Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

their inoffensiveness, their exemption from gross vices, and the like. It is by the consideration of these, that they endeavour to quiet their apprehensions, and compose their minds. Yet a sort of general dependence on the blessed Saviour, many such persons not only profess, but would tremble not to entertain. To what, however, does it amount? Some of them sup. pose that Christ, by his mediation, has moderated, of lessened the demands of divine justice; has accommodated its requisitions to the frailties of humanity; and has obtained for us the promise of eternal life, on the conditions of sincerity in our hearts, and of freedom from heinous immoralities in our conduct. But what is this, or what indeed is any thing short of entire submission to “ the " righteousness of God," but à " going about to

establish their own righteousness?”. It is, at best, depending on the Saviour to justify, not their persons, but their obedience, before God. And connected with this scheme, the object which chiefly occupies their thoughts, and from which they seek to draw their comforts and their hopes, is their own temper and merit, not the finished work of the Rea deemer. Such is the scheme, not the self-denying, but self-justifying scheme of many professing christians. Let not your souls “come into their se"cret.”. Remember, that what Christ " came to " seek and to save,” is '" that which was lost ;"* that his gospel is a scheme for reconciling us to God, is when we were enemies;”+ a scheme for justifying, not the imperfect endeavours and attainments of those, who are by nature ungodly, but * the ungodly” themselves, through faith in him ;

* Luke kic, IQ + See Rom. V. 10. * Ibid. iv. 5.

scheme in which our holiness appears, not proudly as the cause, but as the effect of our reconciliation to our Maker. In a word, it proposes first and chiefly, “glory to God in the highest,” and next

peace on earth, good will toward men:"* While we, then, have the profit, we ought joyfully to yield to him the praise, and not endeavour presumptuously to snatch at both. . There are others, who confess indeed that their repentance is not sufficiently complete and worthy, to entitle them to pardon and reconciliation with God, and that their works are not meritorious enough to deserve the reward of everlasting glory; but who still cannot consent to give them up as founding, in part at least, their claim to divine favour: 'They own their virtue to be defective, but they insist that nevertheless it has its value ; and that the intention of Christ's mediation is to supply what is wanting, that his merit and theirs united may together make up a legitimate + right to the blessings discovered in the gospel. They thus reckon themselves to be redeemed, partly by them. selves, and partly by Jesus Christ. They attribute to their own works an importance and an efficacy, if not of the same degree, yet of the same kind with his obedience; and hold that, in satisfying both the remuneratory and the vindictive justice of Jehovah, we must depend upon ourselves, as well

his Son. If so, however, we must " conclude," in opposition to St. Paul, that a man is

justified by faith," not.“ without," but with the " works of the law;"+ that he is "justified,” not freely by God's grace, through the redemption

* Rom. ii.

as upon

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

that is in Christ Jesus,"* but in part " freely, and in part by a price exacted from, and paid by himself.

To preserve you from such unscriptural and un, warrantable conclusions, think, seriously think, of the nature and effects of sin. Reflect that it has introduced confusion into the works, and casts con. tempt on the authority of God: and say, can order be re-established in the divine government, the dishonour thrown on the divine rights be wiped out, and their glory restored, by the partial obedience of the fallen creature? by a course, of which if we admit one part to be good, we must acknowledge a much greater to be evil and offensive; Think on the irreversible decree of God throughout the universe, " The wages of sin is death :"> and see it executed in the condition of angels cast down to hell, and “ reserved in everlasting chains,

under, darkness, unto the judgment of the great * day.”+ Think on the spotless innocence, the perfect virtue, and the infinite dignity of him, who came" in the name of the Lord” to save us! Angels, that excel in strength! Ye cherubim and seraphim! ye might, by your incarnation, and tabernacling among men, have sufficed for their example and in, struction; but ye shrunk from, ye were inadequate to that greater service, which our case required, to make atonement for the sins of millions, and to

redeem us from the curse of the law, being made “a curse for us ;"I to“ bring in everlasting righte5 ousness;"'S and to shew to the universe that God

might be just, and the justifier of him which be" lieveth !"|| Ye could only act, as admiring and

Rom. iii. 24. Inde 6. Cal, iä. 13. $ Dan, ix. 24. 1. Rom. iä. 26.

adoring spectators of the mighty work, or as “ mi

nistering spirits, sent forth to minister unto the heirs “ of salvation.” It belonged to Jesus alone to pay the “ ransom for many, and to satisfy the strict demands of infinite justice, with respect alike to obedience and to punishment.

If, then, my brethren, the Son of God alone can save, be persuaded neither to hazard your eternal interests, by rejecting his mediation, nor to dishonour his sufficiency, by mingling with it, as the object of your trust, a righteousness of your own. While you are denied to your own sinful inclinations, while you rely not on your native ability to serve the Lord, renounce also all dependence on your own virtue, for justification in his sight.

“ This," methinks, soine are ready to conclude, " is an hard saying: who can hear it?” But there is a yet harder, which, if this be rejected, must be borne; “ Depart from me, ye that work iniquity:"* " For if any man come to me,” says Jesus," and 16 hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and " children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his "own life also, he cannot be my disciple: And “ whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after

me, cannot be my disciple: So likewise, whoever " he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, * he cannot be my disciple.”+ Were there any certain way of being fitted for heaven, besides that of self-denial, and the cheerful endurance of the cross, Christ would, doubtless, have pointed it out to us by his instructions, and exhibited it for our imitation in his example : But the course taken by himself, and the directions which he has given, * Matt. vää, 23.

+ Lake ziv, 26, 27, 33.

equally shew that if we would be his disciples, and be partakers of his glary, we must deny ourselves. " If thou wilt be perfect,” said he to the rich man,

go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, 6 and thou shalt have treasure in heaven."* But he added to his disciples, “ Every one that hath “ forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, " or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my "name's sake, shall receive an hundred fold, and "shall inherit everlasting life.”† When we seriously consider these, and similar sayings of our Lord, we learn, that the perfection and happiness of the chris tian character consist neither in mere regularity of external conduct; nor in rapturous elevations of mind; neither in the pride of self-sustained virtue, nor in the presumption of self-righteousness; but in thorough submission and self-denial; in the calm peace which flows from them; and in the glory in which they terminate.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »