Images de page
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]


LECTURES ON THE SHORTER OATE- unto him.” These, as being di

CHISM OF THE WESTMINSTER AS- vine ordinances; that is, commandSEMBLY OF DIVINES-ADDRESSED ed duties in the divine word, are all TO YOUTH.

to be regarded and observed, in their proper place and season;

yet the word, sacraments and Having shown what are the in- prayer, are the chief, or principal ward means by which the benefits outward means, for communicatof the great redemption of Christ ing the benefits of redemption."* are to be obtained faith and re

The providences of God are pentance-we are now to consider doubtless frequently blessed, to the outward means-And our Ca- awaken and alarm careless sintechism teaches us, that “ The ners, and to correct and recall backoutward and ordinary means sliding believers; but this is done, whereby Christ communicateth to only by leading them to reflect on us the benefits of redemption, are their duty as taught and enjoinhis ordinances, especially the ed in the written word of God; word, sacraments and prayer; all and therefore the providences which are made effectual to the themselves, are not, in the Cateelect for salvation.

chism, considered as standing on You may observe that this an- the same ground with those which swer speaks not only of outward, are more directly means of grace. but of ordinary means-by which There are two ideas of great imlatter designation we are to under- portance, that here demand your stand those means which are most most serious attention. The first commonly and extensively used, is, that the means have no inheand most frequently blessed, for rent efficacy in themselves, to the conversion of sinners and the produce the blessings of redempedification of saints. All the or- tion-This is distinctly taught in dinances of God are to be regard- the answer before us, where it is ed, and are of great use in the said that they are 66 made effectual church. These, in our larger Ca- to salvation.” Means are not ends, techism, are said to be-in addition and are never to be rested in, till to those mentioned in the answer the end is attained, for which before us—“church government alone they are used. To this erand discipline; the ministry and ror of resting in means, there is maintenance thereof; swearing by the name of God; and vowing

* Fishor. Ch. Adv.-Vol. X.


in many a strong, and often, it is were still ordered to be used, for to be feared, a fatal proneness. his instruction, direction and comThey give a formal, and perhaps fort. This case, however, was a pretty constant attendance, on strictly one of miracle; a deparat least some of the means of ture from the ordinary way, in grace; and they think that this which God's mercy to sinners is places them in a very hopeful exhibited. We know that in the way. Thus they quiet all their usual dispensation of his grace, - fears and anxieties, in regard to after human beings have atiained their souls' eternal welfare; till at the full exercise of their reasoning last, they perish in an unconvert- and moral powers, his method is ed, unsanctified state. Remember to work upon them only through the then, my dear youth, that till the instrumentality of second causes. means of grace have been made Indeed the whole of his ordinary effectual to bring saving grace to dispensation of mercy towards your precious immortal spirits, mankind, is a dispensation of they have not answered the only means. Hence, those who talk of design for which ey were ap- sinners loving God before they pointed; and that if you die with- can with propriety use any means, out this end being reached, all the do, unless they look for a miracle, means of grace you have ever en- point out a way of obtaining saljoyed, will only have served to vation as really contrary to that aggravate your final condemna- which God has appointed, as those tion. Sensible of this, look con- who expect salvation in the nestantly through the means, to that glect of all means. In reality, God who alone can give them their these extremes, as often happens proper effect; and pray, whenever with extremes, meet in a pointyou use them, that he would take · They both expect an end without them, as instruments, into his means. The only difference is, own hand, and make them power that the former class think that ful and efficient, to bring you into means are to be used for the ina state of reconciliation with him

crease of

grace, after grace has self, through Jesus Christ.

been communicated without them. The other idea to which I have Never, beloved youth, never exreferred is, that the blessings of pect that God will meet with you redemption, or salvation, are not in a saving manner, without the to be expected without the use of diligent, conscientious, prayerful, the appointed means of grace. and persevering use of all the That God could convert sinners,' means appointed by him, and without any of the instrumentality adapted to your existing state and which he has ordained for this character. Avoid, especially, the purpose, there is no

two opposite errors, of resting in doubt-He could, certainly, in an means, while the end for which instant, without the intervention they were ordained has not been of any means, change the hardest reached; and of neglecting the use and most rebellious human heart of means, under the vain and arthat ever existed, and form it to rogant expectation, that God, in love and delight in himself: And your case, will depart from his orsomething of this kind appears in dinary method of bringing sinners fact to have taken place, in the to himself. conversion of the apostle Paul. The answer before us says, that At the moment when he said, the ordinances of God's appoint“Lord, what wouldest thou have ment are made effectual to the me to do?” his heart appears to elect--and the implication is, to the have been changed; yet means elect only for salvation. This is

reason to

make my

a solemn truth, which all observa- enabled by the grace of God cortion and experience strongly con- dially to embrace the gospel offer, firm. How often do we see that I shall, in that way, among individuals, who have en calling and election sure;' and in joyed all the same advantages of no other way can I ever know, on instruction, warning, reproof, and this side of eternity, whether I am entreaty, some are brought to a one of the elect or not-unless, saving knowledge of the Redeem- indeed, I make and keep the awer, and others remain, apparently, ful resolution, that I will not seek destitute to the last of any salu- salvation, in the only ordinary way tary impressions. To what, I ask, in which it is ever found.” but to the distinguishing grace of Oh think much, I beseech you, God, can this difference be rational- on what is comprehended in the ly attributed? Doubtless it is true, inconceivably interesting word, that the one class made a right im- SALVATION! It implies, even in provement, and the other did not, the present life, a begun deliverof the privileges equally enjoyed ance from all sin and misery, and by both. But the question still a begun possession of all the hapreturns, why did one make the piness which arises from the right improvement, and the other friendship of God, a sanctified not make it?— The grace of God prasidence, and the hope of eteralone, is the only assignable cause. nal felicity. In the world to come,

But, my young friends, I so- it implies the two-fold blessedness, lemnly warn you, not to abuse of an assured deliverance from the this truth. Say not, that if it is deserved punishment of sin in all uncertain, after all, that the means the horrors of the second death; of grace will effect your salvation, and an exaltation to all the high you may as well neglect as use and ineffable bliss of the paradise them. Do you not see, both the of God; where, with the General absurdity and the danger of such Assembly and church of the first a conclusion? By neglecting the born whose names are written in means of grace, you pass sentence heaven, and with an innumerable on yourselves at once, that perdi- company of angels, every saved tion is your lot. If you belong to soul shall spend an eternity, in the elect of God, you certainly such delights as eye hath not seen, will use the means, and use them nor ear heard, nor the heart of faithfully. All your hope lies here. man conceived. This is the great There is not a child of God on salvation at which you are to aim, earth, that became so without the in the use of the means of grace. use of means; and there is not one Need I ask, if it is not worth evewhose state, before conversion, was ry effort, and every agony, which not exactly as uncertain as yours its attainment may demand! is now.

Let your resolution then be this—"I will neglect none of

“Salvation ! O the joyful sound!

'Tis pleasure to our ears; the means which God makes ef

A sovereign balm for every wound, fectual to all the elect. I will use A cordial for our fears. the means with all diligence, fidelity, and earnest prayer, that they

Buried in sorrow and in sin,

At hell's dark door we lay; may be blessed to my eternal well

But we arise, by grace divine, being. Doing thus, I may hope, To see a heavenly day. and I will hope, that the event will

Salvation ! let the echo fly prove to me, as it has to others,

The spacious earth around; That I have been chosen and or

While all the armies of the sky dained to life everlasting. If I am Conspire to raise the sound.”


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]



WITHERSPOON'S ESSAY ON JUSTIFI- acceptance with God, so all who

have any expectations of this kind (Concluded from page 98.)

from it plainly show, that they

have such defective views of the But this is not all; for the re- extent and obligation of the divine ception of the doctrine of imputed law, as are inconsistent with an righteousness is not merely to be unféigned universal submission to considered as the best means, it. This is a matter of the last comparatively, of producing, pre- importance, and ought to be parserving and increasing our sancti. ticularly recommended to the sefication and purity, as sure and ef- rious consideration of such as may fectual, while others are precari. have, at some times, some imperous, but it is the only way, and all fect convictions; such as from a others are absolutely insufficient weariness and satiety of sinning for the purpose. If this be indeed may give a temporary preference the doctrine of Christ, the Scrip- to a life of religion, and raise a ture-method of salvation, then it feeble and ineffectual wish with is not only true, but a fundamental Balaam, that they might“ die the truth. Of this we are frequently death of the righteous." They and solemnly assured in the word ought to be told, that no endeaof God. “I am the way,” says vours to be a little better than beour Saviour," and the truth and fore, no abstinence from some sins the life; no man cometh unto the as a kind of atonement for others Father but by me. So say the retained, no resolutions taken in apostles Peter and John, “ Neither their own strength, no righteous. is there salvation in any other: for ness of their own, offered or trusted there is none other name under in as a matter of their justification, heaven, given among men, where- will be accepted, or is worthy of hy we must be saved.”+ It is, being so; that nothing will be truly therefore, in vain for any to ex- effectual, till they see their lost pect an effectual change of life, condition, and believe in Christ, but by an acquaintance with Christ, first for pardon, and then for sancand him crucified. We have in- tification, “ to the praise of the deed the clearest evidence from glory of his grace, wherein he hath experience, that no human reason, made us accepted in the beloved."* no argument whatever, drawn If they have any other plea, any from worldly convenience, is at all other ground of hope and trust, it sufficient to contend with violent shall undoubtedly fail them; they and sinful habits. We see many must remain under a sentence of examples of persons of excellent just and legal condemnation, and understanding and knowledge in shall finally perish; for “ he that other matters, nay, who can rea- believeth in the Son hath everlastson strongly and justly upon the ing life; but he that believeth not bad consequences of vice in others, the Son shall not see life, but the sometimes even in themselves, who wrath of God abideth on him. will yet go on to ruin their name, John, iii. 36.”+ family, fortune and health, while they are slaves to evil habits: no- * Eph. i. 6. thing will change them but the

