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Coming to Christ as unto a living stone, disallowed ners, as he did at the beginning; “Cursed is every indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious; one that continueth not in all things which are Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual written in the book of the law, to do them.” On Christ is demonstrated from the preceding account of God's unalterable justice, and of the guilt of sin being the same in all ages of the world. One thing is needful: we must be declared free from guilt, and invested with a righteousness which shall stand before the law of sinless perfection, and entitle us to the kingdom of heaven. And if we have it not in ourselves, where must we look for it, but as ex
house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.—l Pet. ii. 4, 5.
Whatever disputes may have been raised concerning the nature of saving faith, it is allowed on all hands to be one of the most important Christian virtues, and essential to the character of a Christlan. I am ready to profess, that in conformity with the great lights of the primitive church, of our own church, and all the protestant ones, at the reformation, and long aster," I understand by it “a dependence upon the righteousness and death of Christ, as a full satisfaction to the justice of God for the sin of the world, in the breach of his law; and the sole ground of our acceptance to the reward of eternal life.” And if any explanation of this point, now so very offensive to many, should be demanded, the following is humbly submitted to considera. tion. Sin is the transgression of the law of the most o God : which law, the moment it is broken, subjects us to its penalty. Of this the punishment of the first sin committed by the first man is a most memorable instance, and stands in the front of the Bible as a perpetual and most important lesson of instruction to mankind, in a point of which they would otherwise have been ignorant: and which, notwithstanding the solemn manner in which it is related, many are very apt to overlook. This fact ought to be particularly remarked, as designed to give us a clear insight into the nature of God, and the nature of sin; and as being the o to all the subsequent discoveries of Scripture. For if the sin of eating the forbidden fruit cannot be pardoned, though its punishment was so fatal in its conse. mences, and involved in them the whole race of dam, it may fairly be presumed that sin must in all cases wear the same appearance in the eyes of an unchangeable God. “He is the same yesterday, to-day and for ever:” every sin therefore, as an act of disobedience and rebellion against him, must be the object of his displeasure at all times, and will for ever separate from him every soul of man, in whom it is sound unpardoned. If you are unwilling to admit this account of the nature of sin, and of the nature of God, as being contrary to the idea you have framed of him, and derogatory as you suppose to his perfections, it is then in: cumbent on you to prove, in what age or period of the world, under what dispensation, or new discovery of the will of God, and in what part of Scripture you find it recorded, that God has revoked the decree against sin, and made a change in the law given to man at his creation, of life u death in case of transgression. The Scripture, on the contrary, in perfect harmony with itself, acquaints us, that at the second promulgation of the law, God appeared in the same majesty and holiness, and with the same denunciation of wrath against sin
* See the Confessions of Faith of all the Reformed Churches.
on obedience, and
which, let it be observed, that as more than temporal death was necessarily implied in the threatening and curse to the Jews; because that was unavoidably the doom of all mankind, whether they obeyed or not; so it naturally suggests to us, that the first threatening, “In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die,” was of the same extent with the second, and its meaning precisely determined by it. In this second sentence, then, there is no relaxation of the first; no contrary declaration concernin the case of offenders, nor the least intimation o any change in the will of God with respect to sin. Indeed it would be strange if there should be any; such a variation or inconsistency in the character of God as given by himself, would be an argument of much greater force against the truth of the Bible than any yet alleged. The sact then is certain : “The wages of sin is death,” and always will be so while God continues the same. What he published and declared at the giving of his first universal covenant to all mankind, in the person, of Adam, he renewed and confirmed ". the delivery of the law to Moses, which, as St. Paul observes, “was added, because of transgressions, (Gal. iii. 19,) that the desert of them might be known, and “That the offence might abound” (Rom. v. 20) in its penalty and curse unto death, now once more solémnly awarded against every offender and every offence. These two grand manifestations of the nature and will of God, of the odiousness and great evil of sin, and of the manner in which it is to be treated, are further exemplified in the judgments upon sinners recorded in Scripture. , Very striking and awful indeed they are; and here we must rest the point for ever, unless we would take upon us, as too many with horrid presumption do, to estimate the guilt of sin from our own false notions of it; to prescribe a law to God, to divest him of his sovereignty, to cavil at his wisdom, and to dethrone his Justice, But let the reason of man, short as it is, be judge in the cause. The decree is gone out from the Almighty, and stands unrepealed in the revelation he has made of himself; “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the law, to do them.” Suppose now for a moment we are at liberty to call this decree in question, or to tamper with the threatening, by taking allowance for one sin. What is that sin 4 And if sor one, why not for two or more: and where will you stop? If once you take the right of judging out of God's hands, there will be no end for pleading for transgression, no dread of it, no sense of good and evil, no submission to God's rule and authority, no obedience upon earth. The conclusion is evident; if all have sinned, all stand condemned by the sentence of a just God. The expediency of the remedial covenant of gospel grace, in which mercy and truth meet together righteousness and peace kiss each other, and God is both just and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus, is here apparent: and the necessitv of dependence upon the rigeone and death of
But this is a dangerous expedient, unwarranted reason or Scripture; and we therefore believe, that “being justified by faith we have peace with God through Jesus Christ our Lord:” and that the whole of what will be accounted our deliverance from the curse of the law, is the righteousness of Christ satisfying the divine justice by his obedience unto death, and, to the praise of the glory of his
isting in the person of Jesus Christ. Dependence grace, imputed to sinners for salvation. This is therefore upon that righteousness, as wrought out the anchor of the soul, sure and steadfast; our full by him for believers, and appointed of God for sin: security against all fears, our first and only justifiners to trust in, is the precious faith of the gospel cation. by which the soul is justified before God. As no | The notion of a first and second justification is other will reconcile the divine attributes, or answer the offspring of pride opposing the truth of God. the exigencies of mankind, concluded under sin, They who adopt it consider not the justice of God and always sinners; so nothing else must be the as still existing in all its rigor, and substitute instead ground of our hope towards God. of perfection what falls infinitely short of it. But Not works. Alas ! We have none—None that the nature of God and the nature of sin remain alwill bear to be weighed in God's balance, or answer ways the same; consequently we are as much unthe demands of his justice. Look at what you done as ever, if gospel mercy extends no farther think the best action of your life, or the most excel- than to the first benefit of remission of sins, lent grace of your soul; bring it to the touch-stone; when we are admitted into the Christian covenant. examine it by the straight rule of the command- Faith is not to be dropped after the beginning of ments, considered in their whole spiritual extent, conversion, as a thing of no further use. “The and as reaching the heart and all its motions. In just shall live by faith;” its utility is to be expethe matter or manner, principle or end, be assured rienced not once, but always; in every step of our you will find some grievous flaw, and condemna- progress, at the hour of death, and at the day of tion instead of reward will be your desert. Let the judgment; in hope, comfort, obedience here, and jojo and pious Hooker be heard on this head. in heaven for ever. "If God (says he) should make us an offer thus It is not meant that faith has any such effect, or large; search all the generations of men, since the justifies merely as a work or righteousness of our fall of our first father Adam; find one man which own. No, it consists in the denial of the merit of hath done one action, which hath, passed from him all works, qualifications or habits as inherent in pure, without any stain or blemish at all; and for man; and the essence of it is an unfeigned humble that one man's only action, neither man nor angel submission to the righteousness of God, as accountshall feel the torments prepared for both : do you led or given to us, and that not of debt but of grace. think that this ransom to deliver men and angels This may furnish an answer to those who ask, Why could be found to be among the sons of men?” may not imperfect works justify as well as imperNot sincerity. This has lately been adopted into fect faith 7 taking it for granted that one can be no our divinity, as if it were the gracious condition more perfect than the other. The reason is, that of the new covenant, in opposition to the law of the indispensable condition of justification by works, perfect obedience. But it is no where mensioned is their perfection; consequently a claim founded as such in Scripture. So remarkable a variation, on them must either be made good by an obedience in a matter of the greatest importance; from other entirely sinless, or the hope of salvation be wholly revelations which God had made of himself, and relinquished. 'Whereas faith, though it may be of the terms of our acceptance with him, had need weak and imperfect, instead of exalting itself be very distinctly and expressly pointed out; and against the justice of God, and standing before him yet, when the proofs of it are called for, none are in the confidence of a lie, puts all from itself, and produced. It is indeed altogether a claim of human ascribes to God the whole glory of our salvation. invention, and as it acknowledges defect of obedi- |. We shall close this little argument with observ
ence, and therefore an absolute forfeiture, it deli
vers us up to justice, so long as the law of strict
conformity to every command of God stands in full
ing, that faith is not understood, much less
ed, if it is not productive of more holiness, and more gracious affections, than could possibly be attained in any other way. The charge of vacating the law as a rule of life followed close upon the first preaching of salvation by faith, and a base suspicion of its being prejudicial to the interests of virtue, is hardly ever to be rooted out of the minds of men, till they experience the power of faith themselves. But this can have no weight with those who remember the authoritative decision of Christ himself in this point upon a remarkable oc| casion, in opposition to the secret conceit of a proud | Pharisee: “to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” Luke vii. 2. It is acknowledged, it is strenuously maintained, that the heart of man is
exceedingly depraved, and our affections corrupted
satisfied, the law, must be fulfilled; with all our to the very root; but you charge the nature of man duties sin is found mixed; and unless it could be with greater depravity than you are aware of, when supposed that the new covenant is a relaxation of you suppose the superabundant love of God, mani
every preceding one, in respect of God's judgment | fested
of sin; and that now in this last age of the world he has exhibited himself as acting under a dispensing power, and discharging sin of its guilt, our case is left desperate.
