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2. If any persons, professing Gospel truths, have arrived at a state so presumptuous and confident, as to be above all the feelings of in-dwelling sin, which have been described, they have, it is plain, gotten above the Lord's prayer. “ Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” Yes, we need daily to ask forgiveness of God; and also daily to forgive others. Our present state of infirmity requires both these dispositions. There are, in this life, no angels. Our Lord has promised that his people shall be equal to the angels hereafter, being the children of the Resurrection. It is not so here. Take care you be not thus deceived. In all ages of the church more or less of this proud spirit, calling itself holiness, has appeared; but it is really a proud delusion; and it is our duty to warn you against it; and to exhort you to labour after holiness to the utmost; but, make not a Christ of it. Live on him by faith as your righteousness and your strength. Live humbly on him, and you will grow in real grace all your days.
Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable Gift. THERE are several particulars, either expressed or implied in this short sentence, which will deserve our consideration; and which, when duly attended to, will be found, all together, to make the most important subject in the world, and to display the real use and genius of that Religion of which we make profession. The great Preacher of this Religion is thanking“ God for his unspeakable Gift.” It well becomes us then to ask,
What are the natural circumstances of mankind which render any gift, that is necessary for them, so great as to deserve the title of UNSPEAKABLE? What the Gift itself is ? What the way, by which any person may receive, or reap the benefit of it? And, in what manner thankfulness for the gift ought to be shown by those who receive it?
The Lord himself, our Saviour, and God our Father, supply to us the promised Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation to understand and receive aright these things, which to the natural man are foolishness, and which no man knoweth but by the Holy Ghost.
Many, in setting forth the propriety and expediency of the divine Mission of our Saviour, confine their thoughts to the dark and corrupt state of the World at the time he made his appearance in the Flesh :-a trifling consideration this, and an ensnaring one too; for it would imply that the circumstances of mankind are better now than they were then. The truth is, human nature has ever been the same; there never was a time when wickedness did not prevail in the earth exceedingly; and the Lord declares, not only of the generation that was swept away by the flood, but, by his unerring knowledge, of all succeeding generations, “ That the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth :" Gen. viii.; and he assigns this as a reason why he will no more curse the ground, nor smite again every thing living as he had done. Agreeably to this account of Moses, the Apostle Paul thus speaks of the natural circumstances of men, in all ages, independent of any particular considerations of times and circumstances. “ They are altogether become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good: there is none righteous, no, not one: there is no fear of God before their eyes." Thus does it appear, that all men are evil and corrupt in their natural state, dead in trespasses and sins.
But this is not all: Guilt is connected with punishment; therefore we are by nature children of wrath : “ The wages of sin is death :” and so it appeared on the commission of the first sin. It requires just ideas of the holiness of God to see these things aright. For want of such ideas how many still murmur against his righteous dealings. The Scriptures inform us, that no sooner had Adam sinned, than he and all the human race, whom he represented, and who were virtually in him, lost the divine, lovely, image in which they were created; and became obnoxious to the wrath and eternal vengeance of God. Three or four express passages shall be given on this head; but the Bible is full of proof, so full, that the whole scheme of Christianity rests entirely on this foundation. “Destruction and misery are in their ways.” “ By the offence of one, judgment came on all to condemnation.” “ By one man's disobedience many were made sinners.” Moreover, the righteousness of this dispensation of God flows from the nature of the covenant of Works, which says, do all that the Law requires, and thou shalt have eternal life; but the 'soul that sinneth shall die. This covenant made by God with all men in Adam, cannot admit of any mitigation, because of the justice and perfect purity of the Almighty. He would cease to be just, if he justified any persons upon terms less than perfect obedience. An imperfect righteousness is a contradiction in terms. No such thing can exist.--One single sin must mar all pretensions to righteousness. A great reason, why man's miserable state by Nature, and the way
recovery by Grace are not understood, is, because it is too commonly supposed, that there is a covenant of sincere though imperfect obedience, through which men are to be saved by doing what, with a vague confusion of ideas, is usually called their best ;--and that Christ is to make out the rest for them. So long as this pestilent notion prevails in the mind, I absolutely despair of any good being done. It is hard to say whether it is most affronting to the PURITY or to the MERCY of God: for it quite obscures both. Here is neither Law nor Gospel ; neither the covenant of Works nor the covenant of Grace, but a vain attempt to mix them together. I would beseech those who still hold fast this notion, to pray earnestly for divine wisdom, and seriously to search the Scriptures. Let them not take it positively for granted, without examination, that whAT THEY HAVE BEEN BROUGHT UP IN MUST BE RIGHT. There have been those who were as positive as you, who yet through Grace, have been made to see their error. Sure enough a true conviction of sin, and some real measure of selfknowledge once attained, will demolish all this scheme, which, indeed, has not a shadow of a foundation in Scripture.
There never were but two Covenants; the first of Works, which requires perfect obedience: It was made with us all by nature in Adam. The second Covenant is the Covenant of Grace, which says, “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ;” and which effectually comprehends all who fly for refuge to it. In both cases, God sees such an union between the representative and the represented, between Adam and his natural posterity, between Christ and his spiritual seed, that he views it right to impute death and destruction on the first account, and eternal life on the second. And it is utterly unreasonable for any man to say, that such a procedure is unrIGHTEOUS, when the infinite God, who alone must be a proper judge of the nature of both these unions, declares it to be