Изображения страниц

eternally happy, and in him he rests completely satisfied. He who, but a little before, stood trembling and confounded at the tribunal of conscience; who could scarcely imagine, that God would be righteous if he did not pour out his vengeance upon him; finds the work of the heavenly Substitute a full vindication of the rights of justice, and an everlasting foundation for his strongest confidence. This wonderful expedient, so well adapted to glorify God and save the sinner, he beholds with astonishment, and contemplates with rapture. Yes, beholding Grace on the throne, he bows, adores, and rejoices. Gratitude abounds in his heart, and praise flows from his lips.

When he reflects on his present unworthiness and former state, beholding what enmity he cherished in his bosom against his Maker; when he considers how carnal his affections, how stubborn his will, how proud his heart, how often he had in his conduct adopted the language of those who say to the Almighty, 'Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways;' he is amazed that he was not long since transmitted to hell. When he further considers how loth he was to bow to divine sovereignty, and submit to heavenly mercy; how long he resisted the calls of Providence; how often he stifled the remonstrances of conscience; and that if less than an infinite Agent had been employed in reducing an obstinate rebel to obedience, he had been finally obdurate and eternally miserable when he thus reflects, he is filled with a pleasing astonishment. On a comparison between what his sins have deserved, and what God has bestowed, he cannot forbear exclaiming, What hath God wrought! what a miracle of mercy!' He is convinced to demonstration, that his calling is to be ascribed to grace, reigning grace, alone. He is fully persuaded that God was the first mover in this, as well as in every other blessing bestowed; in every other benefit enjoyed or promised. When he meditates upon his calling, his language is, ' I am found of Him whom I neither loved nor sought. He is ma

[ocr errors]

nifested to me, after whom I did not inquire.' He will say, I am known of God; I am apprehended of Christ;' rather than I know God, I apprehend Christ.'*

[ocr errors]

Thus to be called of God is an instance of reigning grace, and an evidence of distinguishing love.† Happy are you, reader, if you know, by experience, what it is to be called by grace. If such be your state, it becomes your duty and business to walk worthy of your calling;' for it is high, holy, heavenly.‡ Yes, believer, your calling is truly noble. You are called out of darkness,' gross darkness, 'into marvellous light,' and out of worse than Egyptian bondage into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. You are called out of the world, and from communion with the wicked and unregenerate, into the most intimate fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Called you are, out of a state of open rebellion against God, and painful anxiety of mind, into a state of reconciliation and friendship; conscious peace, and heavenly joy. What shall I say? You are called from the slavery of sin to the practice of holiness; into a state of grace here, and to the enjoyment of glory hereafter. In short, it is the High God that called you; it is the way of holiness, in which you are called to walk; and it is the unfading inheritance, the eternal kingdom, you are called to enjoy. Here is your blessedness, and here is your duty. The consideration of these things, as a noble incentive to obedience, should fire your mind with godly zeal; should fill your heart with Christian gratitude; should direct your feet in the paths of duty, and manifests its constraining influence through your whole conduct.

And you that are uncalled, how awful your state! If you leave the world in such a situation, you are lost for ever; you die to eternity. For none shall be glorified hereafter, but such as are called here. If death *Luke xv. 4, 5. Rom. x. 20. Gal. iv. 9. Philip. iii. 12. Jer. xxxi. 3. Philip. iii. 14. 2 Tim. i. 9. Heb. iii. 1. §1 Pet, ii. 9. Gal, v. 13. 1 Cor. i, 9. and vii. 15. Col. iii. 13. 1 Thess. iv. 7. 1 Pet. i. 15. Gal. i. 6. 1 Thess. ii. 12. 1 Pet. v. 10.

