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serves, we no longer receive the things of the spirit of God, but they appear foolishnes3 unto us, neither can we know them because they are spiritualiy discerned. That this is the very case of fallen man, universal experience and observation will fully prove: for whom shall we find among the wisest and most learned of mankind, (till they are divinely enlightened) that have any knowledge of the nature of gospel salvation, or of the benetits which our blessed Redeemer hath procured for us ? He must be a stranger to the present state of the christian world, (so called) who does not see the words of the prophet awfully fulfilled. “Darkness hath covered the earth and gross darkness the people.” In consideration of this darkness, which by the first transgression hath overspread the mind of man, another inspired writer hath said. “The vision of all is become as the words of a book that is sealed, which a man delivereth to one that is learned, saying read this I pray thee, and he saith it is sealed, and the book is delivered to one that is un'earned saying read this I pray thee, and he saith I am not learned,” from hence it appears, that the learned and the unlearned are both alike with respect to all divine and spiritual knowledge, that the scriptures are sealed, and they understand not what they read: they see no more beauty in the word of God or in the religion therein described, than the Jews did in the Lord Jesus Christ while he sojourned among them, the pearl of great price, the treasure hid in the gospel
the unsearchable riches of Christ are treated by them with neglect, if not with contempt and scorn: and this will always be the case, till the light of the spirit of God is comminicated to the mind; and in order that it may, our blessed Redeemer came into the world, as a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of his people Israel. For this reason he is called the Sun of righteousness, that shall arise upon them who fear him with healing in his wings: and for the same reason he is called the day spring from on high, which shall visit all that wait for his appearing: and when he does this; as a discovery is made of the real state of the mind, of our guilty, wretched, and ruined condition, by reason of sin; so a discovery is also made of that abundant mercy and grace which is treasured up in Christ Jesus, for those who fly for refuge to lay hold upon the hope which the Lord hath set before them. We see in such a manner as words cannot fully express, that with our God there is mercy, pardon and peace and plenteous redemption: The design of God in instituting the gospel ministry is to bring us out of darkness into his
marvellous light, that we may stand distinguished from others, by being children of the light and of the day, so that following the holy Jesus considered as the light of the world, we may not walk in darkness, but may be favoured with the light of life.
And as sin hath brought darkness upon the mind, so by our actual transgressions we have brought guilt upon our conscience: the words of the prophet are certainly true with respect to every child of man. “ We all like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one into our own way; and the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquity of us all.” The holy apostle also publishes the same awful truth. " All have sinned and come short of the glory of God;” and in consideration of this, every mouth must be stopped, and all the world stand guilty before God: this will be readily acknowledged by most people; but how do they discover the blindness of their minds, in their astonishing unconcern respecting it? It is acknowledged that I am a creature of a day, that my life is only a span long, that I stand upon the very brink of eternity every moment, that an eternity of inconceivable happiness awaits me, if I am duly prepared to enjoy it; and that an eternity of inconceivable misery awaits me, if I should die in my sins : that I am deeply guilty in the sight of that God, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and that I must, upon my leaving this world appear at his awful tribunal, to be judged by him according to my works : And although I know not, but this may be my lot, the very next hour, vet to the astonishment of the very angels of God, I am unconcern'd about it; and in direct contradiction to the whole revelation of God, I vainly think, (if I think about it at all,) that I shall find mercy from God at the day of judgment, and that he will then pardon my sins. Here if ever, we may stand and wonder at the blindness of fallen man, that he will first venture to live in open' rebellion against God, that he will dare to affront his maker to his face, and after all, he is bold enough to launch into eternity with the guilt of his sins upon him, and strange to think of, he intends to appear confessedly guilty before his judge, and his judge is the very person against whom he has so greatly sinned, and yet he hopes to obtain mercy. Vain and foolish man! The day of judgment is not the time for God to display his mercy in pardoning the guilty, but to judge the world in righteousness, and to give unto every one according as his works have been. He that appears guilty at that bar, will
certainly be condemned, and must be banished from the presence of God, into the regions of eternal night.
Some there are, who beyond a doubt are more deeply guilty than others; having run into far greater lengths of actual wickedness, and some, for a much longer time than others; and not only so, but some men's sins have been attended with greater and more aggravating circumstances than others; having sinned against far greater light; so that their sins may properly be said to have been of a scarlet or crimson dye. But although it must be acknowledged that there is this difference between one man and another; yet as all have violated the righteous law of God, all are guilty in his sight, and therefore must be condemned for ever, if they do not obtain mercy in the present world. But this was the design of God in sending Christ into the world, that he should make a perfect atonement for the sins of mankind, and that in consequence of this ; pardon and peace and plenteous 'redemption should be freely offered unto them in his name : in consideration of this, the ministers of Christ may upon good ground, declare unto the daughter of Zion behold thy Saviour comneth, with pardoning mercy to thee, and unto all
who wait for his
appearing. This was the commission which our Lord himself gave unto his disciples, when he sent them forth to preach the gospel. “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations :” and did he not send forth the apostle Paul with the same glad-tidings ? did he not send him to the Gentiles to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive the forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among them who are sanctified through faith in his name. " In how clear a manner did Zecharias the father of the holy Baptist speak of this, when being filled with the Holy Ghost, he was given to understand the mystery of man's redemption by Christ Jesus,” and thou child shalt be called the prophet of the highest, for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his way, to give knowledge of salvation to his people by the remission of their sins, through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day spring from on high hath visited us agreeably hereto, the apostles of our Lord published this good news wheresoever they came, fully and freely declaring both to Jews and Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Christ; declaring to all, a God reconciled unto them through the merits of his beloved
son, and ready to receive them into his favour, freely pardoning all their past offences. “Be it known unto you (saith the apostle) that by this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins, and by him, all who believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses:" and the apostle Peter declared the very same glad tidings to those who attended upon his ministry. “To him gave all the prophets witness that through his name whosoever believeth in him, shall receive remission of sins. Here we see the first ministers of the gospel fulfilling the glorious design of God, in sending them forth to labour in his vineyard : and must not the ministers of the present day copy their exámple? 'must they not preach the same Jesus, and publish the same salvation in his name? Is there
other name under heaven given among men, whereby we of the present age may be saved, but the name of Jesus. Or is there any other salvation for us than that which he hath purchased for us by his blood, and freely offers to us in his gospel? Surely if we are ever saved at all, it must be by that one Saviour who hath redeemed us unto God by his own blood, and in that one way which God himself bath appointed. But although nothing can be more clear than this, (except we lay aside the scriptures altogether) yet how abundantly do great numbers bear witness to the truth before laid down, how strangely do they discover the blindness of their own minds, in that they suppose, that although the God of love did manifest hiniself in so gracious a manner to the apostles and the first christians, and although he was pleased to bless them with the knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins, yet we have no ground to expect that we shall be so highly favoured by him. Is the Lord changed then, and is he less inclined to bless and make his creatures happy than he was formerly? Is he not without variableness or shadow of turning? Is not Jesus Christ the same yesterday to day and for ever! does not his
endure for ever, and his truth and faithfulness from one generation to another ? But although such people do not expect to be so highly favoured in this world, as the first christians were, I will do them the justice to’acknowledge that they do expeet to go to the same lieaven, and to be happy in the presence of the same God: But allowing this, it only more fully manifests the ignorance that is in them, for how can they go to the same heaven, except they walk in the same way! and is not Christ the way the truth and the life, and hath he not said, no man cometh to the father but by me: View the subject in what light you will, the
truth pours in upon you, and the blindness of the carnal inind is made manifest.
Left any one should suppose, that we pervert the scriptures, and put a different meaning upon them from what good and wise men have done, whose writings are familiar to us, let us attend to what we have heard from the common prayer book; and have we not heard these solemn words ? • He pardoneth and absolveth all them who truly repent and unfeignedly believe his holy gospel ?" Here we see, the Church and the scriptures exactly agree, and from both we learn, that such is the goodness and mercy of God, that he manifests himself as a God gracious and merciful, who pardoneth iniquity transgression
nd sin, to all who by true repentance return unto him, and who lay hold upon the hope which he hath set before them : who believe or embrace the offers of mercy which he hath made unto them in the gospel.
If it was the exprels design of our gracious Lord in dying for us, to make an atonement for our sins and to procure redemption and salvation for his guilty creatures, would it not be exceeding strange indeed, if after all, he should withhold the blessing from us? and would it not be stranger still, if after all the offers of mercy which he hath made unto us: all the promises which he hath left upon record in his word, which hold forth pardon and peace to us, and all the kind and gra. cious invitations which we meet with in the gospel, that ftill, we must remain in the dark, and can have no assurance of his favour ; hath an infinitely wise and gracious God called upon us to seek that which we can never find ? to ask for that which we shall never receive? and to knock at that door which shall never be opened to us ? On the contrary bath he not said, “ask and ye shall receive, leek and ye shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you,
and as if this was not enough, he adds, " For every one that asketh, receiveih, and he that seekerh, findeth, and to him that knocketh the door is open.". Tell us then ye profoundly wise and deeply learned men, what it is that those askers receive, or what those seekers find, and what door it is that stands open to those knockers, if they do not find the pearl of great price, if they do not receive the pardoning love of God, and if it is not the door of salvation which stands open to them.
There is a strange propensity in the human mind to limit the holy one of Israel, and to make him less gracious to man. kind than he hath declared he will be, in bis holy word: and when it is clearly proved from that word, that it is the gra