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Nor does it palliate the representation which we have now given, that a God, in the fancied array of poetic loveliness-that a God of mere natural perfection, and with
moured with this, that the God who created | must at length be brought out to its adeyour mind, and all the tastes which are quate condemnation. And on that day, within it, and all the objects which are with- when the earth is to be burnt up, and all its out it, and which minister to its most ex-flatteries shall have subsided, will it be seen quisite gratification,-this God, we say, may of many a heart that rejoiced in the apbe turned away from with a feeling of the plause and friendship of this world, that, most nauseous antipathy, and you may give alienated from the love of God, it was inthe most substantial evidence of your hatred deed in the gall of bitterness, and in the to him, by ridding your thoughts of him al- bond of iniquity. together. Or, lastly, it may be what the world calls a virtuous occupation, even that of a mind bustling with the full play of its energies, among enterprises of charity and plans of public good. Yet even here, won-out one other moral attribute than the single derful as you may think it, there may be a attribute of indulgence-that a God, ditotal exclusion and forgetfulness of God; vested of all which can make him repuland, while the mind is filled and gratified sive to sinners, and, for this purpose, shorn with a rejoicing sense of its activity and its of all those glories, which truth and allusefulness, it may be merely delighting itself thority, and holiness, throw around his with a constitutional gratification,-and God character-that such a God should be idolthe author of that constitution, be never ized at times by many a sentimentalist. It thought of, or if thought of according to would form no deduction from our enmity the holiness of his attributes, and the nature against the true God, that we gave an occaof that friendship, opposite to the friendship sional hour to the worship of a graven of the world, which he demands of us, and image, made with our own hands-and it the kind of employment which forms the is just of as little significancy to the argureward and the happiness of his saints in ment, that we feel an occasional glow of eternity, even the praise and the contem- affection or of reverence, towards a fictitious plation of himself,-if thought of, we say, being of our own imagination. If there be according to this his real character, and truth in the Bible, it is there where God has these the real requirements that he lays upon made an authentic exhibition of his nature, us, even the man to whom the world yields the homage of virtue may think of his God-if you dislike this way of approach-if with feelings of offensiveness and disgust. you shrink from the contemplation of that Being, who bids you sanctify him in your hearts, and who claims such a preference in your regard, as shall dispossess your affections for all that is earthly-if you have no relish for the intercourse of prayer, and of spiritual communion with such a Godif your memory neither love to recal him, nor your fancy to dwell upon him, nor he be the being with whom you greatly delight yourself, the habitation to which you resort continually, then be assured, that amid the painted insignificancy of all your other accomplishments, your heart is not right with God; and he who is the Father of your existence, and of all that gladdens it, may still be to you a loathing and an abomination.
and if God in Christ be an offence to you
Neither does it palliate the representation. which we have now offered, that we do many things with the direct object of doing that which is pleasing to God. It is true, there cannot be love where there is no desire to please; but it is as true, that there may be a desire to please where there is no love. Why, I may both hate and fear the man, whom I may find it very convenient to please; and to secure whose favour, I may practice a thousand arts of accommodation and compliance. I may comply by action-but instead of complying with my will, I may abominate the necessity which constrains me. I may be subject to his
There is nothing monstrous in all this, to the men of our world, seeing that they have each a share in that deep and lurking ungodliness, which has both so vitiated our nature, and so blinded all who inherit this nature, against a sense of its enormity. But only conceive how it must be thought of, and how the contemplation of it must be felt, among those who can look on character with a spiritual and intelligent estimation. How must the pure eye of an angel be moved at such a spectacle of worthlessness, and surely, in the records of heaven, this great moral peculiarity of our outcast race must stand engraven as that, which of all others, has the character of guilt most nakedly and most essentially belonging to it. That the bosom of a thing formed should feel cold or indifferent to him who formed it, that not a thought or an image should be so unwelcome to man as that of his Maker, that the creature should thus turn round on its Creator, and eye disgust upon him, that its every breath should be envenomed with hatred against him who inspired it, or, if it be not hatred, but only unconcern, or disinclination, that even this should be the real disposition of a fashioned and sustained being, towards the hand of his Preserver,-there is a a perversity here which time may palliate for a season, but which, under a universal reign of justice,
pleasure in my person, and in my performances-but you would not say, while hatred rankled within me, that I was subject to him with my mind. A sovereign may overrule the humours of a rebellious province, by the presence of his resistless military--but you would not say that there was any loyalty in this forced subordination. He may compel the bondage of their actual services -but you would not say, that it was in this part of his dominions, where the principle of subjection to him existed in the minds of the people. We have already affirmed, that though our will went along with a number of performances, which in the matter of them were agreeable to God's law-this was far from an unfailing indication of love to God; for there may be a thousand other constitutional principles, the residence and operation of which in the heart may give rise to these performances, while there was an utter distaste, and hostility on our part to God. They may be done, not because God wills the doing, but because the doing falls in with our humour, or our interest, or our vanity, or our instinctive gratification. But now we are prepared to go farther, and say, that they may be done, because God wills the