things.
1. An abuse of a dispensation of providence corrected: "I tell you, Nay." Some had told our Lord the news of Pilate the Roman governor's falling on some Galileans, with his soldiers, and killing them, while they were sacrificing. It seems the tellers of this news, or others in the company, were apt to think, that these were sinners beyond others, because an unordinary judgment had fallen on them. Our Lord tells them, that it would not bear such a conclusion. He puts them in mind of another remarkable providence, viz. the tower of Siloam in Jerusalem its falling on and killing eighteen persons: but here he shews that this did not befal them, because they were greater sinners than all the rest in Jerusalem; nay there were as great sinners as those, which missed that stroke, and others like it too.
2. The right use of the dispensation instructed: "But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." The right use is to learn repentance from the ruin of others; if others give us an example at their own cost, that we take heed to it and improve it to our repentance and reformation. This is the import of the particle but. These words are a peremptory certification given to sinners by our Lord. And the proposition in its own nature includes a twofold certification.
1st, A certification of ruin upon impenitence. Sinners go on in their course, yet hope that all may be well. No, says our Lord, deceive not yourselves; for if ye do not repent, there is no hope of saving you. There is here,
(1.) The matter on which the certification is given, "Except ye repent;" i. e. If ye do not repent, if ye be not duly humbled for your sins, and sincerely turn from them. If ye harden your hearts under your guilt, keep still your sinful courses, and refuse to let them go, they will ruin you.
(2.) The thing certified, which is perishing likewise; not perishing in that very manner, but ye shall perish as surely as they did. The judgments of God shall pursue you, and ye shall perish for ever.
(3.) The extent of the certification, "All—perish." This clears the perishing to be meant of everlasting death. Q. d. Though signal temporal judgments do pursue all that are impenitent, yet eternal punishment will; no impenitent sinner shall escape that, however they may escape temporal strokes of signal vengeance.
(4.) The peremptoriness of it. This appears in two things. 1. That solemn assertion, "I tell you," supposed to be repeated in the last clause. Take it out of the mouth of the Lord himself, that ye shall perish except ye repent. Q. d. This has been told you by many, but ye would not believe: but now I tell it you out of my own mouth. And to hear this out of the mouth of the Saviour, may strike a sinner with concern, and let him see, that Christ's blood will never be laid out on a person continuing impenitent, to save him from death. 2. In the relation intimate to be between the punishment of those so signally smitten by the hand of God, and the future punishment of all impenitent sinners; the former is a pledge of the latter. This is intimated by the particle likewise.
2dly, A certification of life and repentance. This is implied here as Gen. 2:17. God has made as sure connection betwixt repentance and life, as betwixt impenitence and death. Be your sins never so great, if you repent of them, and turn from them, they shall never be your ruin.
Before I come to the main point I design, I shall lay before you some observations from the words.
Table of Contents
The Necessity of Repentance
Observation 1: Those who meet with more strokes than others are not to be accounted greater sinners than others Observation 2: That the strokes which any meet with, are pledges of ruin to impenitent sinners.
Observation. 3. The strokes that others meet with, are loud calls to to us to repent
DOCTRINE. Sinners, except they repent, shall perish.
OBJECTION. Repentance is placed before faith
QUESTION. How are we to act faith in order to repentance?
There are four things occasion shame, and meet here.
Five things that stir up this self-loathing
The returning of the soul unto God from sin
Turning from sin has these properties.
Motives to Repentance
The Danger of Delaying Repentance
The Case of the Thief on the Cross No Argument for Delaying Repentance