Acts 3:19
Repent, then, and turn back, so that your sins may be wiped away,
Sermons
ConversionR.A. Redford Acts 3:19
The Human and the DivineW. Clarkson Acts 3:11-21
A Great Sermon to a Wondering MultitudeR.A. Redford Acts 3:11-26
A Greater MiracleJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Credit Due to ChristH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:11-26
Glory Due to ChristJ. Spencer.Acts 3:11-26
Glory to be Given to GodH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:11-26
Misapprehensions RemovedA. Hudson.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's AddressJ. T. McCrory.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's AddressMonday ClubActs 3:11-26
Peter's AddressJ. Bennett, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's SermonC. S. Robinson, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Peter's SpeechJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Show Me the DoctorActs 3:11-26
Solomon's PorchDean Plumptre.Acts 3:11-26
Solomon's Porch -- a Hallowed Spot for PeterG. T. Stokes, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
The Miracle At the Beautiful Gate as a TextD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
The Threefold Testimony of Peter Concerning ChristLisco.Acts 3:11-26
The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Conversion of MenR. W. Dale, LL. D.Acts 3:11-26
Trite CourageH. C. Trumbull, D. D.Acts 3:11-26
Witness of Peter to JesusE. Johnson Acts 3:11-26
Apostolic ExhortationC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 3:19-21
Be ConvertedW. Birch.Acts 3:19-21
ConversionTheological Sketch-BookActs 3:19-21
ConversionW. Hay Aitken, M. A.Acts 3:19-21
Conversion IsW. Birch.Acts 3:19-21
Obliteration More than PardonC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 3:19-21
Religious Revivals Times of RefreshingJ. S. Pearsall.Acts 3:19-21
Repentance and its ResultsW. Hudson.Acts 3:19-21
Repentance Implies the Utter Forsaking of SinJ. Spencer.Acts 3:19-21
Repentance not Mere Sorrow for SinW. Hay Aitken.Acts 3:19-21
Repentance, a Change of MindW. Hay Aitken.Acts 3:19-21
Revival: Waiting ForH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:19-21
RevivalsT. W. Jenkyn, D. D.Acts 3:19-21
Revivals, and Seasons of ColdnessT. L. Cuyler.Acts 3:19-21
Revivals: Effects OfT. W. Jenkyn, D. D.Acts 3:19-21
Revivals: True Test OfH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:19-21
Revivals: Use OfH. W. Beecher.Acts 3:19-21
Sin Blotted OutActs 3:19-21
The Blotting Out of SinDean Plumptre.Acts 3:19-21
Times of RefreshingR. C. Pritchett.Acts 3:19-21
Times of Refreshing and of RestitutionR. Tuck Acts 3:19, 21
Times of Refreshing from the Presence of the LordW. B. Leach.Acts 3:19-21
Times of RefreshmentDean Plumptre.Acts 3:19-21
Times of Restitution and RestorationDean Vaughan.Acts 3:19-21
We Must Repent NowJ. Watson, M. A.Acts 3:19-21
What is RepentanceD. L. Moody.Acts 3:19-21
TRUEC. H. Spurgeon.Acts 3:19-21
Repent ye therefore, etc. The universal requirement. Rulers and people. Ignorant and educated. Near the kingdom, or far off. The end to be aimed at by all Christian effort and enterprise. The application of all mighty displays of Divine power. The real beginning of individual spiritual life, and of a true Church.

I. THE NATURE OF TRUE CONVERSION.

1. Spiritual change. Not a mere ritualistic sensation, or educational development of the character, but being "born again." Repentance, change of mind, on the ground of facts acknowledged and promises received. The announcement of the gift of God prepared the way for the call to repentance. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, therefore repent; pass through the gate into life.

2. Man's co-operation with God. "Repent and turn again" (Revised Version), "that your sins may be blotted out," etc. No amount of feeling is conversion; no enlightenment of the mind, or even devoutness of spirit, supersedes the change of life. The sins are blotted out by the blood of Christ as guilt, their burden is removed from the conscience, the heart, and the life, when repentance and faith introduce the sinner into the state of grace. What the apostle appealed for was a real coming out of the old state into the new. We must not be satisfied with mere religiousness, instead of decided confession of Christ before men. Direct the Word to the individual: "Repent ye. The participation of privilege as children of Abraham, as members of the favored nation, no release from the obligation to repent. The Church itself needs revival and change.

II. ENCOURAGEMENTS.

1. The great fact. Conversion is a reality, already seen. The Spirit of God is already poured out. The beginning of the new life is before our eyes. Others are changed, why not ye? Distinguish between the right and wrong use of such a fact. No necessity to wait for great revivals. Danger of expecting excitement to do God's work for us. The actual existence of a living, working Church of Christ in our neighborhood is the great call to us.

2. The offered blessedness - the blotting out of sins. Sense of pardon the spring of the new life. The function of thankfulness in practical Christianity. The impossibility of progress without a sense of liberty. Hence the defective Christianity of our Churches. No sense of victory over sin.

3. The promised future. Seasons of refreshing." Return of Jesus Christ. Restitution of all things. The key-note of revelation. The golden horizon of the world. Power of hope in awakening energy. "Pilgrim's progress" is towards "the celestial city." Turn your face from the city of Destruction to the city of God. The call to repentance should never be a mere denunciatory cry against sin, a mere pointing to the overhanging Mount Sinai, which gendereth bondage; but as the loving invitation to rejoice in the "presence of the Lord," from which the blessing is ready to come forth. Address men not as far off, but as nigh - within the temple courts, under the outspread wings. - R.







Repent ye therefore and be converted.
I. THE APOSTLE BADE MEN REPENT AND BE CONVERTED.

1. Repent signifies, in its literal meaning, to change one's mind. It has been translated "after-wit," or "after-wisdom"; it is the man's finding out that he is wrong, and rectifying his judgment. But although that be the meaning of the root, the word has come in Scriptural use to mean a discovery of the evil of sin, a mourning that we have committed it, a resolution to forsake it, the love of what once we hated, and the hate of what once we loved. Conversion means a turning from, and a turning to, from sin to holiness, from carelessness to thought, from the world to heaven, from self to Jesus. The words in Greek are "Repent and convert," or, rather, "Repent and turn." It is an active verb, just as the other was. When the demoniac had the devils cast out of him, that was repentance; but when he was clothed and in his right mind, that was conversion. When the prodigal was feeding his swine, and on a sudden began to consider and to come to himself, that was repentance. When he set out and left the far country and went to his father's house, that was conversion.

2. Repentance and conversion are the work of the Holy Spirit. And yet Peter says, "Repent, and be converted"! "How reconcile you these two things?" We tell men to repent and believe, not because we rely on any power in them to do so, not because we depend upon any power in our earnestness or in our speech, but because the gospel is the mysterious engine by which God converts the hearts of men, and we find that, if we speak in faith, God the Holy Ghost operates with us, and while we bid the dry bones live, the Spirit makes them live — while we tell the lame man to stand on his feet, the mysterious energy makes his ankle-bones to receive strength — while we tell the impotent man to stretch out his hand, a Divine power goes with the command, and the hand is stretched out and the man is restored. The power lies not in the sinner, not in the preacher, but in the Holy Spirit.

