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dearing engagements of gratitude, and the winning persuasives of love. Nay, 1 verily believe that multitudes in the gay and licentious world are held fast in the fatal snare by their ignorance of this sweet, alluring, consolatory truth: they find themselves deeply obnoxious to divine justice, and feel themselves strongly bound with the chains of sensuality: they think it is impossible to clear the enormous score of their guilt, impossible to deliver themselves from the confirmed dominion of sin; therefore, like desperate debtors, they stifle every serious thought, lest a consciousness of their long arrears, and a prospect of the dreadful reckoning, should ‘torment them before the time.” - But if they were informed that the infinitely merciful Son of God has undertaken to redeem such undone and helpless sinners, that he has thoroughly expiated the most horrid transgressions, and procured, even for ungodly wretehes, all the needful supplies of strengthening grace; that instead of being prohibited, they are invited to partake, freely to partake, of these unspeakable blessings; were they acquainted with these glad tidings of the gospel, surely they would burst their chains and spring to liberty. These truths, if once revealed in their hearts, would, of all considerations, be most ef. fectual to “make them free.”f * What shall I say more to obtain my Theron's approbation? Shall I point out and plead the most illustrious precedents? God the Father is well pleased with this righteousness of our Redeemer: he expresses his complacency by the most emphatical words: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth.’t In Christ and his righteousness God is not only pleased, but delighted: his very soul, every perfection of the Godhead, with ineffable satisfaction, rests and acquiesces in them. I said ineffable, for he has declared this in a manner superior to all the energy of language, by raising our crucified Surety from the dead, by exalting him to the heaven of hea. vens, and placing him at his own right hand in glory. * Matt. viii. 29. f John viii. 32. # Isa, xlii. 1.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is well pleased : he esteems it his honour to shine forth as the everlasting righteousness of his people: it is the brightest jewel of his mediatorial crown. In this he “sees of the travail of his soul, and is satisfied;’ accounting himself fully recompensed for all the labours of his life, and all the sorrows of his death, when sinners are washed from their guilt in his blood, and presented faultless by his obedience.. The Holy Spirit is equally pleased with this great transaction and its noble effects. It is his peculiar office and favourite employ to convince the world of their Saviour’s righteousness; not only that his nature was spotlessly pure, and his conversation perfectly holy, but that from both results a righteousness of infinite dignity and everlasting efficacy; sufficient, throughout all ages sufficient, for the acceptance and salvation of the most unworthy creatures. Since then this method of acceptance and salvation is excellent and glorious in the eyes of the adorable Trinity; since it magnifies the law, and yields the most exalted honour to its divine Author; since it makes ample provision for the holiness of a corrupt, and the happiness of a ruined world; why should my friend any longer dislike it, oppose it, or treat it with a cold indifference 2 Surely all these grafid recommendations are enough to overrule any little objections which may arise from the suspicions of timidity, or may be started by the artifices of sophistry. Ther. I know not how it is, Aspasio, but I cannot reconcile myself to this doctrine of imputed righteousness, notwithstanding all the pains you have taken to make me a convert. 4sp. The disappointment is mine, but the loss is yours, Theron. However, let me entreat you not to reject my sentiments absolutely, nor to condemn them prematurely. Suppose it possible at least that they may be true, and weigh them in an even balance. Learn wisdom from your Aspasio's folly. I was once exactly in your situation, saw things in your light, and through your medium. - Conversing, I well remember, with a devout but
plain person, our discourse happened to turn upon that solemn admonition, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself.” I was haranguing upon the import and extent of the duty; shewing, that merely to forbear the infamous action is little. We must deny admittance, deny entertainment at least, to the evil imagination, and quench even the enkindling spark of irregular desire. When I had shot a random bolt, my honest friend replied, “There is another instance of self-denial to which this injunction extends, and which is of very great moment in the Christian religion; I mean the instance of renouncing our own strength and our own righteousness; not leaning on that for holiness, nor relying on this for justification.’ I thought the old man, I must confess, little better than a superstitious dotard, and wondered at (what I then fancied) the motley mixture of piety and oddity in his notions; but now I discern sense, solidity, and truth in his observation;+ now I perceive that we ourselves are often the dreamers, when we imagine others to be fast asleep. Ther. I shall not forget your caution, and will endeavour to avoid the rock on which my Aspasio struck, but happily, it seems, escaped shipwreck. You may Hikewise assure youself, that upon a subject of exceed. ing great and eternal consequence, I shall not fail to use the most attentive and impartial consideration. An indolent supineness, or a bigoted obstinacy, in this great crisis of affairs, would be of all errors the mostinexcusable, and must prove of all miscarriages the most fatal. - Asp. But still you cannot reconcile yourself; and no wonder: for this way of salvation runs directly counter to the stream of corrupt nature; it puzzles our reason, and offends our pride. What! shall we not work, but “believe unto righteousness?"; Shall we receive all * Matt. xvi. 24.
t Milton thought the same, otherwise he would never have put those words into the mouth of a divine speaker:- Thy merit, Imputed shall absolve them, who renounce Their own, both righteous and unrighteous, deeds: And live in Thee transplanted, and from Thee Receive new life. Book iii. 290,
- t Rom. x. 10.
freely, and reckon ourselves no better than unprofitable servants? This is a method to which we should never submit; this is a proposal which we should always spurn, were not our sentiments rectified, and our hearts new moulded by sovereign grace. • - - * Let me remind you of a little incident which you must have read in the Grecian history. A certain stranger came one day to dine with some Lacedaemonians: they, you know, always sat down at a public table, and were content with the plainest food. The gentleman accustomed to higher eating could not forbear expressing his disgust at the homely provision: “Sir," said the cook, “you don't make use of the sauce.”—“What do you mean?’ replied the guest. “You don't use hard exercise, nor habituate yourself to long abstinence; nor bring a sharpened appetite of the meal.” And you, my dear friend, I am apprehensive, have not the sauce, have not the proper preparative for this salutary doctrine, which is indeed the bread of life, and the very marrow of the gospel. . .” - Ther. What preparative Asp. A sense of your great depravity, your extreme guilt, and your utterly undone condition. While destitute of these convictions, our souls will be like the full stomach that loaths even the honeycomb. So long as these convictions are slight, and hover only in the imagination, we shall be like Gallio,” listless, indifferent, • Acts xviii. 17. A late commentator of distinguished emimence has attempted to vindicate Gallio's conduct, and would represent it as an amiable instance of prudence and moderation. According to my apprehension, this Roman governor acted a part both irreligious and unjust: irreligious, because he refused to hear the apostle's defence, which was the most likely means of his conversion and salvation. As one great end why Providence permitted the preachers of the gospel to be brought before rulers and kings, was, that such an incident might serve *g papyvptov avtoig, Matt. x., 18, for a testimony (not against but) to them. That even the potentates of the earth, prejudice and supercilious as they were, might hereby have an opportunity of hearing the Christian doctrine, and seeing its efficacy on the spirits of men. Unjust, because he permitted Sosthenes, then an innocent person, afterwards a disciple of Christ, (1 Cor. i. 1.) to be so illegally treated and outrageously abused, without interposing for his rescue. Here was evidently a breach of the peace, a violation of the laws: of this therefore the civil magistrate ought to have taken cognizance, however he might fancy himself
and ‘caring for none of these things.” But when they are deep, and penetrate the heart, then the righteousness of a Redeemer will be sweet, tasteful, and inviting, as myrrh and frankincense to the smell, as milk and honey to the palate, as gold and treasures to the ruined bankrupt. Ther. What method would you advise me to use, in order to get these convictions impressed on my heart Asp. Endeavour to understand God’s holy law; consider, how pure, how extensive, how sublimely perfect it is. Then judge of your spiritual state, not from the flattering suggestions of self-love, nor from the defective examples of your fellow-creatures, but by this unerring standard of the sanctuary. Above all, beseech the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to send his enlightening Spirit into your soul; for indeed without the enlightening influences of the Spirit, we may have the divine law in our hand; we may comprehend its grammatical meaning, yet be like blind Bartimeus under the meridian sun. It is the blessed Spirit alone, who can rend the veil of ignorance from our minds, and shew us either ‘the wonderful things of God's law,' or the glorious mysteries of his gospel. In this sense, our polite poet” speaks a truth, as singu. larly important, as it is elegantly expressed:
He from thick films shall purge the visual ray, • And on the sightless eye-balls pour the day.
Will you give me leave to propose another expedient, which, I believe, may be considerably serviceable in this particular case; which, I am assured, will be greatly advantageous in many other respects?
Ther. Backward as I am to adopt your doctrine, I, am no enemy to my own interest; therefore shall not only give you leave to propose, but give you thanks for. communicating so valuable an advice.
rized to treat divine truths with contempt, and call the striving. for the faith a wrangling about words and names. Besides, if the Holy Spirit intended to fix a mark of approation, rather than a brand of into upon the proconsul's behaviour, I cannot but think it wou of have been expressed in a manner different from—Kat ovéev Tovtov to TaxNuovo eplexev, which, if it be the language of applause, requires some more than ordinary skill in criticism to understand it aright; but if it be the voice of censure, is obvious and intelligible to every reader, * Mr. Pope, in his charming poem styled “Thé Messiah.”