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by Christians, for the purpose of promoting the salvation of Sinrters. If there are Means of grace and salvation, given by God; then they were given for the very purpose of promoting the salvation of sinners. As this was the end, which God proposed in communicating them to mankind; it is an end, in which all men are bound to rejoice, and which they are plainly obligated to pursue. But unless these means are used by Sinners for their own salvation, they will ordinarily be of no benefit to them : and, unless Christians use them, also, for the purpose of promoting the salvation of sinners, they will fail of their intended effect. Christian Ministers must preach the Gospel to sinners. Christian Parents must educate their sinful children in the nurture and ad. monition of the Lord. Christians must live, and act, and converse, with sinners. Otherwise, the salvation of sinners will usually be neglected, and therefore will be unattained. Further; if there are Means of Grace, then the appointment of them is wise; the communication of them to mankind, benevolent; and the use of them by those, for whom they were appointed, proper. It can hardly be supposed, that God has provided, and published, means of salvation to mankind, and yet by his own authority made it improper, that they should be used. According to this scheme, sinners, although expressly commanded to flee from the wrath to come, to seek the Lord while he may be found, and to turn from the error of their way, are yet by Divine authority precluded from the very measures, which alone will, in the usual course of things, produce the effect enjoined. That Christians are bound to employ the Means of Grace for the salvation of sinners, will not, I suppose, be doubted. That sinners must employ them, also, in various respects, is evinced by this very position; as well as by the observations, made in the preceding discourses. If the Gospel is to be preached to sinners; they must hear. If Christian parents are to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; they must listen to their instructions. If sinners are to become acquainted with the Word of God; or even to know whether that, which is preached to them is the word of God, or not; they must read the Scriptures. If sinners are to be informed of the reality, power, and excellency, of religion, they must converse with religious men. If they are to understand, and feel, their guilt; they must commune with their own hearts. If they are ever to know the real nature of their character, and efforts; they must pray. From their own use of the Means of Grace, almost all their deep impressions of their guilt, danger, dependence on Christ, and absolute need of the regenerating influence of the Spirit of God, must be derived. In a word, if they are to obtain salvation, as most, or all, other Christians have obtained it; indeed, if they are to obtain it at all, in the ordinary course of providence; they must obtain it in the use of the Means of Grace. This is the way, which God has ever blessed, and will undoubtedly bless hereafter. Nor are we warranted to hope for his blessing in any other manner. To the proofs of this point, alleged in this, and the preceding discourses, I shall add but one, at the present time. God, in the Dispensation, which he revealed to Moses, required all the Israelites to use, continually, all the Means of Grace, furnished to them in the then existing Scriptural Canon. The parent, however sinful he might be, who did not circumcise his man-child upon the eighth day, was by the express law of God punished with the excision of that child. Every male was expressly required to present himself three time a year before the Lord : that is, at the tabernacle, or in the temple. All were required to keep the appointed feasts; particularly to celebrate the passover. They were required, without distinction, to offer the various appointed sacrifices; to educate their children religiously; and to seek the Law at the mouth of the priests, its ordinary ministers. It is remarkable, that for the omission of these duties they were, in several instances, to be punished with excision: particularly such as did not afflict themselves on the great day of Atonement: Lev. xxiii. 29; such, as, being ceremonially clean, forbore to keep the Passover: such, as killed an ox, lamb, or goat, and did not bring it to the door of the tabernacle, to offer an offering unto the Lord. Lev. xvii. 4. Thus the Israelites, and, in some of the cases, the strangers, who resided
with them, were not only required, but required under this terrible sanction, punctiliously to use the Means of Grace, both ordinary and extraordinary. It is further to be observed, that the Israelites are no where, either in the Old or New Testament, censured for the fact, that they attended on these various Means of Grace. They are often censured for their impenitence, and unbelief, indeed; and the more severely for being impenitent and unbelieving in the midst of these solemn services, because the abuse of such privileges obviously enhanced their guilt. But not a hint is given us, either by Christ, the Prophets, or the Apostles, that they were censurable, merely for being present, when these means were employed by others, or for being active in employing them, themselves, for their own good. The Gospel, therefore, regards this subject exactly as it was regarded by the Law; and has introduced no change, in this respect, into the Divine dispensations. 2. It follows from the same discourses, that JMinisters ought to advise, and exhort, sinners to use the Means of Grace. If God has appointed these means, and is daily blessing them; if he has usually, and not improbably always, wherever the Gospel has been published, conveyed his spiritual blessings to men in this way; then it cannot be reasonably doubted, that Ministers ought to advise sinners to labour, in this way, to gain eternal life. As to sinners in general, this is the only way, in which eternal life will be gained. Refusing them this advice, therefore, is no other, than refusing them any advice concerning their salvation. To this scheme it is however objected, 1. That regeneration, being immediately, and solely, the work of the Spirit of God, is not at all accomplished by means; and that, therefore, sinners, however strenuously they may use the JMeans of Grace, do, in truth, nothing towards this change of character. That the act of regenerating man is an act of the Divine Spirit alone, I readily admit, and fully believe; but I deny the consequence, drawn from this doctrine. If I am not deceived, I have, in both the preceding discourses, particularly in the first, proved it to be an error. The Text itself, if I mistake not, is a decisive proof, that it is an error. The Text asserts, to say the least, that St. Paul, by his preaching, contributed to the regeneration of the Corinthian Christians. In a humbler sense he begat these Christians, as truly, as God did, in a higher sense. But if Paul contributed to the regeneration of these men by his preaching; the men themselves as certainly contributed to their own regeneration by being present at his discourses, by hearing them, by understanding them, and by feeling with strong impressions the truths, which he uttered. Had not all this been done by them; St. Paul might, with exactly the same success, have preached to the dead.
In the doctrine, for which I contend, there is, I apprehend. nothing embarrassing, and nothing, which is even peculiar. God, as was observed in the first of these discourses, is equally the sole Agent in the production of a crop. But it would be a palpable absurdity, to conclude from this fact, that the crop would come into existence without the labours of the farmer. Were he not to plough, and sow, the ground; a child knows, that not a stalk of wheat would be produced. St. Paul contributed as really to the spiritual harvest, as the farmer to the natural one; and in the same sense: for, without his labours, that harvest would not have existed. Neither Paul, nor the husbandman, is at all concerned in the creative act of God, employed in each of these cases. But both of them do that, without which this creative act would not exist. Accordingly, where the Gos. pel is not preached, regeneration does not take place; as crops have no existence, where the earth is not cultivated.
2. It is objected, that the use of the Means of Grace, on the part of sinners, is itself sinful; and that JMinisters, therefore, cannot conscientiously advise sinners to use these means ; since this would be no other, than advising them to commit sin.
As this, in all probability, is the Objection, on which the greatest stress is laid, and that, which has contributed most to perplex those to whom, and, not improbably, those also, by whom, it is urged; I shall consider myself as justified in exa. mining it at some length. It is presented in various lights. I will endeavour to follow the course, pursued by the objectors themselves. o
It is triumphantly alleged, that the Scriptures have decided the point in debate; and established the objection, immoveably, by such declarations, as the following. The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. Prov. xv. 8. The sacrifice of the wicked is abomination: how much more, when he bringeth it with a wicked mind". Prov. xxi. 27. He that turneth away his ear from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be an abomination. Prov. xxviii. 9. If, then, the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination, if the prayer of the wicked is an abomination; it cannot be lawful for the wicked to pray, nor for a Minister to advise him to pray. I have, I believe, alleged the objection in its full force, and in the very terms, in which it is usually alleged. This, at least, has been my design. It is not pretended, that sinners are in the Scriptures expressly forbidden to pray; nor that Ministers are expressly forbidden to advise them to pray. The objection is inferred from other declarations of the Scriptures. Like other inferences, it is, however, to be suspected, until it shall be shown to be certainly, and necessarily, derived from such declarations. The authority of a certain conclusion, fairly derived from the Scriptures, I admit. But in order to this admission, I must be satisfied, that it is certain, and fairly derived from the Scriptures. Let us now examine this inference. 1. The Objection is founded on this general doctrine; that, whenever an individual will commit sin in any conduct, he cannot lawfully adopt, nor be lawfully advised to adopt, that conduct. But from this doctrine it will follow, that sinners cannot lawfully do any thing, while in a state of sin, nor be lawfully advised to do any thing. There is as much certainty, that a sinner will sin in all other conduct, which he adopts while he is a sinner, as in praying. The ploughing of the wicked is expressly declared to be sin. Prov. xxi. 4. The way of the wicked, that is, his universal course of life, is declared to be an abomination to the Lord. Prov. xv. 9. The thoughts of the wicked are declared to be an abomination to the Lord. Prov. xv. 26. Of course, the wicked
* Especially when he offereth it to serve some base end. Hodgson.