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It is to the same thing that I cannot help attributing the practice, that so universally prevailed over the heathen world, before the coming of Christ
, of offering sacrifices, to appease the wrath of the deity, supposed to be offended. That the custom of facrificing prevailed very generally, perhaps universally among the heathen nations, at the greatest distance from, and having no correspondence with each other, is a certain and unquestionable fact. Neither do I fee to what cause we can ascribe it, unless to one of these two; either an ancient tradition, from the beginning of the world, and spread with the inhabitants through the several parts of it, as they separated and peopled it ; or to the common condition of human nature, which dic. tated the same thing to persons in such distant places.
If the first of thefe fuppositions is embraced, which indeed I suppose to be the truth, it appears that facrifices were appointed by God to man in his fallen ftate, for the pardon of fin, and that they had reference to the great pro. piliatory sacrifice of Christ upon the cross.
If we prefer the last supposition, it would seem as if the consciousness of guilt had uniformly prompted men in all ages and nations, to offer up some atonement for their of. fences. In both cases, it equally serves to prove the corruption and finfulness of human nature.
Now, as what hath been said, plainly proves the impurity of inan in his natural liate, so his misery and liableness to punishment may also be proved; both as a natural consequence of his finfulness, and even more plainly by itself. There is not only a considerable degree of actual misery in the world, but plain presages of more to fol. low it in the world to come. Need I take up much time, in enumerating the several miseries and calamities inci. dent to human life? Are not oppression and injury from one another, poverty, sickness, pain and death, the plain fruits of fin, and visible tokens of God's displeasure? Man with some marks of superiority and excellence of nature, is even, by means of his superiority, his knowledge, and forenight of his own sufferings, more miserable, than any other of the creatures, that is equally subject to the stroke of death.
To the whole, I shall only fubjoin one consideration more, which is applicable to both parts of the argumentI have often thought, that the natural terror and fear, with which men are possest of the presence of God, or any remarkable token of his power, is nothing else but an indication of guilt, or an apprehension of wrath.
You may see some incidents in scripture, from which it is natural to conclude, that when God makes any visi. ble manifestation of his glory, or sends any of his angels or ministers from heaven to earth; those who are present, are filled with the utmost dread and terror.
Thus in the relation given of God's appearance upon Mount Sinai, it is said ; “And so terrible was the fight, “ that Mofes said, I exceedingly fear and quake.” See another example, in Isaiah—“Then said I, woe is me, “ for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; t for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hofis." And in the New Testament, in the apostle John—“And " when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead.”
And is not this always the case, in all ages, that upon any remarkable appearance of an inhabitant of the other world, or even when any such thing is falsely apprehendecl, the inhabitants of this world are filled with extraordi. nary terror? What is this do you imagine, but consci. ousness of guilt, and apprehension of vengeance ?
Innocence has no enemy, and it has nothing to fear. We are all in much the same case with Adam, immedi. ately after his first transgresion ; when he heard God's voice in the garden, he was afraid, and fled, and hid bimself-We read of no such fear possessing him, while he retained his innocence, but as soon as he had finned, he began to dread an avenging God.
From all this then, I would conclude, that reason accords with scripture, in faying, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God: that man in a natural state, is wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
AN INDUCEMENT TO COME TO CHRIST.
Rev. iii. 17.
Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and
have need of nothing ; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
AVING in a former discourse, proved, and illus
trated this truth; that all mankind are by nature in a Itate of fin and misery, under the bondage of corruption, and liable to the wrath of God :-I proceed now to the second thing proposed, which was to Mew you, that being brought to a lively fense and genuine conviction of this, is the first, and a necesary step to the saving knowledge of God in Christ.
On this, I shall not need to spend much time, as it is so exceedingly plain, both in itself, and from what hath been already faid-It is however neceffary to set it clearly before you, in order to lay a foundation for the improvement of the subject.
If the doctrine of Christ, and of him crucified, proceeds upon the supposition of our finful and miserable condition by nature; then surely, it can neither be valued, embra. ced, nor improved; and indeed, I think hardly understood, by those who know not this their natural state. What Christ hath done, and promises to do in our behalf, is designed as a remedy for our distressed condition; and therefore, till the distress is known, the remedy will be set at nought. If a physician should offer his care and skill for the recovery of a man, who esteemed himself in perfect health, would he not deride the proposal, so long as he continued in that opinion ? If any man should offer a charitable supply of clothes and food, to one who imagined himself immensely rich, and gloried in his riches; would he not look upon it as the grossest insult ?
Just so is the gospel treated, by all such as see not their milery. What is the substance of the gospel ? 'To you
O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men. • Behold! I preach to you Christ crucified, a Saviour
suited to your necessities, able to save to the uttermost · all that come to God through him. He is well fitted to • be a mediator, between you and your offended Maker. • He hath offered himself up, a facrifice to the justice of
God for your fins, by the merit of which, you may be * faved from deserved and impending ruin. He offers • himself as a guide, to direct your feet in the way of peace '-to stand by you in the difficulties and dangers to
which you are exposed, and to give you by his com
municated strength, a complete victory over all your 'enemies.'
What reply doth the unconvinced finner make to all this? Why he faith, I know nothing of this mifery you • fuppose, wherefore then a Saviour ? I see no fin, what
necessity then, for an atonement? I fear no wrath, « therefore will seek for no Intercessor. My eyes are open, * therefore I will have no guide. I know of no enemies, . and therefore, will not enter into contention with a fhadow, or flee when no man pursueth.'
These, my brethren, are either directly, or implicitly, the thoughts of men, in a secure and unconvinced state; and while they are fo, they can see no form nor comeliness in the Saviour, nor any beauty, that they hould defire him.
It is otherwise with the broken in spirit. He fees his own vilcness and unworthiness, and therefore cannot
lift his eyes to God, but through the atoning blood of Christ. He fears the avenger of blood, and therefore flees to the city of refuge–The message of the gospel is to him indeed glad tidings of great joy, and he counts it a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
The justice of this representation you may see, from what our Saviour himself fays of the end of his coming. “ They that be whole need not a physician, but they that " are fick : But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will " have mercy and not facrifice; for I am not conie to call " the righteous, but finners to repentance." See also the terms of his invitation.
" Come unto me ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give
all "you reft.”
Appetite, and knowledge of necessity, is first required, or supposed, to the bestowing of Gospel blessings— Ho! “ every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.”
I shall only add, that we find by the instances recorded in scripture, of such as were converted by the preaching of the gospel; that their conversion took its rise from conviction of fin-" Now when they heard this, they were “ pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter, and to the “ rest of the apostles, men and brethren, what shall we “ do ?” See also the instance of the jailor_" Then he “ called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, " and fell down before Paul and Silas : And brought them out, and said firs, what must I do to be saved ?"
Repentance unto life, and the return of the finner to God, proceeds from the same cause, in every age.
Who are the persons who believingly apply to Christ for the pardon of their fins, but those who see they are undone without him? Who are the persons in whose eyes he is most precious, and who maintain the most habitual dependance upon him? Are they not those who have been most effectually humbled, and see their own insufficiency for any thing that is good ?
From all this I conclude, that none can come to Christ by faith, but those who see themselves to be wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked.