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Another way in which men fail of the only source of solid comfort under affliction, is by the indulgence of unavailing grief. We are far from maintaining that men are to be apathetic or utterly devoid of feeling when the hand of calamity touches them. Our social affections were implanted by a merciful God; and their kindly and reciprocal exercise in the several relations of life, constitute one of the very few sweet ingredients in its bitter cup. Destroy the influence of conjugal, parental, filial, fraternal, and friendly feeling, and you leave no human source of happiness for the mind to rest on, (though indeed the very ground on which we are now proceeding, tends to shew the exceedingly brittle nature of even these holiest of earthly ties), because our supposition is, that the carnal man is suffering keenly from the loss of some one or other of them. But then he sorrows as those without hope ; which is, in fact, tantamount to being “ without God in the world.” He does not trace the finger of mercy in the bereavement. He cannot, or rather will not, feel that it is good for him to be afflicted ; and instead of bereavements leading him to the fold of Christ, to the Shepherd and Bishop of his soul, he gives way to unhallowed grief, and refuses to listen to the voice of spiritual consolation. Now contrast both these results of calamity, whether arising from loss of health, of property, or of endeared relatives, with the conduct of the “ man unto whom the Lord will not impute iniquity.” The latter feels, as I have already inferred, and feels acutely, too, the afflictive dispensations of God's providence ; but his grief is of a complexion totally dissimilar to that which has been described. He is chastened, but not killed ; that is, not dead to every sense of holy comfort. He is perplexed, but not in despair. He is cast down, but his hope of immortality is not destroyed. The very feelings of human nature make him sorrowful, yet is he alway rejoicing in the mercy and love of God. If he be poor, as to this world, through the bereaving, or the withholding hand of his heavenly Father, yet does he make many rich in faith by his Christian fortitude in trial, and by speaking and living to the praise and glory of his Redeemer. To his faith he adds virtue; and by pureness, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, he goes forward in the strait and narrow path of eternal life, towards that rest which remaineth for the people of God. And if the blessedness of the Christian pilgrim is so evident in the patient endurance of his own individual sorrow, it may fairly be inferred that the sorrow of the world, which worketh death, has no place in his heart. He views with feelings of Christian regret, the miseries produced by sin,- by the indulgence of ungovernable tempers,—by the confusion occasioned in society through the violence of party-spirit; but though he deeply deplores their existence, he suffers them not to interrupt his own tranquillity of soul, or his intercourse and communion with his God and Saviour.
This leads me to notice the second substantial advantage the Christian possesses, to which the worldling is a total stranger: I mean peace of conscience. What are the wages of sin ? St. Paul answers this question in one short word-Death. But previously to this final issue of the hopes and fears of the transgressor, whose iniquity is not pardoned, there are pangs and throes of conscience to be endured, which constitute the sinner's life one of real unhappiness. “Through fear of death he is all his life-time subject to bondage.” Not so the Christian. He is fully conscious, it is admitted, that he carries about with him a corrupt nature; that in him, that is, in his flesh, dwelleth nothing that is spiritually good ; and he laments his every dereliction from the path of holiness, his every deviation from the line of scriptural duty. But he does not commit iniquity with greediness; he is not guilty of allowed transgression-he has earnestly implored the forgiveness of his past sins, and he feels a holy, yet humble confidence, that no imputation of his guilt will be made against him at the last great day. And thus that holy calm pervades his soul which is properly designated, “ peace of conscience.”
The last result of pardoned iniquity which I shall notice, is the final enjoyment of heaven. And well, indeed, might the Psalmist exclaim, in reference to this consummation of the Christian's joy, “ blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.” But, my brethren, who shall describe this glorious state of future existence? The tongue of an archangel would fail in the attempt. Of one thing we are certain, that in that scene of bliss ineffable, all will be pure and holy. No iniquity will then remain to be pardoned, -no transgression to be covered; for the body of sin having been destroyed, the happy spirits who shall be accounted worthy of that better resurrection, shall be clothed in spotless raiment. Mortality, with all its gross and earth-born desires, shall be swallowed up of life eternal. The mental vision being unclouded, and the tabernacle which it had inhabited while on earth, being made like unto Christ's glorious body, shall be purified from every stain of corruption, and dwell for ever with the Lord.
We are led, by this last reflection, to the contemplation of the only means through which the pardon of our sins can be obtained ;namely, by the blood and righteousness of Christ; “ for there is no other name given under heaven amongst men whereby we can be saved, but that of Jesus Christ.” And if the Christian hates sin for its own sake, in a how much higher degree must he deplore its existence when he views it as the sole cause of the sufferings of Calvary's Martyr. What becomes of the doctrine of sinless perfection, when we behold the Son of God stretched on the accursed tree to atone for the guilt of a world, dead in trespasses and sins? Had it been within the range of possibility that man could have approached his Maker with a clean heart and a right spirit, think you that Christ Jesus would have suffered a painful and ignominious death? No, my brethren, we are expressly assured, on apostolic authority, that “ he died, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God;" “ that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life.” The reason why the Lord will not impute iniquity to his people is, that Christ has taken away the hand-writing that was against them, and nailed it to his cross. The Apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans, expressly states that “ God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them.”
We were to consider, lastly, who they are to whom the Lord will not impute iniquity. Perhaps we cannot give a more satisfactory answer to this very important inquiry, than by quoting such passages from the revelation of God's holy will as clearly promise the blessing of the Most High to a certain description of characters. The passage referred to in the commencement of this discourse, will again assist our purpose-" Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, and covered all their sin.” Now it is evident that the people of God are the persons to whom sin will not be imputed; and who they are will best appear from a further reference to the Scriptures. The following are a few of their characteristics. The Book of Psalms commences with these very strong expressions—“ Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and he doth meditate therein day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bringeth forth fruit in its season ; his leaf also shall not wither ; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.". In the 12th verse of the following Psalm, it is written,“ Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” In the 128th this same blessedness is promised to every one that feareth the Lord, and walketh in his ways. Our Lord himself, in his Sermon on the Mount, declares, amongst many other things, that “ Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” And when a woman, in her astonishment at the gracious words which fell from his lips, thought only of the happiness of the mother who had brought forth and nourished such a son, Jesus said, “ Yea, rather blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it.” We cannot now dwell on these several passages, each containing materials sufficient for a separate discourse. At the same time, the terms here employed, such as “ not walking in the way of sinners," “ fearing and trusting in God,” and “walking in his commandments,” are all so explicit, that the commonest and most uninformed capacity can readily understand them.
It remains, then, my Christian brethren, that we apply this subject to ourselves. Have we any good ground for believing that our transgression is forgiven,- that the Lord will not impute iniquity to us? In order to answer correctly these important questions, a strict examination of our own hearts will be necessary. Do we find there no secret love of impurity of any kind? Is there no favourite lust cherished ?- no besetting sin encouraged ? Do we hate iniquity for its own sake, as well as on account of its having rendered the crucifixion of our Lord necessary for its ablution ? When we read that God is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, do we search into the inmost recesses of our souls, to see if there be any wicked way in us, and pray earnestly for the influence of the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way everlasting? If, instead of all this, my brethren, we, in a fanatical but fatal spirit, resolve to sin that grace may abound,-if, in a formal spirit, we present our bodies in the temple of God on the Sabbath, to atone for sins committed in the week,-if, in a proud spirit, we seek to establish our own righteousness in opposition to the of the hopes and fears of the transgressor, whose iniqui
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RIGHT HON. AND RIGHT REV. DR. HENRY effable, all will be RI pardoned, -no , LATE LORD BISHOP OF LONDON having been
(Concluded from page 495.) worthy of th in 1701, having lodg'd an Impeachment in the Mortality, against several Lords for high crimes and misdemeup of lif lagst others against John Lord Somers, some time before nacle y llor of England, and not shewing themselves so forward Christchuro his tryal as their Lordships expected, they appointed a
prate without consulting the Commons, in Westminster Hall; for being come, and the Commons not yet ready to make good ich eachment, a debate arose upon it in the House of Peers: but
stion being put whether they should go into the Hall, and proon the tryal according to the order of the day; it was resolv'd affirmative. Several Lords to the number of twenty or thirty ted from this resolution, among whom the Bishop of London was second: they entred their reasons for it in the journal of the se, but they were expung'd by the order of the next day. The Lords thereupon sending a message to the Commons, that they intended to proceed immediately to the Lord Somers's tryal, and finding by the messenger that the House was adjourned ; after some other formalities, a motion was made to acquit the Lord Somers: after a long debate and several questions ask'd the judges, the question was put whether the question then stated should be put in the court below, and resolv'd in the affirmative. Here his Lordship also with thirty more were dissentients, and their reasons again expunged.
