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fore, else, is that animating address of man may make to attain the standard St. Paul-"Awake, thou that sleepest, of perfect obedience the grace, the and arise from the dead, and Christ free, unmerited mercy of God having shall give thee light?" It follows, provided, gratuitously, a surety for our therefore, that we whom God has made perfect acceptance and eternal life, in ministers-would I could say as the the manner that seemeth best to the Apostle did, able ministers of the new counsel of his own will, by a sacrifice, Testament—that we are charged with the bare idea of which could never a ministry that is able to raise from have occurred to human imagination, spiritual death, and to introduce into had it not been developed by the Althe path of eternal life, if we introduce mighty himself. Indeed, the comalong with the letter which would kill plete fitness, the entire adequacy of if it stood alone, the spirit which the mighty agent to the stupendous giveth life.
work, and the apparent impossibility But you will ask, what is the spirit that it could ever be effected by a single that giveth life? The question may person, are among the most lively and be answered in a two-fold manner. It convincing attestations of a divine oriis, primarily, the Divine Spirit of God, gin and author. It is in these that we whom we are taught in our creed to observe, most distinctly, the finger of term “ the Lord and Giver of Life;" God; not merely the work itself-the and without whose effectual teaching salvation of sinners—but the means by we cannot profit by the doctrine itself: which it is effected—the self-devotion for it is not enough that we have the and sacrifice of the eternal Son of God. scriptures in our hands; our under These are considerations in themselves standings must be enlightened, or we so exalted, so sublime, so overpowercannot comprehend them ; our hearts ing to the least reflecting mind, by must be softened, or we cannot feel which they have ever been seriously them. The sacred scriptures are a contemplated, that the heart receives mine of wealth; but then we enter the at once the intelligence of these facts mine to very little purpose, if we are as most worthy of God, as proceeding pot furnished with implements to dig from the exercise of his adorable perfor the treasure : and if there be no fections, and as utterly incapable of experienced overseer to point out the proceeding from any other source. direction in which we are to labour, by Only infinite wisdom could have planwhom the men of God spake in the ned the mighty scheme-only unbound. olden time, we are unable to discovered power could have accomplished itthe inestimable jewel, to disencumber only unbounded power could ever have it of the dross of human prejudice, and endured that it should have thus been to take it, as it came from the hand of accomplished. its Maker-pure, unalloyed, undefiled. We prove ourselves, therefore, minis.
But the immediate scope of the pas- | ters of “the spirit that giveth life," sage has, perhaps, another meaning. when we do not shun to declare fully to We may infer from the direct opposi you the whole counsel of God when tion that is here introduced between we testify in all its fulness and free“ the letter that killeth” and “ the dom, the richness of the gospel of his spirit that giveth life,” that as the one grace-when we lay bare the sources is, such must the other be. The “spi- of human corruption, and track the rit that giveth life,” as the term occurs polluted stream from which it flows in this passage, is the same with what from the first dawn of the intellectual is elsewhere termed “ the grace of powers, and exhibit to the conscious God that bringeth salvation. It is and shuddering sinner, his fearful por. the one grand truth that pervades the tion in the dark catalogue of human whole gospel-the central truth of the crime—not that we may lash him into Christian system, from whose radii all anguish, or plunge him into despair the others diverge that God hath ra but that we may take occasion to magtified the purposes of his mercy by the nify the exceeding riches of God's gift of his Son. It is without any refe- grace; to show that “ where sin hath rence, without any regard to human ser- abounded, grace doth much more vices, merits, or performances—without abound;" and that it is the most entaking at all into account the efforts couraging, the most endearing feature in the character of our divine Saviour, or any of the discouragements, which that he is at once able and willing to must arise if he were to be justified in save to the uttermost, and that none any degree by his own works. Never who repair to him, whatever they may would he be free then from the fear, have been, shall ever be cast out. that he might possibly fall short of the
And we must do this without limi- , proposed measure of attainment—that tation and without reserve : not even though Christ has done his part, he the fear of being misconceived or mis may not do his own. It has always apprehended must keep us back. We been found in the history of the Church, must not, in a mean compliance to that, of all motives to obedience which those whom we address, detract in any ever were proposed to mankind, this measure from the completeness of that has been the most efficient—that it is, salvation which Christ has wrought at once, the evidence and the result of out. We must not allow man to be the love of God in the heart. “If ye exalted into a co-partner and associate love me, keep my commandments.” in that great and God-like work. We | Let me, then, exhort you, brethren, must ever maintain that it is through in the application of this subject, to Christ, and therefore that it is a finish constitute yourselves judges of the ed work; and it is only as it is so, that word that is preached from this placeit affords to the true believer such a so far, at least, as relates to your own hope, and such a confidence, as shall welfare-to determine whether it be satisfy his soul when hovering on the “ the letter that killeth,” or “the spirit borders of the eternal world, and con- that giveth life.” You can do this if scious of its own immortality. Then you will; for the best criterion is, the it is felt, by solemn experience, how effect it has produced on your hearts, essential, how indispensible is a hope and upon your lives. The Church to that cannot be ashamed, that must which you belong does not require you ever be sure and steadfast- a kingdom to receive any doctrine on the mere that cannot be moved a house whose statement of her ministers : she places foundation standeth sure.
