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a hard case; if they suppose sal- sively for some other purposes. Nor vation to consist almost wholly in do any of them consider a total deliverance from condemnation, and change of nature and disposition to do not in the least perceive that all be absolutely necessary to salvation; true believers really repent of, and but all of them explain regeneration condemn themselves for breaking to mean something very different the law, are taught to love and de- from, and far beneath this new light in it, and are both required creation unto holiness. They who and inclined to testify the sincerity differ and dispute the most about of their love by unreserved obe- other points, when their sentiments dience to all its precepts, they will are carefully examined, are found readily embrace a doctrine which to harmonize in these particulars. gives relief to their uneasy con- The philosophical Socinian who resciences, and leaves the favourite jects the doctrine of the atonement lusts of their hearts unmolested. as needless, and the eternity of fuThus stony ground hearers, who ture punishment as unjust, here welcome the gospel with impenitent joins issue with the Antinomian or joy, and then in time of temptation Enthusiast; who, boasting of free fall away; and thorny ground hear- grace and extraordinary illuminaers, who retain an unfruitful pro- tions, reviles and tramples on the fession, with a worldly, covetous, or law, which Christ died to magnify sensual life, will abound in the visi- and honour. Almost all errors in ble church, and be as Achans in religion connect with misapprehenthe camp. No care indeed of man sions about the law of God; there can wholly prevent this: but a clear fore ignorance, inattention, and conand distinct view of the holy law of fused views of it, must tend exceedGod, and its subserviency to the ingly to favour the propagation of gospel, is one very important means heretical opinions of various kinds. of preventing such dreadful delu- A few instances may be mentioned. sions, and such wide-spreading It would not be so common, as far scandals. as we can see, for those who have
4. The prevalence of corrupt and been educated in evangelical prinheretical principles originates from ciples, to diverge into Arian or Sothe same source. Perhaps it might cinian sentiments, if a deep and be shown, that all antiscriptural clear knowledge of the demands, schemes of religion coincide in se- excellency, and uses of the law veral particulars. They agree in were connected with their views of considering the perfect law of God human depravity, redemption, jusas too strict in its demands, and tification, and regeneration, to assist too severe in its penalty; and in them in understanding the real nasupposing that it would be incon- ture and necessity of the great docsistent with the Divine justice and trines of salvation. For want of goodness to deal with his rational this, when they are pressed by reacreatures according to it. None of sonings on such subjects, they know them allow expressly, that Christ not what to answer, and so give up died to honour this law, and to the truth as untenable on rational satisfy the justice of God for our grounds; instead of perceiving that transgressions of it that he might it has its foundation in the nature save sinners, without seeming to of things, in the Divine perfections, favour sin but they suppose his and in our condition as transgresdeath to have been designed exclu-sors, and as creatures continually
propense to transgress. We can proper method of rendering behardly conceive that men professing lievers complete in the will of God, godliness could ever have fancied in all wisdom and spiritual underthemselves perfectly free from all standing, and in bringing them to sin, and so have been seduced into walk worthy of God unto all well a most disgraceful and injurious pleasing: and consequently inatkind of self-preference and spiritual tention to it must proportionably pride; if they had previously been produce the contrary effects. well grounded in the knowledge of 6. Lastly, The Scriptures enlarge the extensive demands of the Di- in commendation of the Divine comvine law. The Mystic who places mandments, and in exhorting men the whole of his religion on the in- to abound in, and be zealous of good ternal feelings of his mind, or what works: but many who profess or he calls the voice or the moving of preach evangelical truth, speak very the Spirit; whilst the doctrine of little on these subjects, except in the atonement, the life of faith in a an unguarded, depreciating manner: crucified Saviour, the written word, hence additional prejudices are exand the means of grace, are con- cited in men's minds against the temptuously disregarded by him; doctrines of grace, as subversive of and the Antinomian who is satisfied holy practice. But if the nature, with what Christ has done for him, use, excellency, and necessity of and perceives no want of a renova- good works as the fruits and evition to the Divine image, or a per-dences of true faith were more fully sonal holiness of heart and life; understood; and the preceptive must alike stand confuted, if the part of the Bible, in subserviency real nature, excellency, and uses of to the gospel were more prominent the holy law were clearly disco-in men's discourse and conduct, vered to them. But where this is such objections would be confuted; overlooked, one of these perversions and they would be put to shame, of the gospel will insinuate itself, who should falsely accuse either and prey insensibly on the vitals of our holy doctrine or good conversatrue religion, whatever attempts be tion in Christ Jesus. made to exclude or eradicate it.