+ The application of these passages of grace God.

Scripture, to the particular principles

above maintained, will, perhaps, be And as we have seen above, that thought to include in it a very severe and our own righteousness, in its best uncharitable condemnation of many Chrisstate, is wholly ineffectual for our tians, who differ in judgment upon the

point of justification. And indeed I pre

tend no great friendship to the sentiments John, xiv. 6. + Acts, iv. 12

so frequently expressed of late, “ That it

I am naturally led to conclude es of Christ.” In him every prothis subject, by observing, that phecy, precept, promise and truth the importance, efficacy and ne- is centered. His character and cessity of the imputed righteous- work as a Saviour is held forth in ness of Christ, shows how much a variety of lights in the sacred it is the duty of all ministers of oracles, and in every opening or the gospel to make it the main and view that is given us, so to speak, leading theme of their sermons. of the dispensations of Divine The preaching of the gospel is by Providence and grace, he is the the apostle Paul, in a very just chief figure, or the termination of and expressive manner, styled the prospect. If, therefore, we preaching “the unsearchable rich would know what esteem is due to

our Redeemer in our hearts, and is a small matter what a man believes, if how high a place he ought to hold his life be good.” The assertion might, in our views of religion, let us obperhaps, be allowed, if it did not contain serve the regard paid to him by à foolish and unreasonable supposition, the sacred writers. that a man may believe wrong, and yet almost all their motives to every

They derive lead as good a life as he that believes right; the contrary to which will always moral duty, from what he hath be expected by him who gives credit to done, and is still doing for us, and the word of God, that his people are seem to delight even in the repeti“sanctified through the truth,” As to tion of his name. I am persuaded Socinians and Polagians, who are the

those who are accustomed to the greatest opposers of the truths above defended, I never did esteem them to be

devout and serious perusal of the Christians at all; so the consequence, word of God will not reckon it with regard to them, may be easily ad- “ enthusiasm,” when I say, that mitted. But it will be thought hard to say

these writers appear to be warmed the same thing of the Arminians. However, if the righteousness of Christ is the only

and elevated above their ordinary ground of our justification, and the re- measure, when they celebrate his ception of him in this character the true

salvation; and that both in the Old principle of sanctification, I do not see

and New Testament, wherever we how we can avoid concluding the danger of those who act upon any other plan.

meet with any passage singularly And yet I am persuaded there have been, lofty and sublime, there we may and are many good men among them : be sure that Christ the Redeemer which may be accounted for in this man. is the immediate theme. ner, that their hearts are better than their

Justification by the free grace of nnder standings; and they are habitually under the government of principles, God, through the redemption that which, through some mistaken views, and is in Christ Jesus, was the docgroundless fears of their abuse, they speak trine taught among Christians, in of more sparingly, or rather seem to eslablish the contrary positions. The proof church. And their departure from

the earliest and purest ages of the of this assertion 'I take from their own writings, particularly from the difference it was the prelude to that univerbetween their sermons and other dis.

sal corruption of faith and worcourses, and those forms of prayer which ship, that relaxation of discipline, they have drawn up, and not only recom

and dissolution of manners, which mended to others, but left behind them 38, a witness of their own exercise in their took place in the ages following. closets. If they be supposed to feel the It is also very remarkable, that sentiments which they express in their this doctrine was always fully and prayers, it can easily be made appear, these sentiments can only be dictated by distinctly taught in those churches the doctrine of free grace. If what they which never submitted to the tysay of themselves be true, in its natural ranny, or received the corruptions and obvious meaning, and if they believe of the Romish Antichrist; I mean it, which charit.y obliges us to suppose, it must be altogether vain to lay the least

the churches of the Piedmontese Blress upon their own righteousness for valleys, which, by so many juditheir acceptance with God.

cious writers, are supposed to be

[ocr errors]
« PrécédentContinuer »