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tion, which gives all its worth to the love and the loyalty of paradise. He will not discern one mark of preparation for an inheritance in heaven, upon him who on earth made many a weary struggle to attain it.
There are, it must be admitted, many who do not think truly of the law; and who, not aware of its lofty demands, think they do enough, when they maintain a complacent round of seemly, but at the same time most inadequate observations--among whom all is formality without, and all is repose and settledness within who pace, with unwearied step,
the circle of ordinances, and are just as regular in their attendance, as is the bell which summons them to the house of prayer--who would feel discomfort out of their routine, but have the most placid and immovcable security within it--and who, amid the engrossment of their many punctualities, have never thought of admitting into their bosoms one fear, or one feeling, that can at all disturb them. These are running uncertainly; but they are not harassed by any sense or suspicion of it. They are only beating the air; but they are not fatigued by the . consciousness of its being a fruitless operation. They are in a state of repose; but it is the repose
of death. They have accommodated their conduct to the established decencies of the world; but the spirit of the world has never quitted its hold of them: Their portion is on this side of the grave_their delights are on this side of the grave—their all is on this side of the grave. They go to church, and they sit down to the sacrament, and they maintain within their houses a style of sabbath observation; but these
are merely habits appended to the mechanical, and not to the moral or spiritual part of their constitution. They may do all this, and be strangers to the life of faith, to the exercise of devout affection, to the habit of communion with God, as the living God; to all those processes, in short, which mark and carry forward the transformation of the soul, from its congeniality with the elements of nature and of sense, to its congeniality with the elements of spirit and of eternity. There may be a work of drudgery with the hands, and with the doing of which, too, they are pleased and satisfied, while there is no work of grace upon the heart.
The outer man may be in a state of incessant bodily exercise. The inner man may be in a state of entire stagnancy. They do, in fact, run uncertainly. They do, in fact, fight as he who beateth the air. But they have no fear of coming short—no feeling to embitter the course of their religious activity; and without the wakefulness of any alarm upon the subject, do they so contend as to lose the mastery, do they so run as that they shall not obtain. Now this is not the class that we have chiefly
The men to whom we principally allude, are those who run, but without hope, and without satisfaction--men who fight, but without any cheering anticipations of victory. They are seeking a righteousness by works; and are, at the same time, disheartened, at every step, by the consciousness of no sensible advancement towards it. Unlike the latter, they think more truly and more adequately of the law. The one class see it only in the light of a carnal commandment. The others see
had in our eye.
it according to the character of its spiritual require
The one, without an enlightened sense of the law, are what the apostle represents himself to have been when without the law, alive; even like all those religious formalists, who look forward to eternal life on the strength of their manifold and religious observations. The others, with this.enlightened sense, are what the apostle represents himself to have been after the law came, dead; or they feel all the helplessness of death and of despair, even as he did, when, amid his strenuous but unavailing struggles, he was forced to exclaim, “ wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?" And thus it is, we believe, with many whose hearts have at length been struek by a sense of the importance of eternal things—who have begun to feel the weight of their everlasting interests who are sensible that all is not right about them, and are seeking about for that movement of transition, by which they may be carried forward from a state of wrath to a state of acceptanee-who, in obedience to the first natural impulse, strive to amend what is wrong in conduct, and to adopt what is right in conduct, but find, that after all their toil, and all their carefulness, that relief is as far from them as ever-who set up a new order in their lives, and propose to find their way to peace on the stepping stones of many and successive reformations, but find, that as they pile their offerings of obedience the one upon the other, the law rises in its exactions; and what with a claim of satisfaction for the past, and of spiritual obedience for the future, it exhibits itself to their appalled imaginations, in the dimensions of such a length, and a breadth,
and a height, and a depth, as they never can encircle who, in the very proportion, it may be, of their pains and their earnestness, are ever acquiring more tremendous conceptions, both of the extent of its requisitions, and the terrors of its authority who thus feel, that by every trial of obedience, they are just multiplying their failures, and swelling the ac.count of guilt and of deficiency that is against them who feel themselves in the hopeless condition of men, whose every attempt at extrication, just thickens the entanglements that are around them, and whose every effort of activity fastens them the deeper in an abyss of helplessness. This is the real process, we will not say of all, but of many a convert to the light and power of the gospel. This is the sure result with every man who seeks to establish a righteousness of his own, if, along with this attempt, he combines an adequate conception of the law in the spirituality of its demands, of the law in the cer. tainty of its exactions. He feels urged, on the one hand, by its menacing and authoritative voice, to do. He feels convicted, on the other, by a sense of the guilt or inadequacy which attaches to all his doing. He feels himself in the hand of a master issuing an impracticable mandate, and lifting at the same time an arm of powerful displeasure, for all his past and all his present violations. He cannot sit still under the power and frequency of the applications which are now making to his awakened conscience. He fies for deliverance, but it is like the flight of a desperado from his sure and unrelenting pursuers.
In the olden books of Scotland, and in that træditional history, which is handed down from the
pious of one generation to another, we meet with this very process, not unaptly described under the term of law-work. . It is well delineated in the lives of Brainerd and Halyburton. There is an intermediate period of darkness, and despondency, and distress, in many an individual history, between the repose of nature's indifference, and the repose of gospel peace and gospel anticipations. The mind, in these circumstances, is generally alive to two distinct things: first, to the truth and immutable obligation of God's law; and, secondly, to the magnitude and irrecoverable evil, of its own actual deficiencies. It is at one time urged on by an impulse of natural conscience, to a set of active measures for the recovery of its lost condition. It is at another time mortified into a despairing sense, that all these measures are utterly fruitless and unavailing. · And thus, amid the agitations of doubt, and terror, and remorse; and sinking under the weight of an oppressive gloom, which is ever deepening, and ever aggravating around it, is it at length practically and experimentally convinced, by many a weary but unsuccessful struggle, that in itself there is no strength, that the man who runs upon his own energies, runs uncertainly; and that he who fights with his owii weapons, fights as one that beateth the air.
II. Having tried to seek a righteousness by works, and having failed, the next trial of many an inquirer after peace, is, to seek a righteousness
And here we cannot but advert to the prejudice of the general world against the doctrine of acceptance through faith, as if it were a doctrine most loved, and most resorted to, by those