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to fave the chief of finners-through that Saviour who invites all, and such as have no money, to come and buy wine and milk without money and without price-through that Surety who has paid the debt of five hundred pence, as well as the debt of fifty. He ought now to apply himself to Christ, relying on the grace of his Spirit, and the atonement of his blood, to fanctify him from fin, and juftify him from guilt. The gofpel requires no previous courfe of preparation for fuch an exercife of faith as this; it only requires, that we feel our guilt, danger and impotence. Until we perceive our unhappy condition in ourselves, we shall not see our need of a Saviour; when we do perceive this, we must repair to him. If we thirft, we must go to him and drink; if we be weary, we must go to him for reft; if we know that we are poor, blind and naked, we muft go to him for tried gold that we may be rich, for eye-falve that we may fee, and for white raiment that we may be clothed. We are to consider him, not as a partial, but complete Saviour, and go to him for all that we want-for righteoufnefs to juftify us, light to direct us, grace to purify us, and ftrength to establish us; for "Chrift is of God made to believers wisdom, righteousness, fanctification and redemption."
Faith in Chrift is often required in the gospel, as the condition of falvation. But we must remember, that faith in Chrift, as the Mediator, terminates in God the Father. "By him we believe in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, that our faith and hope might be in God." We must not go to Chrift to fave us from God, as if all goodness were in the Son, and nothing but ftern juftice in the Father; for "God fo loved the world, as to give his only be
gotten Son,that whoso believeth in him might have everlasting life." But we must go to God in the name of Chrift, "who has once fuffered for our fins, the juft for the unjuft, that he might bring us to God"-might open a way for the exercife of mercy to us, and give us fuch displays of God's grace and love, as fhould reconcile us to him.
Let it farther be obferved; Though the awakened finner is not to wait until he makes himself better, before he trufts in Christ and seeks falvation in his name; yet he must wait until he finds himself better, before he trufts that he is in Chrift and actually entitled to falvation.
There is a great difference between trufting in Chrift for falvation, and trusting that this falvation is already ours. For the former nothing more is neceffary than a sense of our wants, and a view of Chrift's fufficiency. For the latter it is neceffary that we experience the power of the gofpel in fanctifying our hearts. If we feel our guilt and impotence, and know Chrift's glorious name, we shall put our truft in him. "And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments." "When our hearts condemn us not, we have confidence toward God." fhew our faith by our works.” "We conclude that we have paffed from death to life, because we love the brethren."
A fincere faith gives us an immediate intereft in the falvation of Chrift; but our knowledge of this intereft must arife from the work of faith in purifying our fouls unto unfeigned love of the brethren. There is no condemnation to them who are in Chrift Jefus ; and we know that we are in Chrift, when we walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. "He who faith, he abideth in Christ, ought himself also to walk even as Christ
walked. He who keepeth his commandments dwelleth in Chrift, and Christ in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us by his Spirit which he hath given us. And if we are led by his Spirit, we shall not fulfil the lufts of the flesh; for they who are fenfual have not the Spirit."
In the improvement of this fubject, we are, First, naturally led to obferve, that true religion, as taught by the revelation of God, is far more eafy to be understood and practifed, than the religions contrived by the invention of men. The former is plain and fimple; the latter are obfcure and perplexed. The Affyrians, who were fettled in Samaria, greatly embarraffed their religion by mixing the fuperftitions of their country with the worship of the God of Ifrael. Had they been content to obferve only the latter, their fervice would have been, not only more reasonable, but more cheap and practicable. The fame may be faid of thofe Chriftians, who in the apoftles' times, added to the inftitutions of the gofpel the various rites of their former religions.. They took on themselves a yoke, which neither they nor their fathers were able to bear; when the yoke which Chrift laid on them was easy and his burden was light. A fuperftitious zealot enquired of the prophet, "Wherewith shall I come before the Lord? Shall I come with thousands of rams, or with rivers of oil? Shall I offer my first born for my tranfgreffion, and the fruit of my body. for the fin of my foul ?" The prophet answered, "He hath fhewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?" How plain and fimple is the divine direction, compared with the inven❤ tions of human fuperftition?
Wifdom's ways are ways of pleasantnefs, but the way of tranfgreffors is hard. The path of the juft is as the fhining light, but the path of the wicked is as darkness. The man of the world has no certain rule to direct his purfuit, nor di vine promise to enfure his object. He is perplexed in his schemes; he fhifts his plans; he guards against disappointments, and runs into them by the course which he takes to avoid them. He envies the fuccefs of his competitors, and is mortified at his own mifcarriages. He uses art and disguise to accomplish his projections, and when he has accomplished them his mind is ftill diffatisfied. But the man of religion has one great object in view, the favour of God; and one fure rule to guide him, the word of God. His path lies plain and strait before him. He has only to walk right on, trufting in the grace of God to ftrengthen his fteps, and in the promise of God to make the end fafe and happy. In his doubts, he has no occafion to afcertain the worldly confequences of the action in question; he may apply directly to his rule, and there learn his duty; and when he has found it, nothing remains but to do it, and leave the confequences with God. Thus the good man is fatisfied from himself. "His rejoicing is the testimony of his conscience, that in fimplicity and godly fincerity, not with fleshly wifdom, but by the grace of God, he has had his converfation in the world."
Secondly. Our fubject should be improved to guard our hearts against every kind of corrup tion in religion.
As we believe there is one God, fo our affections fhould be directed to, and concentrated in him; and other objects fhould be regarded only
in fubordination to the favour of this fupreme allperfect Being.
As he is one, fo his will is uniform-not, like the will of man, devious from, and inconfiftent with itself. He is of one mind; who can turn him? Let us then be conftant in his fervice, doing his will from the heart, guiding our actions by his commands as our only rule, and feeking his favour as our only happiness.
As we believe there is one Saviour, let us come to God through him, do all things in his name, rely on his righteousness as the only ground of our hopes, and truft in his interceffion as the only effectual recommendation of our unworthy prayers.
Thirdly. We fee that fincere religion in the heart is a great attainment-greater than many perhaps imagine.
Religion confifts in a heart uniformly and unreservedly devoted to God; or in a fupreme love to him, governing all our affections, and directing all our actions. Men may do much in religion from worldly motives. The perfons mentioned in our text did fo. The people of Ifrael, in a time of famine, affembled themselves for corn and wine, but rebelled against God. Some, in our Saviour's day, fought him with diligence, and fpared no pains to find him, not because they loved his doctrines, but because they had eaten of his loaves. This was a worldly religion. God was not its immediate object.
Men may do much in external duties, and yet be deftitute of a holy temper. They may act in fome good things with zeal and engagednefs, and yet retain their favourite fins. The Samaritans took much pains to learn how they must fear the Lord; but ftill they held faft their idolatry. The young man mentioned in the gospel had a ftrong VOL. V.