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exhibited with peculiar strength, beauty, and efficacy. The mode, in which they are conveyed to the mind, is of no other importance, than as it renders the truths themselves more explicit, or more impressive. The truths are the substance, and the soul, of this interesting process. As the language of all such persons concerning this subject is the same; it must, I think, be admitted to be true. Their number has been too great to allow the suspicion, that they can all have been deceived. They have lived in so many ages, and countries, have been of so many different characters, have received so widely different educations, have lived in so widely different circumstances, and have entertained, in other respects, so widely different opinions, as to render it incredible, that they should all have been prejudiced concerning this subject, and impossible, that they should have united in exactly the same set of prejudices. At the same time, multitudes of them have been eminently distinguished for wisdom, candour, and self-knowledge. It cannot be reasonably supposed, that immense numbers of such men should, with respect to such a subject, be uniformly deceivcd in exactly the same manner. Beyond all this, it appears, at least to me, to be an indefensible imputation upon the character of God to suppose, that he would, in this case, leave his children to false apprehensions, and suffer them universally to believe, that this mighty blessing came to them all in a way, which was imaginary, and by means, to which it was in no degree attribu. table. From these considerations it may, I think, with the highest probability be concluded, that mankind are sanctified through, or by means of, the truth of God. To all that has been here alleged it may, however, be objected, that in the Scriptures our sanctification, particularly our regeneration, is ascribed directly, and solely, to the agency of the Holy Ghost; and that the doctrine, contended for in this discourse, contradicts this part of the scriptural scheme. To this objection I answer, that the doctrine, for which I contend, is as plainly asserted, and in as many passages of the Scriptures, as that, which is alleged in the objection. If, then, we deny the former of these doctrines; we shall do violence to as many, and as plain, scriptural declarations, as if we deny the latter. Our dislike of the doctrine, asserted in this discourse, will in no degree justify us in rejecting, or contravening, those passages of Scripture, in which it is asserted. They stand upon their own basis; the authority and inspiration of that Divine Spi. rit, who, while he challenges this Agency to Himself, has been pleased to attribute also this Instrumentality to his Word. His declarations we are bound to receive as we find them ; and cannot alter the obvious meaning, with any better warrant, than we can challenge for altering the words, which contain that meaning. It may be further objected, that this doctrine robs God of his peculiar glory in regenerating the soul of man. To this I answer, that we are, at the best, incompetent judges of this subject; and are therefore unable to determine, satisfac. torily, in what manner God will be most glorified. If God has thought proper to give us such an account of the subject, as has been here specified, it will be found in the end, that he is more glorified in the manner, conformed to these declarations, than in any other. The Psalmist, under the unerring influence of Inspiration, says to God, Thou hast magnified thy Word above all thy .Name. Should it prove one of the ways, in which God magnifies his Word, that it is constituted the Means of regeneration to mankind; there can be no reasonable doubt, that it will be found, in the end, perfectly consistent with the most perfect glorification of his Name. The truth, however, is that neither of these answers is at all necessary to satisfy us concerning these objections. The Spirit of God is, in truth, the only Agent in renovating man; or, in other words, the only Efficient cause of his renovation. This, however, he would be in as perfect a degree, if he were supposed to employ Means in accomplishing this change of character, as if he were supposed to accomplish it without them. The supposition, that an agent, if he employ means to effectuate his purposes, will, on this account, cease to be, or be at all less, an agent, is built upon no known principles of truth or evidence. The farmer and gardener turn their soil, and plant their seeds: the rain descends upon them, and the sun shines: but all these things do not make them spring up and yield their increase. God
must still interpose with his creative power, to produce these desirable effects; or a crop will be expected in vain. God, therefore, is the sole Agent and Author of the crop; yet the farmer and the gardener, the ground and the seed, the rain and the sunshine, are all Means of its existence. Without these means, there would, according to the established order of things, be no crop. Of course, they are means of its existence; and means indispensable. It may be said, that these cases are not similar. If this should be said; it would, I think, be said rashly: for Christ himself, St. Peter, St. James, and St. Paul, have all chosen this allusion to illustrate this very subject. See the parable of the sower. See also, 1 Cor. iii. where Paul declares himself to have planted, .4pollos to have watered, and God to have given the increase. With regard to the other objection, it is obvious, that, so far as we can see, the glory of regenerating man is all ascribed to God; and all ascribed in the manner most honourable to him; is attributed to his Spirit as the Efficient cause, and to his Word as the Means. If he has in fact, as, if I mistake not, I have proved, declared that this is the manner, in which he has chosen to accomplish this work; we need not fear, that in giving this account of it we shall detract from his character.
If the scheme of discourse, which has been here exhibited, is just ; it will follow, that the Gospel is to be preached to sinners. My audience may, perhaps, wonder that any evidence should be thought necessary to prove this assertion. If I am not misinformed, however, the assertion has not only been questioned, but denied. That such should have been the fact is certainly wonderful, in my view, as well as in that of others. When the Gospel was first preached by Christ, the whole world, with very few exceptions, was in a state of sin. The Gentiles were so generally of this character, that, as a body, they were styled, by St. Paul, sinners of the Gentiles. Gal. ii. 15. To the Gentiles, however, Paul was sent directly by Christ, to preach the Gospel. The extraordinary commission of this Vol. IV. 63
Apostle deserves to be here repeated. Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee; To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them who are sanctified by faith that is in me. Acts. Xxvi. 17, 18. Here it is to be remarked, that St. Paul was sent to the Gentiles, not only to preach the Gospel, and to open their eyes, but to turn them, also, from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. Accordingly, he was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision; but shewed first to them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. These declarations, made by St. Paul, are unanswerably evinced to be true by the history of his life. In the very manner, here recited, he preached to both Jews and Gentiles the glad tidings of salvation; and persuaded men every where to renounce, and forsake, their iniquities; and thus actually opened their eyes, and turned them from darkness to light. The beginning of the Preaching of Christ, as recited in the Gospel according to St. JMark, is in these words: The time is fulfilled: the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent ye, and believe the Gospel. The people, therefore, whom he addressed, had not hitherto repented, nor believed. Of course they were sinners. In the whole history, contained in the Gospel, and in the Acts, there is not, so far as I recollect, a single instance recorded, in which we have any satisfactory proof, that even an individual sinner was regenerated without the influence of Divine Truth upon his heart. On the contrary, these writings are full of examples, in which the efficacy of this Truth is asserted directly, as having been indispensably concerned in producing this change in man. The same doctrine is, also, amply exhibited, as it respects the Jewish Church. Of the Priests, the ordinary Ministers of that Church, whose proper office it was to teach the Scriptures to the Israelites, God says, in the Prophet Malachi, The Law of Truth was in their mouth; and they turned many away from ini
quity. This declaration is a complete history of the fact in question, so far as the present subject is concerned, throughout all the preceding ages of the Jewish Church.
What was true concerning the periods, contained in the Scriptural history, has been equally true, so far as we have any information of the periods, which have since elapsed. Ministers have every where, and in every age of the Christian Church, preached to sinners: and sinners under their preaching have been turned to God. In all these facts the duty of Ministers, at the present time, is distinctly seen, and gloriously encouraged. He, who would preach as the Priests preached, as Christ preached, as the Apostles preached, will proclaim the tidings of salvation to sinners ; and will urge them unceasingly to Faith, Repentance, and Holiness. Upon his preaching, if faithfully conducted in this manner, and accompanied by his own prayers, and those of the Christians around him, he may confidently look for the blessing of God.