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But, “ Pause a little, my soul,” faith the convinced finner, " what tidings are here? What faith the scripture, “ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? " Unanswerable indeed! Happy, happy, thrice happy “ they, who are the objects of God's everlasting, distin" guishing and electing love. But how can I be sure that - this includes, or rather does not exclude me? Can I "ever hope to read my name written in the Lamb's “ book of life ?” No. But when you confess you cannot read any thing there in your favor, who hath authorized you to suppose any thing there to your prejudice ? Secret things belong only to God. We are not permitted to search, and we are not able to comprehend or explain the infinite depth of the divine councils. But do not things that are revealed belong to us? And how shall we prefume to set at variance the secret and revealed will of God? Is not the commission sufficiently extensive! “ And he " said unto them, go ye into all the world, and preach the “ gospel to every creature; he that believeth and is bap“ tized, shall be saved; and he that believeth not, shall be “ damned."* Is not the call unlimited and universal ? “ Come unto me, all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, " and I will give you rest."+ " And Jesus said unto “ them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall “ never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never " thirst.” I “ And in the last day, that great day of the “ feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, " let him come unto me and drink.”
Can you then entertain any doubt of the call reaching to you, or question your title to rest upon this rock of ages? Behold, we preach unto you Christ crucified, a despised Saviour, indeed, “ to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to “ the Greeks foolishness ;” but the " power of God, and " the wisdom of God for salvation to every one that be“ lieveth.” There is no guilt so deep, but this precious blood will wash it out. No gift so great, but infinite merit is sufficient to procure it, No nature so polluted, but in. finite power is sufficient to renew it. Shall we then any more with-hold our approbation, or refuse our consent? Shall not every sinner, burdened with a sense of guilt or danger, intimate his compliance and urge his claim, and fay, “ Thanks, thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift. “-It is salvation by the death of Christ, and therefore “ becoming a holy and a jealous God, with whom evil “ cannot dwell. It is the fame unchangeable God, who “ enacted the holy law, and who publishes this glorious " gospel.-It is salvation by grace, otherwise no child of " Adam could have had any claim ; and it is meet that " the losty looks of man should be bumbled, and the Lord " alone exalted in that day.--It is falvation to the chief " of finners: I am the man. I hear my character clear“ ly described in the word of God. I can read my name " in the general and gracious invitation. I will accept of " the offer, I will receive and embrace this blessed Saviour * as my Lord and my God, as my life and my all.”
* Mark xvi. 15, 16.
John vi. 35.
† Matth. xi. 28. !! John vii. 37.
Once more, perhaps the believer is still staggered, and his faith begins to fail. Astonished at the greatness of the mercy," he believeth not for jov, and wondereth.” He is ready to say, “ Might I but hold fast this beginning of " my confidence, I would not envy the greatest monarch “ on earth his throne, his purple, or his fceptre, but would “ fing the new song put into my mouth, Unto him that “ loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, " and hath made us kings and priests to God and his Fa“ther, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. “ But alas ! are not all the promises of salvation only in “ favor of them that believe? Here then the conclusion " may fail. I ain sensible of a lamentable weakness and " backwardness of mind; and whilst I think I have no “ doubt of any of the truths of God, I greatly distrust the “ reality of my own consent and compliance with his “ will.” Do you then really give credit to all the truths of God respecting your own lost condition, and the only way of deliverance from it? May the Lord himself increase your faith ; for if it be so indeed, you are happy and safe. These truths, these alone, are the sure foundation of hope. I am afraid we have all too strong a ten.
dency to look for some encouraging qualification in ourselves, on which we might more securely rest. What is faith? Is it any more than receiving the record which God hath given of his Son, believing the testimony of the Amen, the true and faithful witness ? Is not your peace and reconciliation with God, and the fanctification of your natures, expressly provided for in the all-fufficiency of Christ, and to him you are assured that you must be indebted for both? What standeth in the way of your comfort then, but either that you do not give credit to the promise he hath made, or that you are not willing that he should do it for you and this I acknowledge is both un, belief and impenitence.
