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clusion, and proves, with demonftrative. evidence, the absolute certainty of the complete and everlasting falvation of believers.
The only principle. he assumes, is what every one must admit as soon as it is mentioned, viz. that reconciliation to an enemy is a more difficult exercise of goodness than beneficence to a friend. Upon which he thus reasons, That if the death of Christ had sufficient virtue to produce the greater effect, viz. reconciliation to those who formerly were enemies, there can be no room to doubt that the life of Christ, which is a more powerful cause, must be sufficient to produce the lesser effect; lefser I mean in point of difficulty, namely, the continuance of the divine friendship and beneficence to those whom his death bath reconciled, till he bring them in due time to the full poffession of the purchased inheritance.
Say then, my brethren, may not the hope of a Christian be justly denominated a rational hope, or, as the Apostle terms it,
a hope that maketh not asha66 med?" And may not the believer reply,
with holy exultation, to every one that asketh himą reason of the hope that is in him, if when I was an enemy, I was reconçiled to God by the death of his Son; muth inore being reconciled, I shall be saved by his life : his death was the price of the inheritance I look for; and his restored life is my evidence that the price was accepted, and the purchase made.—This renders my hope assured and vigorous. Did it depend upon any thing in myself, on the strength, or wisdom, or worthiness, of the creature, it would quickly languish and die: but as it leans upon him who rose from the grave to die no more, who ascended up on high, leading captivity captive, and is now exalted at the right hand of God, it is become !
an anchor of the soul, both fure " and stedfast:" for the Father raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, for this very end, that every ground of jealousy being removed, my faith and hope might be in God, 1 Pet. i. 21.
It must already have occurred to you, that none can apply this reasoning to themselves, but those who are previously reconciled to God by the death of his Son. Here begins the hope of a finner; and here likewise must I begin to bring the subject home to our own hearts, by inquiring who among us can fay, that we have experienced this blessed fruit of the Redeemer's death.
And for our affistance in this important trial, I shall endeavour, in few words, to mark out some of the principal steps, by which the foul is most usually led by the Spirit of God unto a vital union with the Lord Jesus Chrift; who of God is made unto all that believe in him, wisdom, and righteousness, and fanctification, and redemption.
A deep conviction of guilt and misery doth certainly lie at the root of this important change. The finner feeth himself to be all pollution, naked, and defenceless, having nothing to screen him from the wrath of that Almighty Being whom he hath offended. This constrains him to look about for deliverance. The wrath of God is intolerable: he cannot dwell with
devouring flames, he cannot lie down in everlasting burnings; and though he' is conscious that he hath justly merited this misery, yet felf-preservation, that strong principle implanted in his nature by the great Author of his being, obligeth him to ask the question, Is there no hope ?
Here, indeed, many steal away from under their burden, take shelter in some refuge of lies, and encompass, themselves about with sparks of their own kindling : but the finner that is under the conduct of the Spirit of God, (and of such only I at present speak), the more he considers his case, the more hopeless and desperate he findeth it to be. He indeed alketh the question, What shall I do? but feeling his impotence, answers, I can do nothing; or though I could do any thing, yet what would it' avail me? -Can the duty I owe at present make any reparation for the offences that are past ? Will forbearing to contract new debt, intitle me to a discharge of the old ? Impossible! - In short, when he casts his eyes abroad throughout the whole creation, he can find nothing at all to lean upon
for deliverance. And thus, as the Apostle expresseth it, Gal. iii. 23. he is “ shut
up 66 unto the faith,” hedged about, as it were, on every side; so that neither himself, nor any other creature, can make a way for his escape.
Being reduced to this condition, he listens with eagerness to the tidings of a Saviour. The name Jefus hath a different found to him than ever it had before, and his
very heart leaps within him, when he hears that “ God was in Chrift reconciling the world
unto himself, not imputing their trespas"ses unto them." But he cannot reft (atiffied with a general account of this matter. As his danger is real and pressing, he ieeks a clear discovery of the method of deliver
Felt distress breeds concern and anxiety; a self-condemned criminal cannot quiet his mind with the bare probability of a pardon: he therefore narrowly pries into the authority, the character, and the ability, of the Saviour. He looks into his commiffon, and is wonderfully pleased to read such a plain declaration as this, I. " I the Lord have called thee in
xlii. 6, 7.