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state of thought and affection in which the Soul is usually turned to God. Without the terrors of the law' this state of mind would manifestly never be produced, unless the whole tenour of divine providence should be changed. Yet this, so far as we can see, is a natural and necessary pre-requisite to conversion. The sinner entirely needs thus to understand and feel his condition ; his guilt, his danger, bis helplessness, and his absolute necessity of being renewed by the Spirit of grace. By the law alone is he enabled clearly to see and strongly to feel these interesting things. From the same source of instruction he learns the true nature of his own efforts ; for it is by a comparison of them with this standard of perfection that be sees how destitute they are of all real holiness, and how unavailing to recommend him to God. In a word, from the law only does he gain the knowledge that he is spiritually sick,' and stands in infinite need of the divine physician.'
2. These observations also teach us the necessity as well as usefulness of that preaching which explains and enforces the nature of the law..
It is not unfrequent to hear both preachers themselves, and many other persons, condemn the preaching of the law. These persons dwell much on the endearing benevolence of the Gospel, the riches of the divine goodness displayed in it, and the importance and wisdom of winning sinners to embrace it. On the other hand, they censure with no small severity the preaching of the law, and those who in this manner attempt to alarm sinners concerning their moral condition. If the things which have been said in this Discourse, are admitted to be just, it must also be admitted that these persons know very little of the important subjects which they handle in this free and unhappy manner. They must plainly be ignorant of the nature both of the law and the Gospel, of the sinner's danger, and guilt, the means of his deliverance, the nature of both conviction and conversion, the use of convictions towards conversion, and the use of the law in exciting them.
It has I trust been clearly shown, that the law is absolutely necessary to rouse the sinner from his sleep of death, to point out to him his danger, and to induce him to seek for relief. To the necessity of the law for this purpose, the necessity of preaching it is exactly proportioned. Nothing else will ac
complish the end. So long as this is kept out of view, other things will only sooth the sinner. If he views God as merciful without any regard to his justice, as forgiving without solid reasons, without an atonement, and without the application of that atonement to himself, he will be fearfully deceived ; and trust in that mercy on terms and with views agreeably to which it can never be exercised.
This method of decrying the divine law and the preaching of it, is a dangerous method of flattering sinners to destruction, and of sewing pillows under all arm-holes.'
Christ, the prophets, and the apostles acted in a very different manner. They stung sinners to the quick ; `pricked them to the heart' with strong, solemn, and affecting representations of their guilt, their danger, and their approaching damnation ; roused them from their slumbers, and forced them to listen, feel, and act.
The nature of the case shows the reasonableness and excellency of their example, and the propriety and wisdom of following it; while, at the same time, it holds out the folly of those who disuse, as well as those who censure, preaching of this nature. We need not be at all afraid lest sinners in modern times should be more easily affected than they were in ancient times. Their hearts are by no means peculiarly tender ; but, like the hearts of those who lived in former days, resemble the rock,' and need both the fire and the hammer,' to break them in pieces.
Some persons are probably afraid to preach in this manner, lest they should give pain to their hearers, and hazard their own popularity. These men either destroy or prevent much good, by standing in the place of such preachers as, like Boanerges, would thunder an alarm in the ears of sleeping guilt, and rouse the torpid soul to a sense of its danger.
3. From these observations we also learn the necessity of the Gospel to the accomplishment of this great work.
If the sinner were left wholly to the law he would sink and die ; for it gives him neither encouragement nor hope. While the law is of mighty and indispensable use, to rouse him from his sloth, and awaken him to vigorous exertions for his deliverance, the Gospel is the only foundation of hope that these exertions will be of any use. Without this hope he would do
nothing but despair. It is indispensable, therefore, that the Gospel should follow the law in all sound preaching ; that, when the sinner is roused to inquire what he should do to be saved;' he may find encouragement in its glorious promises and invitations. In this manner he learns, on the one hand, his ruined condition by nature and by practice; and, on the other, that safe and happy state, into which he may be introduced by the grace of God. Thus the adaptation and utility of the whole word of God to the purposes designed by it, are strongly manifest; the wisdom of all things contained in it, as the word of life ; their excellency, their glory, and their resemblance to its Author. Thus also it is commended to our study, contemplation, wonder, and praise.
THAT Ye PuT OFF, CONCERNING THE FORMER CONVERSATION, THE OLD MAN, WHICH IS CORRUPT ACCORDING TO THE DECEITFUL USTS; AND BE Renewed IN THE SPIRIT OF YOUR MIND ; ND THAT YE PUT ON THE NEW MAN, WHICH AFTER GOD IS CREATED IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND TRUE HOLINESS.
EPHESIANS IV. 22-24.
In the last Discourse I described the situation and conduct of a convinced sinner. It is now my intention to exhibit the conversion of the same sinner to God: or to exhibit what in that Discourse I called the attendants of regeneration.
In the text, connected with the 17th verse, the Ephesians are commanded to put off the old man with his deeds, and to put on the new man;' or, in a more strict accordance with the original language,' to cast away the old, and be clothed with the new man.' It has been supposed that the passage contains an allusion to the conduct of the new converts at their baptism; who are said at this ordinance to have cast away their old garments, as a symbol of their renunciation of sin, and to have been clothed with new ones, as a token of their assumption of holiness. It has also been supposed, that the apostle alludes to the custom of actors, who changed their clothes whenever they changed their characters. The allusion is, however, so natural and familiar, that it seems unnecessary to look far for an explanation.
To “put off the old man,' and to put on the new man,' are in the text exhibited as equivalent to being renewed in the spirit of their mind,' that is, to being the subjects of regeperation. This doctrine is still farther illustrated in the declarations, that the old man is corrupt,' and that the new man is created, after God, in righteousness and true holiness.' That to renounce the former of these characters and to assume the latter, is the same thing with being regenerated, no person probably, who is acquainted with this subject, will dispute.
Under these two heads, then, I shall now consider the farther progress of this convinced sinner; viz.
I. His renunciation of sin.
As these co-exist in the mind, it will be unnecessary to consider them apart.
When the convinced sinner has, by a succession of earnest efforts to save himself, proved his utter inability to accomplish this important work; the next natural step, and that which he then becomes convinced it is absolutely necessary for him to take, is to cast himself wholly upon God. He sees himself perfectly helpless; and, if left to himself, utterly ruined. In the anguish of mind produced by this view of his situation, he casts hinself at the footstool of divine mercy, as a mere suppliant, as devoid of any recommendation to the favour of God, as a ruined, miserable creature, as justly condemned, as justly to be punished, as having no hope, but in mere forgiveness, as desiring salvation of mere grace and sovereign love, as without any power of atoning for his sins by any thing which he can do, as capable of being saved only on account of the atonement of Christ, and as incapable of renewing himself or of being renewed but by the power of Holy Ghost. All these things are felt, and not merely understood ; not merely considered as being proved, or capable of proof by sound argument. The several trials which the mind has made have of themselves become proofs of the highest kind, to which it now opposes neither objection nor doubt. Its views have