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purpose is the note of Dr. Whitby on the
NUMB. XXXII. Acts iii. 19.
Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your fins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing fhall come from the presence of the Lord.
T is concluded from hence, that re
pentance and converfion are in the power of men, and not wrought by the unfruftrable grace of God; that there is no fuch thing as an abfolute election, or fpecial redemption of particular perfons; fince all men are exhorted to repent and be converted, and that in order to procure the remisfion of their fins. But,
I. It should be obferved, that repentance is either evangelical or legal, and this either perfonal or national. Evangelical repentance is not in the power of a natural man, but is the gift of God's free grace. Legal repentance may be performed by particular perfons, who are deftitute of the grace of God, and by all the inhabitants of a place, as the Ninevites, who repented externally
Limborch, l. 4. c. 13. §. 16. p. 374. Whitby, p. 70, 88, 153.
at the preaching of Jonah; though it does not appear that they had received the grace of God, fince deftruction afterwards came upon that city for its iniquities; and fuch a repentance thefe Jews are here exhorted to, on the account of a national fin, the crucifixion of Chrift, with which they are charged, ver. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. and in the guilt and punishment of which, they had involved themselves, and all their pofterity; when they faid, His blood be upon us and upon our children. Likewife the converfion here preffed unto, is not an internal con verfion of the foul to God, which is the work of almighty power; but an outward reformation of life, or a bringing forth fruit in converfation, meet for the regene tance infifted on. Befides, exhorances to any thing, be it what it will, to nor geral. sarily imply that man has a power my boynam ply with them Men are fiqurat ny we lieve in Chrifty to Tone the Cons wit their heart, make temele se and a new firt, va aos ta
law of Gut, Dire 89 View
them, could not be faved unless they were partakers of them; and therefore ought to apply to God for them.
II. These exhortations do not militate against the abfolute election or particular redemption of fome only, fince they are not made to all men, but to thefe Jews, the crucifiers of Chrift; and were they made to all men, they should be confider'd only as declarations of what God approves of, comimands and requires, and not what he wills and determines fhall be; for then all men would repent and be converted; for who hath refifted his will? Befides, in this way God may and does bring his elect to see their need of repentance, and to an enjoyment of that grace, and leaves others inexcufable.
It is faid, that if Chrift died not for all men, God could not equitably require all men to repent: And it is afked, What good could this repentance do them? what remiffion of fins could it procure? and therefore must be in vain; yea, that it would follow from hence, that no impenitent perfon can be. justly, condemned for dying in his impenitent eftate. To which I reply; it does not become us to fix what is, and what is not equitable for God to require of his creatures, on fuppofition of Chrift's dying or not dying for them; this is limiting the holy one of Ifrael. Suppofing Chrift had not died
many as have finned in the law, fhall be judged by the law. Befides, as has been obferved, the exhortation to repent, here made, is not made unto all men, but to the Jews, on a very remarkable occafion, and was bleffed to many of them, to the turning them away from their iniquities; for many of them which beard the word, believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand".
If it should be replied, that though the exhortation to repentance is not here made to all men ; yet it is elsewhere exprefly said, that God commandeth all men every where to repent. Let it be obferved, that as this command to repentance does not suppose it to be in the power of man, nor contradicts its being a free grace gift of God; or its being a bleffing in the covenant of grace, and in the hands of Chrift to beftow; fo neither does it extend, as here expreffed, to every individual of mankind, but only regards the men of the then prefent age, in diftinction from those who lived in the former times of ignorance; for fo the words are expreffed; And the times of this ignorance God winked at, over-looked, took no notice of, sent them no meffages, enjoined them no commands of faith in Chrift, or repentance towards God; but now, fince the coming and death of Chrift, commandeth all men,
n Acts iv, 4.
Chap. xvii, 30.