the holy scriptures in your hands, and There have been indeed, and perhaps bids you consult them for yourselves. there still are, persons who will object This renders you individually responto such an exposition of the scriptures, sible for the truth of the doctrines to that, in thus magnifying the grace of which you yield assent. Ask yourGod, we diminish the responsibility of selves, each of you, What effect has man; that if grace be all, works are been produced on my character and my nothing. But this captious objection conduct by the years I have attended has been so often refuted, both by ar- on the ministry of the gospel ? What gument and facts, that I shall content is my opinion of myself? Is it high myself at present with stating what or low? is it satisfactory, or is it humithe apostle says. “ The grace of God liating? Am I impressed with a sense which bringeth salvation hath appeared of sin, or do I rest content with being unto all men; teaching us”—what? better than some, and not worse than That since the blood of Christ cleanseth others? Do I rely for pardon and acfrom all sin, we are released from the ceptance on the merits of the Redeemer, obligation to righteousness ? No; and on him oply? or am I resting any quite the reverse" teaching us that, dependance on a fancied obedience to denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, the divine commands ? Do I receive the we should live soberly, righteously, hope of salvation as the free gift of and godly, in this present world.” God a gift, not only independent of Never, indeed, will the full and copious any merits of my own, but even in exhibition of the grace of God damp direct opposition to my conscious dethe Christian's ardour in the pursuit serts ?-or do I strive to do the utmost of Christian virtues; rather will it for myself, trusting that Christ will quicken his diligence, and stimulate his make up the deficiency? Have I laid zeal; for he has every motive that can the right foundation -and if so, do I arise from a consciousness of divine build with gold, silver, precious stones love, from a desire to render again -the genuine unimpoverished docaccording to the benefits received ; trines of the gospel-or with the wood, without any of the misapprehensions, the hay, the stubble of mere worldly inferences, of mere human invention ? fast, therefore, in the liberty where. Am I striving to do the will of God at with Christ hath made you free, and all? and, if I am, is it from a principle be not entangled again with the yoke of love to him, because it is his will of bondage.” Rejoice that your God, that I do? or because I expect that my knowing the extent of your corrupefforts, such as they are, will endure tions, the extremity of your weakness, the divine scrutiny, even if they are not the urgency of your necessities, and with rendered acceptable by the precious what arduous temptations you are beblood of Christ?
set, has provided for all your need by You, brethren, who will repair this giving you a Saviour, who of God is day to the altar of your Redeemer made unto you-what you cannot be you, at least, I may fondly hope, as I in yourselves—wisdom, and righteouswould fervently pray, have not re-ness, and sanctification, and redempceived the grace of God in vain. You tion; who never has failed, and never have found it to be a savour of life will fail, them that trust in him; and unto life. This has been proved by the who, as surely as you this day receive peace it has imparted to the conscience the sign and symbol of his precious -by the calm it has produced among death and passion, will open a path to the passions-by the affections it has the paradise of God; where you shall kindled in the heart-by the fruits it praise your God that you were turned has brought forth in the life. You aside from the letter that killeth, to the have experienced it already—though spirit that giveth life—the life that is full and perfect experience must be re- here the life of grace-the life that is served to a later period—to be the the life of glory there. power of God unto salvation. “Stand
DELIVERED BY THE REV. J. H. EVANS,
AT JOHN STREET CHAPEL, KING'S ROAD, AUGUST 29, 1830.
Jeremiah, iii. 13.—“Only acknowledge thine iniquity.”
The greatest stress is laid in God's | There is infinite wisdom, beloved, in sacred word on the subject of confes-God's dealings with us on this behalf. sion. The great ends of God's deal- Great is the stress in God's sacred ings with Job were not accomplished word which is laid upon confession. till he was brought to confess.“ Be. | This is one of the passages which hold I am vile; I repent in dust and seems to astound us as we take it up. in ashes.” The great sufferings of “ Only acknowledge thine iniquity.” David, the son of Jesse, were not | It seems so wondrously great, even in brought to their close till he was brought the infinitely great God, that he should to confession. You will find from the say to the transgressor—that he should 14th of Hosea that Israel heard not thus address himself to backsliding the words, “I will heal thy back Israel-that he should thus extend his slidings, I will love thee freely," till hand, saying, “Only acknowledge thine Israel was brought to confession. There | iniquity.” The first view that ought is infinite wisdom in God's dealings to present itself to our minds from it is, with us on this point. He will make the infinite compassion of the Divine the rebel lay down his arms-he will nature. What a God that God must have the iniquity of the sin to be felt- be that says to a sinner, “Only ache will have the grace of the pardon to knowledge thine iniquity.” And well be experienced-he will have his child convinced am I, if only that truth be brought back again in heart to himself. laid upon the heart effectually by the Holy Ghost this night, it shall bring in the 1st Epistle of John it is written, that soul to repentance. “ The good-“ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ness of God leadeth thee to repen- ourselves, and the truth is not in us. tance.'
If we confess our sins, he is faithful My dear brethren, may the Eternal and just to forgive us our sins, and to Spirit guide my soul and your souls cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It into a real and profitable and holy goes through every dispensation, and consideration of this awful subject. I is the clue-line throughout the whole would sum up my remarks on this labyrinth : it is God's command under text in three different points of view, all circumstances and in all situations. as to the inducements there are to a | What is that confession? We find, sinner's acknowledging his iniquity. in the 51st Psalm, it is not that general The first is, the command of God. confession which meaneth nothing. The second is, the character of God. You find in David's confession there The third is, the immense blessings to was a minute detail : general confesthat soul which is led in the spirit of sion means nothing. A man can conthe gospel to acknowledge its iniquity. | fess his sins in the abstract, and call
First, the great inducement arises himself a great sinner. We can find from its BEING GOD's COMMAND. We many professors who do it, and outfind that his command runs through talk and out-profess some of God's the whole of his sacred word--that in feeble ones. Loud speech sometimes every dispensation this clue-line goes means nothing ; but when the heart through the labyrinth. Thus if you feels sin it goes into particulars. turn to the 26th of Leviticus you find “ Against thee,” says David, “ against “ If they shall confess their iniquity, thee only have I sinned, and done this and the iniquity of their fathers, with evil in thy sight.” What a variety of their trespass which they trespassed expression is contained in the fifty-first against me, and that also they have Psalm-iniquity, transgression, sin; walked contrary unto me, and that I he goes over every mode of expression, also have walked contrary unto them, as if all expression was too little to set and have brought them into the land forth the feelings of his heart. of their enemies ; if their uncircum The greater number of our poor cised hearts be humbled, and they fellow-creatures never confess sin then accept of the punishment of their at all : but there are some who only iniquity. then will I remember my confess great matters : little sins, as covenant with Jacob.” At the dedica- they think them, sins of the lips, tion of the Temple, Solomon prayed, slips of the tongue, as they call it, un“ If they shall bethink themselves in kind insinuations, flattery, secret dethe land whither they are carried cap- partures, high thoughts, waste of tives, and repent, and make supplica- money, waste of time these are things tion unto thee in the land of them that that they confess not to God. But carried them captives saying, We have when the heart feels its own bitterness sinned and done perversely, we have when the heart feels as David did, committed wickedness; and so return it can neither satisfy itself with geneunto thee with all their heart, and with ral acknowledgments of prayer, nor all their soul, in the land of their with general acknowledgments of sin, enemies, which led them away captive, There is a particular, a minute detail the and pray unto thee toward their land, soul goes into; and sometimes consciwhich thou gavest unto their fathers, ence