• Discourse on justification."
in the plan of redemption, and especially in the wonderful manner of its accomplishment, can kindle no love, and excite no gratitude. On the contrary, it is the peculiar glory of gospel grace, to humble every believer in the dust, and to fill him with the most dreadful apprehensions of sin, in order to raise him from his ão state, and to csta
blish him in obedience from love to God, from holy admiration of his perfections, and from an earnest desire to be partaker of his blessedness. And if the gospel is not effectual to this end in the Spirit's hands, therein displayed and secured to every sinner who really believes the gospel; if the love of the Holy Trinity does not touch every string of our hearts, and put all the powers of our souls in motion to make some suitable returns to the everblessed God, our condition is indeed hopeless. We may venture to affirm, that a zeal for works truly Christian can be built on no other foundation; and that a desire to perfect holiness will never have a place in the heart of man, but under a sense of redeeming grace, and of the complete salvation that it sets before us. It is therefore greatly to be lamented, that neglect of this doctrine should be so much the characteristic of our age; and that the gospel-motive to obedience should not be more generally inculcated in a Christian country. In vain do we hope to revive the decayed spirit of religion, and establish a pure morality on any other than Scripture grounds. A spurious kind of it, outward, partial, founded o, on love of reputation, with little regard to God, nature itself can discern, and in some degree attain. Poor and low attainment ' Yet this is what we are prone to substitute in the place of inward spiritual renovation, to which nature is altogether averse.— But true holiness, which consists in profound selfabasement and subjection to the God and Father of our spirits in love of nature and will, in heavenly-mindedness, in ardent, longings after fo of heart, is the genuine product of a lively faith; and I say again, no where to be found, till the everblessed name of Jesus, his grace and truth, his compassion, dying love, and all-perfect obedience, are the meditation, delight, and confidence of the soul. In this view, and with these sentiments strong upon his mind, the author has endeavored in the following treatise to delineate The Complete Duty of Man. His book bears this title not from any arrogant conceit he holds of its worth, but from its comprehending the doctrines as well as the precepts of the gospel, from its placing things in their proper order and preparing the way to Christian practice by Christian faith, and to faith by conviction of sin. o: attempt may appear to some "... The Whole Duty }Man, so called, has long been in possession of general esteem, and is to be found
in almost every family. But it is evident that the great thing is wanting in that celebrated treatise, towards obtaining the end for which it was written; since Christ the Lawgiver will always speak in vain unless Christ the Saviour is first known.— Christian morality is produced and maintained by this principle, “We love God, because he first loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins:” all treatises therefore written to promote holiness of living must be deplorably desective, in which the cross of Christ is not laid as the foundation, and constantly kept in view, and every duty enforced as having relation to the Redeemer. This is the apostolical method of inculcating Christian obedience; and all other obedience is pharisaical, a mere refined species of self-righteousness.
It is proper to apprise the reader that he is indebted to §. ... Letters for several paragraphs in the chapter on the difference between true and false repentance; and to Mr. Maclaurin's Sermons for several fine sentiments in the chapter On the foundation of faith. In a few other places also in the work, where a masterly argument, or a beautiful illustration of the subject on which the author was treating, occurred, he has taken the liberty of enriching his own work with it.
Nothing further is necessary to be added, but an earnest request, in which the author begs eve reader would join with him to the Fountain of all good, that it would please Him to make the following sheets instrumental in giving to those who peruse them, such a manifestation of the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, as shall make sin and the world, with their bewitching charms, appear vain, despicable, odious—such a conviction of human ignorance, guilt, and depravi. ty, as may infinitely endear the name of a Redeemer and Sanctifier, and create tender compassion and humbleness of mind one towards another—such a knowledge of the pardon and peace, the strength and power, the purity and holiness which ennoble and bless those who have scriptural faith in Christ as may manifest the emptiness of deistical and formal religion, and excite an earnest desire to behold the meridian glory of Christianity in the eternal world: where every creature breaks forth in servent acknowledgment of infinite obligation, saying, Worthy is the LAME that was slain to RECEIVE Power, AND Riches, AND wisdom, AND strength, AND honor, AND Glory, AND BLEssing.
