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this truth upon him, assuring him that if he be straitened, it is not in God, but in his own bowels ; that the doubts which he entertains of the willingness of God, especially on account of his sinfulness and coworthiness, are no other than the workings of a self-righteous opposition to the gospel, (as they imply an opinion that if he were less sinful and more worthy, God might be induced to save him) and that if he be not saved, it will be owing to his thus continuing to stumble at the stumbling-stone. lastead of allowing that he believes the gospel, and is willing to be saved in the gospel way, while yet his very moans betray the contrary ; we should labour to persuade him that he does not yet understand the deceit of his own heart ; that if he were willing to come to Christ for life, there is no doubt of his being accepted ; in short, that whenever be is brought to be of this mind, he will not only ask after the good way, but walk in it, and will assuredly find rest unto his soul. , .
The rule we recommend is this : POINT THEM DIRECTLY TO THE SAVIOUR. It may be thought that no Christian can misunderstand or misapply this important direction, which is every where taught in the New Testament. Yet if you steer not clear of the above error, you will be unable to keep to it. So long as you admit the obstruction to believing in Christ to consist in something distinct from disaffection to the gospel way of salvation, it will be next to impossible for you to exhort a sinner to it in the language of the New Testament. For how can you exhort a man to that which you think he desires with all his heart to comply with, but cannot ? You must feel that such exhortations would be tantalizing and insulting him. You may, indeed, conceive of him as ignorant, and as such labour to instruct him : but your feelings will not suffer you to exhort him to any thing in which he is involuntary. Hence, you will content yourselves with directing him to wait at the pool of ordinances, and it may be to pray for grace to enable him to repent and believe, encouraging him to hope for a bappy issue in God's due time. But this is not pointing the sinner directly to Christ. On the contrary, it is furnishing him with a resting-place short of him, and giving him to imagine that doties performed while in unbelief are pleasing to God.
If you point the awakened sinner directly to the Saviour, after the manner of the New Testament, you will not be employed in assisting him to analyze the distresses of his mind, and administering consolation to him from the hope that they may contain some of the ingredients of true conversion, or at least the signs that he will be converted. Neither will you consider distress as ascer. taining a happy issue, any otherwise than as it leads to Christ. If the question were, Do I believe in Jesus for salvation ? Then, indeed, you must inquire what effects have been produced. But it is very different where the injury is, What shall we do; or wbat shall I do to be saved ? The murderers of Christ were distressed; but Peter did not attempt to comfort them by alleging that this was a hopeful sign of their conversion, or by any way direct, ing their attention to what was within them. On the contrary, he exbibited the Saviour, and exhorted them to repent and be baptized in his name. The same may be said of the Philippian jailor. He was in great distress ; yet no comfort was administered to him from this quarter, nor any other, except the salvation of Christ. Him Paul and Silas exhibited, and in him directly exhorted him to believe. The promise of rest is not made to the weary and heavy laden, but to those who come to Christ under their burdens.
Once more : If you keep to this rule, though you will labour to make the sinner sensible of his sin, (as till this is the case he will never come to the Saviour ;) yet you will be far from holding up this his sensibility as affording any warrant, qualification, or title to believe in him, which he did not possess before. The gospel itself is the warrant, and not any thing in the state of the mind ; though till the mind is made sensible of the evil of sin, it will never comply with the gospel. og
Fourthly: There is in all congregations and neighbourhoods a considerable number of people who are living in their sins, and in a state of unconcernedness about salvation. Our work in respect of them is, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, to declare unto them their true character, to exhibit the Saviour as the only refuge, and to warn them to flee to him from the wrath to come. lo this also there are various ways in which you may greatly assist us. If, as heads of families, you were to inquire of your children and servants what they have heard and noticed on the Lord's day, you would often find occasion to second the impressions made by our labours. It is also of great consequence to be endued with that wisdom from above, which dictates a word in season to men, in our ordinary concerns with them. Far be it from us to recommend the fulsome practice of some professors, who are so full of what they call religion as to introduce it on all occasions, and that in a most offensive manner. Yet there is a way of dropping a biot to a good purpose. It is admirable to observe the easy and inoffensive manner in which a patriarch introduced some of the most important truths to a heathen prince, merely in answer to the question, How old art thou? The days of the years of my pilgrimage (said he) are a hundred and thirty : few und evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers, in the days of their pilgrimage. This was insinuating to Pharaoh that he and his fathers before him were strangers and pilgrims upon the earth--that their portion was not in this world, but in another—that the life of man, though it extended to a hun. dred and thirty years, was but a few days—and that those few days were mixed with evil : all which, if the king reflected on it, would teach him to set light by the earthly glory with which he was loaded, and to seek a crown which fadeth not away.
