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Revelation 16:9. And they repented not to give Him glory.
THROUGHOUT this chapter, the Apostle is speaking of the seven last plagues which were to be poured out upon the earth by the instrumentality of seven different angels, each of them having a vial of wrath committed to his hands for that purpose [Note: Revelation 15:1; Revelation 15:7.]. As no man can with certainty determine the periods and the events to which these prophecies refer, I shall forbear to speak of them, any further than to observe, that God would by these afflictive dispensations bring men to repentance; but “they repented not to give Him glory.” The same, alas! may be said of too many amongst ourselves: for whose benefit I propose to consider the subject of repentance, and to commend it to them,
As giving glory to God—
I conceive that all will readily acknowledge that they need repentance; so that I need not at present enter upon that point, or endeavour to convince any that it is their duty to repent. But the true light in which repentance should be viewed is not generally seen: it is regarded only as a means of averting wrath: whereas it should be considered as “giving glory to God.” Sin has greatly dishonoured God: it, in fact, pours contempt on every perfection of the Deity, saying, “Tush, God shall not see; neither will the Almighty regard it.” Repentance, on the contrary, honours God, and “gives glory to Him;”
As an omnipresent and omniscient God—
[Repentance, if it be really genuine, enters into all the secrets of the soul, and spreads them before God; acknowledging, that God has seen them all, and that he will surely call us into judgment for them — — — Now, I entreat you, brethren, to honour God in this view; and, like Achan, to “give glory to Him, confessing” before him what no human eye has ever seen, even the most hidden abominations of your hearts [Note: Joshua 7:19.] — — —]
As a just and holy God—
[An impenitent man considers his sins as light and venial; and thinks that God may well overlook them, without any expressions of his wrath and indignation. But a true penitent regards God as “of purer eyes than to behold iniquity,” and as bound, for the honour of his own moral government, to execute vengeance on the transgressors of his law. Real humility will justify God in all his threatenings; and will tremble at them, as sure to be executed in their appointed season — — — Do ye then, beloved, see how impossible it is for you ever to dwell in the Divine presence, unless you be first cleansed from your guilt in “the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,” and purified from your pollutions by the influences of the Holy Spirit. See this; feel this; acknowledge this; and hope for mercy in no other way than this — — —]
As a merciful and gracious God—
[Nothing but a persuasion that God is merciful can ever encourage true penitence. Without this view of the Deity, a man will lie down in utter despair — — — But look into the Scriptures; hear the representation which Jehovah gives of his own character, as “merciful and gracious, keeping mercy for thousands, and forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin;” and then will you come to him, not merely as to a Governor and a Judge, but as to a Father and a Friend — — —]
As a true and faithful God—
[Question not his invitations or his promises: but take them; trust in them; plead them before the mercy-seat; and determine, that, if you ever perish, you will perish at the foot of the cross, looking to Jesus as your only hope, and resting altogether on his meritorious death and passion — — — This is the posture of every true penitent: nor shall any sinner in the universe, who thus comes to God, ever fail of obtaining mercy at his hands — — —]
But I would commend repentance to you further,
As answering the end of all his dispensations—
God “delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but rather that he turn from his wickedness and live.” To bring men to him with penitential sorrow, and thus to effect their restoration to his favour, is the end of all his dispensations. It is the end,
Of his mercies—
[Considering what a world this is, it is wonderful that God does not break forth in indignation against us, and overwhelm us all, as he did Sodom and Gomorrah. But on the great mass of mankind he is conferring the richest benefits from day to day; “causing his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and his rain to descend on the just and on the unjust.” Let all of us survey the dealings of God with us from our youth up; and we shall see that God has borne with us beyond all that we could have reasonably expected; and that our “blessings have been double” the amount of the judgments we have merited [Note: Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 61:7.]. And what has been God’s design in all these dispensations? Has it been to encourage our thoughtlessness, and to lull us asleep in our sins? No: it has been, as St. Paul expressly tells us, “to lead us to repentance [Note: Romans 2:4.].” And shall not these mercies be improved for this end? Let us blush, and be ashamed, that ever we could continue in rebellion against so good a God, and so basely requite our heavenly Benefactor — — —]
Of his judgments—
[God does sometimes strive with men in a way of merited displeasure: and, when he does so, he bids us “hear the rod, and Him that hath appointed it,” And is there any thing difficult to be understood in such dispensations as these? No: he has told us “wherefore he visits men for sin:” and, if he have threatened to punish the impenitent “seven-fold more for their sins,” and “to scourge them with scorpions,” the deduction is clear, namely, that “he chastises us for our profit, that he may make us partakers of his holiness.” He seeks by all means to “bring us to repentance, and to the acknowledgment of the truth.” Has he then afflicted any of us, either in our own persons, or in the persons of those who are dear unto us? Are we troubled in any respect, in mind, body, or estate? Let us make it an occasion of inquiring “wherefore God contendeth with us;” and of turning unto him with truly penitential sorrow, if by any means he turn from his fierce anger, and be pacified towards us [Note: Amos 4:6-12.] — — —]
Let me conclude with a word of salutary advice—
Let your repentance be genuine—
[Let it not be such as is but too common in a season of affliction, a forced acknowledgment of sins, which yet you have no disposition to renounce [Note: Psalms 78:34-37.]; but such as the Corinthians experienced under the remonstrances of St. Paul [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:10-11.] — — — O that in all these different exercises of mind, you may make it clear that your repentance is genuine, even “such a repentance as is never to be repented of!”]
Delay it not—
[Many defer their repentance, under an idea that in a season of sickness or affliction they will find it more easy. But, in truth, the very reverse of this will be found more agreeable to fact and experience. Afflictions will not, of themselves, humble the soul: they will rather irritate and harden the soul of man; just as they wrought on the proud rebellious Pharaoh, and on the persons specified in my text [Note: See ver. 10, 11.]. Ask of persons, when bowed down with pain or trouble, whether they find the same freedom of mind as in seasons of ease: and they will tell you, that they are rather impeded than aided, in their repentance, by the distractions which they suffer. Be ye then, brethren, careful to improve the present time. And if ye will really give glory to your God, in repenting of your sins, you need not fear but that he will receive you to mercy, and honour you as his accepted and peculiar people.]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 16". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany