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what great things he hath done for you.”* If external obedience were all that God required by the Sinai covenant, why was he not satisfied with the godly professions which they made during that solemn transaction, saying, "all these things will we do;" and wherefore did he utter that cutting exclamation, “O that there was SUCH AN HEART IN THEM, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them and their children for ever!”
Lastly, If the foregoing principles be just, instead of being a question whether ministers should exhort their carnal auditors to any thing spiritually good, it deserves to be seriously considered, whether it be not at their peril to exhort them to any thing short of it. If all duty consist in the genuine operations and expressions of the heart, it must be utterly wrong for ministers to compromise matters with the enemies of God, by exhorting them to mere external actions, or to such a kind of exercise as may be performed without the love of God. It is disloyalty to God; betraying his just authority over the heart, and admitting that in behalf of him, which we should despise from a fellow-creature if offered to ourselves. Nor is it less injurious to the souls of men, as it tends to quiet their consciences, and to cherish an opinion that having complied with many of the exhortations of their minister, they have done many things pleasing and acceptable to God; while, in fact, every thought and imagination of their heart has been only evil continually.
It may be thought these things bear hard upon the unconverted sinner, and reduce him to a terrible situa
1 Sam. xü. 24.
Deut. xi. 13, 14. Joshua, xxii. 5. VOL. III.
tion: But if such in fact be his situation, it will not mend the matter to daub it with the untempered mortar of palliation; on the contrary it will render it still more terrible. The truth is, there is no way for a sinner to take, in which he can find solid rest, but that of returning home to God by Jesus Christ. And, instead of trying to render his situation easy, it ought to be our business as ministers to drive him from every other resting place, not for the sake of plunging him into despair, but, if it please God to bless our labors, that he may be necessitated to betake himself to the good old way, and find rest unto his soul: we ought solemnly to assure him, that do what else he will, he sins; and is heaping upon his head a load of guilt that will sink him into endless perdition. If he pray, or frequent the means of grace, his prayer is an abomination to the Lord; If he live in the omission of these things, it is worseWhether he eat or drink, piough the soil,or gather in the harvest (like the supposed ship's company before mentioned, who, with all their regularity continued in their rebellious course) all is iniquity. "Incense is an abomination: it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting:" To die is to be plunged into the gulf of destruction, and to live if he continue in enmity to God, is worse, as it is heaping up wrath, in an enlarged degree, against the day of wrath.
What then, it will be asked, can sinners do? If they go forward, destruction is before them; if on this hand, or that, it is the same. Whither can they go, and what must they do? All the answer which the Scripture warrants us to make is included in the warnings and invitations of the Gospel: “Repent and believe the Gospel." - Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” “Deny thyself, take up thy cross,and follow me, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven!!" If the answer be, “We cannot comply with these things; our hearts are too hard; advise us to any thing else, and we will hearken;" if this, or something like it, I say, should be the answer, the servant of God, having warned them, that what they call the incapacity, is no other than a wicked aversion to God and goodness; that they judge themselves unworthy of everlasting life; and that their blood will be upon their own heads; he must there leave them. His soul may weep in secret places for them; but it is a: his peril to compromise the matter. If, seeing they cannot find in their hearts to comply with the invitations of the Gospel, he should offer any directions which imply that their inability is of such a kind as to afford them an excuse; any directions which imply that it is not their immediate duty to repent and turn to God by Jesus Christ; any directions which may descend within the compass of their inclinations; let. him look to it: they may be pleased with his advice, and comply with it, and, considering it is about the whole that can reasonably be expected of them in their present circumstances, they may be very easy; and persisting in such a spirit, they may die in it, and perish for ever; but their blood will surely be required at his hand! I am, my dear friend, your's very affectionately,
COMMENTARY ON GEN. iii. 22.
Extracted from the late Rev. R. Riccaltoun's Works.
To the Editor. REV. SIR, Lately perusing the Works of the late Rev. Robert Riccaltoun, of
Hobkirk, in Scotland, the following Comment, on a very important passage of Scripture, very forcibly struck my mind; and as it may tend to throw light upon that part of the word of God, should be glad to see it inserted in your valuable work. Sir, yours, &c.
"From the account we have of the manner in which Man was driven out of Paradise, it appears rather to have been a work of mercy than judgment. The speech is introduced with, “Behold; the man is become as one of us;" which has more of the air of compassion than irony, as some have construed it; and if the following words are justly rendered, it was an act of real kindness, that the man might not fall again into the same snare, and run into a new instance of rebellion, by attempting to eat of the tree of life that he might evade the sentence appointing him to return to the dust from which he was taken. For securing against such a pernicious event, a guard of angels was set, to keep him out.
“But indeed the original words of Moses will, without any violence done them, admit of a very different construction. It is well known, that the tree of life, from the beginning to the end of the record, is made use of, to signify what the tree which bore that name in Paradise, was but a figure or emblem of, viz. the means which God hath chosen to convey eternal life to dead sinners of mankind. It is observed by these skilled in the language, that the particle which we render lest, and which gives the turn to the whole sentence, may be properly rendered, so as to put man in a possibility of recovering life, as was done by the intimation already made in the serpent's curse; and what follows of setting up the cherubims in the east of the garden, seems, all things considered, to determine their intention to be, not to keep man from, but to guide him into, the way of the tree of life. This will appear more than probable, when we reflect on the purpose which the cherubims answered in the tabernacle and temple: they were appendages of the mercy-seat, and Jehovah inhabited them, or dwelt between them. It was, without all question, an emblematic exhibition of the God of grace dwelling among the people for whom Moses wrote, who, for any thing that appears, had no other notion of cherubim; and when they were told of God's having placed them on the east of Eden, they could not help concluding, that he had pitched on that as the place in which he chose to manifest himself, and where the worshippers were to make their approaches to him; which is yet further confirmed by this, that we find the face or faces of Jehovah, mentioned as some place from whence Cain was, or at least was afraid of being driven out. What is added of a flaming sword, in our translation, is only fire, and another word which signifies any weapon of slaughter; which may possibly be a short hint of the institution of the sacrifice to be offered there; and I believe, on the whole, it will be found very nearly to resemble the prophet Ezekiel's fire infolding itself in his vision of the glory of God in the cherubim, rather than a flaming sword, turning every