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heart and conscience are always at variance. And though they endeavor to stifle the voice of conscience, yet it often assumes its sovereign right, to accuse and condemn them, in spite of their hearts. Hence they live, a most unhappy and restless life. They travel with pain all their days. A dreadful sound is in their ears. A fire not blown consumeth them. In the midst of laughter, their hearts are sorrowful. Yea, there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked. They are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.
8. If conscience will always approve of a sincere and upright heart; then those who live a virtuous and holy life, must necessarily be happy. Accordingly we read, "A good man shall be satisfied from himself." And again, "The ways of wisdom are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." Those who live in the practice of virtue and religion, have a conscience void of offence, which yields them that peace, which the world cannot give, and which the world cannot take away. Though the Apostles and primitive christians were generally despised and opposed; yet they found a perpetual source of comfort and joy in the peace and approbation of their own conscience. And if we only live the same holy and devout life which they lived, we may also humbly and confidently say as they said: "Our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincer. ity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have our conversation in the world." Amen.
MAN'S ACTIVITY AND DEPENDENCE ILLUSTRATED AND RECONCILED.
PHILIPPIANS ii, 12, 13.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
THOUGH a perfect harmony runs through all the doctrines of the gospel; yet to discover and point out this harmony, is, in many cases, a very arduous task to perform. It is extremely difficult to reconcile many truths with each other, which, separately and independently considered, are plain and obvious to every person. To escape this difficulty the preachers of the gospel too often treat some of the most important articles of christianity in a manner totally disjointed and unconnected. When they consider the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ, they slide over the duty of universal obedience to the divine commands. When they treat of the renovation of the heart, they decline inculcating the obligation of sinners to repent and believe the gospel. And when they handle the subject of divine agency upon the hearts of believers, they avoid urging the practice of those virtues and graces, which flow from the sanctifying influences of the divine Spirit. But the inspired Apostles adopt a different mode of instruction. They represent the doctrines of the gospel in their proper and intimate connexion; in order to place them in the most clear and advantageous light. This appears in the words I have read. "Work out your own salvation with fear
and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Here the Apostle lays before us, at one view, both human activity and human dependence, and represents them as perfectly harmonious and consistent. For he considers believers, to whom he is speaking, as being able to act in the most free and voluntary manner, while they are acted upon by the immediate power and energy of the divine Being. It is evident, therefore, that he intended to assert this general truth:
That saints both act and are acted upon by a divine operation, in all their holy and virtuous exercises. It is the design of the ensuing discourse to make it appear, that this sentiment is plainly contained in the Word of God; and then to inquire, why it is supposed to be inconsistent and absurd.
The point proposed might be argued from the mere light of nature. It is the dictate of right reason, that no created being is capable of acting independently. Universal and absolute dependence goes into the very idea of a creature; because independence is an attribute of the divine nature, which even omnipotence cannot communicate. And since saints are creatures, and creatures too of an inferior order, they can never act otherwise, than under the powerful and unremitting energy of the Supreme Being. But not to insist on this argument, I proceed to adduce evidence from Scripture, that saints both act and are acted upon by a divine operation, in all their holy and virtuous exercises.
Paul tells us, "We are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God." Solomon uses a similar mode of expression. "The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord." The
Church expresses the same sentiment in her petition to Christ. "Draw me, we will run after thee." This idea is contained in that divine promise made to Christ: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.' David says, "I will run the way of thy commandments, when thou shalt enlarge my heart." And agreeably to this he prays, "Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer." The Apostle, impressed with a sense of his absolute dependence, says, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." And he introduces Aratus one of the Heathen Poets, who proclaims with the voice of nature, that "in God we live, and move, and have our being."
If we now take a particular view of the several graces and virtues, in the exercise of which saints work out their own salvation, we shall find that they always act under the powerful influence of the divine Spirit.
To begin with their first holy exercises, the Scripture represents them as acting and being acted upon, in their regeneration or conversion. This great change is mentioned under a variety of figures and modes of expression. It is called the circumcision of the heart, and as such ascribed both to God and the creature. On the creatures part, it is commanded as a duty. "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked." But as the act of God, it is promised as a blessing. "The Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." The making of a new heart is both enjoined as a duty and promised as a favor. The injunction is, "Cast away from you all
your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed, and make you a new heart, and a new spirit." But the promise is, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean-a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes." The spiritual resurrection is represented as the work of God and the duty of the sinner. The Apostle considers it as the work of God, when he tells believers, "You hath he quickened who were dead in tresspasses and sins." But God commands the sinner to arise from spiritual death. "Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest and rise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." The new creation is represented as the work of man as well as the work of God. In one place, the Apostle speaking in the name of christians, says, "We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works." But in another place, he enjoins this new creation as a duty. "Put off concerning the former conversation, the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds; and that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." The turning from sin unto God is sometimes represented as arising from a divine operation, and sometimes as owing to human exertion. As a divine operation David prays for it repeatedly in the eightieth Psalm. "Turn us again, O God, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved." Ephraim prays in the same language for himself. "Turn thou me, and I shall be turned." And the