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tni attended to, weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, e»rW» pared with the holy s#iptures, and see what is its tenor. Hearken to St. Paul on this head, in his epistle to the Romans. "For "they being ignorant of the righteousness of God, that is, ot "the method wherein God will justify falleit sinners, have gone "about to establish their own personal righteousness, not sub"mining themselves to the righteousness of God." However strange and extraordinary it may appear, sinners are always endeavoring at a compromise with the law, and through darkness covering their minds, the impossibility in this way of salvation; is compleatly lost. God declares Jesus Christ to be the appointed end of the law for righteousness, to all who believe. Yet man, until renovated by almighty power and wonderful grace, will seek every devious and unattainable way of salvation, rather than this. The methods they contrive, and the measures they pursue for this purpose, are altogether unaccountable only on this divine position, "The heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately "wicked." The main scope of various epistles of the apostle Paul, is to warn us against this error, and to turn us off from all dependance tipon our own merits, either in whole or in part, as any ground of our own justification before God. How often does he repeat the idea, " That by the law, no flesh shall be jusM tified.'' The reiteration of these assertions, strongly imply that the tendency of sinners' hearts is to acquire salvation in this way. If there had been no propensity in human nature of this sort, where would have been the wisdom and goodness of divine inspiration, to throw in such full and frequent remonstrances against it? Why should such arguments of cherubim and flaming swords be placed in terrific array, but to strike full confusion into every expectation and thought of life, by the first constitution. But foolish man, covered in ignorance and darkness, having sunk far below any just views and sober reason, vainly imagines the superiority of his own clouded understanding.
When every direct source fails, there arises in the bewildered imagination of man, an attempt to acco»modate and moderate the covenant of works to their enfeebled circumstances ; to retMK. its high demands, and 1 educe it to the power of their ignorant and feeble wishes. Hence the declaration is, we will new vamp the first covenant, throw in a quantity of spices of grace and mercy, and if not the whole, we will in part obtain our own salvation. Few men, under the light and instruction of the gospel, can entrench themselves so very deeply in ignorance, as to sav, "We will have salvation by our own works ;" yet the covert disposition of their hearts is, as the Apostle beautifully expresses it, '' They seek, as it loere, justification by the works "of the law." i
Men's practical conduct declares, that a freedom from open and gross impieties, will abundantly atone for small irregularities'} and a little innocence or imaginary inoffensiveness, will satisfy for some positive unrighteousness; as if a man should plead in a co'irtof justice, the penalty of the law of burglary or robbery, of which he had been fully convicted, should not be inflicted upon him, because he had never shed human blood, or been guilty of murder.
Strange, but true it is, man wishes to participate a little of the merit of his own salvation. O, if he could thrust in a crumb* slip in a grain of mustard seed, and mingle it with the mercy and grace of the gospel, when reduced to great extremity, the thought would lilo.it his whole soul, that he had a particle of merit in his own salvation. But a total humiliation to another, wholly to appear in borrowed robes, and to be perfectly clothed with the righteousness of Christ for acceptance with God, this is infinitely too much for a proud heart to bear: "It is to the Jew* "a stumbling block, and to the Greeks foolishness."
What address will the convinced sinner employ to worm himself someway, upon the footinc; of law into the favor of God? He will mourn, weep, fast, and go through a thousand penances, father than tubmit to tbc.tenm of free and sovereign grace.
When convictions run high, and hell appears opening for tneir reception, how will they struggle, pray, and catch at every floating straw, rather than accept an absolute Saviour. They must, in some measure, prepare themselves a little better, and then they will bow to the sceptre of Jesus, and submit to .sovereign grace.
All this is not only. the picture of what. are stiled moralists, pharisees, and self-righteous persons, and such as are under awakening and concern about their salvation, but this legal disposition strikes a luminous line into the character of the grossest sinner. Enquire of the morning and evening drunkard, of the grossest liar, of the profane swearer, of the sabbath breaker, and the open debauchee, what are the grounds on which you hope for salvation? They will unitedly answer, "Though we have our "foibles, we are honest men ; we impose not upon the ignorant "and unwary; we are charitable to the poor, and give for public "purposes, far beyond the whining hypocrites—therefore, we '* know the weaknesses of our frail natures are overbalanced by "our virtues; hence, we disturb not ourselves with fears and u doubts, but we firmly hope in the mercy, love, compassion, "and benevolence of God. We know he is not a meas, illiberal, "and uncharitable being, like many of his grovelling and little "hearted creatures.''
What is all this, in every point of view, but a plain and cornpleat demonstration, that there is a propensity in sinners to seek salvation by the law, by the first covenant, a method in which it is absolutely inattainable. The pharisee, the hypocrite, and every grade of sinners, from the highest to the lowest wallowing wretch of vomit in the street, seek salvation in reality, or, as it were, by the deeds of the law.
This subject must close with a short inference or two, which would easily admit of a whole sermon of improvement.
'First, If possible, let us beware of seeking salvation in any way or contrivance by the works of the law. No conduct can be more fatal. Every step in this way is certain progress to eternal destruction. It is no more possible to obtain heaven by the covenant of works, than to drink up the infinite ocean of divine wrath. Every dependance upon your own strength is vain, and to seek ealvation by your own hands will absolutely fail you» God, the invariable God, has expressly declared, " That by the works of *' the law no flesh shall be justified in his sight." Must it not then be infinitely dangerons to venture our salvation upon a foundation which God himself, with awful solemnity, has pronounced totally insufficient i Allow me to address you in the presence of heaven, and in the fall view of eternal happiness and eternal misery. You hope on what is your hope founded? On your own 'virtue, righteousness, the law, and covenant of works, or on the free, perfect, and absolute mercy and grace of God, exhibited by a crucified Redeemer? Recollect what God says by the Prophet, *'When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, "then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb, "yet he could not heal you, nor cure you of your wound." Let ys then trust u; the Lord our righteousness, and commit our sonls to Jesus the captain of our salvation.
Secondly, Let us bless and praise God, that he hath introduced a new covenant, revealed a better hope, established another and more glorious way of salvation. "God so loved the world, that "what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the "flesh, he sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for *' sin condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the « law might be fulfilled in all them that believe." Christ is the end of the law for righteousness. God is well pleased for his righteousness sake, and is willing to forgive and except all who by faith and unfeigned repentance, return through him. Let us, my brethren, look to this gracious and wonderous device of salvation, renounce ourselves and every legal hope and dependance, and apply to this method alone, opened in the gospel, most hcyi©rsble to the majesty of heaven, and perfectly safe to our souls.
ORIGINAL SIN ESTABLISHED.
Romans V, 12.
Wherefore as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that ail hone sinned.
IN these words with their connection, the Apostle Paul is running a parallel between the first and second Adam. Thatasthe farmer introduced sin and death, wretchedness and every misery into the world—so the latter brought in life and righteousness, grace, mercy and every blessing. The first Adam, as a public head, communicated sin and death to all his unhappy posterity; «" By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin.'' We behold the world overwhelmed with sin and death; full of iniquities, and deluged with calamities. From what source do all these things, thus dreadful, proceed? From the awful and general corruption of human nature. And the opening hereto, we find to be Adam's first sin. It was by one man, and by his guilty fall, the whole race became polluted. By him sin entered. mto the world of mankind, entered as an enemy to kill and destroy, and as a thief to rob and despoil. Then entered guilt, and. an universal corruption and depravity of human nature.
«* The wages of sin is death," Death came by sin, and so