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the proud, selfish, unholy heart of man, the carnal mind, which is enmity against God and his law, is equally opposed to the holiness of the gospel.
If salvation signified nothing but a deliverance from the misery of hell, all men would be willing to be sav. ed: but if it implies a forsaking sin, as it certainly does, po udregenerated man was ever willing to be saved, nor ever can be. There is the same opposition to the gospel as to the law, and for the same reason; that is, because it is holy. It is impossible a man should be wilJing to be saved from sin while he is willing to live in the practice of it, which is the case of every natural man. This opposition of the will of man to the law and gospel universally reigns in every human heart; for there is none that doeth good, no not one; and it ever will reign there until nature is renewed by divine grace.
If man's salvation is suspended on this willingness, the whole human race must inevitably perish,unless made willing, in a day of Christ's power, by an act of sovereign grace. Offering salvation on condition of this willingness, though it is called preaching free salvation to all, is, if you go no further, preaching the doctrine black des. pair to every truly convinced sinner who is well ac. quainted with his own heart. Such an one finds in himself na batred to sin, no love to God, no delight in his law, no true faith in Christ, no true desires to accept of Christ as a King and Saviour from sin. Though he knows he has no righteousness of his own, yet he feels a self righteous disposition, and an unwillingness to be entirely beholden to free grace. These bad dispositions of heart stand as an effectual bar in the way
of his accepting a free salvation: and unless the gospel provide for the removal of this, he must sink into despair. Unbelief and enmity to holiness rejects this free salvation: he then has nothing to look to but the under served goodness of him who has mercy on whom he will have mercy.
It is ignorance of the corruption and self-righteousness of the beart, makes men fond of this doctrine. Pride is the root of sin in the human heart: to this pride the gospel is directly opposed, and one great design of its institution was to destroy forever every vain imagination of man. Therefore it is that the pride of the heart, or the will, is directly opposed to the gospel : the opposition between them is mutual. The grace given to every man, if it does not overcorne this opposition to the holiness of the gospel, will prove of no effect; but will leave every man in a state of sin and ruin: if it does overcome it, every man will be willing, he will ac. tually choose Christ and free salvation through him: in other words, he will be converted and become a true christian.
There are some who imagine that the moral inability, or depravity of nature, derived from Adam to his posterity, is excusable in them; or that all the bad actions which Aow from this depravity are not blame; worthy.
If this doctrine be true, the posterity of Adam were by the fall entirely deprived of reason, and reduced to a state of brutality; or else, if men would have existed at all, there would have been a race of rational creatures under po obligation to their Maker to act reasonably.
On the presumption of this doctrine's being true, it was impossible for any of the posterity of Adam ever to have co ed one sin had they been'left in their natural state; and it will follow as a consequence, that all the sin committed by them was occasioned by the mediation of Christ. It will also follow, that if most men finally, perish, the mediation of Christ, or, which is much the same thing, the grace given by him to every man, will occasion more men'to be damned than saved. Another consequence would be, that Christ came not to redeem men from the curse of the law, but from the 'misfortune of being children of Adam; putting them first into a capacity of sinning, and then into a capacity of being saved or damned.
Would it not be much better frankly to acknowledge this to be a subject we do not understand? Or rather to take the account we have of it in the sacred Scriptures, without any of our presumptuous comments on the subject?
There are some men amongst us who go a step farther, and deny the agency of the Holy Spirit in a work of conviction and faith in Christ. They assert that men never receive the Spirit of God until they believe. Here I think they are guilty of equivocation: others, as they know, when speaking on this subject, by the Spirit mean' a divine agent, the third person of the adorable trinity: but they mean a holy disposition, and then prove their doctrine by scripture; but do it in such a way as induces us to think they do not believe in the distinct personality of the lloly Ghost.
Others profess to have advanced to a state of perfection. Perfection in holiness is the object of the ardent desire and pursuit of every good man, But to mistake that for perfection which is not such, may prove dangerous, and even fatal.
One class of these, in order to maintain their notion of perfection, acknowledge it does not consist in a complete conformity to the moral law; but call it a perfection in love. They do not seem to mean comparative, but sinless perfection. Perfection, if the word is properly used, must mean that they love God just as constantly, as purely, and as ardently, as he requires them to do, and their neighbours as themselves; without this their love is imperfect: and if their love is imperfect, they are not perfect in love; and of course want that very perfection which the law and gospel both demand.
The moral law is the standard of perfection for moral agents. It was so formerly, and is so still; for Christ came not to destroy the law or the prophets : but as the perfection of which we now treat falls short of this standard, it must necessarily be a kind of solecism in morals, an imperfect perfection. Set aside the standard God has given, and it is easy for the self-righteous, self-flattering heart of man to admire its own attainments and think itself perfect. Men may boast of perfection while they manifest to others great imperfection in knowledge and virtue.
Another class seem to have come by their perfection in a different way. Their inward feelings or er
ercises of soul, which they think are all from the Spirit of God, they call the Spirit within them, or Christ formed in their hearts: and taking these to be an infallible guide, if they can keep them up from day to day, and act under their influence, they think them. selves perfect.
These, I am informed, profess to give the Holy Ghost to others. Is this information true? If so, they must suppose that their inward feelings are the Spirit of Christ within them; and if they can by their pious apo pearance and tender addresses excite similar feelings in others, this is giving the Spirit. Others, receiving from them these pious impressions, imagine, sure enough, that they receive the Holy Ghost from them. Is satan bere transformed into an angel of light? Or, are men so completely transformed into credulous dupes as to become the sport of every daring impostor?
Is it true that some of these encourage men to confess all their sins to them by a promise of pardon? If this be a fact, I should suppose they think, or rather pretend, that Christ is within them, and they the organs by which he acts, or agents employed, by bim; and be, we know, has power on earth to forgive sins. Are these men insane enough to believe they have this power? Are they playing with the credulity of man. kind? Or labouring to sink the christian religion into contempt?, I know not which of the two is the most astonishing, the arrogance of the pretenders, or the credulity of their disciples.
Is it true that a certain man professed a kind of triumph in the absurdities of tbese people, as being hap