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morality, by rejecting the claims of human merit, by exhibiting a full and perfect atonement for all crimes, and by denying that good works are essential to salvation. But though a christian will not admit that man can merit any thing from his Creator, he is far from denying that there are different degrees of worth and excellence in human characters. Nor does the righteousness of a Saviour imply any dispensation from the eternal and immutable obligations to virtue, but rather enhances their force, by shewing the dreadful effects of their violation, and by rendering the infinite love and grace of their divine Author more conspicuous.' It may be said, without being chargeble with bigotry or presumption, that he who shall venture to abuse the mercy of God, because it is great; or the grace of God, because it is free, never felt his utter unworthiness of either; has never tasted that the Lord is gracious: he is in a state of spiritual death; the guilt of sin is upon him; and he may rest assured, that unless he so feel its pressure as to groan for deliverance—as to hate the sin, as well as the punishment connected with it; except he experience a sincere love of holiness, and of entire conformity to the moral image of Christ, he has no ground to hope that he shall ever awake with his likeness.
When we seriously reflect on the present state of man as a moral agent, and as accountable for his conduct to God, the governour of the world, it is, in one view, astonishing that an individual should be found unfriendly to the doctrine of salvation by grace. But, alas! so blind and prejudiced by nature is the human mind, that this way of escape from deserved ruin, though exactly suited to his wretched condition, and the only means of deliverance, is nevertheless rejected and despised. Christ becomes a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence; and the presumptuous sinner, going about to establish a righteousness of his own, will not submit to be justified by that righteousness which divine mercy hath graciously provided. To search into the cause of this melancholy fact, we must advert to the primeval
state of our first progenitors: but I have already trespassed too long on your patience: the subject shall, therefore, be resumed in my next.
Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
o UR first progenitors, when recent from the hand of Omipotence, were perfect models of human excellence, possessed a nature untainted by sin, and capacitated-to abide in the perpetual enjoyment of paradise. But, alas! the trial of their filial obedience soon terminated in the most heinous act of rebellion. Their listening to the vile insinuations of Satan, opened a door for the entrance of sin, the existence of which was immediately evidenced by actual transgression. Thus were their understandings darkened, their affections depraved, and the condition on which felicity was promised, completely violated. The loss of original recti
tude rendered all their future services imperfect; and, of course, inadequate to secure the happiness formerly annexed to obedience. Perfect obedience and perfect happiness were inseparably connected.
But this offence was not attended merely with a privation of present happiness: it was a forfeiture of all claim to future blessedness. Our first parents stood as condemned criminals at the bar of their beneficent Creator; and in consequence of their detestable ingratitude, became obnoxious to the punishment threatened in case of disobedience to the divine precept. But the evil did not terminate with them. Adam stood as the federal head of the numerous posterity that should spring from his loins: they were considered as one with him, as interested in his happiness. The forfeiture, therefore, of God's favour, which was his proper life, extended itself to all his natural descendants. They were involved in his guilt, and subject to the same condemnation. 'The violation of that original covenant not only polluted and disarranged the constituent prin