II. THERE WAS GOOD REASON FOR THIS COMMAND. "Repent ye therefore." The apostle was logical. It was not mere declamation. What, then, was the argument?

1. The Jews put Christ to death. And this is spiritually true of you. Every sin in the essence of it is a killing of God. Every time you do what God would not have you do, you do in effect, so far as you can, put God out of His throne, and disown the authority which belongs to His Godhead. When Christ was nailed to the tree, sin only did then literally and openly what all sin really does in a spiritual sense. Will you not repent if it be so? While you thought your sins to be mere trifles, you would not repent; but now I have shown you that every sin is really an attempt to thrust God out of the world. What, then, if the authority of God should be no more owned in the universe — where should we all be? What a hell above ground would this world become! Do you not see what a mischievous thing, then, your iniquity has been? Then, truly, there is abundant reason why you should repent and turn from it.

2. He whom they had slain was a most blessed person — one so blessed that God the Father had exalted Him. Jesus Christ came not into this world with any selfish motive, but entirely out of philanthropy, full of love to men; and yet men put Him to death! Now God does not deserve that we should rebel against Him. If He were a great tyrant domineering over us, putting us to misery, there might be some excuse, but, when He acts like a tender father to us, it is a cruel shame that we should live in daily revolt against Him. You who have not believed in Christ have mighty cause for repenting that you have not believed in Him, seeing He is so good and kind.

3. While they had rejected the blessed Christ they had chosen a murderer. Sinner, thou hast despised Christ, and what is it thou hast chosen? Has it been the drunkard's cup? Thy lust? What devilish things to set in the place of Christi What have thy sins done to thee that thou shouldst prefer them to Jesus? What wages have you had? Oh, then, this is a thing to be repented of.

4. Christ whom they had despised was able to do great things for them. "His name through faith in His name," etc. If you will trust Jesus to-day, all your iniquities shall be blotted out. Believing in Him, He can make thee blessed. And is not this cause for repentance? With hands loaded with love He stands outside the door of your heart. Is not this good reason for opening the door and letting Him in?

5. "I wot that through ignorance ye did it." As if He would say, "Now that ye have more light, repent of what you did in the dark." You had not heard the gospel, you did not know that sin was so bad a thing, you did not understand that Jesus was able to save to the uttermost. Now you do understand it. The times of your ignorance God winked at, but now "commandeth all men everywhere to repent." Greater light brings greater responsibility. Do not go back to your sin, lest it become tenfold sin to you. "Now ye have no cloak for your sin." Therefore, because the cloak is pulled away, and you sin against the light, I say as Peter did, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."

III. WITHOUT REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION SIN CANNOT BE PARDONED. Many Oriental merchants kept their accounts on little tablets of wax. On these tablets they indented marks which recorded the debts, and when these debts were paid, they took the blunt end of the stylus or pencil, and just flattened down the wax, and the account entirely disappeared. Now, he that repents and is pardoned is, through the precious blood of Christ, so entirely forgiven that there is no record of his sin left. If we blot out an account from our books, the record is gone, but there is the blot; but on the wax tablet there was no blot. But sin cannot be removed except there be repentance and conversion. This must be so, for —

1. It is most seemly. Would you expect a great king to forgive an erring courtier unless the offender first confessed his fault?

2. It would not be moral; it would be pulling up the very sluices of immorality to tell men that they could be pardoned while they went on in their sins and loved them. Does not conscience tell us this? There is not a conscience here that will say to a man, "You can hope to be saved and yet live as you list." But whether your conscience shall say so or not, God says "He that confesseth and forsaketh his sin shall find mercy," but there is no promise for the unrepenting. "He who goeth on in his iniquity and hardeneth his neck shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy."

IV. REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION WILL BE REGARDED AS PECULIARLY PRECIOUS IN THE FUTURE, for my text says, "When the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."

1. He that repents and is converted shall enjoy the blotting out of sin in that season of sweet peace which always follows pardon. When the prisoner first gets out of prison, when the fetters for the first time clank music as they fall broken to the ground! when the sick man leaves the sick chamber of his convictions to breathe the air of liberty and to feel the health of a pardoned sinner! Oh, if you did but know what a bliss it is to be forgiven, you would never stay away from Christ I But you do not know, and cannot. Oh, "repent and be converted," then, and you will.

2. Perhaps these "times of refreshing" may also relate to times of revival in the Christian Church. The only way in which you can share in the refreshment of a revival is by your own repenting and being converted. Of what use is a revival to an unpardoned sinner? It is like the soft south wind blowing upon a corpse.

3. The text means, according to the context, the second advent. Jesus is yet to come a second time, and like a mighty shower flooding a desert shall His coming be. His Church shall revive and be refreshed. But woe unto you who are not saved when Christ cometh, for the day of the Lord will be darkness and not light to you.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The original "a change of mind" or "an after-thought." Now that is exactly what the Holy Spirit produces in the convicted soul. "There is," says the wise man, "a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death." Now it is the work of the Holy Ghost to dispel this false view of our way, and to bring us to see things as they really are; and when we yield to His convicting influences, the light of truth flashes into our soul, and we come to ourselves. Now we see things from an entirely different point of view, and cry out against ourselves — against our folly and our sin. "What a fool I have been!" cries the awakened and repentant soul. "So many years I have lived in this world, and yet have I never really begun to live at all! My whole past has been a wasted existence. I have been simply exercising my faculties in furthering my own destruction!" The first step in a real repentance is taken when we open our eyes to see things as in the light of the Holy Ghost, when we escape from the long delirium of a life lived under the influence of the great deceiver, and thus undergo a change of mind with respect to God and to sin, and the value of things seen and things eternal.

(W. Hay Aitken.)

It is a common thing to find people confusing between repentance and sorrow for sin, and this leads sometimes to most distressing results. I remember once insisting very strongly upon the importance of making this distinction. The next day an intelligent Christian man said, "Ah, Mr. Aitken, if I had heard that sermon of yours last night when I was seeking salvation, I believe it might have saved me long weary years of misery, during which I was really and earnestly desirous to give myself to God, and yet fancied I had no right to come to Christ, because I could not feel the sorrow for sin that I thought I ought to feel." Now it is quite possible to experience a good deal of sorrow for sin without any real repentance, and it is equally possible to have a sincere repentance, and yet to be ready to cry out against ourselves because we don't feel as much sorrow for sin as we think we should. Indeed this impatience at our own hardness of heart and lack of true spiritual sensibility is often a feature of true repentance. But observe that on no less than ten occasions men are directed to repent, the word being for the most part employed in the imperative mood. Now it is obviously absurd to suppose that we should be thus commanded to produce within ourselves a certain state of feelings; for obviously our feelings constitute just that element in our nature over which we have least control. We cannot command our feelings at will, and therefore it is simply ridiculous to commandpersons to do so. It would be folly were I to say to you, "Feel very happy," or "Feel very sorrowful." Again, we find repentance expressly distinguished from godly sorrow. "Godly sorrow worketh repentance... not to be repented of." Now, if it may be the cause of repentance, it must be distinct from repentance, for an effect must always be distinct from its cause. It does not, however, always stand in this relation. Godly sorrow may sometimes flow from a real repentance, just as in another case it may proceed and lead up to it. Of this we see an instance in David, who poured forth his soul in the sorrowful language of the fifty-first Psalm long after he had both repented and had been forgiven.

(W. Hay Aitken.)

Peter had now proved that the people were in an evil. case, and pointed out that the only way of escape was by repentance and conversion. But the apostle urged this duty on three special grounds.

I. IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT ATTAIN PROPER RELATIONS TO GOD. "That your sins may be blotted out." There stood against them an account by which they were bound, and that account could not be cancelled except through repentance. Then God would not treat them as sinners. The reason for this condition is obvious since God can do nothing that is morally unfit. To attain this right relation to God is to enter the way of ultimate personal perfection.

II. IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT CEASE TO STAND IN THE WAY OF BLESSING DESIGNED FOR THEIR FELLOW-MEN. "That the times of refreshing," etc. The world was full of sin and weariness. God knew all about it, and had promisedseasons of refreshment. They were to be granted "from His presence," by His decree. But He would bless men through men, Repentance and conversion were therefore required. So now. Domestic piety will be promoted by those who penitently turn to God. The purification and quickening of particular churches will be aided by such as mourn over sin and forsake it. And the multiplication of purified and quickened churches would soon work mighty changes in Christendom.

III. IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT PROMOTE THE COMING OF THE GREAT FINAL MANIFESTATION OF THE REDEEMER. "And He shall send Jesus."

(W. Hudson.)

? — It is, right about face! I think these soldiers understand that expression. Some one has said that every one is born with his back to God, and that conversion turns him right round. If you want to be converted, and want to repent, I will tell you what you should do. Just get out of Satan's service, and get into the Lord's. Leave your old friends, and unite yourself with God's people. I shall be gone on a journey shortly. If, when I am in the train, a friend should say, "Moody, you are going in the wrong train." "My friend," I should say, "you have made a great mistake; the guard told me this is the right train." You are wrong, I am sure you are wrong. "the guard told me this is the right train." Then my friend would say, "Moody, I have lived here forty years, and I know all about the trains. That train is the wrong one." He at last convinces me, and I get out of that train and get into the right one. Repentance is getting out of one train and getting into the other. You are on the wrong train; you are in the broad path that taketh you down to the pit of hell. Get out of it to-night. Right about face! Who will turn his feet towards God? "Turn ye, for why will ye die?" In the Old Testament the word is "turn." In the New Testament the word is "repent."

(D. L. Moody.)

repentance is practical: — I heard one say, "It is an awful-thing to be a slave to the winecup; I wish that I had never tasted it. The first opportunity I get I will turn over a new leaf." He did not say what the new leaf would be, but he was going to do any quantity of reforming work. Alas I he never did anything at all, for he was drunk again the next day. A beautiful penitent to look upon; but a wretched hypocrite in due time, for he returned like the dog to his vomit, and the sow which was washed to her wallowing in the mire. If you repent of sin, down with sin! In God's name, down with sin! When repentance is hearty it is practical. When a man truly turns to God, he turns away from sin.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

Years ago, on a summer afternoon, I stood on a little harbour-wall and saw two vessels trying to make the entrance. They were lying in a narrow channel, and, since there was not water enough to keep them up, they were lying on their side. But far out the tide began to turn, and one wave after another passed under them, and every wave in the channel made the water deeper; and I saw in a little while that the water was twelve feet deep in the harbour, and the green, foaming waves rushed in like a millrace. I looked again towards the narrow passage, and saw on one vessel that they had taken advantage of the wind at the right moment, and on that first vessel they floated in on the full tide. Upon the other vessel they were not on the alert, though sailors do not often make that mistake, and when they tried to make the harbour the tide had turned, and they could not. The water grew shallower; they gave up the attempt; and gradually the vessel heeled over, and lay just as before on the bank of sand. At nightfall I went down again, and in the dark gloaming I saw the forsaken vessel, and I prayed that I might not miss the tide which God gives to our souls, nor quench His Spirit within my heart.

(J. Watson, M. A.)

Every time a man takes a journey from home about business, we do not say he hath forsaken his house; because he meant, when he went out, to come to it again. No; but when we see a man leave his house, carry all his goods away with him, lock up his doors, and take up his abode in another place, never to dwell there more, this man may very well be said to have forsaken his house indeed. Thus it is that every one of us are to forsake sin so as to leave it without any thought of returning to it again. It were strange to find a drunkard so constant in the exercise of that sin, but sometimes you may find him sober, and yet a drunkard he is, as if he were then drunk. Every one hath not forsaken his trade that we see, now and then, in their holiday suit; then it is that a man is said to forsake his sin, when he throws it from him, and bolts the door upon it, with a purpose never to open any more unto it. Ephraim shall say, "What have we to do any more with idols?" (Hosea 14:8).

(J. Spencer.)

Let us —

I. CONSIDER THE STATE OF THE SOUL BEFORE CONVERSION

1. The Bible speaks of it as a state of death. Death is so offensive in physical nature that we are compelled to bury even our beloved friends; and had we eyes and hearts to see and feel the realities of the spiritual world a soul dead by sin would be more offensive than a decaying body. We bury the physical dead, but it is impossible to put away a dead soul from society. The world would have been better without you, for as a corpse putrifies the air we breathe, so a dead soul is a corruption which gives forth evil and prevents good. A dead soul may —(1) Have great influence. Your influence might have been exerted for the good of society, but you have lived only to enjoy your own self, and so instead of being a helper of the highest interests of mankind, you are drawing sap from the human tree and are yielding no fruit.(2) Be a moral person. You have not committed any crime, but you are dangerous to society. Your goodness is an argument to a bad man against being "religious," and the children of your family say, "Why, father never goes to church, nor reads the Bible, nor prays — why should I?" People will follow a moral sceptic because they wish to have an excuse for sin.(3) Be an openly wicked man.

2. How can it be known whether I am in this state of death or not? If you be in this state there will be —(1) No growth of goodness in your character. Some persons appear to grow more beautiful every year, but others become more wicked as they grow older.(2) No strength to do holy things. You may do as you like with a dead body; it can make no resistance, and likewise a dead soul is helpless in the hands of Satan.(3) Troubles and obstacles which will cause you to despair. In such a case men, but mostly women, rush to intoxicating liquor, and their last state is worse than the first. A dead soul is one "having no hope, and without God in the world."

II. INQUIRE, WHAT IS CONVERSION?

1. It is a new life. You may see advertisements offering for sale an ingredient which improves the breath. Now conversion does not improve the old sinful breath, but it gives a new holy breath within the soul. Just as God by His Providence gives us at birth physical lungs with which to breathe the air about us, so His Holy Spirit creates spiritual lungs in our soul by which we breathe in the atmosphere of the kingdom of God.