fastens upon one sin, as if it were the city which thou hast chosen, and the master sin which seems to swallow the house which I have built for thy up every other sin, even as the rod of name: then hear thou their prayer Aaron swallowed up the other rods of and their supplication in heaven thy the magicians. Oh, there is nothing dwelling place, and maintain their more heartless than some of those gecause." In the 3d chap. of Matthew neral confessions that come from the you read of John the Baptist, “ Thep lips of man. went out to him Jerusalem, and all Now, observe in the second place, Judea, and all the region round about that the great inducement to the acJordan, and they were baptised of him knowledgment of sin arises from God's in Jordan, confessing their sins." So GRACIOUS CHARACTER. It is such
words as these that wins the heart to tate to say, that some of God's people confess sin—“Only acknowledge thine seem to me to have the most sour views iniquity.” One may imagine some of God: and I believe it just as like poor sinner that hears it, crying out, the God of the Bible as the god of MaWell, Lord, after all that I have done, homet; the god of Mahomet is about after all that I have left undone, after as much like that God as the god they any repeated transgressions, after my fancy. I would not forget, beloved, complicated iniquity, after my depar- that at this present moment, God may tures from thee in thought, in word be searching out this congregation, and in deed, dost thou say to me collecting out some of his hidden ones, “Only acknowledge thine iniquity?" breaking down the pride of their hearts, What! dost thou come and stretch out and melting their souls. The Eternal thine hands to such a poor wretched Spirit may now be sent forth, accordbeing as I am? What does the first ing to the certainty of the everlasting overture come from thy blessed self? covenant; and some poor wretched What! dost thou step from thy glory sinner may this night feel the power to come down to me, to such a wretch of the inward drawings of grace in his as I am! and dost thou say "only ac- heart, to come just as he is, a poor knowledge thine iniquity ?" Oh, how wretched man, and ground his arms many thousands have felt the drawing before the Cross, and welcome the power of that truth in their souls ! It grace of the Gospel. God keep you has convinced them of their sin, of from being wiser than his word. I their baseness, of their ingratitude, of dare take this word against all the their vileness. They have been placed men, and all the churches on earth. in the lowest dust, and have cried out, This is God's word, and I believe of “God be merciful to me a sinner;" how all the displays that he ever gives of wonderful that the great God, the holy, his own character, it is the most soulthe holy Jehovah, should say to such subduing, the most God-exalting; it a wretch as I am, “Only acknowledge runs throughout the Bible from Gethine iniquity."
nesis to Revelations. I would be conSuch is the gracious character of tent to meet any man on the simple God that he is on the look-out for his testimony of God's word, and ask him, returning prodigals :-the first desire, whether He does not stretch out his the first misgiving, the first tear that hand to an obstinate sinner? whether they drop for sin, the first heaving of it does not form, as it were, the very their sighs on account of sin, the first baseness of unbelief, that man-proud, secret desire after him, are all the fruit haughty man--never will submit, till of his own blessed spirit. This great the mighty grace of God takes out his truth is developed in that wondrous stubborn nature, and works in him parable of the Prodigal. “When he will and to do of his own good pleawas yet a great way off his Father met sure. There is something in this part him." Oh, my brother, is there not of my subject which seems well adapted something, now, that seems to break to poor feeble believers. Such is the thy very heart, when thou dost think gracious character of God, that he looks that if thy soul has been led, by the out for the buddings of the pomeEternal Spirit, one step towards God, granite, the little buddings of grace, that great God has taken a thousand the little openings of the heart. Num. towards thee? Is there not something bers may be found who, resting in infinitely melting to thy heart, when creeds instead of resting in God, have thou dost see that in all cases the first fallen into a most dreadful lethargy of step is taken by God? He begins ; soul; and instead of finding their peace then thou followest-he leads thee; in walking with God, I fear that they thou travellest after-he stretches out find too much of a belief that after all his hand, works secretly upon thy will; they shall be saved; forgetting that all thou stretchest out thy half unwilling the blessedness of it consists in the preband, but behold him meeting his pro- sent walking with God. digal, though a great way off, and fall Am I addressing a backslider, one ing on his neck and kissing him. who can look back and say, Oh, I
Right views of God lay at the foun- remember the days, when I could go dation of all religion. I do not hesi- to a corner, and praise God; I could