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We acknowledge, we strenuously maintain the heart of man is exceedingly depraved. But you extend this matter beyond all bounds, and charge much greater corruption upon fallen man than you are aware of, when you suppose the superabundant love of God, manifested in the plan of redemption, can kindle no love, and excite no gratitude. On the contrary, it is the peculiar honour of gospel grace, that it humbles every believer in the dust, fills him with just apprehensions of the sinfulness of sin, raises him from his dead state, to establish him in the truth of obedience from love to God, and holy admiration of his adorable perfections. And if the gospel be not thus effectual, through the Holy Ghost, to every sinner who really believes it; if the love of the ever-blessed Trinity does not put all the powers of the soul in motion to make some suitable returns, our condition is indeed hopeless. And we may venture to affirm that a zeal for works truly Christian can be built on no other foundation ; and that a desire to perfect holiness will never take place in the heart of man, but under a sense of redeeming grace, and the great salvation it sets before us.
A neglect, and even avowed contempt of this doctrine is the characteristic of our age, and the gospel motive to obedience we in general cease to inculcate, though we call ourselves Christians. But in vain do we attempt to revive the decayed spirit of religion, and establish a pure morality on any other than scripture grounds. A spurious kind of it, outward, partial, chiefly founded on love of reputation, with little regard to God, nature itself can discern, and in some measure attain. Poor, mean attainment! Yet nature is most unreasonably prone to substitute this in the place of inward and spiritual religion, to which it is altogether averse. But true holiness, that is, profound self-abasement and subjection to the Father of Spirits, from love of his nature aud will, with ardent longings after purity of heart, is the genuine product of lively faith, and I say again,
no where to be found, till the ever-blessed name of Jesus, his grace and his truth, his compassionate heart, dying love, and all-perfect obedience, are the meditation, delight, and confidence of the soul towards God.
Upon these principles, I have endeavoured to delineate the Complete Duty of Man. The book bears this title, not from any arrogant conceit the author holds of its worth, but from its comprehending the doctrines, as well as the precepts peculiar to the church of God; from its placing things in their proper order, and preparing the way to Christian practice, by Christian faith, and to faith by conviction of sin. The Whole Duty of Man, so called, has been long in possession of general esteem, and is to be found in most families. But it is evident that celebrated treatise wants the great thing needful to obtain the very end for which it was written; since Christ the lawgiver will always speak in vain, without Christ the Saviour is first kŅown. Christian morality is produced and maintained by this principle
-We love God, because he first loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. All treatises, therefore, written to promote holiness of life, must be deplorably defective, unless the cross of Christ be laid as the foundation, constantly kept in view, and every duty enforced, as having relation to the Redeemer. This is the apostle's doctrine, and method of inculcating Christian obedience; and all other is Pharisaical, or only a more refined species of self-righteousness.
It is proper to apprize the reader, that in the chapters on repentance, there are some paragraphs taken from Mr. Dickinson's letters ; and in those chapters on the foundation of faith, several fine sentiments from Mr. Maclaurin's Sermon on the Glory of the Cross of Christ. In a few other places, where a masterly argument or beautiful illustration upon the subject occurred, I have taken the liberty of enriching with it my own work.
I have nothing further to add, but my earnest request to the Fountain of all good, that it may please him to make the follow
ing sheets useful. Useful to give the reader knowledge of his glorious name and a conviction of human ignorance, guilt, and depravity, which may endear the name of the Redeemer, and create humility of mind, with tender compassion towards each other. Useful, to make evident the pardon, strength, peace, and righteousness, which ennoble all who have scriptural faith in Christ--that both formal and deistical religion may appear the despicable things they are, and an earnest expectation be excited in all who read this volume, of beholding the meridian glory of Christianity in heaven, where every creature breaks forth in fervent acknowledgment of infinite obligation, saying, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing."
VII. The natural Condition of Man respecting God 56