COMPLETE DUTY OF MAN.
It is evident that man is endued with an active Fo entirely distinct from his body. For whilst is body is chained down, an unconscious mass of matter, to a spot of earth, his soul can soar and expatiate in contemplation; can reflect, and with variety almost infinite, can compare the numberless objects which present themselves before it. When his body has attained maturity and perfect strength, his soul arrives to a state of perfection, but goes on increasing in wisdom and knowledge; and when the body is feeble or sinks into decay, the soul is often full of vigor; or feels grief and anguish all its own. To demonstrate the excellency of the soul, in its properties so singular and admirable, is of great importance: because all that is comprehended under the word religion, respects the soul. And many precepts in the book of God must be resisted as unreasonable, or slighted as unnecessary, if the salvation of the soul is not considered as the greatest good man can attain; the ruin of it, the greatest evil he can suffer. To prove the worth of the soul, I shall make my appeal to your own observations, and to the evidences of holy Scripture, entirely waiving all philosophical inquiries into its nature, and all abstract reasoning concerning it.” Observation then upon what passes before your eyes powerfully proves the worth and excellency of the soul. For what is the case of thousands around you, if it has not already been your own 7 Are they not mourning over some tender parent, some affectionate friend, or near relation? One week, the dear deceased how much was he valued? What a sprightly entertaining companion, in the prime of lite, perhaps of personal comeliness! The next, ah! sudden, bitter, prodigious transformation the desirable object is . a putrid mass: the desirable object is become ...! loathsome, fit only for the grave Do you ask, how it comes to pass, that what was lovely to admiration, only a week or a day before, should so soon be even hideous to look on 4. The answer loudly proclaims the dignity and excellency of the soul: . For could the dead parent, friend, or relation, hold discourse with you on the subject, his answer would be to this effect: “Are you seized with afflicting surprise? Do you, with tears of tenderness, bewail the frightful change you see, in a form long so familiar and so pleasing to you? The cause is this—The immortal inhabitant, which for a few years lodged under this roof of flesh, hath * Let not this be thought to proceed from any ignorant contempt of philosophical inquiries, when confined to their proper sphere; since this is the determination of one of the greatest philosophers in whom our nation glories “All our inquiries about the nature of the soul (says Lord Bacon) must be bound over at last to religion, for otherwise they still lie open to many errors. For seeing the substance of the soul was not
removed its abode. My soul by its presence gave to my body all its motion, life and beauty. The instant the one took its destined flight, the other began to turn into an offensive carcase, which must moulder into dust, and dust remain, till his voice, who is the Resurrection AND THE LIFE, unites it for ever to its former inmate.” From this most striking difference, therefore, between a dear parent, friend, or relation, active, useful, lovely, and the cold pale piece of outcast earth, which he instantly becomes upon the departure of his soul; understand what dignity and worth must necessarily belong to the soul. And if from this fact, daily passing before our eyes, you turn to the page written by inspiration of God, it is impossible to remain ignorant of the excellency of the soul. What can be imagined more grand than the account of its creation 2 Look up to the heavens: immensely high, immeasurably wide as they are, God only spake, and instantly, with all their host, they had their being. The earth, the sea, the air, with all their millions of beasts, birds, and fishes, were formed instantaneously by the breath of his mouth. But, behold! before the human soul is formed, a council of the eternal Trinity is held— God said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him,” Gen. i. 26, 27. He formed his soul in its moral faculties and powers, a sinless, immortal transcript of himself. To deface this image, and ruin a creature which the love of God had so highly exalted, was an altempt equal, to the execrable malice Satan bore against God and against the favorite work of his hand. But no sooner did the devil, by his accursed subtlety, bring on the soul an injury, tending to its utter destruction, than the most high God, by the method used to recover it, declared a second time still more loudly the exceeding greatness of its worth. For take a just survey of the majesty of HIM, who only, of all in heaven, was able or sufficient to restore the soul to the favor and fruition of God. Before him the depth of the unfathomable seas, the height of the loftiest mountains, the vast dimensions of the earth, and the immense circuit of the skies, are as the small dust of the balance. Before him, the vast multitudes which o the whole earth, with all their pomp, are less than nothing and vanity. This is HE, behold him!" This is he who takes upon himself a work impossible for angels to effect, the redemption of the soul. He undertakes to replace it in the favor of God—not by the word of his mouth, as in the day that he made the heavens and the earth ; but by a contrivance infinitely costly
* The reader is desired, as he would not wish to dishonor and injure the Redeemer by mean and unworthy thoughts of him, to meditate deeply on the grand and divine things which are written of him. in the evangelical prophet Isaiah, you will find his majesty set forth in the most lofty and affecting manner, and by a variety of such glorious images
deduced from the mass of heaven and earth, but im- as will more exalt your apprehensions of him than mediately from God, how can the knowledge of the any train of abstract reasoning. In the xlth chapter,
reasonable soul be derived from philosophy
It from whence the above description of his grandeur
must be drawn from the same inspiration from is taken, there is enough declared both of his grace whence the substance thereof first flowed.”—Ad- and divinity to make him appear altogether glo
rancement of Learning, Book iv. Chap. 3.
