Imágenes de páginas

by habit only, but sinners in nature. Here sin appears exceeding sinful; (Rom. vii. 13.) confounds us in the dust, silences every plea, and brings the soul before the throne of grace, with the true sensibility implied in that penitent confession, which God himself hath put into our mouth, Unclean, unclean. (Levit. xiii. 45.) A person thus convinced, knows himself to be one mass of corruption; that he never was possessed of one good temper, nor performed or could perform a single act pleasing to God. For what but uncleanness can proceed from the unclean? And hence he is entirely cut off from help and hope in himself, and led simply and fully to make use of that help which the gospel sets before him in Jesus, who “came to deliver us from the bondage of corruption,” by the efficacy of his blood, and the power of his Spirit. The reason why so many who are awakened in a measure to a sense of sin continue still in bondage, and fruitlessly are labouring to mend themselves, is this, that they are not truly humbled : they are not acquainted with the depth and universality of the corruption which the fall hath brought upon them; nor consequently with the absolute impossibility of doing any thing pleasing to God, till he himself justifies their persons as ungodly, and sanctifies their nature as unholy.

Secondly. What a dreadful thing is sin ! one sin hath introduced all this misery into the world; and yet we are daily trifling with it as a little thing. Instead of regarding it as the evil and bitter thing it is, with what unconcern do we pass it by in ourselves and others? And here again have we not a strong additional proof of the reality of our fall, in this deep insensibility to it, whilst we behold its consequences so tremendously fatal? O did we but consider how God hates

sin ; did we but attend to the present marks of the divine displeasure against it; or could we be persuaded really to believe “ the wrath to come!" surely there is not one of us, but from the bottom of his heart must tremble. As the “earthquake which shook the prison," (Acts xvi. 26.) and brought the trembling Jailor on his knees, this view of sin's dreadful evil, and the consciousness how deeply we lie under it, would shake the inmost powers of the soul, and lay us low before the footstool of mercy, “if yet the iniquity of our hearts might be forgiven us.” In how dangerous a situation then and drawing on fast to eternal ruin must that soul be, who hath never yet groaned under the burden of sin, nor felt the least of its evil and bitterness, nor cried to him who “ hath appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself ?(Heb. ix. 26.)

Thirdly, What a welcome message doth the gospel bring to those who are truly sensible of their fallen state. We cannot in such case hear with cold unconcern, that “the Lamb of God taketh away the sin of the world;" (Johni. 29.) we shall not pass by, and look upon his sorrows unmoved, when “the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all.” (Isai. liii. 6.) We shall no longer dispute against the dispensations of God, nor proudly ask, “How can these things be?” but, humbly bowing before the gracious throne, shall believe, admire and adore. We shall then see that there is elsewhere neither help nor hope; here all help, all hope revealed to us. We all misery, God all mercy; we all corruption, Christ all perfection; we all guilt, he all pardon ; we all weakness, he all power; we wholly lost in sin, he “able to save to the utterniost;" in virtue of the sufferings of his human nature, and the dignity of the divine. O that each soul of us really felt our disease ! How ready then should we be to submit to the divine Physician, and lay our sinful corrupted souls at his feet ? Happy the man that thus conies to him in all his native wretchedness, he never sent one such “poor sinner empty away. He healeth all our infirmities, and delivereth the souls appointed unto death.”, (Psal. ciii. 3.- cii. 20.)






To know ourselves, the Philosophers reckon

1 ed the pinnacle of wisdom : and however mistaken in the means proposed for that end, they were right in the assertion; no knowledge being more necessary for us than this, nor any perhaps so difficult to be attained. None more necessary, because thereon stands, in the christian plan, all that superstructure of newness of life, the foundation of which is laid in deep humility, arising from the real knowledge of ourselves as fallen creatures. None so difficult to be obtained, because the subject of this knowledge is so extensive, and self-love and self-deceit so misrepresent the facts, that, as by the art of a cunning painter, the real deformity of the figure is concealed, and we admire the false and flattering portrait as if it was the true.

It shall be my endeavour therefore to open to you the truth of our state, and lead you into the discovery of your own hearts. But herein I must beg you will not be offended to see yourselves in a faithful mirror, the word of God; nor start back from the sight of our natural deformity, stripped of that mask which usually conceals the monster. I cannot flatter : God forbids it. His


ed of thax sight of WO of Go

word declares, “the heart is deceitful above allt. things, and desperately wicked, who can know it is

There are indeed, who pretend to give a more favourable view of things; who talk of the dignity of man's nature, its noble faculties, its selftaught perceptions of universal right and wrong; and if not bearing the first strong qut-lines of virtue from the womb, at least represent it as a fair sheet, prepared of itself to receive the genuíne impressions of whatever is fit, and wise, and good. I have already said enough to confute this infidel representation ; but trust, in the progress of this discourse, more clearly to reveal the truth as it is to every man's heart, who will ob- · serve what passes within him : when it will be found, that the only dignity we can boast of is our unhumbled pride ; our native wisdom, the Opornpea capnog which is “enmity against God;" and our fair traces of virtue, the strong lines of a spirit which is “ earthly, sensual, devilish,” . (James iii. 15.) * We are now entering an unbounded field : for 6 who can understand his errors.?(Psal. xix. 12.) or who knoweth the deep things of a man, save He only, “before whom all things are naked and open ?" Let it not be thought, therefore, that the following is a full or exact representation of man's heart. It must be always said here, as the queen of Sheba said to Solomon, “ The half is not told us :" (1 Kings, x. 7.) yet, so far as it goes, it will, I trust, be found faithful ; and be at least a clue for those who desire to see themselves, to lead them into the dark labyrinth within ; and they may lengthen it as they advance, by closer and more intimate observations on themselves and mankind.

I. The radical evil seems to be unbelief, from

« AnteriorContinuar »