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willing and a spiritual subject of God. Let us see whether, though the light which he at length receives be marvellous, the way is not plain which leads to it; and whether though nature be compassed about with a darkness which no power of nature can dissipate, there is not a clear and obvious procedure, by the steps of which the most alienated of her children may be carried onwards to all the manifestation of the kingdom of grace, and to the discernment of all its mysteries. Though to the natural eye, then, the doctrine of Christ be not plain, the way is plain by which we arrive at it. Though, ere we see the things of Christ, the Spirit must take of them and show them unto us, yet this Spirit deals out such admonitions to all, that, if we follow them, he will not cease to enlarge, and to extend his teaching, till we have obtained a saving illumination. He is given to those who obey him. He abandons those who resist him. When conscience tells us to read, and to pray, and to reform, it is he who is prompting this faculty. It is he who is sending through this organ, the whispers of his own voice to the ear of the inner man. If we go along with the movement, he will follow it up by other movements. He will visit him who is the willing subject of his first influences by higher demonstrations. He will carry forward his own work in the heart of that man, who, while acting upon the suggestions of his own moral sense, is in fact acting in conformity to the warnings of this kind and faithful monitor. So that the Holy Spirit will connect his very first impulses on the mind of that inquirer, who, under the reign of earnestness, has set himself to read his Bible, and to knock with importunity at the door of heaven, and to forsake the evil of his ways, and to turn him to the practice of all that he knows to be right, the Spirit will connect these incipient measures of a seeker after Zion, with the acquirement of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ. Let it not be said, then, that because the doctrine of Christ is shrouded in mystery to the general eye of the world, it is such a mystery as renders it inaccessible to the men of the world. Even to them does the trumpet of invitation blow a certain sound. They may not yet see the arcana of the temple, but they may see the road which leads to the temple. If they are never to obtain admission there, it is not because they cannot, but because they will not, come to it. “Ye will not come to me,” says the Saviour, “that ye might have life,” ding, and prayer, and reformation, these are all obvious things; and it is the neglect of these obvious things which involves them in the guilt and the ruin of those who neglect the great salvation. This salvation is
to be found of those who seek aster it. The knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, which is life everlasting, is a knowledge open and acquirable to all. And, on the day of judgment, there will not be found a single instance of a man condemned because of unbelief, who sought to the uttermost of his opportunities; and evinced the earnestness of his desire after peace with God, by doing all that he might have done, and by being all that he might have been. Be assured, then, that it will be for want of seeking, if you do not find. It will be for want of learning, if you are not taught. It will be for want of obedience to the movements of your own conscience, if the Holy Ghost, who prompts and who stimulates the conscience to all its movements, be not poured upon you, in one large and convincing manifestation. It may still be the day of small things with you—a day despised by the accomplished adepts of a systematic and articled theology. But God will not despise it. He will not leave your longings for ever unsatisfied. He will not keep you standing always at the threshold of vain desires and abortive endeavours, That faith, which is the gift of God, you have already attained, in a degree, if you have obtained a general conviction of the importance and the reality of the whole matter. He will increase that faith. Act up to the light that you have gotten by reading earnestly, and praying importunately, and striving laboriously,–and to you more will be given. You will at length obtain a clear and satisfying impression of the things of God, and the things of salvation. Christ will be recognised in all his power and in all his preciousness. You will know what it is to be established upon him. The natural legality of your hearts will give way to the pure doctrine of acceptance with God, through faith in the blood of a crucified Saviour. The sanctifying influence of such a faith will not merely be talked of in word, but be experienced in power; and you will evince that you are God’s workmanship in Christ Jesus, by your abounding in all those fruits of righteousness which are through him, to the praise and glory of the Father. II. We shall now attempt to explain, how it is that the mysteries of the gospel are, in many cases, evolved upon the mind in a clear and convincing manifestation. And here let it be distinctly understood, that the way in many cases may be very far from the way in all cases. The experience of converts is exceedingly various, nor do we know a