This done the Lord Keeper put the question as follows: That the Lord Somers be acquitted of the articles against him exhibitted by the House of Commons, and all things therein contain'd; and that the said impeachment be dismiss'd. There were fifty-seven for him, and said content, and thirty-one against him who said non-content, of which number my Lord of London was one.
The Lords soon after proceeding to the tryal of the Earl of Orford, upon the same foot as that of Somers; neither the Bishop of London nor any of the non-contents at my Lord Somers's tryal appeared there, so that he was unanimously acquitted by all the Lords that were then present.
Her Majesty Queen Anne, upon the decease of King William III. on the 8th of March, 1701–2, ascending the throne of her ancestors, his Lordship as he ever had a very large share in the esteem and favour of this princess, who knew his heart as well as her own to be entirely English, and that no consideration whatsoever should ever be able to divert him from the true interest of the church and the crown; he was not only continued a Member of her Majesty's most honourable PrivyCouncil, but frequently consulted with in private, especially about the affairs of the Church. Its believ'd, the dissolution or rather the not renewing of the Commission granted by King William to the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, for conferring Ecclesiastical Preferments vested in the crown was chiefly owing to his Lordship’s advice. Be that as it will, her Majesty did not think it prudent to revive it. She looking upon it as a piece of partiality for the sake of one party, exclusive of all others of the clergy, whom she rightly judged to have equal if not rather superior merit to them.
A new war breaking out against France and Spain, in the possession of the Duke of Anjou, in the first year of her Majesty's reign; it made an addition to the burden already laid upon the good Bishop's shoulders, it being his business to provide and recommend chaplains for the service. I have heard some people, who, I believe, were not really enemies to his Lordship, blame his conduct about ordaining and sending some persons into the service, who were not fully qualifyed either as to learning or morals for so sacred a function: that some of them might be so in such a number, is not improbable; there was a Judas even amongst the twelve,
It may in like manner be considered that persons of the most liberal education, and others of the most exemplary piety, are generally better provided for at home; or else do not at all like the company of sailors and soldiers, whose profaneness must grieve their righteous souls, without any or little hopes of reforming them; so general the contagion had spread both in our fleets and armies : some I have known my self who have apply'd to his Lordship for ordination, and notwithstanding they brought sufficient testimonials with them, he has for some time put them off, and perswaded them to betake themselves to some other imployments, which he took them to be much better qualifyed for.
But to return, her Majesty had not been many months upon the throne, when she was pleased to issue out a Commission, which she was impower'd to do by Act of Parliament, to nominate persons to treat about an union with the kingdom of Scotland. Of the number of these was Henry Lord Bishop of London, and two and twenty more, of whichThomas Lord Archbishop of Canterbury was the only other clergyman, and he is usually put into instruments of that nature of course, as being the Metropolitan of all England. The ill success of this commission, and the backwardness of the Scotch to come into VOL. XI. NO, IX.