5. Through ignorance of the law, real Christians habitually neglect
duties, or give way to evil tempers, On the Believer's Warfare and Ex&c., to the discredit of the gospel,| or to the hinderance of their own fruitfulness, comfort, and growth in THE sacred Scriptures always regrace. It has frequently happened present the true Christian as a solthat ministers have heard some of dier, engaged in an arduous warfare their people acknowledge, after re- with potent enemies, against whom ceiving practical instructions, that he is supported, and over whom he they had not before been sensible is made victorious by the gracious that such or such things were sins, influences of the Holy Spirit, through or that this or the other was a duty faith in and obedience to the Lord incumbent on them: nay, the me- Jesus, the captain of our salvation. ditation on such subjects has some- But such expressions as fighting or times the same effect on the mi- striving, with other allusions to ministers themselves. The knowledge litary affairs, imply an experience of the precepts, therefore, is the essentially different from that of
those persons who never engage in vii. 13, 14; Luke, xiii. 23-30). the conflict, or who have already A vast majority continue "to hold obtained the conqueror's palm: nor the truth in unrighteousness," "to can any hope, or even assurance of walk according to the course of this victory and triumph, or any inter- world," and to "serve divers lusts vening seasons of peace and joy, and pleasures," &c. Many of them, entirely preclude this difference. indeed, observe Gamaliel's cautious The distinction, therefore, between advice, and are not openly united the church militant on earth, and with those," who fight against the church triumphant in heaven, God:" but then, they aim to obhath on good grounds been esta- serve an impracticable and inadmisblished; and they who do not well sible neutrality, and know nothing understand and consider it, will be of fighting under the banner of very liable to fall into several in- Christ against the world, the flesh, jurious, discouraging, disgraceful, and the devil, and of being his even fatal mistakes. In dis-faithful soldiers to the end of their cussing the subject, we may first lives, unless they have read or offer some reflections on the distin- heard of it, in the form of baptism, guishing principles, purposes, and or have been taught any thing about desires of the persons who are en- it, from some orthodox catechism. Igaged in this warfare:-we may The persons, of whom this Essay next enumerate the enemies with treats, are those of every name, whom especially they are called to who, by obeying the truth, have contend-we may briefly mention been "made free from sin, and bethe encouragements, supports, and come the servants of God;" most aids vouchsafed them; the weapons of them remember well the time, with which they fight, and the man- when "they were foolish, disobener in which they must put on and dient, deceived, serving divers lusts use their armour:-we may then and pleasures, living in malice and advert to the nature and effects of envy, hateful and hating one antheir victories; and then conclude other" (Titus, iii. 3-7): but with a few hints on the appropriate experience that must result from their situation.
"God, who is rich in mercy, of his great love, wherewith he loved them, even when they were dead We do not then speak, in this in sin, hath quickened them" (Eph. place, of the whole multitude who ii. 1-10); and thus " being born are called Christians, or who are again, not of corruptible seed, but historical believers of the scriptures; of incorruptible," they were enneither do we include all who would lightened to see something of the subscribe or dispute for the several glory of God, the evil of sin, the doctrines that constitute the grand value and danger of their souls, and peculiarities of the Christian faith; their need of mercy, grace, and nor would we be understood to salvation. They were effectually mean the whole company who com- warned to flee from the wrath to pose any peculiar sect or denomi- come, and led to repent and turn to nation, to the exclusion of others. God, to deny ungodliness and Alas! in all these respects, strait worldly lusts, to renounce their is the gate, and narrow is the way, former hopes of justification before that leadeth to life, and few there God by their own merits, and to be that find it; for but few "strive," believe in Christ, that they might or wrestle, "to enter in" (Matt. be justified by faith: and having
experienced the work of the Holy | well as their future felicity, from Spirit, "as glorifying Christ" in communion with God and enjoytheir hearts, and showing them ment of his favour.
