When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying…
I. CERTAIN FALSE REPENTANCES.
1. Trembling beneath the sound of the gospel is not repentance. "Felix trembled," but had no sorrow for sin.
2. You may be "almost persuaded" to turn to Christ, you may even desire the gospel, you may even go upon your knees in prayer, and yet have no repentance, for you may get no further than Agrippa's "almost."
3. It is possible for men to positively humble themselves under the hand of God, and yet they may be total strangers to repentance. Ahab humbled himself, but did not turn from sin.
4. It is possible that you may confess your sins, and yet may not repent, for you may acknowledge your transgressions, and yet have no abhorrence of sin.
5. You may do some work meet for repentance, and yet you may be impenitent. Judas made restitution, but "he went out and hanged himself."
II. TRUE REPENTANCE.
1. Let me correct one or two mistakes.
(1) That there must be deep, horrible manifestations of the terrors of law and of hell before repentance. Terrible thoughts are very often not the gift of God at all, but the insinuations of the devil; and even where the law worketh these thoughts, they do not enter into the essence of repentance. "Repentance" is a hatred of sin; a turning from sin and a determination in the strength of God to forsake it.
(2) That they cannot repent enough. But there is not any eminent degree of "repentance" which is necessary to salvation. There are degrees of faith, and yet the least faith saves; so there are degrees of repentance, and the least repentance will save the soul if it is sincere.
2. And now what are the signs of true "repentance" in the sight of God?
(1) There is always sorrow with it. More or less intense, it may be, according to the way in which God calls, and previous manner of life; but there must be some sorrow. Not, however, that you must shed actual tears. Some men cannot.
(2) Practice — practical repentance. "'Tis not enough to say we're sorry, and repent, and then go on from day to day, just as we always went." We know tree by its fruit; and you who are penitent will bring forth works of repentance.
(3) Does it last or does it not? Many of your repentances are like the hectic flush upon the cheek of the consumptive person, which is no sign of health.
(4) Do you think you would repent if there were no punishment? Do you repent because you know you shall be punished forever if you remain in your sins? Every murderer hates his crime when he comes to the gallows. If you knew that you might give up your life to sin with impunity, would you still desire holiness? If so, you need not fear but that you have a "repentance" which is "unto life."
III. THE BLESSED BENEFICENCE OF GOD IN GRANTING TO MEN "REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE." It is the marvel of Divine mercy that it not only provides the way of salvation, and not only invites men to receive grace, but that it positively makes men willing to be saved.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.