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obedience which cannot, in the very nature of the case, dispense with the violation of its own precepts, and from the penalty of which the sinner of himself cannot possibly escape...
** The fact is, we are in ourselves utterly lost: under sentence of condemnation by the law of God; and, without the interposition of mercy, must inevitably perish. To speak in scripture language, The whole world is become guilty before God; there is none that doeth good, no, not one; therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.
- These facts, which are either not credited, or not properly considered by the world, I have endeavoured to prove in some of the subsequent letters. They are, in my view, truths of the last importance, with the knowledge and belief of which our present and our future happiness is intimately connected: nor do I think their validity can be controverted without manifest opposition to the whole current of revelation. The Scriptures proceed on the supposition of the fall and depravity of man, and the principal part of
their contents has either a direct, or a remote reference to these awful facts. .. .
If, it may be asked, we are in circumstances so dreadfully calamitous; if human nature be so degenerate and so impotent, who then can be saved? To answer this infinitely momentous question, divine revelation became absolutely necessary: for had all the sons of Adam been left to perish, as were the angels who kept not their first estate, no intelligence from heaven would have been requisite to prove their apos. tacy from God. They would soon have found, by painful experience, that human nature was greatly debased; that they were, in many in. instances, under the control of inordinate appetites, and frequently agitated by passions which, in numberless instances, could have no tendency to promote general happiness. As creatures of God, and as subjects of his moral government, they must have considered themselves as amenable to some law; and allowing this law to be founded in justice, which, as originating with God, it must; impartiality and common sense would have concurred in asserting that they could not, in the very nature of things, be released from obligation to its precepts, nor, in the case of failure, be exempted from suffering its penalty. '
· By the scriptures of truth, and by these only, we know that there is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared. Without this astonishingly merciful intelligence, we should have been involved in perpetual uncertainty and darkness, For all the light that ever chased the gloom of doubt, or cheered the bosom of despondency ; for all that gives confidence to faith, energy to hope, ardency to love, or fervour to devotion ; for whatever can tranquillize the mind in life, or administer consolation at the last hour, we are indebted to the Bible.
That this inestimable book exhibits a salva. tion worthy the benignity of God, and exactly suited to the wretchedness of man, I have at tempted to prove in the following pages. To this salvation, therefore, I have directed my amia. ble friend, from whom, notwithstanding all her doubts, and all her fears, I had satisfactory evi
dence that her sorrow was not like the sorrow of the world which worketh death.
It may, perhaps, be asked, If the salvation revealed in the Bible be so admirably well adapta ed to relieve our miseries, to encourage hope and inspire confidence in the divine benignity, whence the doubts and the fears with which La-. vinia appears to be constantly harrassed? This, I allow, is a question natural to him who has never felt the bitterness of sin; who has never experienced the corruption of his own heart; nor ever seen, by the light of divine truth, the purity and the perfection of the blessed God. Let the querist have but a discovery of these, and he will see cause enough for dejection: he will cease to wonder that the trembling sinner should reason like the rebel who has ungratefully risen up in arms against his lawful sovereign ; who, when contemplating the heinous nature of his crime, is led to conclude that, if punishment be remitted for the present, his rebellion cannot be forgotten, nor he himself again restored to the favour and affection of his prince.
But notwithstanding what the scriptures have said to excite confidence in the divine mercy through Jesus Christ, it will not appear strange that we are so slow of heart to believe, if it be remembered that unbelief is a radical evil in human nature; that by which it was first contaminated, by which it is still infuenced, and, in fact, the fruitful source of many atrocities that disgrace the character of man. .
Wiren that positive law was given by consormity to which the first pair were to manifest their submission to the divine will, they were expressly told, that, in case of disobedience, ‘They should surely die.' But no sooner was the command made known to Satan, that enemy of all righteousness, than he had the audacity to assert, that the prohibitory injunction might be violated with impunity—'That they should not surely die'-declaring, at the same time, That this was only an artful pretext by which to preclude them from the godlike knowledge which the Almighty knew the fruit of that tree was adapted to impart.