2. A second incarnation of God. The first was in Christ, the second in the soul of His disciple. God is not limited to the body of Jesus. He shall also fill every believer with all His fulness. Socrates, speaking of true friendship, describes it as one spirit in two bodies. Now conversion is one Spirit in God and also in you.

3. A moral transformation. It is that change which makes a man who has loved sin to shun it as he would a poisonous serpent.

4. A birth for humanity. It is to realise that you are born to be the brother or the sister of every one, and to prove it by your active goodness. It is that union with God which unites us to our fellow-man.

III. I would URGE YOU TO BE CONVERTED: because —

1. Unless converted you are at war with God. How shameful to be at war with a loving Father!

2. The gospel assures you of pardon.

3. The Lord loves you.

4. God can convert you.

(W. Birch.)

Theological Sketch-Book.
I. WHAT CONVERSION IS, AND WHEREIN IT LIES. The conversion to be treated of is not —

1. An external one, or what lies only in an outward reformation of life and manners, such as that of the Ninevites, for this may be where internal conversion is not, as in the Scribes and Pharisees.

2. Nor is it a mere doctrinal one, nor a conversion from false notions before imbibed to a set of doctrines and truths which are according to the Scriptures; so men of old were converted from Judaism and heathenism to Christianity.

3. Nor the restoration of the people of God from backsliding when they are in a very affecting and importunate manner called upon to return to the Lord (Jeremiah 3:12, 14, 22; Hosea 14:1-4); so Peter when he fell through temptation and denied his Lord, and was recovered from it by a look from Christ, it is called his conversion (Luke 22:32). But —

4. The conversion under consideration is a true, real, internal work of God upon the souls of men.(1) In the turn of the heart to God, of the thoughts of the heart.(2) Conversion lies in a man's being turned from darkness to light; the apostle was sent to turn them from darkness to light (chap. Acts 26:18), that is, to be the instrument or means of their conversion by preaching the gospel.(3) From the power of Satan unto God as in the above place (chap. 26:18). Satan has great power over men in an unconverted state.(4) Conversion lies in turning men from idols to serve the living God; not merely from idols of silver and gold, of wood and stone, as formerly, but from the idols of a man's own heart.(5) Conversion lies in turning men from their own righteousness to the righteousness of Christ.(6) Conversion lies in a man's turning to the Lord actively under the influence of Divine grace; and by this phrase it is often expressed in Scripture as in Isaiah 10:21; Acts 11:21; 2 Corinthians 3:16.

II. THE CAUSES OF CONVERSION.

1. Not by the power of man; what is said of the conversion or turning of the Jews from their captivity is true of the conversion of a sinner that it is not by might nor by power, that is, not of man, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts (Zechariah 4:6).

2. Nor is conversion owing to the will of man; the will of man before conversion is in a bad state; it chooses its own ways, and delights in its abominations, it is in high pursuit after the desires of the flesh and of the mind.

3. God only is the author and efficient cause of conversion.

4. The moving or impulsive cause of conversion is the love, grace, mercy, favour, and good will of God, and not the merits of men.

5. The instrumental cause or means of conversion is usually the ministry of the Word.

III. THE SUBJECTS OF CONVERSION. Lost sinners redeemed by Christ are the subjects.

(Theological Sketch-Book.)

1. All through the New Testament one great saving change, involving entirely new relations with God on the one hand, and with sin on the other, is represented as indispensably necessary, and one only, and it is to this great change that we give the name of "conversion." The word, particularly in the original, seems to be a suitable one to indicate it, looking at it from man's point of view, because it connotes a turning round and a turning towards, with a view to resting in. The word too, in common use, suggests just such a radical change. We speak of "converters" that change iron into steel; of converting a sailing ship into a steamer, or an old-fashioned gun into a breechloader.

2. This great saving change is represented as the true starting-point of the spiritual life. It is therefore not a life-long work, for if all our days be consumed in making the start, what time is there left to that journey? The locomotive requires to be placed upon the turntable, and to have its position reversed, before it can proceed on its return journey. But if the whole four-and-twenty hours are consumed in getting the engine turned, what is to become of that journey? And where is the station-master that would be content to go on all day asking, "Is that engine being turned?" or would feel content on hearing that the process was going forward?

I. CONVERSION IS CLOSELY CONNECTED WITH, BUT DISTINCT FROM, REPENTANCE. Repentance represents the negative, conversion the positive, element. Repentance consists in the honest repudiation of the old, with the accompanying feelings of regret and humiliation; but conversion consists in the acceptance of the new, with all natural, spiritual exultation in God. Repentance is the discovery of the fatal disease and the mournful confession of it. Conversion is the appropriation of the remedy, the believing touching of the hem of His garment, with the firm persuasion, "If I may but touch I shall be whole." Repentance brings us down to the dust; conversion sets us amongst the princes and makes us inherit a crown of glory.

II. CONVERSION IMPLIES AN ORIGINAL ATTITUDE OF AVERSION. "An evil heart of unbelief departing from the living God." And it is the presence of this attitude, more or less fully developed, that makes conversion necessary. Now this attitude is inherited from our first parents. Hence our position differs from theirs in this, that they had to fall beneath their created nature in order to turn from God, whereas we have to rise above our inherited nature to turn to God. Then, again, as it was by a definite moral act, an act of the will, that man turned away from God, so it is only by a definite moral act that man can be converted to God. And hence it is evident that no ordinance can render the conversion to God superfluous or unnecessary. This is surely a sufficient answer to those who allege that conversion cannot be necessary in the case of those who have been baptized as infants, unless they have lapsed into open sin. On the other hand, however, it must frankly be admitted that there are many of whoso conversion there can be no reasonable doubt, who yet cannot remember in the past any aversion, and hence cannot point to any distinct conversion. They seem to have loved and trusted their Saviour so long as they could remember anything. Again, there are others who, although they can recall a condition of aversion, cannot point to the hour of conversion. This seeming indefiniteness with some, no doubt, arise from temperament, or perhaps to defective teaching. Anxious souls, who wish to come to Christ instead of being directed at once to the Cross, are told that they must wait for certain experiences. But whatever be the true explanation we shall do wisely in thinking less of the accidents and more of the essence of this great change. The question is not when and how did your conversion take place? but, Has it taken place?

III. Must CONVERSIONS ALWAYS BE SUDDEN? You hear not few affirm with sufficient dogmatism that they don't believe in sudden conversions except those on a death-bed. I must say, for my own part, that these are the only kind of sudden conversions that I am sceptical about. But my answer is not that all conversions are in their outward appearances necessarily sudden, but that there is no reason why they should not be so. If this matter of turning back again from sin and self to God can be settled promptly, none would wish to see it protracted; for it is only after this point has been passed that real religious experience begins. If conversion can be immediate, there is surely no sense in desiring that the process should be protracted. "Behold, now is the accepted time," etc. If conversion were one and the same thing as reformation, this might well require time; but if it be a mighty spiritual revolution wrought in man by the Holy Ghost, then it is by no means surprising that it should be completed as rapidly as Naaman's cure. Let us turn to our text.

IV. CONVERSION IS AN IMPERATIVE DUTY. The text is a direction couched in the form of a command. "Be converted." It may occur to you to object, Who can convert himself? If I am to be converted, it is God that must convert me. Now there is a certain sense in which this is quite true. The regenerating power can only come from God; but, on the other hand, man as well as God has his part in producing this great change, and it is to man's part in it that the word conversion almost invariably refers. Only once is the word used in the Passive Voice, "Except ye be converted, and become as little children," etc. In that passage the actual moral change is referred to. And it is well that the word should thus be used once lest we should lose sight altogether of the necessarily close connection that must exist between the turning on our part and the change wrought by God on His part. But in the present passage the word is active, "turn again." Many awakened souls are kept back from Christ because they cannot make themselves feel the great change that they think they ought to experience. They wait and hope and pray that they may be converted, instead of turning right round so as to face the God from whom they have turned away. Now to all such the voice of God through similar passages would seem to say, "Turn ye even unto Me, saith the Lord."

V. CONVERSION IS THE CORRELATIVE OF AVERSION. Now in this aversion three distinct steps may be discerned. The first is taken in the aversion of the inner eye, the looking away from God; the next in the aversion of the will when we say, "We will not have this man to reign over us." We prefer to assert our independence; and then follows the aversion of the desires and affections. Now there are three corresponding steps in conversion. We begin to turn Godwards when we allow ourselves to recognise our inward needs, and turn from the empty cisterns that can hold no water, and confess, "My soul is athirst for God, yea, even for the living God." That may be called the conversion of the desires. We take our second step in the submission of our wills and our decision to yield ourselves to God, and here usually the struggle is the most severe, and when this point is gained the hardest part of the battle is won. But there is a third step, the conversion of our inner vision. For even when our desires are fixed on God and our wills yielded to God, seeking souls are still not unfrequently kept in darkness just because they will turn their eyes to anything else rather than God. They will look at themselves, at their feelings, at their ill deserts, at their own faith, or rather at their want of it, at other people, and their experiences rather than at God. Now when St. Peter calls upon us to turn right round and face towards God, it is in order that we may so fix our gaze upon God as to discover what there is in God for us, and rest at peace in the joy of that discovery. But it would be of little use to call upon us to turn unless such an object were presented to us as should attract and retain our gaze when once we direct our vision towards it. The thought of God and of His holiness repels and even appals the awakened soul. But here it is that we learn the value of the gospel. It was not enough that Christ should bid us return to our Father; it was necessary that He should constitute Himself the way.

VI. Thus we see the connection between the atoning work of christ and conversion. The result of that work is, that the sinner finds in God the very thing he has despaired to find in himself. Gazing on the Cross, he makes the astonishing discovery, "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid." Indeed, we may say that in the wondrous vision we find that which converts all our thoughts of God. He who gave His Son for me must needs be worthy of my confidence and love. "Look unto Me," I hear Him say, "and be ye saved," and unto Him I look and find that there is indeed "life for a look at the Crucified One." And this look is conversion; for everything about that Cross seems of a kind to produce a change of thought and feeling that might be called a conversion. I love my sins, but I look at that Cross, and I see in the agony and death of the Sin-bearer what sin really is, and what it must bring me to if I cling to it; and thus my view of sin is changed. I looked upon many of my sins as mere trifles; now I see how exceeding sinful sin must be in the sight of Him who is its Judge, and thus my estimate of the gravity of sin is changed. I once thought of God as though He were hard, austere, and unsympathetic; now I see how tender, as well as infinite, is His love. Thus my judgment of God is changed. I used to love to think of myself as my Own master, but now I see what man is without God, and so my views of myself and of my relations to God are changed. Thus in turning myself to God I turn my back upon my old self. The old is passed away, left crucified on yonder Cross, and all things are become new. But more than even this. Not only am I changed in all my views and feelings, but I am converted to God; that is to say, I am restored to my proper relations with God. Between Him and me there is now nothing but love, and so I am now in a position to enjoy His fellowship and to be strong in His power.

(W. Hay Aitken, M. A.)

I. A CHANGE. A Scotch lassie, who heard Mr. Whitefield preach, was so impressed that she underwent a change of heart. When she presented herself before the Church to be admitted as a member, the deacon said to her, "My child, is your heart changed?" She replied, "Sir, I do not know whether it is my heart that is changed or the world, but I feel that something is changed; things are different now." When a man is "converted" he undergoes a change. Instead of being a servant of Satan, or living merely to please himself, he becomes a servant of God, and lives henceforth to try to please God.

II. A SUBSTANTIAL CHANGE; not merely in name, but in reality. A certain clergyman was preaching to black people. One of the men seemed much impressed, and said he would be a Christian. So the clergyman baptized him, made the mark of the cross on his forehead, and called him by a new name — "Adam." A week or two afterwards the clergyman had reason to believe that this man was not doing as he ought, and amongst other things that he was not fasting on Fridays. Accordingly, one Friday, he went to the man's cabin, and, as he expected, smelt the savoury scent of roasting beef. The clergyman said, "Adam, you are breaking the law of the Church; you ought to be fasting; that is beef, not fish." The man replied, "Well, Master preacher, you cross me and call me a new name, and say I am Christian. So, massa, I take de beef and cross him, and put him in de water, and call him fish." That is about as great a change or conversion as one man can give another. No rite can convert a living soul. Conversion is a personal act between the soul and God.

III. A CHANGE WITHIN WHICH TRANSFORMS THE OUTWARD LIFE.

IV. AN ENDURING CHANGE. A man can get a new "rig-out" for about half-a-crown in Petticoat Lane. You can get a coat and vest for a shilling, a pair Of "unmentionables" for sixpence, a shirt for fourpence halfpenny, a collar and tie — such as they are, for a penny, a hat — what you call a "pot," for threepence, a pair of stockings also for threepence, and you may get a cane and a ring for a penny! And if you are good at bargaining, you may have a gold-like breast pin with a thing like a diamond thrown into the lot for good luck. While you are in the dark shop the whole thing looks moderately "respectable." The articles are not new certainly; nor second-hand; they are about tenth-hand. But when you walk out with your purchases on your back — well, you had better have a good-sized sheet of brown paper to wrap yourself in, for I suspect a decent gust of wind might blow them away altogether, or a shower of rain might dissolve them. The fact is the things are not substantial; they won't stand wear and tear. Man-made conversions are like those cast-off clothes — they are unsubstantial — they will not wear well.

(W. Birch.)

That your sins may be blotted out
This is the only passage in which the verb is directly connected with sins. The image that underlies the words (as in Colossians 2:14) is that of an indictment which catalogues the sins of the penitent, and which the pardoning love of the Father cancels. The word and the thought are found in Psalm 51:10; Isaiah 43:25.

(Dean Plumptre.)

A little boy was once much puzzled about sins being blotted out, and said, "I cannot think what becomes of the sins God forgives, mother." "Why, Charlie, can you tell me where are the figures you wrote on your slate yesterday?" "I washed them all out, mother." "And where are they, then?" "Why, they are nowhere; they are gone," said Charlie. "Just so it is with the believer's sins — they are gone; blotted out; 'remembered no more.'" "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us."