and painful; by a process of many steps, each of
reason with all its efforts is lost in the unfathomable
few years allotted for its education and trial here
on earth expire, if grace and the offers of salvation have been duly accepted and improved, it will gain admission into the o of the siving God; where shines an everlasting day; where everything is removed for ever that might but tend to excite fear, or for a moment to impair the completeness of felicity. ...And whilst the soul esses a magnificent habitation, eternal in the heavens, the company with which it will be associated, in excellency far surpasses all the glories of its place of abode. Man, by revolting from God, was banished from any commerce with the glorious spirits that people the invisible world. But when the designs of grace are accomplished in the soul, it becomes a partaker of all the invaluable privileges and dignities of the angels. It is clothed with a brightness of glory refulgent as the sun, it is raised to such degrees of excellency as exceed our highest reach of thought; every defect and blemish inherent in its present condition is done away, and its moral perfections surpass in splendor the outward beauty with which it is arrayed. Now, if we estimate the grandeur of
| distance; separated by an unpassable gulf.
weaker than a new-born babe.
a person from the exalted station he is born to bear, and the possessions he shall one day call his own, how great must the worth of the soul be judged, which, unless ruined by its own incorrigible sinfulness, is to inherit the riches of eternity; to stand before the throne of Jehovah on a rank with angels; to drink of rivers of pleasures which are at his right hand for evermore.
It is, on the other hand, evidence equally strong, of the value of the soul, though, alas! of a very melancholy and distressing kind, with which the Scripture account of the extreme misery it must suffer if it perishes, furnishesus. If it is not counted worthy to be admitted, through the Saviour's mediation, into glory; O sad alternative' its doom, like the sentence pronounced on some offender of great dignity, whose distinction serves only to inflame his guilt, is full of horror. It is cut off from all communion with God; removed to an inconceivable It must have him for the avenger of its crimes, in comparison of whose strength all created might is That arm is to be stretched forth against it, which shoots the planets
in their rounds, and taketh up the isles as a very
little thing. The soul that perishes, is to suffer the punishment prepared for the devil and his angels;
|io suffer punishment, the very same in kind with
that of the avowed enemy of the blessed God; whose business, whose only joy ever since his fall from heaven, hath been to defeat, if it were possible, all God's designs of grace; to undermine his kingdom, and tread his honor in the dust; who has already seduced souls without number, and who will go on in his course of treason and enmity against God, ill the o of executing full vengeance on him is come. Though not in equal torment, yet in the same hell with this execrable being, is the soul that perishes to endure the wrath of God.
Whether you regard therefore the felicity or the ruin, which the soul of man in a few fleeting years must experience, you will find it hard to determine which of the two most forcibly bespeaks its grandeur. These evidences, obvious to every eye which | reads the Scripture F. prove, in a manner not to be questioned, that the poorest beggar carries great|er wealth in his own bosom, and possesses a higher dignity in his own person, than all the world can give him. The soul, that enables him to think and | choose, surpasses in worth all that the eye ever saw or the fancy ever imagined. Before one such immortal being, all the magnificence of the natural world appears diminutive, because . All these things wax old, as doth a garment, and all the works of nature shall be burnt up; but the years of the soul, its happiness or its wo, like the unchangeable God its creator, endure for ever.
From these evidences, you will perceive, that the schemes which engage the attention of eminent statesmen and mighty kings, nay, even the delivery of a nation from ruin and slavery, are trifles when set in competition with the salvation of a single soul. You will see the propriety of that astonishing assertion, that in heaven, the seat of glory, and among angels, whose thoughts can never stoop to any thing little, “There is joy over one sinner that repenterh.". You will see why the Lord God Almighty is at so much pains (if the expression may be used) to awaken the children of men into a just concern for the salvation of their souls; why the warnings he gives them are so solemn, his calls so repeated and pressing, and his entreaties so affectionate. All these things follow as the just and natural conclusions from the matchless excellency of the soul.