"I gave her space to repent — and she will not repent." Revelation 2:21
So spoke the Savior in reference to some ungodly characters at Thyatira; and the testimony is true of many in our beloved country. Many have space to repent — who have not grace to repent. These are very different things, and do not always go together. Each of them is a favor, a favor conferred on those who may justly be punished for their sins, and be banished without one moment's delay.
Space to repent is a favor.
Consider your origin: you are the child of Adam, a traitor — of one who rebelled against God, under the most aggravating circumstances, in the most inexcusable way.
Look at your nature: your heart is enmity against the God in whom you live, move, and have your being. You have hated Him with an obstinate hatred; and so far as you have known Him or His will, you have rejected it.
Review your conduct: it has been in direct opposition to His word. You have said unto God, "Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of your ways!" Read the sentence passed upon you long since, "The soul that sins it shall die." "He who believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God."
Think of your folly: in childhood, youth, and manhood! How have you slighted the most solemn warnings, trifled with the most gracious invitations, and put away the messages of mercy from you, judging yourself unworthy of everlasting life!
Put all these things together, and say, if God give you space to repent — is it not a favor? Could it be demanded, or expected as a matter of right? It could not! It is a favor, and one which should be instantly improved.
The design of this favor, is that you may repent.
The goodness of God leads you to repentance. Time is given you that you may
. . .
reflect upon your conduct,
perceive your danger,
feel the need of mercy,
confess your sins to the Lord,
obtain the pardon of your transgressions,
and reform your life according to His word.
It assures you that God has no delight in punishing — but
would rather that you turn from your wickedness and live. He does not desire
that you should perish in your sins — or He would have cut you off long ago.
He prefers penitence to punishment; this is clear . . .
from His nature, which is love;
from His word, which invites you to His throne of grace;
from His oath, "As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked — but that the wicked turn from his ways and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways; for why will you die?"
from His conduct; He waits to be gracious, and never yet cast out one that came;
from the provision He has made: He has
provided a Savior,
sent a message of mercy,
appointed a public judgment,
given space for repentance, and
commanded, "all men everywhere to repent."
But see how His favor is neglected, and what obstinacy is
manifested. "She repented not." So it must be said of many. Reader, can it
justly be said of you? What! do you still prefer . . .
sin to holiness;
Satan to Jesus;
and hell to heaven?
Is not repentance necessary, necessary for you? Is it not required? Does not Jesus say, "Unless you repent — you shall all likewise perish." Is it not promised? Jesus is exalted a Prince and a Savior, to give repentance and the remission of sins. Did you ever desire to possess it? Did you ever seek it? Is it not expected, expected of you? Are you not inexcusable, if you live and die impenitent? You must repent — or perish.
Just contrast the patience and long-suftering of God — with the pride and obstinacy of men. Remember, that repentance alone can prevent your ruin, your eternal ruin. Repentance requires time: space is given you for repentance, you have it today — but it may expire before tomorrow. Yes, you are not sure of another moment! Where time is given, fruits fit for repentance are expected. How many years have been given you? How often has the Lord come seeking fruit on you, a barren fig-tree? Ah! if he should now say, "Cut it down, why does it use up the ground!" How fearful! How dreadful this! When the space given for repentance is trifled away — the sinner perishes with double destruction. Aged sinner, read, tremble, repent; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.