I have spilled the ink over a bill and so have blotted it till it can hardly be read, but this is quite another thing from having the debt blotted out, for that cannot be till payment is made. So a man may blot his sins from his memory, and quiet his mind with false hopes, but the peace which this will bring him is widely different from that which arises from God's forgiveness of sin through the satisfaction which Jesus made in His atonement. Our blotting is one thing, God's blotting out is something far higher.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

When the times of refreshing shall come
Such times —

I. ARE NEEDED. Spiritual life is dependent on direct Divine agency. But as there may be life without health or vigour, so in the believer and the Church there may be real life but great languor, and when such is the case times of refreshing are needed. This Divine influence is often compared to rain, etc. (Isaiah 35:1; Isaiah 44:3; Ezekiel 34:26; Isaiah 61:11), and the result of its exertion is fertility and growth.

1. Personal piety will be deep and personal activity energetic. These are here connected because they should never be separated. Piety without activity will degenerate into spiritual selfishness; activity without piety will be formal and mechanical. As spiritual life generally begins in the closet, it is there that it will be invigorated and revived. As the healthy man requires more sustenance and has a larger appetite than the invalid, so there will be a craving for spiritual food. As in health we crave for the fresh air of heaven, so we shall often ascend the mountain-top of communion with God. And this revived piety, taking cognisance of eternal realities, will prompt to corresponding activity in the cause of Christ. As such times are the result of spiritual influence, by that influence the love of Christ will constrain to holy and individual devotedness.

2. Domestic piety will be more manifest. If the flame of closet devotion be dim, that of the family altar cannot be bright; but when times of refreshing come the members of the household will catch the spirit of devotion, and those for whom parents have long prayed will give evidence of spiritual life. Here, perhaps, more than anywhere are such times to be desired. Worldly amusements, literature, principles, conformity, have in too many instances sapped the foundations of family religion.

3. Social piety will be revived. What dulness and formality there often is in our Church organisations and gatherings, and what a falling off in consequence. But get a season of refreshing, and the pastor will speak direct from the mount of communion a message from God, and Church officers and members, instead of availing themselves of any trifling excuse, will eagerly throng to the services and zealously work all the departments. Equally great will be the change in the habitual converse of Christians. Out of the fulness of the heart the mouth will testify of spiritual things.

4. Sinners will be converted and added to the Church. This has always been a characteristic of such seasons. Witness Pentecost, e.g.

II. MAY BE EXPECTED. We are not left in doubt as to the ultimate triumph of the truth. Christ yet will draw all men unto Him. But Christ works by agents, and since the success of the gospel is in proportion to the vigour of the agents, we are led both by the nature of things and the Divine promises to expect a renewal of spiritual invigoration from time to time. And as the fruitful showers of one year will not suffice for the next, but each has its own supply, so we are led to expect for each generation, and for each believer in his successive phases of experience and work, fresh supplies of reviving grace. And the recurrence of such seasons may be expected from the analogy of the past. They have always been sent when the Church's need has been great. It was so after the Exile (Haggai 1:14), in the days of the Baptist, at Pentecost, in Italy under Savonarola, in Germany and Switzerland, at the time of the Reformation, in America under Jonathan Edwards, etc. (Isaiah 51:9).

III. MUST BE SOUGHT. While we refer their recurrence to the sovereignty of God, yet He has indicated the course which we have to pursue. "I will yet for this be inquired of by the House of Israel to do it for them." But if we regard iniquity in our hearts the Lord will not hear us, "Repent ye, therefore, that the times of refreshing may come." This exhortation is needed by dead Christians as well as dead sinners.

IV. WILL CHANGE THE WHOLE ASPECT OF THE CHURCH. There will be —

1. Clearer knowledge of Divine truth.

2. More manifest spirituality.

3. Greater joy.

(R. C. Pritchett.)

I. WHAT THEY ARE. The phrase might be read —

1. "Times of cooling," in allusion to the custom of labourers, especially in Eastern countries, of retiring to the shade during the heat of the day to recruit their exhausted strength. And what are these hallowed hours, whether on the week days or on the Sabbath, but times of refreshing, affording an agreeable pause amid the busy scenes of life, enabling us to retire from the burden and heat of the day to "the shadow of a great rock in a weary land?" Here grows the "tree of life," of which the grateful Church exclaims, "I sat down under His shadow with delight, and His fruit was sweet unto my taste." Here gently rolls "the river of the waters of life," "whose streams make glad the city of God." Here, like Nathanael under the fig-tree, we can review all ,'the way in which the Lord our God hath led us," and that is refreshing. Here we can contemplate the unfolded mysteries of redeeming love, and that is refreshing. We can inspect the work of grace in the heart, and that is refreshing. We can look into the promises and examine the covenant which is "ordered in all things and sure," and that is refreshing. We can think of heaven, and that is "refreshing,"

2. Times of refection. The renewed soul has an appetite as well as the body, and the blessings of salvation are adapted to our necessities. "In this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things," etc. To these rich provisions we have constant access. Here is food for all, and the whole in pleasing variety. Here is "the sincere milk of the Word" for "babes in Christ," etc.

3. Times of humidity, softening, and moisture, when the genial showers or refreshing dews saturate and revive the thirsty bosom of vegetation. Apt emblem of the refreshing influences of the Holy Ghost, which "come down like rain upon the new-mown grass, and as the showers which water the earth." And how welcome these heavenly showers! How they refresh the soul of the minister, who, having sown the good seed of the Word, is anxious to see "the blade, the ear, and the full corn in the ear!" How they revive the spirit of the people whose graces open and expand like "trees planted by the rivers of water!" What a happy effect they have upon our religious institutions! What a sweet perfume, as a "savour of life unto life," do they produce, as you find in a garden after a refreshing shower! And what a beautiful bow upon "the cloud of our mercies as in the day of rain," do they impress, when they descend in concert with the Sun of Righteousness, like "the bow of promise mid the storm."

II. THE SOURCE WHENCE THEY SPRING — "The presence of the Lord." This renders them doubly valuable. The gift is enhanced by the love which we bear to the Giver, especially when we recollect His motive, the way in which our supplies have been procured, the medium through which they descend, the impossibility of procuring others of equal worth, our own unworthiness and "the fulness of joy and the pleasure for evermore" of which they are the pledge and the earnest. They come "from the presence of the Lord," as the pool of Bethesda was rendered medicinal by the presence of the angel; as the bitter waters of Marah became sweet by the influence of the tree which was cast into them; or as the sorrowing disciples were made glad by the presence of the Redeemer. That the blessed God is present with His people whenever and wherever they meet together in His name, requires no proof. He has promised, "in all places where I record My name will I come unto you and bless you."

III. THEIR IMPORTANCE. What would the earth be without the genial showers which water it but a desert, whatever our skill or labour? Thus it would be in our Churches without Divine influences. Ministers might "break up the fallow ground, and scatter the precious seed," but it would not germinate. "We should labour in vain, and spend our strength for nought." But when the Spirit is poured out from on high, "The wilderness shall bud and blossom as the rose." The Holy Ghost is the fruitful source of vital religion. Without His fructifying graces, instructions, invitations, warnings, judgments, mercies, miracles — are all unproductive. But when He descends, "like showers of heavenly rain," the simplest means produce the noblest effects. And as the Holy Spirit produces vital religion where it has never existed before, so He revives it where it has withered, strengthens it where it is weak, and beautifies, expands, and causes it to unfold where it has been contracted and confined.

