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would I not know my soul,” or pretend to know it as the heart-searching God does : “I would despise my own life," and submit to any death, rather than presume to offer such an insult to the Majesty of heaven. Thus he avows, in opposition to the charge that had been brought against him, first, the folly, and next, the impiety, of a self-justifying spirit. These two we propose to consider in their order : I. The folly of a self-justifying spirit,

By a self-justifying spirit we understand, a persuasion of mind that we do not deserve God's wrath and indignation, but, on the contrary, that we do deserve his favour and blessing. Now supposing a person to indulge this spirit, what does he, in fact, affirm? He affirms, if not in words, yet by clear inference, what “ his mouth must utterly condemn.” He affirms, 1. That there is no truth in the Scriptures

[The Scriptures in every part either affirm, or take for granted, that man is a sinner, justly condemned, and standing in need of mercy at the hands of an offended God. Now to talk of perfection, or of being righteous before God, is to assert directly the reverse of what the Scriptures assert, and, consequently, to say that there is no truth in them. But will any one dare to speak thus concerning the sacred oracles? Will not his own mouth instantly condemn him as a proud and wicked infidel? or, if he profess to believe the Holy Scriptures, and yet maintain the notion of his being righteous before God, will not his own mouth still condemn him as guilty of the grossest inconsistency? Believer or unbeliever, he must equally stand self-refuted, and self-condemned.] 2. That there is no sin in his heart

[We ask not whether there be any flagrant iniquities that can be laid to his charge: it is sufficient if once, in ever so small a degree, in act, word, or thought, he have transgressed, or fallen short of, the perfect law of God: having offended thus far, he has broken the law, and is from that moment subjected to its curse. Now to be justified by the very law that condemns us, is a contradiction in terms: so that the person who pretends to be just before God must either deny that he has any sin in his heart, or maintain the contradiction before stated. If it be said, that he may imagine that the law admits of imperfections, and justifies us notwithstanding those imperfections, we answer, that we cannot make laws of our own, but must take the law as we find it: and that the law, being a perfect transcript of God's mind and will, can be satisfied with nothing but perfect and perpetual obedience: and consequently, if ever we have transgressed it in the smallest measure, we are, and must for ever be, condemned by it. To deny the perfection of the law would be to deny the perfection of God, which is atheism: and to admit its perfection, and yet dream of justification by it, is such an absurdity, as every man's own mouth must condemn. The only possible ground of being justified by it must be, that we have no sin in our hearts: and, if any man dare affirm that, his own mouth has already proved him most ignorant and perverse4.] 3. That he has no need of a Saviour

c Gal. iii. 10.

[If he be righteous himself, he has no need to be clothed in another's righteousness, nor any need of an atonement for his sins: consequently, as far at least as relates to that individual, God has sent his own Son in vain.

And will any man say that God, in making his Son “a propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” was under a mistake, and that for himself he needed no such exercise of mercy? Why then does such a man call himself a Christian? If he stood in no need of Christ, and is in a state of justification without Christ, he should cease to

name the name of Christ :” for whilst he continues to do so, his own mouth condemns him, and proves him perverse.“ If righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain."]

But let us proceed to notice, II. The impiety of it

It was not without good reason that Job expressed such an abhorrence of the spirit that was imputed to him : for the indulging of it is, 1. A criminating of God

[There is not a perfection of the Deity which is not dishonoured by a self-justifying spirit. It impeaches and vilifies his truth; seeing that he has represented all to be in a state of guilt and condemnation before him. It denies his justice; since he threatens all men with death, when there are some who do not deserve it. It degrades his wisdom; since it supposes that that wonderful contrivance of providing a surety for us, and laying our sins upon him, was unnecessary. It holds

66

di John i. 8.

e Gal. ii. 21.

up to derision also his mercy and grace, which are proclaimed as incomprehensibly great and glorious, when the very offer of them is only an empty sound. Hear what God himself says: “ If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar?.” Can any thing be conceived more heinous than this? Should we not despise our own lives,” and submit to ten thousand deaths, rather than be guilty of it?] 2. A contempt of our own souls

[God has provided a salvation for us, and offered it freely to all who will accept it in and through his beloved Son; and has told us, that “ there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved," but that of Jesus; and yet we choose to ground our claim of happiness on the purity and perfection of our own character, rather than submit to be saved in his appointed way. But is not this madness? Will a man deal so with his temporal interests ? will he risk the loss of them upon a mere phantom of his own imagination, in direct opposition to the plainest dictates of his understanding ? Surely, if men had the least value for their souls, they would not so trifle with them; they would at least endeavour to ascertain what degree of weight was due to their opinions, and whether there was any rational ground for them to expect God's blessing in a way so contrary to his own most express and solemn declarations. But their total indifference about the issue of their confidence shews, that they account their souls of no value, or, as Solomon expresses it, “ they despise their own souls 8."] 3. A trampling under foot the Son of God

[This is God's own representation of the sin. In rejecting the sacrifice of Christ, there being no other sacrifice, we cut ourselves off from all hope of salvation; yea, “we trample under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and do despite to the Spirit of grace b.' What amazing impiety is this! We are apt to confine our ideas of impiety to gross sins committed against our fellowcreatures: and such an error as self-righteousness we suppose to be of very little importance. But it is not thus that God estimates sin: he views sin chiefly as it dishonours him, and more especially as it militates against that stupendous effort of his love, the redemption of the world by the blood and righteousness of his beloved Son. Know then, that to justify ourselves, is to repeat, in fact, the conduct of those who crucified the Lord of glory; it is to “crucify him afresh," and

“We will not have this man to reign over us.”]

to say,

f 1 John i. 10.

& Prov. xv. 32.

h Heb. x. 26–29.

Are we

This subject may be further IMPROVED, 1. For our conviction

[Who was it that used the language in our text? It was Job, of whom God himself testified, that "he was a perfect and upright man.” And if he could not justify himself before God, who are we, that we should presume to do so ? more perfect than he? Hear how he speaks of himself, a few verses after our texti; and then see what our views of ourselves should be. Nor was Job singular in his views of himself: the language of all the most eminent saints, both in the Old and New Testament, is precisely similark And such must be ours also, if ever we would find mercy at the hands of God: we must “humble ourselves, if ever we would be exalted.”] 2. For our consolation

[Some are discouraged at the sight of their own vileness, and are ready to think that such unworthy creatures as they can never be saved. And such thoughts they might well have, if justification were, either in whole or in part, by any righteousness of our own. But “we are to be justified freely by God's grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus!:" it is “ the ungodly whom God justifies m;" not indeed those who continue ungodly, but those who come to Christ in an ungodly state, desiring to be cleansed from the guilt and power of their sins: those persons are justified the very moment they believe in Jesus, and that too from all the sins they have ever committed". Here indeed is abundant consolation for “the weary and heavy-laden” sinner; here indeed he may find rest to his soul. Remember then what the Apostle has said; “ This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners :" and that Paul himself, when he was a bloody persecutor and blasphemer, obtained mercy, on purpose that the extent and riches of God's grace might be displayed in him, as a pattern and encouragement to all who should ever desire acceptance with their offended God'. Follow his example then, and believe in Jesus for the remission of your sins: say, as the prophet encourages you to do, “In the Lord Jesus have I righteousness and strength;" for “ in the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and in him shall they glory.” The very name by which the Lord Jesus himself delights to be called, is, " The Lord our Righteousness."]

ver. 30, 31. k See Ps. cxxx. 3. and cxliii. 2. Prov. xx. 9. Isai. vi. 5. and Ixiv. 6. Phil. iii. 4–9. and especially 1 Cor. iv. 4. i Rom. jj. 24-26. m Rom. iv. 5.

n Acts xiii. 39. • 1 Tim. i. 15, 16. p Isai. xlv. 24, 25. 9 Jer. xxiii. 6.

i

CCCCLX.

IMPATIENCE REPROVED.

Job x. 1. My soul is weary of my life. LIFE is justly esteemed a blessing: and we are properly taught in the Liturgy to thank God, as well for our creation, as for our preservation, and redemption. But to the greater part of mankind this world is a chequered scene at best; and to very many it is only a vale of tears. Had we seen Job in his prosperity, we should have been led perhaps to form a more favourable estimate of the present state: but there are changes in the affairs of men, as much as in the air and seas : and the day that dawned with the most promising appearance, may be overcast with clouds, and blackened with tempests, ere the sun has reached its meridian height. Thus it was with Job: the man that was the envy of all who knew him, was in a short space of time so reduced, as to exclaim, “My soul is weary of my life.”

We shall,
1. Shew that this is a common experience-

Daily observation proves that it is common,
1. Among the ungodly-

[It arises from domestic trials. Who can tell what trouble a tyrannical or unfaithful husband, a contentious or imprudent wife, a rebellious or extravagant son, an indiscreet or unchaste daughter, may occasion? There is scarce a family to be found, where something does not happen to embitter life, and to make death, either to the head or members, an object of desire.

From personal troubles also the same disquietude will spring. Pain and sickness, when of long continuance, and especially when accompanied with the infirmities of age, cause many to wish for a speedy dissolution. Embarrassed circumstances too will so oppress the spirits, particularly when occasioned by one's own extravagance or folly, as to make the soul weary of life: yea, to such a degree are the minds of men oppressed by troubles of this kind, that a deliverance from them is not unfrequently sought in suicide. Even a mere sense of the emptiness

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