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will of God to extend grace to us, it must be done, not by conferring some degree of goodness to put us into a condition of trafficking with heaven for more. This cannot be done either to the glory of God, or our own benefit; but he must give us at once abundance of grace, and of the gift of righteousness, by delivering us from the power of darkness, and translating us into the kingdom of his dear Son. In Christ Jesus we are created unto good works, not that our salvation may be suspended upon our due improvement of the grace given us, but that, under the almighty influence of the Spirit of Christ, we may walk forward in the ways of God, being assured that he who hath begun the work of grace in us, will keep us from falling, and at last present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. I conclude with some exhortations.
1. Seek to obtain the knowlege of the law of God, ihat, in the light of it, you may know your natural corruption, your utter inability to do any good thing, or to obtain for yourselves a title to the favor of God. If you are alive in your own conceit, it is because you are without the law.
When the commandment c mes in its light and power, you will find that you are dead men, and as unfit to merit any thing from God, as a dead man to work, kom. vii. 9.
2. Be willing to know and to acknowledge
the worst concerning yourselves. “A man's pride will be brought low.” If you were as high as the morning star, your pride would bring you down to the lower parts of the earth. We are already brought very low by our sins, why should we bring ourselves still lower by our pride ? I will put you in mind of two ways of speaking, as opposite to one another as that of the Pharisee and publican. The one is that of the hypocrite, spoken of, Isa. lviii. “Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not?-Wherefore have we afflicted our souls, and thou takest no knowledge ?" You see their sentiments were the same with yours, who think that by your good works, or by the best ill works to your power, you may procure some title to the favor of God. But did they obtain any thing of the Lord ? Although they took delight in approaching to God, he repelled their advances with indignation.
The other way of speaking of which ! put you in mind, is that of the good centurion who said to Jesus, “Jam not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof." His Jewish friends told Jesus, that he was worthy of a cure to his servant, but he reckoned himself not worthy that Jesus should come under his roof. How different was his spirit from theirs who think themselves worthy that Jesus should come into their hearts, and enrich them with all the bles. sings of his grace!
3. Let all your hope be placed in the mer. cy of the Lord.
“ It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth.” What then? Does the apostle mean to drive us to despair? If we can do nothing that will give us the least shadow of title to the favor of God, is not our strength and hope utterly gone? Your strength and hope is utterly perished from man, but not from the Lord. You can do nothing to entitle yourselves to the divine mercy; but the Lord hath mercy on whom he will have mercy. His mercy is revealed to you, and you are called to come to his mercy seat that you may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in the time of need, Matt. xix.
4.. Endeavor diligently to continue using the means of grace. Say not, To what purpose, since we can do nothing to please God? For this very reason you are to use them, because you can do nothing.
" With men, indeed, it is impossible,” says our Lord, “but with God all things are possible ;” and where are you most likely to meet with him, and to obtain that mercy which
you so greatly need? Is he not found in his institutions ? There he has often been found of those that never sought him, nor could seek him, in an acceptable manner, Eph, i. 13. Acts throughout.
5. Be not satisfied with the use of means, without obtaining that grace which you ought to seek in them. It is unwise for men to continue long in the place of the breaking forth of children. You never work the work of God, if you do not believe on him whom he hath sent.
Do not think that your religious attainments will be a security against the wrath of God, and the curse of his law. Christ is your only security. What could it avail the lawyer spoken of Mark xii. 31. that he was not far from the kingdom of God, if he was not translated into it? What does it avail a patient to have a prospect of his recovering his health, if that prospect is not realized? It may be very prejudicial to him, by making him careless about employing the physician. There is not salvation in any other but in Christ, and none shall perish more miserably than those who die within sight of this Saviour.
We do not insult you when we call upon you to believe on Christ, although you cannot believe on him except the Father draw you. We publish in your ears, the conmandment of G: d, and it is certainly a gracious commandment, not intended to ensnare you, but to direct you in the path of life, Nor ought you to decline obedience to it, because you cannot obey it by your own strength, when it is in the strength of God
that we call you to obey it. "In his name, ' says God, “ shall the gentiles trust.” Thousands, millions of the Gentiles have already heen made, by his grace, to trust in Christ; and he that gathers the outcasts of Israel with the Gentiles to the blessed Shiloh, saith, “ Yet will I gather others unto him besides those that are gathered unto him."
But perhaps you have frequently attempted in vain to take hold of God's covenant. Your most ardent wishes have been disappointed. Your hopes have deceived you. You have labored for nought, and in vain, and therefore nó hope is left for you. You must either lie down in sorrow and despair, or forceaway your thoughts from thewretchedness of your condition and prospects, by following after those
strangers that merly loved, and seeking such relief from the fulfilling of worldly lusts as it can afford.
God forbid that you should fall off from your diligent attendance upon the means of grace, or relax in your care to improve them, or that, in despair of obtaining the best blessings, you should endeavor to find the life of your souls in worldly or sensual lusts. What could more effectually harden your spirits, or provoke God to leave you to wander forever in the way of your own hearts, till hopeless perdition becomes your portion? What condition can be more dreadful than that of backsliders, who shall be filled with