IV. HOW THEY ARE TO BE OBTAINED.

1. By a conviction of their value. This is requisite to give a proper impulse to our solicitude.

2. By fervent and persevering prayer. We must ask in order that we may receive. For the blessings which we require the Lord will be sought unto. And "if ye, being evil," etc.

3. Prayer must be followed by an avoidance of those inconsistencies and declensions which "grieve the Holy Spirit of God."

(W. B. Leach.)

(text, and Psalm 85:6): — I have selected these words —

I. AS THE DEEP UTTERANCES OF OUR LONGINGS FOR A REVIVAL IN OUR OWN LAND.

1. Do we not feel the need of it in ourselves individually? Religion begins with a man's self and works outward. "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Instead of saying, "What lack I yet?" or "thanking God you are not like other men," rather cry, "My soul cleaveth unto the dust. O quicken Thou me, according to Thy Word." Are some secretly flattering themselves that they have not lived in open ungodliness? "Ah, but where is the blessedness ye once spake of?" What report from thy closet? thy scene of daily labour? the house of God, the Sunday school? the chamber of the sick and dying? "Wilt Thou not revive me again?"

2. Is there no need for a revival in our families? Have you set your house in order? Do you walk within your house with a perfect heart? Is there here no too indulgent Eli? Is there no parent troubled with an Absalom? Like Jacob, are you suffering from concealed idols? Difficulties are felt in these modern times by many a parent; but let the "land mourn, every family apart," and "the voice of rejoicing and salvation shall be in the tabernacles of the righteous." Let the family Bible, the family altar, and the family pew, secure the family blessing.

3. Is there no need for a revival in our Churches? But let us beware of that censoriousness which can see nothing but faults, and even feel a pleasure in exposing them. The ears of the world are open to these aspersions, and out of their mouths they condemn us. Mark you the example of Christ in the addresses to the Churches in Asia: where possible, praise is blended with censure, and praise has the precedence.

4. Our eyes naturally turn to our nation at large, and we inquire if no revival be needed. What is our national character, habits, and reputation abroad? Look at your senate, universities, markets, factories, press, theatres, prisons, the sins and miseries of your streets, by night as well as by day, and will you not "sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof"? The deep conviction of national sins precedes a revival.

II. THE SOURCE OF A RELIGIOUS REVIVAL. Whence is it? "From heaven, or of men?" What more perplexes the worldly philosopher than to see crowds of men, women, and children rushing to the prayer-meeting. On the Day of Pentecost "they were all amazed and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking, said, These men are full of new wine." But all this leaves the phenomenon of a genuine religious revival unexplained. That a real revival, as tested by the fruits of repentance and a holy life, is the work of the Spirit, we boldly aver. We argue this from the change effected. I appeal to the history of the Church. Say, whether you refer to the conversion of the three thousand, or of individuals, as the malefactor, Zaccheus, Saul of Tarsus, or the jailor, whether in every case it was not as with Lydia — "The Lord opened the heart." If any fact were necessary to confirm this view, it would be not only the notorious sinners that have been converted, but the humble and despised agents and agency employed. But let us appeal to the Scripture itself. What say apostles of their own success? "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves." "So then neither is he that planteth anything, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase." "Not by might, nor by power; but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." And the same Voice is heard saying, "And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing," etc.

III. THE JOYOUSNESS OF ITS CHARACTER.

1. This time is one of "refreshing" from its effects on our own minds. Some of you may be awakened to discover the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and to be alarmed for its consequences. See the penitent at the footstool of mercy beseeching the royal forgiveness; mark the proclamation of the Sovereign's favour, and watch the change on the suppliant's countenance! "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." How different now the heart of the suppliant to the trembling with which he approached to present the prayer "Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities!" Was it not so with the jailor when he "rejoiced with all his house"? Was it not so with the men "pricked in their heart"? "They gladly received his word."

2. Is it not a time of refreshing when we witness large accessions to the Christian Church? Roused to a feeling of compassion for the perishing world, the Church unites her joy on earth with the "joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." But if the rescue of one sinner be such joy, what rejoicing when at these seasons Satan's empire is shaken to its centre, and he himself trembles for his kingdom?

3. Then the Churches themselves are so purified and separated from the world, that they not only believe in, but experience the communion of saints. The charity of every one of them towards each other aboundeth. Instead of being idlers, they are in "labours more abundant"; instead of being troublers they are peace-workers of Zion.

4. But we have not reached the height of the joy until we have associated religious revivals with the manifested glory of God.

(J. S. Pearsall.)

A revival is the spring of religion, the renovation of life and gladness. It is the season in which young converts burst into existence and beautiful activity. The Church resumes her toil and labour and care with freshness and energy. The air all around is balmy, and diffusing the sweetest odours. The whole landscape teems with living promises of abundant harvest of righteousness and peace. It is the jubilee of holiness. A genial warmth pervades and refreshes the whole Church. Showers of "vernal delight and joy" descend gently and copiously. Delightful influences are wafted by every breeze. Where the dead leaves of winter still linger, the primrose and the daisy spring up in modest loveliness. Trees long barren put forth the buds of beauty and power. The whole valley is crowned with fragrant and varied blossoms. Forms of beauty bloom on every side, and Zion is the joy of the whole earth. If the spirit that renews the face of the earth is a spirit of beauty in the elegance of the germs, the tints of the buds, the verdure of the foliage, the splendour of the blossoms, and the witching glories of the matured fruits of Nature, "how great is His beauty" when acting out His lovely and holy perfections in revivals of religion.

(T. W. Jenkyn, D. D.)

The divinity of revivals may be tested by their effect on the family. If they turn the heart of the parents towards their children, and the heart of the children towards their parents, they are of God. If they increase the love of the family; if they cause the tendrils of love to draw the members of the family closer and closer to each other; if under their influence blossoms and clusters of love hang in abundance on the family-tree, then you may be sure that it is the true religion that is revived. But if the family has no blessing, and the dew is on the Church, you may be in doubt whether it is a Divine blessing, or any blessing at all. If religious excitements make home dull, and parental and filial duties and relations tame or tasteless, they may be suspected of being spurious, carnal, worldly. And when there begins to be a desire for a revival of God's work, it is not wrong to desire that the congregation should be inflamed, and that there should be a multiplication of meetings, in which Christians, coming together, may exchange their thoughts and mingle their feelings; but it is wrong to suppose that a revival should begin in the Church. The family is a hearth raked up, and the fire must be unraked there. And every one must bring his home-brand and lay it on the altar of the Church. Then the revival in the Church will be genuine. Sometimes revivals begin in Churches and thence go into families. At any rate, either first or last, every true revival of religion must reach the family. A revival that does not reach the family is imperfect, if not spurious.