more frequent, and at the same time a more groundless cause of anxiety, than that by which the mind of an inquirer is often, harassed, when he attempts to realize the very process by which another has been called out of darkness to the marvellous light of the gospel. Referring, then, to those grounds of mysteriousness which we have already specified in a former discourse, God may so manifest himself to the mind of an inquirer, as to convince him, that all those analogies of common life which are taken from the relation of a servant to his master, or of a son to his father, or of a subject to his Sovereign, utterly fail in the case of man, as he is by nature, in relation to his God. A servant may discharge all his obligations; a son may acquit himself of all his duties, or may, with his occasional failures, and his occasional chastisements, still keep his place in the instinctive affection of his parents; and a subject may persevere in unseduced loyalty to the earthly government under which he lives. But the glaring and the demonstrable fact with regard to man, viewed as a creature, is, that the habit of his heart is one continued habit of dislike * to the Creator who gave him irth. The earthly master may have all those services rendered to which he has a right, and so be satisfied. The earthly father may have all the devotedness, and all the attachment from his family, which he can desire, and so be satisfied. The earthly sovereign may have all that allegiance from a loyal subject, who pays his taxes, and never transgresses his laws, which he expects or cares for, and so be satisfied. But go upward from them to the God who made us, to the God who keeps us, to the God in whom we live, and move, and have our being, to the God whose care and whose presence are ever surrounding us, who, from morning to night, and from night to morning, watches over us, and tends us while we sleep, and guides us in our waking moments, and follows us to the business of the world, and brings us back in safety to Tour homes, and never for a single instant of time withdraws from us the superintendcnce of an eye that never slumbers, and of a hand that is never weary. Now, all we require is a fair estimate of the claims of such a God. Does he ask too much, when he asks the affections of a heart that receives its every beat, and its every movement, from the impulse of his power? Does he ask too much, when he asks the devotedness of a life, which owes its every hour and its every moment to him, whose right hand preserves us continually 2 Has he no right to complain, when he knocks at the door of our hearts, and trying to possess himself of the love and the confidence of his own creatures, he finds that all their thoughts, and all their pursuits, and all likings, are utterly away from him? Is there no truth, and no justice in the charge which he prefers against us, when, sur
rounded as we are by the gifts of nature and of providence, all of which are his, the giver is meanwhile forgotten, and, amid the enjoyments of his bounty, we live without him in the world. If it indeed be true, that it is his sun which lights us on our path, and his earth on which we tread so firmly, and his air which circulates a freshness around our dwellings, and his rain which produces all the luxuriance that is spread around us, and drops upon every field the smiling promise of abundance for all the wants of his dependent children, if all this be true, can it at the same time be right, that this allproviding God should have so little a place in our remembrance? that the whole man should be otherwise engaged than with a sense of him, and the habitual exercise of acknowledgment to him? that in fact the full play of his regards should be expended on the things which are formed, and through the whole system of his conduct and his affairs, there should be so utter a neglect of him who formed them? Surely if this be the true description of man, and the character of his heart in reference to God, then it is a case of too peculiar a nature to be illustrated by any of the analogies of human society. It must be taken up on its own grounds; and should the injured and offended Lawgiver offer to make it the subject of any communication, it is our part humbly to listen and implicitly to follow it. And here it is granted, that amongst the men who are utter strangers to this communication, you meet with the better and the worse; and that there is an obvious line of distinction which marks off the base and the worthless amongst them, srom those of them who are the valuable and the accomplished members of society. And yet do we aver that one may step over that line and not be nearer than he was to God, that, between the men on either side of it, and Him who created them, there lies an untrodden gulf of separation,-that, with all the justice which rules their transactions, and all the honour which animates their bosoms, and all the compassion which warms their hearts, and streams forth either in tears of pity, or in acts of kindness, upon the miserable, with all these virtues which they do have, and which serve both to bless and to adorn the condition of humanity, there is one virtue, which, prior to the reception and the influence of the gospel of Christ, they most assuredly do not have, they are utterly devoid of godliness, They have no desire, and no inclination towards God. There . be the dread of him, and the occasional remembrance of him; but the re is no affection for lim. This is the charge which we carry round amongst all the sons and daughters of Adam, who have not submitted themselves
