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?m clean, I am quite upright, I have never offended in thought, word, or deed. For what has a sinner to save him from destruction? Without Jhedding of blood, there is no remijjion. Does he rest his plea upon the weakness of nature? The law was intended to guard against the weakness of nature, and to plead this is to plead your guilt as your justification? Do you rely on God's mercy? If you reject his gospel promises, you have nothing but loose floating ideas of his goodness for your support. You see almost as many marks of his severity, as of his goodness about you. The food, which nourishes you, is often your disease; the air, you breathe, often brings plagues; the fanning breeze often becomes a hurricane; the sun, that cherishes you, often scorches and destroys; the fostering dews, often becoming torrents, drown your fields, and sweep away the labours of the year. There is no element,
ment, ever so necessary to human life, which is not frequently the instrument of pain, and mischief. If a thoughtful man, therefore, would rise into a firm and comfortable persuasion of Divine goodness, he must contemplate it in the unsullied mirror of revelation.
Every method, that sinful man can use, to procure comfort to himself independent of Gospel Mercy, is unsatisfactory and delusive. Grosser souls go, and seek a partial sort of peace to themselves amidst the stupefaction of riot, and the thoughtless dissipation of amusement. — Alas! conscience will only awake from this unnatural sleep with greater horror, and, in the short intervals of serious thought allowed it, exert keener and more tormenting reflections. Others endeavour to entrench themselves in impenitence, and to harden themselves in unbelief, and with a kind of fear and trembling to persuade L 4 themthemselves that religion is but hypocrisy, and virtue a mere name. Alas! this is but a temporary delusion, adapted only to the season of social mirth, and gay prosperity; the evil day dissipates their false confidence, and leaves them to the angry convictions of awakened reason and conscience. Or if they can carry on the deception to the last, their opinions cannot alter the nature of things: poison, which has often been taken inadvertently, yet never has been known, in compassion to human errors, to suspend the malignity of its effects.
Others again, who are cast in a happier mould, content themselves with the practice of such partial superficial virtues as constitution or profession renders agreeable to them; they are sober, because their health for bids intemperance; liberal from meer compassion or a view to public applause; just, for fear of human punisliment and shame. But, at the
same time, seeing all men have their failings, they, not distinguishing between sailings and vices, live very contented and easy in wicked habits more agreeable to their taste and complexion. Alas! this too is a false confidence. Whosoever uses proper reflection must know, that nothing under universal obedience answers the purposes of law.
The christian lives -as perfectly as he can; he endeavours to improve upon himself in the regular use of the means of grace appointed by Christ. Thus, having an all-sufficient sacrifice to rely upon, his repentance has the merit of innocence, his sincerity the merit of perfection. His conscience has nothing to upbraid him with: he lives as well as he can. His infirmities give him no anxiety : the author of his salvation has promised to purify him to that holiness, which God can view without abhorrence. He is disquieted with no doubts,
distressed distressed with no sears, under a sense of errors against clear knowledge: God has given him his express promise of accepting his imperfect sincere services. He is afflicted by no evils: evils he knows are for his moral improvement, and his Divine pattern, his Saviour, has taught him so bear the evils of the world with patience, to despise its idle glare with magnanimity, and to go about doing good, in dependence upon a future reward.
III. Men know not what they say, when they talk of leading good and comfortable lives in defiance or in neglect of the graces of the christian covenant. Though the heathens, though the well-disposed, I should say, among them, enjoy the general mercies of redemption; yet the case is very different with us in our present circumstances. The unconscious unreflecting beasts of the field, for instance, enjoy the