(H. W. Beecher.)

One of the blessings of revivals of religion is that they surround men with sympathies that work towards religious growth. Hours of conviction are benificent in this, that they shut men out from the world, and give them to themselves for the time being, and afford them the opportunity of dwelling in their thoughts upon things Divine and spiritual. Anything is favourable to advancement in Christian manhood which tends to countervail that flow of sympathetic action by which the mind is carried away from intercourse with Christ and God.

(H. W. Beecher.)

In the revival shadowed in the vision of the valley of dry bones, there was first a noise, and then a shaking, throughout all the plain. Revivals always produce vigorous stirrings in a Church, and excitement in a neighbourhood. The smooth and chilling ice of the frigid latitudes of formality is disturbed and broken up; and all the barks and ships that were frozen in them are set at liberty. The snows of winter are melted from the face of the earth, and all men awaken to activity and labour. Revivals disturb the formalist, the indolent, the lukewarm, and the wicked. They produce a turbulence in the conscience, an agitation in the mind, tumult in the emotions, commotion in the sympathies, and vigorous animation in all the faculties.

(T. W. Jenkyn, D. D.)

I remember one week New York was like a second Jerusalem at Pentecost. Merchants ran from counting-houses, and bankers from Wall Street and South Street, hungry and thirsty for an hour of noon-day prayer; and the atmosphere seemed laden with the perfumes of the Spirit, as I saw the orchards of England a short time since laden with the sweet apple-blossoms. Of the thousands that then set out toward Zion, with songs of joy and gladness, how many have held out, and who have held out? Only those who gave themselves fully up to Christ, and have followed Christ fully ever since; the truly regenerated with the Spirit, who have learned to know no other but Christ, and follow no other but Him. The Church gets filled in revival seasons, but it gets winnowed in seasons of coldness and indifference. Only sound piety holds out and keeps fresh at times when worldliness abounds, and popular and fashionable sins pour in like a flood.

(T. L. Cuyler.)

Far in the woods of Maine, in these winter months, there are a hundred camps, and scores of axemen are busy cutting down the huge trees and measuring the logs and sorting them, and throwing them into deep gullies, where they will lie dry and undisturbed until the snow melts and the spring floods come; and then they will be borne out of the ravines into the ever deep-flowing river, and from thence to some Penobscot or Kennebec, and there collected together and bound in mighty rafts, they will float down to the tide-waters. So men are laying dry logs along empty channels, hoping that some revival freshet will come and sweep them down to the deep waters of piety.

(H. W. Beecher.)

In the text we have(1) the conditions of salvation by Christ: repentance, and conversion; change of mind, and change of life; reviewing the past with true contrition, and turning to God with full purpose of amendment:(2) the immediate result, forgiveness; the cancelling of sin; the obliteration of the guilty record; the "casting all our sins into the depths of the sea"; the so passing by, the so dismissing, the sins of those who truly repent, that He remembers them no more: and(3) the future result; "that so there may come from God's presence seasons of refreshing"; that so, the number of His elect being at last accomplished, He may send Jesus Christ, the Saviour, who is now in heaven awaiting the arrival of those times of restitution, restoration, reparation of all things which have been the great subject of Divine prediction from the first. The arrival of the times thus described is made to depend upon the repentance and conversion of man.

I. The period of refreshing. The word thus rendered is properly a revival by fresh air; the consequence of letting in a breeze of cool and invigorating air upon one who has been long fainting under a sultry and oppressive atmosphere. Do not we want such times? Are we not all conscious of the oppressive weight of this world's atmosphere? Do we not all feel ourselves oftentimes fainting with the closeness and sultriness of the air we are forced to breathe? The oppression of persecution is rather "a stormy wind and tempest" which has in it something of a wholesome severity, rousing our whole being into a more resolute and vigorous vitality. But the text speaks of that stifling heat which at once indisposes and incapacitates for exertion; of that sense of breathing an exhausted air, or living in a crowded cabin, which paralyses every energy, and at last forbids repose itself. How seldom does the refreshing breath of God's Holy Spirit revive Christians into the buoyancy of conscious life and health! How seldom does the sweet influence of the Divine presence lift them into that upper air where no earth-born cloud darkens their sky, and no noxious vapour damps or poisons their atmosphere! They can tell the times when this has been their bright experience. But far more often they sigh for light and air, hunger for food, thirst for water. In prosperity the air of earth is laden with a luscious perfume, lulling us into a stupor which is no repose. In adversity we seem to be confined within the walls of a sick-room,. from which worldly pleasure is banished, without the admission of a heavenly visitant.

II. THE TIME OF RESTITUTION. What a tangled, disordered, inverted thing is the world as we see it! What a deterioration from any condition in which God could ever have pronounced it to be very good. "The whole creation groaneth and travaileth," etc. Only see, for example, bow the relations of life are disorganised! See what misfortunes, sorrows, spring out of the affections! See the hearts of fathers turned from their children, and the hearts of children from their fathers. See the weaker and the more trusting half of mankind made the sport and the victim of the stronger and the less sensitive. See the distinction of ranks now cruelly aggravated, and now violently obliterated. And under the government of a righteous and holy God can it be conceived that this state of things should be perpetual? Is not the very extent of the ruin a prophecy of the restoration? Can it be that God should thus have made all things in vain, and suffered His own beautiful handiwork to be thus marred and desolated finally? It has been the language of all prophecy that there shall be a time of restitution. "We," the same apostle writes, "according to His promise, look for new heavens, and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." And shall it not be a comfort to the true Christian to look forward to the arrival of that time when the ways of God shall be finally justified to the universe? How does it become us to see that we ourselves be not adding to the confusion. Although the restoration of all things is not yet, yet let us remember that there is a restitution, a reparation, a reconstruction, which belongs to all time; a repentance and a conversion which, if not realised here, can be realised nowhere; a renewal of soul, and an amendment of life under the influence of the Holy Spirit, which is the condition of our ever being admitted into the world in which dwelleth only righteousness. If we would ever enter heaven, we must begin it here. If we would ever see the restoration of all things, we.must struggle day by day here for our own.

(Dean Vaughan.)

Times of refreshing and restitution
The thought is that again expressed both by St. Peter (2 Peter 3:12) and by St. Paul (Romans 11:25-27), that the conversion of sinners, especially the conversion of Israel, will have a power to accelerate the fulfilment of God's purposes, and, therefore, the coming of His kingdom in its completeness. The word for "refreshing" is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but the cognate verb meets us in 2 Timothy 1:16. In the Greek version of Exodus 8:15, it stands where we have "respite." The "times of refreshing" are distinguished from the "restitution of all things" of verse 21, and would seem to be, as it were, the gracious preludes of that great consummation. The souls of the weary would be quickened as by the fresh breeze of morning; the fire of persecution assuaged as by "a moist whistling wind" ("Song of the Three Children," verse 24). Israel, as a nation, did not repent, and therefore hatred and strife went on to the bitter end without refreshment. For every church, or nation, or family, those "times of refreshing" come as the sequel of a true conversion, and prepare the way for a more complete restoration.

(Dean Plumptre.)

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