should summon you hence, before you are converted to Christ, what will become of you? As dry stubble, you must fall into the hands of him who is a consuming fire.' You may entirely neglect the concerns of your soul; ; you may for a season trifle with the affairs of religion, and hear the gospel with a careless indifference; but if grace should not interpose for your rescue, dreadful will be the issue. The word of God, and the gospel of Christ, will be a swift witness against you another day, will be the savour of death unto death? to your soul; while God, even God himself, will be your eternal enemy. Consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.'* If you attend on a preached gospel, and frequent the house of God, do not take it for granted that you must needs be a Christian, because you make a public profession, and yield a cool assent to the truth. This thousands have done; this you may do, and yet perish for ever. If not divorced from the law, if not renewed in your mind, and enabled to believe in Christ, as a miserable helpless sinner, it will in the event be found that you have only chosen a more decent, though less frequented path, to the regions of darkness; and that you are damned, with the single advantage of having left a respectable character behind you among your fellow-sinners. A poor compensation this for the loss of an immortal soul, and an awful issue of a religious profession! God grant that it may not be the case with my reader! Nor let any one mistake a set of evangelical notions, received by education, or imbibed under a gospel ministry, for true conversion and faith in the great Redeemer. A mistake here is fatal, and has been the ruin of multitudes. A professor may be wise in doctrinals, and able to vindicate the truth against its opposers; while his heart, far from being right with God, is entirely carnal; cold as ice, and barren as a rock. 'Though I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and have not charity,' love to God and love to his people, I am nothing.'

* Psalm 1. 22.

[ocr errors]

Vain, then, are the pretensions of all such, whatever knowledge they may have of the gospel, who live in sin; who love not God, nor seek his glory. They may shine in religious conversation; they may display their talents and feed their vanity by defending truth and refuting error, and,conscious of superior abilities, may look down with a solemn pride on persons of meaner parts and less understanding in the doctrine of grace; but their superior knowledge will only aggravate their future woe, and render damnation itself more dreadful.


Of Grace, as it reigns in a full, free, and everlasting Pardon.

PARDON of sin is a blessing of superlative worth, being absolutely necessary to present peace and future salvation. Without it, no individual of Adam's race can be happy. When the conscience of a sinner is wounded with a sense of guilt, and oppressed with fears of divine wrath, it is sought with ardour, as the most desirable thing; it is received with joy, as the first of all favours.


But, great and necessary as the favour is, had it not been for that revelation contained in the Bible, mankind would have lain under a sad uncertainty whether there was any such thing as forgiveness with God.' Being conscious of guilt, yet partial in their own favour, they might have pleased themselves with conjectures that he would not condemn and destroy all his offending creatures; but they could never have arrived at certainty. For, by whatever mediums they might have come to the knowledge of a Deity, as the great Author of nature, and Sovereign of the world-by the same means they must have known that perfection is essential to the divine character,

and, consequently, infinite opposite to moral evil. But whether such as had rebelled against him might be forgiven, consistent with his perfections and purposes, and without impeaching his honour, as a righteous Governor; this unassisted reason could not have determined. But, adored be the condescension and goodness of God! we are not left to grope in the dark, and to form a thousand wild conjectures about an affair of such vast importance. We have a revelation,a divine revelation, of the richest grace and tenderest mercy; fromwhich we learn, with absolute certainty, that there is forgiveness with our Maker and Sovereign. This revelation of mercy is of great antiquity, and almost coeval with time itself. It was known to the patriarchs; it was revived and exhibited in a fuller, clearer manner, under the Mosaic economy. But, by the incarnation and work of the Son of God; by the commencement of the gospel dispensation, and the spread of the Redeemer's interest; it has received the highest confirmation, and shines in all its glory. Jehovah's pardoning goodness was loudly proclaimed to Moses, and makes a conspicuous figure, in that sacred name by which the God of Israel was known to the church in the wilderness. And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious,long-suffering,and abundant in goodness and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin:'* Yes, to the eternal Sovereign belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against him.+

This capital blessing of the new covenant is represented in the book of God by many strong metaphors, and in a rich variety of language; yet all in exact correspondence to the different views which are there given of the dreadful nature and complicated evil of sin. Is the sinner represented as all over defiled and loathsome with the most hateful impurity? his pardon is * Exod. xxxiv. 5, 6, 7. + Dan. ix. 9.


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »