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The Rest of Sincerity

The Rest of Sincerity

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" Repent ye." — Matt. 3 : 2.

" Repent ye." — Matt. 3 : 2.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Mar 16, 2014
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" Repent ye." — Matt. 3 : 2.

HIS was no less the requirement of God than the need of man. John's faith-lit vision saw by the light of God's goodness this deep need of the human soul, and these words, strange as it may seem, were the call to rest. Man hates to repent, hates to set the seal of disapproval on his own doings ; his proud heart smarts and burns at the thought, for he wants to be counted true and right before men, even when he knows that within he is false and wrong. He does not want earth to see his foulness and shame. Yet he must repent ere that spirit within him can have rest, ere he can look himself square in the depths of his soul and say, " Thou art now an honest man." Painful as it is, the thorn must be withdrawn ere the wound can heal ; the cor-



ruption must be found out ere the ulcer's pain will cease. So they who would preach only a soft, soothing gospel are cruelly false. They would cry " Peace, peace, when there is no peace." They would talk soothingly to the deep agonies of a heart without extracting the serpent's fang. They would try to pillow the soul on a lie, and soothe the prodigal while he sits feeding the swine and perishing of hunger. Ah ! that boy must go back to his father, and go back with a heart conscious of his sonship, scaTred, marred, and shamed, but conscious at last of an honest sincerity down beneath it all that he is true of heart.

I once asked a Roman Catholic priest, " Suppose one came to confession and only told you a part of the sin, hiding the rest from you, and you became conscious of it, what 'would you do ?" " Have nothing to do with the hypocrite," he said. Every sinner is a hypocrite until he confesses to God his sin, and he is guilty until he repents. Mercy cannot heal the heart-wounds of sin until they are repented of. She cannot separate the sins from


the sinner until the sinner hates the sin and


disclaims it as a part of himself. A man may come and plunge a dagger into my body with intent to slay. As he withdraws it, dripping and warm with my blood, I may say, " I forgive you ;" but that pardon takes no effect, carries home no peace, so long as he repents not ; he must be a murderer, and blood must stain his soul ; yet the instant that soul disclaims the foul deed and throws it from him, that instant he ceases to be the man he was, and may embrace my forgiveness. His soul and mine may meet as new beings and with new hopes ; meet with a rest sweet and deep in proportion to the sincerity of faith with which he repents and I forgive, and our trust in each other's sincerity. Had John taken counsel with the wise (so called) men of his age they would doubtless have counselled a very different course, just as their representatives do now. Go softly, speak gently, per-


suade without offence, give mercy, but talk not of judgment. Ah ! John cared too much for man and God to listen for one moment to such suicidal policy. He saw the hearts of men, saw sin gnawing hungrily at their souls,


saw their inner strifes, and heard the dull sighings of the sufferers, and boldly and grandly he called out the remedy : " Repent ye." The inner life and its great future were the most important things he saw in man or for man, and like one true to his fellow-men he calls for the uprising of good and the downcasting of evil in them. He called the prodigal to rise and come face to face with his sin, that he might press heart to heart with his father. To him there was no shame in repenting wrong that he might be right, but there was death and eternal shame in hiding sin that he might be forever wrong.

The heart of the people responded to the


trueness of John as the heart of one man. " Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. " Oh, people do want honest, brave, true, strong dealings with the realities of time and. eternity. This question of salvation is, after all, one men cannot shake entirely off, nor can they completely hush the voice of conscience. Down deep in the human heart


there is a capacity for a hereafter: the possibilities of heaven or hell set about with the thoughts of immortality and eternity ; and when a preacher, nerved by the spirit of the living God, rises strong and great enough to press through all the dead formalities and soul-deluding ritualism which have for a long time hid the deep, festering wounds within, such* a preacher will be heard. The witness within men's own bosom will cry " It is the truth ; I know it, I feel it." John came and found


just such a state of things. Pharisee, scribe, lawyer, and priest had been feeding the hungry souls on the dry husks of a lifeless and burdensome formality ; but John called them back along the plain path of truth toward the Father's house, and humiliating as was the path of repentance, it was warmed with a sympathy of trueness and lighted with the liveness of hope that they had sought but failed to find in all the tangled forms and requirements of men's traditions. Men went away from the baptism of John with a perceptible sense and realization that they had made a stride toward God, and stood nearer, stronger 4


and more hopefully in His presence than when they came. The morning dew of the Gospel dispensation was fresh upon the ministry of John, even though the day had not yet dawned, and it breathed a fragrance of life they had never felt as they turned away from


the death-scenes of blood-bathed altars, where skin bulls and goats could never take away sins.

It was indeed a day-dawn upon the souls of men when they heard and felt that by God's grace hearts might arise, and by the great mercy of God renounce and forsake the sins from which all the ceremonials on earth could not cleanse. Yes, this was a day that proclaimed the royal priesthood of man himself, and drew him near to his God as a man. And they who would be mighty in the hands of God " to turn the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the just" must ever labor to bring man face to face with his God and his Father. Grand and true to the needs of the human heart was that message of Jesus, " to ascend to my God and your God, my Father and your Father." Yes, as men listened to


these words, and words like these, calling them


to the sympathy and confidence of God, leading their souls up to trust Him through all their imperfections, and to lay open before Him their deepest and sorest defects, assured that the good within them will be recognized and the trueness in them matured into stronger, deeper life : I say, w T hen men hear of these great callings from lips of deep sincerity, if there is any trueness, any remaining life, it will respond. And if you add, " for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," and throw wide the doors to an endless life to all true believers, then will the sincere penitent rush into it as if by violence, as they did in the days of John and Jesus.

Thus, and thus only, comes that deep heartrest that remaineth for the people of God. This is the path along which those who " labor and are heavy laden" come to Jesus for that rest. Yea, " Blessed are the pure in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God."

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