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purposes, commonly find their resolutions enervated, and their endeavours baffled and after some fruitless efforts they return to their former course of life, unless relieved by the gospel of Christ.
When these things are seriously considered, the condition of mankind appears truly deplorable. Related to God and an eternal world; exposed to death and a future judgment; already guilty of many heinous crimes, and propense to increase the number; liable to final condemnation, and "ves"sels of wrath fitted to destruction;" what can any one do to rescue or ransom himself or his brother from the awful sentence already published by the Judge, "Depart ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels?" It is in vain to reason and dispute against facts, and the sure testimony of scripture. "Who art thou that "repliest against God? Shall not the Judge of all "the earth do right? Shall mortal man be more 'just than God? Shall a man be more pure than "his Maker ?"1
Let us rather submit to his righteousness, and seek that relief which his gospel proposes to us. The Lord, against whom we have rebelled, hath revealed himself to us as "merciful and gracious, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin ;" and hath made way for the exercise of his boundless mercy, in harmony with infinite justice and holiness, in the person, redemption, and mediation of his beloved Son. And the divine Saviour, having made a complete atonement for sin, "brought in
1 Job iv. 17.
everlasting righteousness," and triumphed over all our enemies, now reigneth Lord of all worlds, and is "able to save to the uttermost all them "that come to God by him; seeing he ever liveth "to make intercession for them."
The proposal of "without grace, mercy and 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: yea, the 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