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inquiry, much self-examination, have done it in fact, and perhaps real industry in the divine life, true repeated it a thousand times; but and frequent communion with they have doubts and fears in reGod, a tender and conscientious gard to this fact, from which they Christian walk, and a diligent use hardly ever get free. It is also of all the appointed means of grace. unquestionably true, that many Need I ask, is not the attainment of real Christians have seasons in such a state, worth all the pains that which they have such clear views can be taken to secure it? Yes, un- of the glorious plan of redemption, questionably; and if it were made and such a freedom to trust thema distinct object of the Christian's selves unreservedly into the hands aim, and the proper means to of Christ, that white those seasons reach it were faithfully employed, last, all their doubts and fears vait would be realized a thousand nish—they can say, for the present, times, where it is now seen in a that “they know in whom they single instance.
have believed, and are persuaded The question is frequently asked that he
that he is able to keep that which -is assurance of the essence of they have committed to him.” faith? to which I must return a And yet, at other times, these
very brief answer, before leaving this persons shall be almost ready to part of the subject.
condemn themselves as entirely The scriptures certainly make graceless. Nothing but those rea clear distinction between a weak fex acts heretofore described, and and a strong faith; and hence Pic- getting to understand and rely on tết has well remarked, that assur- the unchanging nature of the coance is rather the perfection of venant of grace, can prove a remefaith than its essence. He asks, dy to these alternations of faith how does any one become assured and unbelief, of hope and despondof the forgiveness of his sins, or ency. It must also be remarked, of his gracious state? It is, he that those who have
peranswers, only by finding, on a care. haps long, possessed a good hope ful examination, that he has a ge- through grace, may lose it for a nuine justifying faith. Then, cer- season, through remissness in duty, tainly, he remarks, the faith which the prevalence of corruption, fallexisted before this examination ing into some gross sin, the viotook place, was a genuine faith, and lence of Satanic
injections, the ocyet not accompanied by assurance. currence of bodily melancholy, or The truth undoubtedly is, that there the withholding of those divine are many humble and diffident, but communications which were once sincere believers, who seem never experienced-for some reason not to have any thing that can be call- perceptible at the time, if ever ed the assurance of faith, or hope, understood in the present life. and this simply and solely because Watchfulness, prayer, a sense of they do not, or cannot, make our dependance on God, and great a right estimate of their own care not to grieve the Holy Spirit, mental acts or exercises. They are the important duties taught and have not a doubt of the all-suffi- enforced, by the possibility of losing ciency of Christ, not a doubt of that blessed confidence toward God, the sincerity and freeness of his which is indeed the light of lifeoffers, and not a doubt that whoso- a possession for which there can ever truly receives and rests on be no equivalent, no possible comChrist, will assuredly be saved. pensation. All that they doubt is, whether 4. I am to mention, and it must they have, for themselves, truly re- be very briefly, some of the conseceived and rested upon him. They quences, fruits, or effects, of saving
faith. The first of these is——the ty boon; the crown is placed soledestruction which faith effects of ly on the Saviour's head, and the all self-righteousness, and the giv- believing sinner lies at his feet, to ing of the entire glory of our sal- be sprinkled from all uncleanness vation to the rich and free grace by his atoning blood, to be clothed of God. There is scarcely a point with the spotless robe of his rightwhich the great apostle of the gen- eousness, to be sanctified by his tiles labours more, or on which he Holy Spirit, and thus, through his dwells more at large, than that our unmingled and superabounding salvation is all of grace through grace, to be made meet for the infaith; that all ground of boasting, heritance of the saints in light. and all works, and all personal 2. It will ever be found, as one righteousness of every kind, are of the precious fruits or effects of excluded utterly in the work of a true justifying faith, that it both justification, which he attributes comforts and invigorates the besolely to the grace of faith. The lieving soul. That complete reconclusion which he draws from nunciation of all self-righteousness his long argument on this subject, which has just been stated, and in his epistle to the Romans, and which is taught in all that you have on which he afterwards dilates heard on this subject, never leaves most impressively, is in these the believer in an abject and forlorn words (Rom. v.1.]: “Therefore, be- situation. The renunciation which ing justified by faith, we have peace he makes is never constrained, or with God through our Lord Jesus mingled with reluctance. It is Christ.” Now, as faith itself is a made most willingly, and from a work—a mental exercise in the full perception and deep convicmind of the believer-it may be, tion, that it is demanded by reason and has been objected, that here is and equity, as well as by the dia work which is concerned in our vine requisition: and now, having justification. Concerned we ad- taken his proper place—having mit that it is; but only instrumen- become emptied of himself—he is tally, we affirm; and that it will be prepared to receive from the fulabsolutely impossible to reconcile ness of Christ, grace for gracethe apostle with himself, if we al- to be filled with all joy and peace low to faith itself, even the small- in believing. In place of the filthy est degree of meritorious desert rags of his own righteousness, he in the matter of justification. I now perceives—and how he have elsewhere had occasion to re- wonders while he perceives!-that mark, that faith in its best acts is, he is arrayed in the righteousness like every other grace, imperfect; of his redeeming God. Instead of and therefore that the very act of that proud self-gratulation, which faith by which a believer is justi- used to be excited by some fancied fied, needs pardon for its imper- merit of his own, he is now made fection, instead of being entitled to rejoice “ with a joy that is exto a reward for its exercise. The ceeding great and full of glory," simple truth is, that by an act by the views which he is enabled of faith, which, although imper- by the good Spirit of the Lord, to fect, finds acceptance through the take of his interest in the infinite merits of that Saviour to whom it merits of his blessed Saviour; and looks, he is received or appropri- in feeling the love of God shed ated as a free and glorious gift abroad in his heart, producing conof God's transcendant grace; eve
solations unutterable, and somery duty, as well as every sin, is re- times affording a prelibation of the nounced as having any claim to felicity of heaven. My dear young the honour of deserving this migh- friends, I am not delivering to you
the fictions of fancy, or truths guilty and perishing world; and merely speculative. No, verily; when the Saviour's dying love, they are truths both solid and prac- prayer for his enemies with his extical. Every exercised Christian piring breath, and his command will cheerfully testify, that the to love the brethren, to forgive as highest happiness he ever knows we hope to be forgiven, and to do on earth, is when he is most emp- good to all men as opportunity tied of himself, and drinks most offers, are, by faith, brought home freely and largely from the foun- to the believer's heart; and never tain of his Redeemer's plenitude. is humility so perfect, so unafHe will tell you, too, with the fected, and.so amiable, as when apostle Paul, that " when he is in the bright visions of faith the weak, then is he strong.” That Christian sees the condescension he never attempts duty with so of his Redeemer, drinks most much alacrity, nor performs it largely into his spirit, and desires with so much vigour and so much most earnestly to walk in his footeffect, as when feeling most his steps. own insufficiency, he goes to its “Show me thy faith by thy discharge, leaning most sensibly works," said the apostle James. on his Saviour-trusting in his Genuine faith will always abide strength for the performance, and this test; nay, just in proportion looking to his power to crown his as faith is pure and vigorous, will efforts with success.
the believer be ready to every 3. One of the consequences of a good word and work. I have no true justifying faith, will always be time at present to illustrate this by seen in its tendency to increase argument; but facts are better every other Christian grace, and than arguments. In whom, I ask, to render the believer fruitful in have been seen, the best and brightholiness, and in all good works. est, and most lovely examples, of
, Faith may
be called the foundation all social and relative duties? In grace. It is alone in the work none, I affirm without hesitation of justification; but it is never or reserve-in none have they ever alone in the soul where it exists, been observed to cluster more conbut is always associated with spicuously, or to shine more begenuine repentance, a lively hope, nignantly, than in the decided ada fervent love, and a deep hu- vocates and practical exhibitors of mility; and its natural tendency this very doctrine of justification
; to increase all these graces is ob- solely by faith, through the rightvious. Never is repentance so eousness of Christ. To the names evangelical and so tender, as when of Howard and Thornton, I could faith takes her clearest look at the add very many, both of the living desert of sin in the cross of Christ, and the dead; but observe them and sees its enormity and its par- for yourselves, my dear youth, don in a single view; never can both in your reading and in your hope be so lively and cheering as intercourse with the world; and when faith lays her firmest hold may the Spirit of all grace add on the Saviour's unfailing cove- you to the number of those nant; never can love to God, and who, through the influence of the love to man be so pure and active, faith which you have heard deas when faith brings into view all scribed, shall adorn the doctrine the loveliness of Jehovah's attri- of God our Saviour in all things. butes, and especially the love of Amen. God in the gift of his son to a
WITHERSPOON's ESSAY ON JUSTIFI- titude with the blackest mark of
infamy, and to reckon it among (Continued from p. 632, vol. ix.) the most atrocious of crimes. In the fifth place, those who ex
And indeed, we find by experience, pect justification by the imputed that it is comparatively stronger, righteousness of Christ, must for the most part, than the oppobe induced to cbedience, in the site motives of force or fear. strongest manner, by the liberal There is a sort of natural tendenand ingenuous motive of grati- cy in man to resist violence, and tude and thankfulness to God. refuse submission to authority, That it is the native and genuine whilst they may be won by favours, expression of gratitude to God, to and melted to thankfulness and live a pure and holy life, I suppose gratitude by kindness and love:
I will hardly be denied; at least, this at least, this may be applied perthe Scriptures represent as pleas- fectly to the present case, where ing him, serving him, doing his the bare outward performance, will, honouring him. It is indeed (which may indeed be the effect of extremely difficult to conceive fear,) will not be accepted without how God, all-mighty, and all-suf- the inclination of the will. A slaficient, should be at all affected vish dread both lessens the degree with our conduct, either good or
and debases the nature of that obebad; it seems to be improper to dience we might essay to perform. say, that he can be pleased or dis- This is an universal principle; pleased with our actions, or that and, in particular, while the law he hath any interest at stake. of God stands in its force and riNothing, to be sure, can be more gour as a covenant of works, threatweak and impotent than the inju- ening death without hope of merries offered, or the assaults made cy, against every transgression, it upon him, by created beings. As begets a despondent sloth, and at his nature is without variableness best serves only to discover our sin or shadow of turning, so his hap- and misery; nay, as the apostle piness is such as can neither be in- Paul strongly and justly reasons, creased or impaired. And yet, in it renders our corrupt affections this way, he himself has taught us
more inflamed and violent by reto conceive of the matter, that ho- straint;* “Nay, I had not known liness is not only an imitation of sin, but by the law: for I had not his character, but obedience to his known lust, except the law had will, and its contrary a transgres- said, Thou shalt not covet,” &c. sion of his law. These have been
But let us now complete this arthe sentiments of all nations, with- gument, by showing that a believer out exception; and after the ut. in Christ is under the strongest most efforts we can make to ex- obligations, from gratitude, to do empt him in our minds from all the will of God. And how many human passions or affections, of considerations concur in showing joy, anger, or displeasure, we can- this? The unspeakable greatness not help considering it still as pro- of the blessings he receives, no less per to say, such a course of life is than deliverance from everlasting agreeable, and such another is misery and anguish, and a right displeasing to God, and will pro- to everlasting glory and happiness. voke his wrath.
The infinite and affecting condeIs not gratitude then a principle scension of the great and glorious of action that will be powerful and Giver, who, in mercy to those who operative? Mankind in general could not profit him at all, but on bear witness to this, as they have the contrary, had highly provoked agreed in all ages to brand ingra
Rom. vii. 7.
him, laid help for them upon one such sins attending them, or such
, who is mighty to save. The aston- a mixture and alloy of unholiness ishing means employed in this de- and impurity in them, as, if they sign, viz. God's “not sparing even were weighed in the exact balance his own son, but delivering him up of justice, would be sufficient to for us all.” Well might the apostle procure their total rejection. John say,* “God so loved the In how strong a light is this world that he gave his only begot represented by the sacred writers; ten Son, that whosoever believeth and how powerful does its operain him, should not perish, but tion appear to be upon
themselves? have everlasting life.” But, above They seem penetrated and possest all, the sense which he himself with a sense of the love of Christ, hath of his misery and wretched- and of God in him, as having sinness. Nothing can be more dread- 'ners for its object. Thus the aposful than the apprehensions which tle Paul reasons: For scarcely a convinced sinner hath of his for a righteous man will one die, own state: what, and how strong, yet, peradventure, for a good man then must his sense of gratitude some would even dare to die. But be, to him who hath given his Son, God commendeth his love towards and to him who has given him- us, in that while we were yet sinself, for the purchase of his pardon? ners, Christ died for us.
and with what earnestness will he seek again,“ If when we were enemies, after, and with what cheerfulness
we were reconciled to God by the will he embrace every opportuni- death of his Son.”+ What a sense ty of testifying his thankfulness? of the love of Christ is discovered Will not the name of his Redeem- by the two following passages of er be precious, even as ointment the same apostle!“That Christ poured forth?” his laws delightful may dwell in your hearts by faith; to him, and his honour dear? that ye being rooted and grounded
It is proper to observe here, that in love, may be able to comprethe single view of the blessings of hend with all saints, what is the divine goodness, which must have breadth and length, and depth and the strongest influence, in leading height; and to know the love
to a grateful resentment of of Christ, which passeth knowthem, is peculiar to such as expect ledge.” The other is, “If any justification through the imputed man love not the Lord Jesus Christ righteousness of Christ; viz. their let him be anathema Maranabeing of free, unmerited grace and tha;'S than which nothing could mercy. For, though there are more strongly express his own classes of Christians who pretend sense of the obligation. It deto disclaim the belief of any merit serves notice also, that the inspired in man, it would be no difficult writers do often represent it as matter to show, that there are one of the strongest arguments none who do not, by their profess- against sin, that it is a reproach ed principles, or their usual lan- and dishonour brought upon our guage, suppose it, excepting those Redeemer and Lord. described in the beginning of this walk, of whom I have told you discourse. And such not only be- often, and now tell you even weeplieve his mercy to be unmerited, ing, that they are enemies of the but that they have justly deserved cross of Christ.|| Seeing they cruhis wrath and indignation; nay, cify to themselves the Son of God and that they continually do so, afresh, and put him to an open even in their best state; their shame.”T purest and holiest actions having * Rom. v. 7,8. * Rom. v. 10.
Eph. ii. 17, 18, 19. § 1 Cor. xvi. 22. * John iii. 16.
il Phil. iii. 18. 1 Heb. vi. 6.