to the only name that is given under heaven whereby men can be saved. We are not denying that the persons of some of them are dignified by the more respectable attributes of character; and that, from the persons of others of them, there are beauteously reflected the more amiable and endearing attributes of character. But we affirm, that with all these random varieties of moral exhibition which are to be found— the o of loyalty to God has lost the hold of a presiding influence over all the children of our degraded and undone nature. We ask you to collect all the scattered remnants of what is great, and of what is graceful in accomplishments that may have survived the fall of our first parents; and we pronounce, of the whole assemblage, that they go not to alleviate, by one iota, the burden Öf that controversy which lies between God and their posterity, —that throughout all the ranks and diversities of character which prevail in the world, there is one pervading affection of enmity to him; that the man of talents forgets that he has nothing which he did not receive, and so, courting by some lofty enterprize of mind, the gaze of this world's admiration, he renounces his God, and makes an idol of his fame, that the man of ambition feels not how subordinate he is to the might and the majesty of his Creator, but turning away all his reverence from him, falls down to the idol of powerthat the man of avarice withdraws all his trust from the living God, and, embarking all his desire in the pursuit of riches, and all his security in the possession of them, he makes an idol of wealth, that, descending from these to the average and the everyday members of our world's population, we see each walking after the counsel of his own heart, and in the sight of his own eyes, with every wish directed to the objects of time, and every hope bounded by its anticipations: and, amid all the love they bear to their families, and all the diligence they give to their business, and all the homage of praise and attachment they obtain from their friends, are they so surrounded by the influences of what is seen and what is sensible, that the invisible God is scarcely ever hought of, and his character not at all dwelt on with delight, and his will never admitted to an habitual and a practical astendency over their conduct, so as to make it true of all, and of every one of us, that there is none who understandeth, and none who seeketh after God. Now, if a man do not see this case made out against himself in all its enormity, he will feel that the man who talks of it, and who proposes the gospel application to it, talketh mysteriously. If the Spirit have not convinced him of sin, and he have not learned to submit his character to
the lofty standard of a law which offers to subordinate to the will of God, not merely the whole habit of his outward history, but also the whole habit of his inward affections, both the disease and the remedy are alike unknown to him. His character may be fair and respectable in the eyes of men; but it will not carry upon it one feature of that spirituality and holiness, and relish for those exercises that have God for their immediate object, which assimilate men to angels, and make them meet for the joys of etermity. His morality will be the morality of life, and his virtues will be the virtues of the world; and all the mys- . tery of a parable, or of a dark saying will appear to hang over the terms and the explanations of that gospel, against the light of which, the god .# this world blindeth the minds of those who believe not. Let us therefore reflect that the principle on which the peculiarities of the gospel look so mysterious, is just the feeling which nature has of its own sufficiency; and, that you may renounce this delusive feeling altogether, we ask you to think, how totally destitute you are of that whic God chiefly requires of you. He requires your heart, and weventure to say of every man amongst you, who has heretofore lived in neglect of the great salvation, that his heart, with all its objects and affections, is away from God, that it is not a sense of obligation to him which forms the habitual and the presiding influence of its movements, that therefore every day and every hour of your history in the world, accumulates upon you the guilt of a disobedience of a far deeper and more offensive character than even the disobedience of your more notorious and external violations. There is ever with you, lying folded in the recesses of your bosom, and pervading the whole system both of your desires and your doings, that which gives to sin all its turpitude, and all its moral hideousness in the sight of God. There is a rooted preference of the creature to the Creator. There is a full desire after the gift, and a listless ingratitude towards the giver. There is an utter devotedness, in one shape or other, to the world that is to be burnt up, and an utter forgetfulness, amid all your forms, and all your decencies, of him who endureth for ever. There is that universal attribute of the carnal mind—enmity against God; and we affirm that, with this distaste in your hearts towards him, you, on every principle of a spiritual and intelligent morality, are as chargeable with rebellion against your Maker, as if some apostate angel had been your champion, and you warred with God, under the waving standards of defiance. It was to clear away the guilt of this monstrous iniquity that Christ died. It was to make it possible for God, with his truth
