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ROMANS V. 10.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be faved by his life.
THE grounds of a Chriftian's faith and hope,
are not only fufficient to fatisfy his own mind, but capable likewife of being defcribed and vindicated, in fuch a manner as cannot fail to give full fatisfaction to every fober unprejudiced inquirer.
Genuine Christianity is far from declining any means of trial, whereby truth is diftinguished from delufion or impofture: on the contrary, it courts the light; and the more feverely it is tried, the brighter it fhines: "The words of "the Lord are pure words, like filver tried in a "furnace of earth, and purified feven times." The evidence by which our faith and hope are fupported, hath already ftood the test of many generations; and the most violent attacks of its enemies, inftead of fhaking the foundation, have only ferved to fhew, that it is laid by that fame Almighty Hand which created and upholdeth these heavens and this earth. Nay, thefe heavens and this earth, fhall at length pafs away; but one jot, or one tittle, in thefe lively oracles VOL. II.
of wisdom and truth, fhall in no wife pass away till all be fulfilled.
The privileges of a Chriftian are not a picture drawn by fancy, neither doth his comfort take its rife from thofe inexplicable impreffions to which the dreaming enthufiaft is constrained to refort. The intelligent believer stands upon firm ground, and is always "ready to give an anfwer "to every man that afketh him a reafon of the hope that is in him."
Do you inquire into the object of his hope, he will tell you without hefitation, that he looks for a portion after death, in comparison whereof, this earth which we inhabit, and all that it contains, fhrink into nothing, yea, less than nothing, and vanity.
Whatever we behold in this material world hath the feeds of diffolution fown in its very nature. Our bodies themselves are only tabernacles of clay, which ere long fhall be crumbled into duft, and fee corruption.
Here we breathe, as it were, in the midft of contagion and defilement; and the best things we enjoy are liable to be perverted, either into the inftruments or occafions of fin. Honour tempteth to pride, power to oppreffion, and affluence to fenfuality and criminal indulgence. Few comparatively fpeaking, can carry with an even and fteady hand the full cup of profperity any length of way; like Jefhurun, they are apt to kick when they wax fat, and lightly to efteem the Rock of their falvation.
Nay, though they fhould efcape the pollution of thefe earthly enjoyments, by using them with
moderation, and employing them to the purposes for which they were defigned; yet fo precarious and fugitive are all fublunary things, that it is impoffible for any man to promise upon their continuance. Who can fay, "My mountain "ftandeth ftrong, I fhall never be moved?"Can any man guard himself at all times against fecret fraud and open violence ?-Nay, every element, the wind, the fire, the water, may in a moment be armed with fufficient force to make the unwelcome feparation betwixt us and the best of our worldly poffeffions. Thus corruptible and defiled, thus uncertain and tranfitory, is all that is most admired and courted here below.
Not fo the portion of the faints; the inheritance they look for is "incorruptible, undefiled, "and fadeth not away." -As it hath no principle of decay within itself, fo neither can it be wafted by any thing from without. It is "referved," or laid up, "for them in heaven; a place of abfolute fafety, beyond the reach of every adverse power, and equally fecured against deceit and rapine. There is no thief to steal, no fpoiler to lay wafte. In those regions of perfect light and love, no fuch piteous complaints are heard as thefe," My bowels! my bowels! I "am pained at my very heart, because thou haft heard, O foul! the found of the trumpet,
"and the alarm of war." All above is order and harmony; there is nothing to hurt, nothing to deftroy, through the whole extent of the heavenly Jerufalem, that imperial feat of Zion's King-Such, can the believer fay, is the object of my hope.
Do you inquire into the grounds of his hope, he hath an anfwer ready in the words of my text, and can fay with the Apostle Paul,-If when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son; much more being reconciled, we shall be faved by his life.
Here the reasoning is at once profound and obvious; it is fimple and ingenious at the fame time: fo fimple and obvious, that the mind, with one glance, perceives its force, and is fatisfied; fo profound and ingenious, that the more accurately it is examined, the more conclufive it will appear.
From the efficacy of Chrift's death, which the Apoftle had proved at large in the foregoing part of this epiftle, he infers, in this paffage, the fuperior efficacy of his reftored life:-I fay, his reflored life; for the life here referred to, was not that life previous to his crucifixion, which he led upon earth in the form of a fervant; but the life he now lives at the right hand of God, where he is exalted to the throne as a Prince and a Saviour, "having a name given him above every name, that at the name of Jefus every knee "should bow, and every tongue confefs, that he "is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Two comparisons are here ftated; the one betwixt the paft and present ftate of believers; formerly they were enemies to God, now they are become friends. The other comparifon is betwixt the past and prefent condition of the Saviour; once he was dead, now he is alive. And the propofition that connects the two is this, That reconciliation to God was entirely owing to the death of Chrift, as the meritorious procuring caufe.
caufe. Thefe are the premises from whence the Apostle draws his conclufion, and proves, with demonftrative evidence, the abfolute certainty of the complete and everlafting falvation of believers.
The only principle he affumes, is what every one must admit as foon 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 reafons, That if the death of Chrift had fufficient virtue to produce the greater effect, viz. reconciliation to thofe who formerly were enemies, there can be no room to doubt, that the life of Chrift, which is a more powerful caufe, must be fufficient to produce the leffer effect; leffer I mean in point of difficulty, namely, the continuance of the divine friendship and beneficence to thofe whom his death hath reconciled, till he bring them in due time to the full poffeffion of the purchased inheritance.
Say then, my brethren, may not the hope of a Christian be justly denominated a rațional hope, or, as the Apoftle. terms it, verfe 5. "a hope "that maketh not afhamed?" And may not the believer reply, with holy exultation, to every one that afketh him a reafon of the hope that is in him, I when I was an enemy, I was reconcilea to God by the death of his Son, much more being reconciled, I fhall be faved 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 affured and vigorous.-Did it depend upon any thing in myself, on the