Complain therefore no more, that you are afraid of yourselves, whilst yet you pretend to have the highest efteem of the blessings of redemption; on the contrary, fay unto God in a thankful frame of spirit, “ Glory to God in " the highest, on earth peace, and good-will towards men. “ I praise thee for this message of peace. I think I see, in .“ some measure, its necessity, truth and beauty. I fee it, “ I trust to such a degree, that it is the sole foundation of “ my hope. I renounce every other claim ; nay, I abhor “the thoughts of any other claim : Yea, doubtless, and I “ count all things but loss, for the excellency of the know“ ledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffer“ed the loss of all things, and do count them but dung “ that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having “ mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that “ which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness " which is of God by faith.# It grieves me that there is “ such a backwardness in me to give glory to thy name, " and to be indebted to the riches of thy grace. Subdue “ my obstinacy, and rule by thine own power. Lord, I “ believe, help thou mine unbelief.”
How the believer recovers peace of conscience.
UITE have now seen in what way the believer is re.
W conciled to God, and delivered from condemna. tion. It will not be improper, however, also to consider how he recovers peace of conscience, and how his heart and life are governed in his after walk. This will serve more fully to illustrate the influence and operation of the truths of the gospel. There is even a necessity for doing so on two different accounts: 1. That, as has been shewn above at considerable length, every true penitent is deeply and inwardly sensible of the evil of fin in itself. He is not merely afraid of wrath, but sees the impurity and polluti. on of his own heart. Supposing, therefore, will the intelligent reader say, this great distinction thoroughly established, his relief, is but half accomplished. There may be no more condemnation for him in the law of God, for the breach of which satisfaction has been made and accepted : but he is only so much the more liable to the condemna. tion of his own conscience. He must still suffer the reproaches and challenges of his own mind, which make so great a part of the misery of a guilty state.
This receives additional strength, from a second confideration, that as he is justified by faith, he hath peace only through the blood of Christ. This is not from himself, and may be thought to leave him, so to speak, in point of state and character, in point of pollution and defilement, just as before; nay, the extraordinary, unsolicited, undeserved grace of God, may be thought to increase his selfcondemnation, and set the malignity of his rebellion in the strongest light. And, indeed, so far this is true, that the free grace of God was intended, and does serve, to produce a growing humiliation of mind and self-abasement, as well as an admiration of the love of God in Christ Jesus. As the tenderness of a parent is an image which God hath very frequently made use of, to shadow forth his ow'n infi. nite compassion, I will borrow from it an illustration of the two remarks just now made. Suppose any child has of
fended a parent by a gross instance of undutiful behavior, for which he hath been severely reproved, and for some time kept at a distance: if the parent forgives him, and receives him again into his favor, does not his being thus freed from the fear of suffering, leave full room for his con. cern at the offence? And does not a sense of his father's love melt his heart more for having grieved such a parent, than any terror upon his mind for the punishment of the crime? He is immediately covered with confusion; and if there be in him any spark of ingenuity, he is no sooner forgiven of his father, than the tide of his affections returns back with full force, and he can hardly forgive himself.
But notwithstanding this, as Christ by his sufferings and death delivered us from the wrath to come, so by the shedding of his precious blood, the heart is also, as the scripture expresses it, sprinkled from an evil conscience. On this important subject, which leads us to the great principles of the spiritual life, the following particulars are recommended to the serious attention of the reader.
1. Through Jesus Christ, and the whole of his undertaking as Mediator of the new covenant, the glory and honor of God is most adınirably promoted, and a perfect reparation made to his holy law which had been broken. This must needs be highly pleasing to every convinced sinner. As the justice of God is thereby satisfied, fo conscience, which is God's vicegerent, and as it were pleads his cause, is satisfied by the same means. The ground of a sinner's dissatisfaction with himself, is the dishonor done to God. Must it not, therefore, please and satisfy him to see this dishonor so perfectly removed, and so much of the divine glory shining in the work of redemption. All the divine perfections appear there with distinguished lustre; and must not this be highly refreshing to the pardoned criminal ? The very holiness and justice of God, which before were terrible to him, are now amiable. He also contemplates and adores the divine wisdom, as it is to be seen in the cross of Christ. We are told, that even the celestial hosts have new discoveries of the wifdom of God in this great design of providence. “To the intent that “ now unto principalities and powers in heavenly places,