You are acquainted with many who do not attend the preaching of the word. If by inviting them to go with you, an individual only should be caught, as we say, in the gospel net, you would save a soul from death. Such examples have frequently occurred. It is an established law in the divine administration, that men, both in good and evil, should in a very great degree draw and be drawn by each other. The ordinary way in which the knowledge of God is spread in the world is, by every man saying to his neighbour and to his brother, Know the Lord.' It is a character of gospel times, that Many nations shall come and say, Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob ; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths : for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord
from Jerusalem. Add to this, by visiting your neighbours under affliction, you would be furnished with many an opportunity of conversing with them to advantage. Men’s consciences are commonly awake at such seasons, whatever they have been at others. It is as the month to the wild ass, in wbich they that seek her may find her.
Finally : Enable us to use strong language when recommend. ing the gospel by its holy and happy effects.—Unbelievers con stantly object to the doctrine of grace as licentious ; and if they can refer to your unworthy conduct, they will be confirmed, and we shall find it impossible to vindicate the truth of God without disowning such conduct, and it may be you on account of it : but if we can appeal to the upright, the temperate, the peaceable, the benevolent, the holy lives, of those among whom we labour, it will be of more weight than a volume of reasonings, and have a greater influence on the consciences of men. A congregation, composed of kind and generous masters, diligent and faithful servants, affectionate husbands, obedient wives, tender parents, dutiful children, and loyal subjects, will be to a minister what children of the youth are said to be to a parent: As arrows in the hand of a mighty man.—Happy is the man that has his quiver full of them : they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
These, brethren, are some of the principal ways in which we affectionately solicit your assistance is promoting the interest of Christ. In doing this, we virtually pledge ourselves to be ready on all occasions to engage in it. We feel the weight of this implication. Let each have the other's prayers, that we may both be assisted from above, without which all the assistance we can render each other will be unavailing. Should this address fall into the hands of one who is yet in his sins, let him consider that the object of it is his salvation ; let him reflect on the case of a man whom many are endeavouring to sare, but he himself with bac' dened unconcern is pressing forward to destruction ; and finally, should he bethink himself, and desire to escape the wrath to come, let him beware of false refuges, and flee to Jesus, the hope set before him in the gospel. Vol. VIII.
ON MORAL AND POSITIVE OBEDIENCE,
In addressing these our Anpual Letters to you, it is our desire to lead you on in the divine life, that, not contented with a superficial acquaintance with religion, you may clearly understand its most discriminating principles. The winds of doctrine wbich abound, by which many, like children, are tossed to and fro and carried away, require that you grow up into Him in all things, who is the head, even Christ.
Concerning the subject of our present address, namely, Moral and Positive Obedience, suffice it to say, we think we perceive some serious evils growing up in certain parts of the Christian world for want of distinct ideas concerning it, and wish to arm your minds against them. All we shall attempt will be to give a clear statement of the distinction, and to point out the use of it in the Christian religion.
An unreserved obedience to the revealed will of God, in whatever form it is delivered, is the scriptural test of faith and love. You have professed to believe in Christ for salvation, and have been baptized in his name ; but this is not all : the same commis. sion which requires this, directs also that the disciples should be instructed in the whole mind of Christ ; Teaching them to obserte all things whatsoever I have commanded you. As the command ments of Christ, however, are not all of the same kind, so peither is our obedience required to be yielded in all respects on the same principles.
The distinctton of obedience into moral and positive, is far from being novel. It has been made by the ablest writers, of various denominations, and must be made if we would understand the scriptures. Without it, we should confound the eternal standard of right and wrong given to Israel at Şiņai, (the sum of wbich is