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any real change in the heart. It is of great confequence to attend to this important distinction; for tho' imperfect convictions fometimes are entirely effaced, and are followed by no lasting effect at all, yet it is often otherwise. They frequently produce a counterfeit religion, which not only continues for a time, but is carried down by some to the grave as a lie in their righthand. So subtle are the deceits of satan, that there are many hollow forms of religion, not only upon a legal, but an evangelical bottom. I shall give the reader a sketch of the principles and outlines of both.
There are some legal hypocrites. Awakened to a sense of their danger merely from the irresistible power of God, they fall to the exercise of repentance, and hope that by doing they may live. Hence the whole fystem of bodily penance and mortification. Hence also fo strong an attachment, in some worldly perfons, to the external forms of religion, and veneration for the places of divine worship. Being now somewhat more regular and decent in their ordinary carriage than before, they entertain a fond hope that all shall be well. In the mean time, they are so far from being restored to the image of God, or being governed by his love, that all this is a burden to them; and indeed it is because it is a burden, that they are so prone
to think it meritorious. Conscience checks them, and they dare not run to the fame excess with others, or even repeat what they themselves did formerly; and by this comparison, cannot help thinking they are in a hopeful way. But did such persons reflect a little on the nature of God, they would see their error. They would learn, that they are so far from being renewed in the fpirit of their minds, that whatever lengths they go, they are dragged or driven against their will , and, whenever they can find a plausible excuse, they are ready to withdraw their neck from the yoke. A just view of the glory of God, and the obligation upon every rational creature to love -and imitate him, would effectually cure them of all felf-righteousness and self-dependance; would lead them to himself and the grace trea- fured up in his Son, to a work in them the
66 whole good pleafure of his goodness, and .66 the work of faith with power." .
On the other hand, there are evangelical hy. pocrites. These begin upon the same principles, and their views have the same radical defect with the former. They are awakened to a sense of danger, and sometimes made to tremble thro” fear of divine judgments, but without any discovery of the glory and amiableness of the divine nature. If such persons happen to live in a family or congregation, where they hear much of the doctrine
of redemption, it may have its place in their scheme. They may be so convinced of their own manifold transgressions, as to be satisfied to throw their guilt upon the surety, and rely on the sufferings and death of Christ, for deliverance from the wrath of an offended God. Nay, I have not the least doubt that some may, by a confident presumption, imitate the faith of God's elect, and believe that Christ died for themselves in particular. So long as this persuasion can maintain its ground, it may, and must give them great joy and satisfaction. Who would not find confolation in thinking themselves in safety from divine wrath? Yet all this while they never see the evil of fin in itself, as an opposition to the nature, and a breach of the law of God. They are never brought to love an infinitely holy God in fincerity of heart. They may love him, because they suppose themselves the peculiar objects of his love, with some obscure, confused, sensual idea of the delights of heaven; but they know not or consider not, the nature of that falvation he hath provided for his chosen.
All such love, it is plain, ariseth from a false confidence in their own state, and not from a true knowledge of God. Their notions of God's love to them contain more of a partial indulgence to them as they are, than of his infinite compar
fion in forgiving what they have been. The effects of fuch religion are just what might be expected from its nature, violent and passionate for a season, and commonly oftentatious, but temporary and changeable. Self-love lies at the root, and therefore, while they are pleased and gratified, they will continue their profession of attachment; but when self-denial or bearing the cross is required, they reject the terms, they lose their transporting views, and return to their fins.
There are many examples of this, not only in fcripture, but in the history of the church in every age. Many of those disciples who seemed gladly to embrace the doctrine, and highly to honour the person of Christ, when they heard some of the most mortifying precepts, " went “ back and walked no more with him *” The character is little different, which we find defcribed under the image of the stony ground hearers, who “ having not root in themselves, “ when persecution or tribulation arose because 6 of the word, by and by were offended." I hope this, with the explication above given of its cause, may be of use to account for some appearances in a time of the revival of religion. Persons who seem to have the same exercises with real converts, yet afterwards fall away, and “ return with the dog to his vomit again, * John xi. 60.
66 and with the fow that was washed to her 66 wallowing in the mire.” This gives occafion to adversaries to speak reproachfully, and is greatly distresling to those who truly fear God, But would men carefully attend to what the holy fcriptures teach us to expect, their surprise in all such cases would cease. “ For it must needs 6 be that offences must come t.” And though there are many counterfeits, there will still be sufficient means to distinguish the gold from the dross.
HE next great step in a saving change, is
a deep humiliation of mind, and conviction of sin and danger. The absolute necessity of this is very evident, and indeed generally confefsed. It is equally evident, whether we consider the nature of the change itself, the means of its production, or the motives to all future duty. If an entire change is necessary, there must be an entire and thorough disfatisfaction with, and disapprobation of, our past character and state. Whoever is pleased with his present character, will neither defire, endeavour, nor even accept of a change. If we consider the means of our recovery, by Jesus Christ suffering in the room
Matt, xviii, 7.