unviolated, and his holiness untarnished, and all the high attributes of his eternal and unchangeable nature unimpaired, to hold out forgiveness to the world,—that propitiation was made through the blood of his ôwn son, even that God might be just, while the justifier of them who believe in Jesus. It is to make it possible for man to love the Being whom nature taught him to hate and to fear, that God now lists, from his mercy-seat, a voice of the most beseeching tenderness, and smiles upon the world as God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, and not imputing unto them their trespasses. It was utterly to shift the moral constitution of our minds,--an achievement beyond any power of humanity,+that the Saviour, after he died and rose again, obtained the promise of the Father, even that Spirit, through whom alone the fixed and radical disease of nature can be done away. And thus, by the ministration of the baptism of the Holy Ghost, does he undertake not only to improve but to change us, not only to repair but to re-make us, not only to amend our evil works, but to create us
anew unto good works, that we may be the workmanship of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. These are the leading and essential peculiarities of the New Testament. This is the truth of Christ; though to the general mind of the world it is the truth of Christ in a mystery. These are the parables which the commissioned messengers of grace are to deal out to the sinful children of Adam,_and dark as they may appear, or disgusting as they may sound in the ears of those who think that they are rich, and have need of nothing, they are the very articles upon which hope is made to beam on the heart of a converted sinner-and peace is restored to him, and acceptance with God is secured by the terms of an unalterable covenant-and the only effective instruments of a vital and substantial reformation are provided; so that he who before was dead in trespasses and sins is quickened together with Christ, and made alive unto God, and renewed again after his image, and enabled to make constant progress in all the graces of a holy and
“If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean: Yet shalt thou plunge me in the
ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.
For he is not a man, as I am, that I should answer him,
and we should come*}. in judgment. Neither is there any day's-man betwixt us, that might lay his ... .";"
hand upon us both.”
To the people of every Christian country the doctrine of a Mediator between God and man is familiarized by long possession; though to many of them it be nothing more than the familiarity of a name recognized as a well-known sound by the ear, without sending one fruitful or substantial thought into the understanding. For, let it be observed, that the listless acquiescence of the mind in a doctrine, to the statement or to the explanation of which it has been long habituated, is a very different thing from the actual hold which the mind takes of the doctrine,—insomuch that it is very possible for a man to be a lover of orthodoxy, and to sit with complacency under its ministers, and to be revolted by the heresies of those who would either darken or deny any of its articles, and, in a word, to be most tenacious in his preference for that form of words to which he has been accustomed; while to the meaning of the words themselves, the whole man is in a state of entire dormancy; and delighted though he really be by the utterance of the truth, exhibits not in his person, or in his history, one
evidence of that practical ascendency which Christian truth is sure to exert over the heart and the habits of every genuine believer. In the midst of all that dimness, and all this indolence about the realities of salvation, it is refreshing to view the workings of a mind that is in earnest; and of a mind too, which, instead of being mechanically carried forward in the track of a prescribed or authoritative orthodoxy, is prompted to all its aspirations by a deep feeling of guilt, and of necessity. Such we conceive to hav been the mind of Job, to whom the doctrine of a Redeemer had not been explicitly unfolded, but who seems at times to have been favoured with a prophetic glimpse of him through the light of a dim and distant futurity. The state of his body, covered as it was with disease, makes him an object of sympathy. But there is a still deeper and more attractive sympathy excited by the state of his soul, labouring under the visitation of a hand that was too heavy for him; called out to combat with God, and struggling to maintain it; at one time, tempted to measure the justice of his cause with the righteousness of Heaven's dispensations; at another, closing his complaint with the murmurs of a despairing acquiescence; and at length brought, through all the varieties of an exercised and agitated spirit, to submit himself to God, and to repent in dust and in ashes. There is a darkness in the book of Job. He, at one time, under the soreness of his calamity, gives way to impatience; and, at another, he seems to recall the hasty utterance of his more distempered moments. He, in one place, fills his mouth with arguments; and, in another, he appears willing to surrender them all, and to decline the unequal struggle of man contending with his Maker. He is evidently oppressed throughout by a feeling of want, without the full understanding of an adequate or an appropriate remedy. Now, it does give a higher sense of the value of this remedy, when we are made to witness the unsatisfied longings of one who lived in a dark and early period of the world,—when we hear him telling, as he does in these verses, where the soreness lies, and obscurely guessing at the ministration that is suited to it—nor do we know a single passage of the Bible which carries home with greater effect the necessity of a Mediator, than that where Job, on his restless bed, is set before us, wearying himself in the hopeless task of arguing with God, and calling for some day’s-man betwixt them who might lay his hand upon them both. The afflictions which were heaped upon Job made him doubt his acceptance with his Maker. This was the great burden of his complaint, and the recovery of this acceptance was the theme of many a fruitless and fatiguing speculation. e have one of these speculations in the verses which are now submitted to you; and as they are four in number, so there is such a distinction in the subjects of them, that the passage naturally resolves itself into four separate topics of illustration. In the 30th verse, we have an expedient proposed by Job, for the pupose of obtaining the acceptance which he longed after: “If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean.” In the 31st verse, we have the inefficacy of this expedient; “Yet shalt thou plungemein the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me.”. In the 32d verse, he gives the reason of this inefficacy; “For he is not man, as I am, that I should answer him, and we should come together in judgment.” And in the 33d verse, he intimates to us the right expedient, under the form of complaining that he himself has not the benefit of it: “Neither is there any day's-man betwixt us, that might lay his hand upon us both.” I. It is not to be wondered at, that even
a mistaken efficacy should be ascribed to snow water, in the country of Job's residence, where snow, if ever it fell at all, must have fallen rarely, at very extraordinary seasons, and in the more elevated parts of his neighbourhood. This rarity, added to its unsullied whiteness, might have given currency to an idea of its efficacy as a purifier, beyond what actually belonged to it." Certain it is, too, that snow water, like water deposited from the atmosphere, in any other form, does not possess that hardness which is often to be met with in spring water. But however this be, and whether the popular notion of the purifying virtues of snow water, taken up by Job, be well founded or not, we have here an expedient suggested for making the hands clean, and the man pure and acceptable in the sight of God, a method proposed within the reach of man, and which man can perform, for making himself an object of complacency to his Maker; a method, too, which is quite effectual for beautifying all that meets the discernment of the outward eye, and which is here set before us as connected with the object of gaining the eye of that high and heavenly Witness, with whom we have to do. This is what we understand to be represented by washing with snow water. It comprehends all that man can do for washing himself, and for making himself clean in the sight of God. Job complains of the fruitlessness of this expedient, and perhaps mingles with his complaints the reproaches of a spirit that was not yet subdued to entire acquiescence in the righteousness of God. Let us try to examine this matter, and, if possible, ascertain whether man is able, on the utmost stretch of his powers and of his performances, to make himself an object of approbation to his Judge. Without entering into the metaphysical controversy about the extent or the freedom of human agency, let it be observed, that there is a plain and a popular understanding on the subject of what man can do and of what he cannot do. We wish to proceed on this understanding for the present, and to illustrate it by a few examples. Should it be asked, if a man can keep his hands from stealing, it would be the unhesitating answer of almost every one that he can do it, and if he can keep his tongue from lying, that he can do it, and if he can constrain his feet to carry him every Sabbath to the house of God, that he can do this also, and if he can tithe his income, or even reducing himself to the necessaries of life, make over the mighty sacrifice of all the remainder to the poor, that it is certainly possible for him to do it, and if he can keep a guard upon his lips, so that not one whisper of malignity shall escape from them, that he can also prescribe this task to