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To guard against both extremes, he will endeavour to exhibit no mark of a gracious state, except those specified in the sacred volume. And that he may be kept from misrepresenting any of these, while he endeavours rigidly to adhere to what he conscientiously regards the true meaning of scripture, he would look up to the Spirit of all truth, that he may be taught and guided by his illuminating influences. -In contemplating the numerous characteristics of God's children, mentioned in the Bible, he is constrained, for the sake of brevity, as well as of present utility, to make a selection of a few of the most prominent. The reader's attention is solicited to the following
1. One of the leading evidences of saving grace is, habitual renunciation of all dependence on our own righteousness, and a humble and fixed reliance on the righteousness of Christ-To bring us to this, is the grand design of that revelation of mercy which God has published in his word. In this divine record, the whole human race are described as sinners, -guilty, condemned, perishing, and helpless sinners. Here we are charged not only with innumerable violations of the divine law, in heart, in speech, and in practice ; but we are assured that we can make no satisfaction to God, the lawgiver, by any thing which we can perform. Here we are told in the plainest terms, that “our own righteousness is as filthy rags,"—in other words, that our best works, our repentance, prayers, fastings, alms-deeds, and endeavours after holiness of life, are all stained with sin, and in the sight of God abominable. Of these, therefore, God cannot, and will not accept, as an atonement for our transgressions, and the ground of our justification and admission into his friendship.
For this wretched and helpless condition, the gospel of Christ publishes a remedy. The good news and glad tidings wbich it announces, are pardon and life to every one who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. Its cheering message is, “ God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life :". “ He who knew no sin, was made sin [a sin offering] for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him:"_“ There is no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus :" -and that to all such “ he is made of God, wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” And that none, on any account, may think themselves excluded, the Redeemer himself says, “ Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out ;” and his Spirit, speaking by his word ; and the Bride his church, speaking by her ministers and members,
say, Come; and let him that heareth say, Come; and let him that is athirst come: and whosover will, let him take of the water of life freely.” Here then we are assured that Christ by his substitutionary obedience to the death, as the ransomer of our perishing race,-bis fulfilling all righteousness by the perfect obedience of his life, and his atoning for sin by his sufferings and blood, -bas wrought out a righteousness for the justification of sinners; and that every one who believes on him shall obtain pardon, acceptance with God, and eternal glory. In fine, here we are assured that there is no refuge for us any where else, except in Christ ; for “ neither is there salvation in any other : for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”
Now, my reader, the important question which you are here to answer is, Have you believed this testimony of God respecting your sinfulness, the pollution of your very righteousness, and your exposure to eternal misery,—the spotless excellence of the righteousness of Christ, and your divine warrant to make it the ground of your trust for pardon and eternal life,-and, in consequence of this, have you renounced, and do you daily renounce all reliance on your own works, and put your entire dependence on the blood of Christ ? Or, let the question be propounded in this other form ; Have you seen, and do you still more and more see, your utter helplessness and hopelessness without Christ; have you fled to him as your only refuge from ruin; and can you cordially say with Paul, “What things were gain to me," (as I formerly regarded my own righteousness), “those I count loss for Christ: yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of
Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith ?"* Much, very much, yea, your all depends on your true answer to this question. If still you be a stranger to a deep and humbling persuasion, that without Christ you must eternally perish ; and be conscious that you are putting your trust for acceptance with God, more in yourself, than in him ; you have neither part nor lot in his great salvation. But if your heart can witness, as in the sight of God, that
you are humbled, ashamed, and grieved when you contemplate, not only your manifold aggravated sins, but the imperfections and defilement of your best deeds; and, accounting it “a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners," of whom you regard yourself one of the chief, that you do habitually endeavour to rely on his all-perfect sacrifice, and on it alone, as the ground of your hope,-you have good cause to conclude that you are a believer in Christ.
2. Love to Christ in all his offices and characters, is another evidence of a gracious state. The want of love to Christ is invariably represented, in the sacred scriptures, as an evidence of an unrenewed heart; and that which exposes to exclusion from the favour of God. “ If any man love not our Lord Jesus Christ, let him be (or he shall be) anathema, maranatha,”—accursed from Christ at his coming to judgment. But, on the other hand, all who sincerely love him, are here pronounced blessed. “Jesus said, If a man love me, he will keep my words ; and
. Phil, iii, 7
my Father will love him ; and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him."*
In the preceding chapter it was shown, that unregenerated sinners may have some kind of love to Christ. They may entertain respect for him in some of his offices and characters; but it is impossible that they can love him in them all. They may esteem him as Jesus the Saviour ; but they cannot love him as a strict and righteous Governor. They are pleased with his benefits; but they dislike his yoke. They would be glad to be delivered by him from the wrath which is to come, and to be received at last into his celestial kingdom; but they are unwilling to submit to his laws, and daily to bear their cross in his service. In a word, they love Christ as a Redeemer from misery ; but not as a Redeemer from the slavery of sin.
The case is far otherwise with all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To them Christ is precious in every office and character in which he is exhibited. They love him not merely as the author of their being ; the benefactor from whose hand they receive all their earthly comforts; and the Redeemer who ransomed them from eternal perdition, and secured to them the final attainment of glory. Though this latter view of his character and work chiefly draws forth their gratitude, and fixes their supreme esteem ; yet it is far from being the only ground of their attachment to Christ. They love him as their Teacher; delight to sit at his feet, and to hear the
• 1 Cor. xvi. 22.; John xiv. 23.