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RESPONSIBILITY IN RELATION TO THE LOVE
WHEN the sinner is newly awakened from his earthly dreams, to discover the terrors of his awful position, he is exceedingly apt, in that first alarm, to overlook every gracious revelation of God in the Gospel,-applicable to his own case. His consciousness of responsibility to God being suddenly awakened from its long sleep-its voice alone is heard by the soul. In his midnight darkness—he feels that he is required, if possible, to excite the divine compassion on his behalf,—to dispose God to pity him ;-or, that he must, in some degree, propitiate the claims of his awful justice, by penitential sorrow must render his frowning holiness favourable, -by some meritorious efforts, feelings, or change of character ! He thus vainly imagines, that by some means
THE AWAKENED SINNER IN DARKNESS.
or deservings, he has to effect a change on the essential disposition of God to himself, ere he can be saved; not knowing, that his salvation depends,—not on his producing any change in the heart or mind of God—but on his becoming acquainted with that actual disposition of God, which was manifested to the world, in the gift and death of his beloved Son ;-acquainted with the very thoughts and feelings of the Divine mind, to him and to all, -as these are pictured out by the Redeemer, in his beauteous description of the father of the prodigal son.
Now, before inquiring positively into the revealed principles of the sinner's responsibility under the reign of grace,-it will greatly facilitate this design, if, in the first place negatively, some of those things be clearly pointed out, which souls awakened to their spiritual danger often anxiously imagine that they are required to accomplish, in order to secure their Salvation ; but which, God has peremptorily forbidden ;—which, he has not required at their hands. A full and distinct exposition of some of these delusions, will clear the way to a scriptural demonstration, on the one hand, of the glorious Gospel; and, on the other, -of the
THE AWAKENED SINNER IN DARKNESS.
work of the Holy Spirit of God in conversion, including the reasonable grounds of man's responsibility for the possession of everlasting life.
How few awakened souls are there, for example, who do not, for a longer or shorter period, fall into one or other of the following vital errors :—first, that before sinners can be pardoned or saved, they are required to strive to enkindle compassionate love in the heart of God to themselves—by ardent prayers—tears -or other impassioned efforts ; that they are required by some means, to originate in the mind of God, a complete willingness for their Salvation :—as if no such love or willingness existed!
Second. That they are required to make, directly or indirectly, some atonement, or judicial satisfaction to God's government, for their sins-over and above the work of Christ—by penitence or prolonged religious efforts, as if the righteousness of Christ, were not sufficient.
Third.--That they must previously acquire some incipient godliness—some meritoriousrecommendatory qualification, by diligent persevering efforts--or through the help of the
Holy Ghostere God will condescend to receive and pardon them-as if men required to be in some degree godly, before God would receive them. Let us successively consider these dangerous rocks,-on which so many immortal souls have been destroyed.
In reading the New Testament,-let it be primarily observed—it is of inestimable importance to understand the various classes and characters recorded there, as being truly representatives of the same or similar classes or characters in all ages ; and, as being introduced into the sacred record, expressly to manifest the mind of God, respectively, to each of them. This is especially true of the New Testament cases of conversion. They are assuredly set forth, on the one hand, as representative descriptions of the mind or heart of God, in relation to such persons in every age ; -and, on the other of the simple,-the absolutely free—the unchangeable means of salvation. Thus, in any age or country to the end of time,-all that is necessary, on the part of any individual of the human family, to his discovering what are God's thoughts or aspect to himself — is to find out in Scripture a character similar to his own,-such, for ex