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“ everlasting righteousness," and triumphed over
“ without money and without price,” to the chief of sinners; the pressing invitations, and persuasions with which God doth by his ministers“ beseech us to be re“ conciled” to him ; the actual pardon and complete justification of every true believer ; the gift of the Holy Spirit to renew and sanctify our souls ; the exceeding great and precious promises, privileges, and engagements of the new covenant: and the present comfort and future inheritance of the Lord's adopted children, might be particularly insisted on, in discussing the subject. These are in all respects good news, glad tidings; most needful for us, suited to our case, sufficient for our happiness, springing from love unspeakable, and terminating in the everlasting salvation and glory of all who obtain an interest in them. This is the gospel of Christ; the most rejoicing report that ever reached the ears of mortal man. Little indeed has been said on such a subject: yet that little may serve to introduce an attempt,
II. To shew that this gospel, when rightly understood and truly believed, will produce a correspondent conduct and conversation.
This will appear if we consider the information given us on the most interesting subjects, and such as are most intimately connected with our judgment and practice. “That God, who com“manded the light to shine out of darkness, hath
“shined in our hearts, to give us the light of the “ knowledge of his glory in the face of Jesus “ Christ.” The discoveries made to us in the gospel, concerning the mysteries of the Godhead and the harmony of the divine perfections, are suited to excite our highest admiration, adoration, and love; and to make us exclaim, “How
great is his goodness! how great is his beauty!" And hence we may perceive that God is worthy of all possible love, worship, confidence, and obedience ; that happiness consists in his favour ; that his image is beauty and excellency, and his service perfect freedom.
The view which the gospel of Christ gives us of the holy law of God, as worthy to be honoured, both in its requirements and its sanctions, by the obedience and atoning sacrifice of him whom all angels worship, is suited to impress our minds with the deepest sense of its excellency and authority. The clear revelation of an eternal state of righteous retributions, and of the unmingled happiness or misery which succeeds this present life, is sufficient, when truly believed, to swallow up
all our anxiety about this vanishing scene ; and to make the eager pursuits of worldly men appear as frivolous as the sports of children, or as infatuated as the mirth of condemned criminals, in a state of intoxication.
The gospel shews us also the evil of sin in the most affecting light. “We know that the judg
ment of God is according to truth :” and here we especially learn his judgment in this important concern. The language of the gospel is that of infinite and everlasting love and mercy: yet it
declares sin to be so enormous and malignant an evil, that, rather than leave it unpunished, “ God
spared not his own Son, but delivered him up “ for us all.” How can an enlightened believer look to the cross, without mourning for his sins, abhorring them as the murderers of Christ his Lord, and earnestly longing for the destruction of every evil propensity from his heart and nature:
Various other subjects might be mentioned, but they frequently call for our attention. The worth of an immortal soul, the ruined state of mankind, the vanity of worldly prosperity, and many similar instructions, emphatically conveyed to us by the gospel, are exactly suited to form the believer to a holy and heavenly temper and conversation.
The knowledge of our duty, and of the divine authority by which it is enjoined us, is not sufficient for practical purposes in the present state of human nature: our affections must also be influenced by such powerful motives, as may preponderate against all that can be cast into the opposite scale. But proximity gives earthly things an immense advantage. As objects appear large when near, but seem to diminish when removed to a distance: so present things are considered as important beyond all proportion; while things future, though immensely more valuable, are thought to be of little consequence, and scarcely possess any influence over the minds of men in general. But faith (like a telescope,) brings objects invisible to unbelievers near to the soul ; and enables us to contemplate, as real and of infinite magnitude, those things which other men consider as doubtful, remote, and uninteresting: while the Holy
Spirit, producing in us a new and heavenly nature, makes us capable of perceiving the glory, and relishing the excellency, of spiritual blessings. Thus they obtain the ascendancy in our judgment and choice; we become spiritually minded, and savour the things which are of God; bonds which fastened our hearts to earthly objects are broken; the balance turns the other way; and we set our “ affections on things above, not on things on the “ earth."
“Fear not,” says our Lord to his disciples, “ Fear not them that kill the body, and after that “have no more that they can do: but fear him “ who is able to destroy both soul and body in “hell."—When the gospel is really understood and believed, we “ fear, lest a promise being left “us of entering into heavenly rest, any of us “ should seem to come short of it;" and this apprehension prevails over our dread of labour, reproach, scorn, self-denial, or persecution : fear of divine chastening, of grieving the Spirit, of a wounded conscience, or of dishonouring the doctrine of Christ, is a powerful motive to watchfulness and prayer. The desires of everlasting felicity in the favour of God, and of the present consolations found in communion with him, subordinate our hungerings and thirstings after earthly objects.—“ A kingdom that cannot be moved ; “glory, honour, and immortality;” “treasures in “heaven that fail not;” and “ pleasures at God's “ right hand for evermore;" are blessings commensurate with our largest wishes and capacities, and durable as our immortal souls : and the lively hope of this incorruptible inheritance, grounded
yea, the on the sure word of God, and sealed by his sanctifying Spirit, is capable of triumphing over all our expectations of temporal advantages, distinctions, and gratifications; and of animating the soul to “ patient continuance in well-doing.” Love to our God and Saviour, likewise, unites its powerful influences : and, while we cleave to him with fervent desires, rejoice in him with admiring gratitude, and are fervently zealous for the honour of his name, we shall feel constrained by this supreme affection “ to live no longer to ourselves, but to “ him who died for us and rose again.” Thus we shall be prepared to venture, suffer, and labour, in seeking to glorify his name and recommend his precious salvation.
The encouragements of the gospel also are very efficacious. The sinner who attempts to amend his life, according to the word of God, is very liable to grow weary in his attempts. The law seems to say to him, “ Pay me that thou owest;" and he appears to himself further and further removed from the righteousness which he went about to establish, and from that victory over his passions which he expected speedily to accomplish. On the other hand, if he make the principles of morality, or some mitigated law, his standard, he is at a loss to determine how much obedience will entitle him to acceptance; and uncertainty tends to discouragement. For the diligent and conscientious are in this case always harassed with doubts; and none but the heedless and self-confident think themselves good enough to be the objects of the divine favour.
But Christ invites all that are athirst to come