those things that relate to his per- But various inward and outward son, love, redemption, and salva-impediments and obstructions comtion; they have learned "to count bine to counteract these desires, all but loss, for the excellency of and to prevent their principles from the knowledge of Christ;" they are entirely producing those effects, prepared to deny themselves, bear which might otherwise be expected the cross, labour, venture, suffer, from them: and whilst these prinand part with all for his sake; and ciples struggle as it were to exert "the love of Christ constrains them themselves, notwithstanding this opto live no longer to themselves, but position, a conflict ensues, to the to him," and to the glory of his experience of which all rational name. In this manner 66 they are creatures in the universe, who are delivered from the power of dark- not thus circumstanced, must of ness, and translated into the king-course remain strangers: even as dom of the beloved Son of God;" none, but soldiers in actual service, they separate from his enemies, and experience the dangers, hardships, join themselves to his friends; they and sufferings of a military life. throw down the arms of their re- The regenerate person as really bellion, and " put on the whole ar- loves God, and desires to obey, mour of God" they deliberately honour, worship, and please him, enlist under the banner of Christ; and for his sake to act properly toconsider his people, cause, and ho- wards his brethren, as angels in nour as their own, and his enemies heaven do: and at those times, when within and around them as equally his heart is enlarged in holy conhostile to them also. Under the templations, he longs to be perconduct of divine grace, these con- fectly holy, obedient, and spiritual; secrated warriors strive against sin, then the principles of the new man seeking the destruction of the king- vigorously exert themselves; and dom of Satan in their hearts and the remains of corrupt nature, or in the world as far as their influence the old man, lie comparatively dorcan reach; and do not, when most mant; the world is greatly out of themselves, so much as entertain sight, or stripped of its attractions; one thought of making any peace and the enemies of his soul are reor truce with the enemies of Christ strained from assaulting him. But and of their souls. Holiness (or when the Christian hath left his conformity to the law and moral closet, or the house of God, and is perfections of God) they deem the returned to the employments of his health and liberty, and sin, the dis- station in life; he finds himself unease, bondage, and misery of their able to realize his previous views, souls they regard themselves as or to accomplish the purposes which bound by the strongest and most he most uprightly formed; and he endearing obligations, to devote often wonders to find himself so difthemselves wholly to their God and ferent a person, from what he was Saviour; they esteem the interests a few hours before. Yet this also of evangelical truth and vital godli- is only partial and temporary: the ness as of the utmost importance to better principles implanted in his the happiness of mankind; and they soul, counteract and prevent the expect their present comfort, as effect of corrupt passions and ex
ternal objects: and shortly they the nature of man, we shall find again resume a more decided as that a disposition to depart from cendancy: so that upon the whole, God, and idolatrously to love and he successfully opposes sin, asserts seek felicity from the creatures, is his liberty, and serves God: and common to our whole species: and his state is determined by this ha- from this general principle, accordbitual prevalence of heavenly prin- ing to different men's constitutions, ciples; for he walks not after the education, habits, connexions, or flesh, but after the Spirit." This circumstances, some are more proconflict may easily be perceived to pense to avarice, some to ambition, be a very different thing from the some to sensual indulgence, and feeble and occasional interruption, others to malignant passions with which an unregenerate man some- every possible variation. These times experiences, in following the propensities being excited by temphabitual inclinations of his heart; tation, gathering force by gratificathese arise only from convictions of tion, triumphing over shame and conscience, fear of consequences, conscience, and irritated by the inor selfish hopes; the man's desires terference of those who pursue the and affections are wholly fixed on same objects, hurry men into every carnal things; of spiritual good he kind of excess, burst forth into all cannot properly be said to have so the variety of crimes that have premuch as one just idea; and religion vailed in every age and nation, and is his task, of which he performs no produce all kinds of immorality in more than what his fears or hopes men's conduct towards each other, impose upon him: yet these are and all impiety, blasphemy, and often confounded together, and this other daring offences against the produces much mischief. But the Almighty Governor of the Universe. enemies, with whom the Christian And as he best knows the strength soldier is called to encounter, must of a torrent, who attempts to force be more precisely ascertained, if his way against it; so none are we would fully understand the im- so well acquainted with the power portant subject. The apostle having of corrupt propensities and habits, declared, that the flesh lusteth as they that resolutely endeavour against the spirit," &c.; proceeds to overcome and extirpate them. to show what are the works of the When, therefore, holy principles flesh, and the fruits of the spirit have been implanted in the heart (Gal. v. 17-23) by which it is by the Spirit of God, and a man evident, that the flesh signifies our sees the urgent necessity and feels whole nature (as born of Adam's the ardent desire "of crucifying fallen race), with all its propensi- the flesh, with its affections and ties, animal and intellectual, as they lusts," then his conflict begins; are contrary to the spiritual com- for pride, anger, envy, malice, avamands of God; and that "the spi-rice, or sensual lusts being no longer rit" signifies the work of the Holy allowed to domineer, abide (like a Spirit, renewing our souls to holi- dethroned tyrant), and have a strong ness, and so teaching, disposing, party in the soul; and consequently and enabling us to love and serve they oppose and counteract the best God. "For that which is born of desires and purposes of the bethe flesh is flesh, and that which is liever, and engage him in a perborn of the Spirit is spirit." petual contest. At some times they find him off his guard, and gain a
If we then proceed to examine