Page images
PDF
EPUB

« me, I have given them: that they may be one, “ even as we are one. I in them, and thou in « me, thai they may be made perfect in one, " and that the world may know that thou hast 66 sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hart " loved me*.”

CONCLUSION. I Shall now close this discourse with some prac

tical improvement of these important truths. Several reflections have indeed already been interwoven with the particular branches of the subject, and the light which they throw on other parts of religion pointed out. I shall therefore at this time only make a few observations upon the whole, and proceed to a serious address to all my readers on this most interesting subject. And,

ist, From the various truths above established, and the order in which they have been opened, we may see the indiffoluble connection between salvation by the grace of God, and holiness in heart and conversation. We may see their equal importance and their influence upon one another, There are many who attempt to divide those things which God hath inseparably joined. Many insist only on the duties of the law of God, and our natural obligations to obedience; and are * John xvii. 21, 22; 23.

hardly

hardly brought to any mention of the righteoufnefs of Christ, as the ground of a finner's acceptance before God. Nay, fome fcrúple not to affirm, that the doctrine of justification by free grace, or a finner's being found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, weakens the obligation to holiness, and tends to introduce licentioulness of practice. But from what hath been said in the above discourse, we may learn, not only in general the absolute neceffity of a change, but how this stands connected with the purchase and gift of salvation, the character and work of a Redeemer. It will plainly appear, that a change in some respe&s is necessary to bring us to, and in others is the necessary effect and consequence of, the acceptance of salvation.

I have endeavoured in the preceding pages to Mew, that a discovery of the nature and glory of God, and of the infinite evil of fin, is absolutely necessary, in order to our either understanding or relishing the doctrine of the cross. What is this then, but a change begun? Must not the dominion of fin in every such person have received a mortal blow? Doth any thing more directly tend to holiness, than to see the power and glory of a holy God, and how " evil

and bitter a thing” it is to depart from him? On the other hand, is it not necessary to complete the change, that there be a sense of recon

ciliation

ciliation and peace? “ Can two walk together “ except they be agreed ?” Can any person live in the love and service of God, while he conceives him to be his enemy, and supposes himself still the object of his wiath and displeasure ? But fupposing this reconciliation obtained, let me boldly ask, What motive to holiness in all manner of conversation, equal to the force of redeeming love ? Judge, O Christian, will any cold reasoning on the nature and beauty of virtue have such an effect in mortifying corruptions, as a believing view of a pierced Saviour ? Where Thall we find so faithful, so active, fo chearful a servant of God, as one who joins with the apostle Paul in saying, “I am crucified with Chrift: “ nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ live " eth in me: and the life which I now live in " the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for " me *. Faith in Christ Jesus never can take place in any heart, unless there has been an internal work of the Spirit of God teftifying of him; and there is no effe&ual principle of new obedience, but faith which worketh by love. . 2. What has been said above, will serve to explain some controversies with which the truths of the gospel have been often darkened and perplexed; particularly those relating to the priority,

Gal. ii. 20.

or sight of precedency, so to speak, between faith and repentance. Some make repentance, that is, as they explain it, forrow for fin, serious resolutions of forsaking it, and begun reformation, the joint grounds of our acceptance with the merit of a Saviour. These, with great plausibility, ftate the matter thus : That our fincerity is accepted through the satisfaction of Christ, instead of that perfect obedience to which we cannot now aitain ;' and, when taken in a certain light, this affertion is undoubtedly true. Others, discerning the falfhood that may lurk under this repreTentation, and fearing the consequences of every felf-righteous plan, are tempted to go to the opposite extreme. That they might fhew salvation to be wholly of grace, fome have even presumed to use this harsh and unscripturaf expression, that it is not necesary to forsake fin in order to come to Christ. I could fhew a fenfe in which this also is true, even as it is not neceffary to forsake your disease in order to apply to the phyfician. But if it is not necessary to forsake it, I am sure it is necessary, in both cases, to hate it, and defire deliverance from it. . · This difficulty will be easily solved from what has been said in the preceding parts of this treatise, and we may learn to preserve the truth, without exposing it to the scorn or resentment of its enemies. The reader may observe, then, that none can see the form or comeliness of a Saviour standing in the room of finners, and purchasing forgiveness from a holy God, till the glory of this God is discovered, till the guilt of sin lays hold of the conscience, and its power is both felt and lamented. This may, perhaps, be called repentance, and I believe it is called so sometimes in the holy feriptures, particularly in the following passage : « Repent ye therefore, and be con« verted, that your fins may be blotied out, when " the times of refreshing shall come from the pre• sence of the Lord *.” But the finner does not fo properly forsake fin in order to come to Christ, as he flies to him for deliverance from its condemning guilt and ensiaving power. He is so far from coming to God with a gift in his land, even of his own prayers and penitential tears, that his convictions continue to follow him, if I may speak so, through every lurking place, till he is entirely subjected, till he is stript naked and bare, and deprived of every shadow of excuse. Then it is that salvation through a despised crucified Saviour becomes unspeakably amiable in all its parts, fin becomes more perfectly hateful, and an assured prospect is obtained of its immediate mortification, and, in due time, of its intire and complete destruction. Thus faith and repen. tance are involved in one another, they produce, * Acts iii. 19.

none

and

« PreviousContinue »