« FöregåendeFortsätt »
himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
IMPROVEMENT. 1. Although it is impossible for man to redeem himself; yet, in order to his salvation, he has a great work to perform. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard: For how shall we escape is we neglect so greät salvation?" It is easy to determine what will be the end of thein who obey not the Gospel of God. We are under strong obligations to do the commandments of God; we ought not however to confound our duty with the work of redemption. The duty to which we are called, and the duty to which Christ was called of his Father, to make an atonement for sin, are very different things. The one ought never to be put in the place of the other; this would introduce confusion into our minds. It is impossible for man to make an atonement for sin, or to give to God a ransom. God requires of us no impossibilities: his commands are all reasonable: God is not a hard man; and he is no respecter of persons: but every one who doeth right, that which is well pleasing in his sight, shall be rewarded accordingly. As a man soweth so shall he also reap. No good deed shall ever lose its reward.
God has established a connexion between well doing and eternal life. Hence, “They that have done good, shall come forth unto the resurrection of life." He that believeth shall be saved.” And “Whosoever heareth the sayings of Christ, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock.” These things make it plain, that obedience to Christ secures the salvation of the soul. We ought not, however, by any means, to infer from this, that our obedience, repentance, and faith, are a balance for our former transgressions; and so a price for our redemption from sin and death. God has promised salvation to those who love him: but this love however
amiable and excellent, is not to be considered as an equivalent to the blessing promised, even life eternal. Salvation is worth infinitely more to us, than our love to God can be to him. They therefore do not feel right; yea, they are far from the humility of the true Christian, who think that they can bring any thing with them as a purchase of salvation, or as a price of redemption from everlasting punishment. With this agrees the humble address of David to his Maker: « Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent in whom is all my delight.” The idea under consideration is further illustrated by the address of Eliphaz to Job; Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself? If we do all that which is required of us, we do no more than our duty; and are therefore unprofitable servants. That is, we have done nothing to purchase favour at the hands of God.
God will grant salvation to them who fear him; he has laid up good things in store for them, who are faithful in his service Christ will say to such, "Well done good and faithful servants, enter into the joy of your Lord.” And in the great day, the Son of man, from his throne of glory, will say to those who had fed the hungry and clothed the naked; "Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” And the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. But a crown of life, the everlasting blessedness which good men will possess in the heavenly world, does not come to them as something due for their former services: as if the most sincere and holy works were a price sufficient to redeem them from that punishment which they have deserved for their former transgressions, which is "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and the glory of his power.”
It is impossible for the most refined and exalted virtue to obtain heaven in a way of purchase. To the penitent, forgiveness of sin is promised, but not because repentance of sin is adequate in value to the remission of sin. And salvation is promised to him that believ: eth; but not because faith is equal in value to salvation. Upon such a principle as this no one could obtain salvation: it would be as impossible as to obtain redemption from sin, by corruptible things, as silver and gold.
For sinners to obey God, to keep his commandments, to repeut of sin, and to believe in Jesus Christ, is not impossible. But for man to give a ransom for his soul, or offer any thing which shall be a price of redemption from sin and death, is absolutely impossible. This price then is not required at our hands.
Richr provision is made in the Gospel for our future and everlasting well-being: and whosoever will may come and partake, and live forever. The language of the Gospel is, “Ho every one that thirstest, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Instead of being invited to come with the price in our hands, we are invited to come and partake, without money and without price. Although sinners are in a perishing condition, yet there is balm in Gilead, there is a physician there; and if we make proper application to the Spiritual Physician, we shall be healed of every malady, without money and without price. Sinners are invited to the Gospel feast, the marriage supper of the Lamb, in the language of a parable thus: - Tell them that are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready; come unto the marriage.”
The spiritual "Siloam" is at hand, in which, “Go, wash," says Christ,"and be clean.” “A fountain is open
ed" in the Gospel, “to the house of David, and to tuo inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.” There is to be found in the Gospel every thing which is necessary for all siņners, whatever may be their situation. If they be wretched, and miserable, poor, blind, or naked, every thing is ready to suit the cir. cumstances of each and all of them. It provides gold tried in the fire for the poor, that they may be rich; wbite raiment to clothe the naked, that the shame of their nakedness may not appear; and eye-salve for the blind that they may see. The advice of the benevolent Redeemer to sinners is, to buy these good things, without money and without price. And these invitations are made on the ground of atonement, the sure foundation laid in Zion, on which they who build are safe; and shall not be confounded world without end. But, Other foundation can no man lay."
An atonement is already made. Of us it is not requiced. For man to atone for his own sin is utterly impossible. For, the work of atonement, not only implies sinless obedience, but it requires other qualifications, with which no mere creature ever was or can be endued. It never can be said of a sinner that he has not sinned, however perfectly free from sin his future life may be. If, therefore, God required of us an atonement for sin, no flesh living could be justified. Hence atonement cannot be made by human obedience, let it be ever so perfect; nor by our sufferings, let them be ever so great, or cver so far extended. An impenitent criminal obeys no law in suffering the penalty of it. There is no virtue, therefore, in suffering, except it be in obedience to lawful authority, and in a good cause. The sufferings of Christ were vir. tuous, because he endured them, while employed in the work properly assigned him. Christ came into the world to do his Father's business, the will of him who sent him. Had Christ forgot the errand for which he came into the world, or had he been busy here and there like an unfaithful servant, his suffers
ings, in those cireumstances, however great, would have been entirely destitute of all virtue or merit.
2. What God requires of man in order to salvation is reasonable.
The rich man of whom we have an account in the Volume of truth, was not required to sell all his possessions, and give to the poor as a ransom for his soul. For this purpose the demand was not made. But it was promised him, that if he would sell all he had and give to the poor, he should have treasure in heaven. This was a reasonable service; for treasure in heaven was worth infinitely more than all worldly possessions. But his covetous heart was so attached to the world, that he would not obey this reasonable command, Hence, “The carnal mind is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” It is the nature of such a mind to be displeased with every divine command. Man must be delivered from the carnal mind, before he can cordially say, "O how love I thy law.” The WORD and Law of God are not sweet to the taste of any but those whose minds have been sweetened by divine grace. God can take away the stony heart; but while it remains, the sinner is not in subjection to the DIVINE LAW. Sinners will hold fast their deceit until they are compelled to let it go, by being made willing in the day of God's power.
It is evident why sinners are unhappy, and far from salvation; because they seek to redeem themselves, or to make an atonement for their sins, that they may be saved in their own way, independent of divine grace and mercy. They do not like God's way; they prefer some other way. They do not like the foundation which God has laid for them; they will not build on God's foundation, they choose one of their own construction. They do not like God's righteousness; they therefore go about to establish one of their own. They do not like to be saved in a way of submission: self-demal is a paintul doctrine to the selfish mind, If we would be saved by Christ, we must take up our