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The Way of Contrition
Our spiritual life as a life of contrition is typified for us in the return of the children of Israel to Jerusalem from their long exile in Babylon.
I. Of necessity, contrition must be the first stage of spiritual life. For what is contrition? The Bible definition of contrition is, sorrow, sorrow that is in union with God. Contrition is no passing paroxysm, it is a state of abiding spiritual sorrow; we are taken by the Spirit of God into union with God, and therefore the Spirit is ever acting upon our mind and heart and will.
In its essence, contrition is the virtue that unites the sinner's will with the Will of God. Sin, in its essence, is the variance of the will of the creature from the known Will of the Creator. As a necessary consequence, therefore, sin involves spiritual death. And equally of necessity, contrition involves the recovery of life.
II. Let us see how the Spirit leads us along this tear-stained path of penitence.
1. It is generally recognized that there are two distinct stages in the contrite life. The first is the stage of initial contrition; it is that stage into which we pass by spiritual awakening, and out of which we pass when, through the tasting of the Divine forgiveness, we enter into the peace of God. In other words, initial contrition is the contrition which precedes and leads up to a true conversion.
2. But this is a transitory stage. Does contrition then come to an end after the message of forgiveness is heard and believed in? Is the sinner set free from the guilt of sin in order that he may go forth and forget it? No, this cannot be the case, unless he is lacking in all true generosity. In every generous heart this will be the resolve: Because God forgives me so freely, I will never forgive myself; so that instead of forgiveness drying up the sorrow of contrition, it has upon it a double effect it takes out of it every low and selfish element, and it intensifies our sorrow instead of making it cease to be.
III. So the Spirit leads us along the path of contrition, and we see that our spiritual life as lived under the guidance of the Living Jesus must be always a life of sustained contrition, a contrition not only deepened and intensified, but continuous. And this for many reasons.
1. Our sin is continuous.
2. We carry into our new life a great deal of what we contracted in our evil past.
3. When we pass into union with God we do not cancel the influence which thoughtlessly or deliberately we used against Christ in our past days of disobedience.
Surely of us, as of Israel of old, it should be true that we 'go upon our way weeping'.
George Body, The Guided Life, p. 29.
References. L. 4, 5. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxix. No. 1752. H. Scott Holland, Church Times, vol. xlii. 1899, p. 273. L. 5. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xliv. No. 2566. W. Brooke, ibid. p. 194. L. 11, 12. J. P. Gledstone, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxxvii. 1890, p. 230. L. 20. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xlviii. No. 2789.
The Unlikely Instruments of God
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Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Jeremiah 50". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19