doing, and yet there may be an utter want of subjection in the mind, to the law of God. The terror of his power may constrain you to many acts of obedience, even as the call, "Flee from the coming wrath," told on the disciples of John the Baptist. But obedience may be rendered to all the requirements of this prophet. Thieves and swearers, and sabbath-breakers, may, under the fear of the coming vengeance, give up their respective enormities, and yet their minds be altogether carnal, and utterly destitute of subjection to the law of God. There may be the obedience of the hand while there is the gall of bitterness in the heart, at the necessity which constrains it. It may not be the consenting of the mind, to the law of him whom you delight to please and to honour. Now, this is the service for which it is the aim of Christianity to prepare you. It is by putting that law, which was graven on tables of stone, upon the tables of your heart, that it enables you to yield that obedience which is acceptable to God. He is grieved at the reluctancy of your services. No performances can satisfy him, while your heart remains in shut and shielded the foolishness of that preaching, of which alienation against him. What he wants, the great burden is Jesus Christ, and him is to gain the friendship and the confi- crucified,-to him, in a word, whom the dence of his creatures; and he feels all the true description of our moral disease, must concern of a wounded and mortified fa- terrify or offend,-seeing that he carries ther when he knocks at the door of your a distaste in his heart toward the alone heart and finds its affections to be away remedy, by which the disease can be met from him. He condescends to plead the and extirpated. matter, and with the tenderness of a disppointed father, does he say, "Wherein have I wearied you, O children of Israel,
testify against me?" You may fear him; you may heap sacrifices upon his altar: you may bring the outer man to something like a slavish obedience, at his bidding, but till your heart be subdued, by that great process, which all who are his spiritual subjects must undergo, you are carnal, and you do not love him. Your obedience is like a body without a soul. The very principle which gives it all its value, is wanting. It is this, which turns the whole to bitterness. It is this, which, with all the bustling activity of your services, keeps you dead in trespasses and sins. It is this which mars every religious performance, and imparts the character of rebelliousness to every one item, in the list of your plausible and ostentatious duties. There is not one of them which is not accompanied with an act of disobedience, and that too, to the first and greatest commandment, by which we are called upon to love the Lord with all our heart, strength, and soul. Though the hand should be subject, though the mouth should be subject, though all the organs of the outer man should be subject; yet it availeth nothing, if the will of the mind is not subject. I could sell all my goods to feed the poor. I could compel my hand to sign an order to that effect, and I could keep my hand from reversing that order till it was executed. But all this I may do says Paul, and yet have nothing, because I have not charity. It is not the act of welldoing to your neighbour, but a principle of love to your neighbour, on which God stamps the testimony of his approbation. In like manner, it is not the act of welldoing to God, but the principle of love to God, which he values ;--and if this be withheld from him, you are carnal; and with all your painful and multiplied attempts at obedience, your mind is not subject to the law of God.
We shall conclude, at present, with two short reflections.
First, If any of you are convinced of the justness of the representations which we have now given, you will perceive that your guilt in the sight of God, may be of a far deeper and more alarming kind, than men are generally aware of. And such a view of the matter may be quite intolerable to him who nauseates the peculiarities of the gospel,-to him who has a contempt for
But secondly, There is another class of people, whom such a view of the actual state of human nature ought to tranquillize,
by bringing their minds out of perplexity, | lessness;-you become desperate of salvainto a state of firm and confident decision. tion in one way, and you are led to look for There are often in a congregation, a set of it in another way. The question, whether hearers not yet shut up into the faith, but salvation is of grace or of works, receives approaching towards it,-with a growing its most decisive settlement;-when thus taste for the Christianity of the New Testa-driven away from one term of the alternament, but without a full and a final acqui-tive, you are compelled, as your only reescence in it, with an opening and an source, to the other term. You feel that enlarging sense of the importance of the nothing else will do for your acceptance gospel, but still halting between two opi- with God, but your acceptance of the of nions respecting it; who, in particular, are fered Saviour. You stand at the foot of not sure where their sole dependence for the cross, you make an absolute surrender salvation should be placed, whether singly of yourself to the terms of the gospel. upon their own performances, or singly upon the righteousness of Christ, or jointly upon both. Now, we trust that the lesson of our text may have the effect with some, of bringing this unsettled account more speedily to its termination. You may have hitherto, perhaps, been under the impression, that the condition of man was not just so bad as to require a Saviour, who must undertake the whole of his cure, and bring about the whole of his salvation. You have attempted to share with the Saviour in the matter of your redemption. Instead of looking upon it with the eye of the Apostle, as being all of grace, or all of works, you have in some way or other, attempted a compromise between them; and this has the undoubted effect of keeping you at a distance from Christ. You have not felt your entire need of him, and therefore you have not leaned in close and constant dependence upon him. But let the torch of a spiritual law be lifted over your characters, and through the guise of its external decencies reveal to you the mountain of iniquity within; let the deformity of the heart be made known, and you become sensible of the fruitlessness of every endeavour, so long as the consent of a willing cordiality is withheld from the person and authority of God; let the utter powerlessness of all your doings, be contrasted with the perversity of your stubborn and unmanageable desires, and the case is seen in all its help-delight, in the way of his commandments.
And we know not a more blissful or a more memorable event, in the history of the human soul, than, when convinced that there is no other righteousness than in the merits, and no other sanctification than in the grace of the Saviour, it henceforth glories only in his cross; and now, that every other expedient of reformation has been tried, and failed of its accomplishment, it takes to the remaining one of crying mightily to God, and pressing, at a throne of grace, the supplication of the Psalmist, "Create a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within me."
One thing is certain; you are welcome, at this moment, to lay hold of the righteousness of God, in Christ Jesus; you are welcome, at this moment, to the use of his prevailing name, in your prayers to the Father; you are welcome, at this moment, to the plea of his meritorious obedience, and of his atoning death: and you are welcome, at this moment, to the promise of the Spirit, given unto all who believe, whereby the enmity of their carnal minds will be done away,-God will no longer be regarded with antipathy and disgust, he will appear in the face of Jesus Christ as a reconciled father, he will pour upon you the spirit of adoption,-you will walk before him without fear, and those bonds being loosed, wherewith you were formerly held, you will yield to him the willing obedience of those whose hearts are enlarged, and who run, with
The Power of the Gospel to dissolve the Enmity of the human Heart against God.
"Having slain the enmity thereby."-Ephesians ii. 16.
II. We shall now consider how it is that the gospel of Jesus Christ suits its application to this great moral disease.
The necessity of some singular expedient for restoring the love of God to the alienated heart of man, will appear from the utter impossibility of bringing this about by
ever. For, do you think that the delivery of the law of love, in his hearing, as a posltive and indispensable enactment coming forth from the legislature of heaven will do it? You may as well pass a law, making it imperative upon him to delight in pain, and to feel comfort on a bed of torture.
any direct application of authority what-Or, do you think, that you will ever give a
practical establishment to the law of love, by surrounding it with accumulated penalties? This may irritate, or it may terrify,but for the purpose of begetting any thing like attachment, one may as well think of lashing another into tender regard for him. Or, do you think, that the terrors of the coming vengeance will ever incline a human being to love the God who threatens him? Powerful as these terrors are, in persuading man to turn from the evil of his ways, they most assuredly do not form the artillery by which the heart of man can be carried. They draw not forth a single affection, but the affection of fear. They never can charm the human bosom into a feeling of attachment to God. And it goes to prove the necessity of some singular ex-mined an exclusion of this principle as pedient, for restoring man to fellowship ever,--that avenue to his heart has never with his Maker; that the only obedience been unlocked, through which it might be on which this fellowship can be perpetu- made to find its way,-every former arguated, is an obedience which no threatenings ment, so far from having dissolved the barcan force, to which no warnings of dis- rier, has only served to rivet and to make pleasure can reclaim,-which all the solemn it more unmoveable. And the difficulty proclamations of law and justice cannot still lies upon us,-how are we to deposit carry, and all the terrors and severities of in the heart of man, the only right princia sovereignty resting on power, as its only ple of obedience to God,--and to lead him foundation, can never subdue. The utter- onward in the single way of a pure, and ance of the words, Thou shalt love the spiritual, and substantial repentance? Lord thy God, or perish everlastingly, can This, then, is a case of difficulty, and, in no more open the shut and alienated heart the Bible, God is said to have lavished all of man, than it can open a gate of iron. the riches of his unsearchable wisdom on Multiply these arguments of terror as you the business of managing it. No wonder may,-arm them with tenfold energy, and that to his angels it appeared a mystery, make them to fall in thunder on the sin- and that they desired to look into it. It ner's ears, tell him of the God of judg-appears a matter of direct and obvious ment, and manifest to him the frown of his facility to intimidate man,-and to bring angry countenance,-lay before him the his body into a forced subordination to all grim aspect of his impending death, and the requirements. But the great matter spread a deeper mantle of despair over the was, how to attach man,-how to work in vast field of that eternity which is on the him a liking to God, and a relish for his other side of it;-you may disquiet him, character;-or, in other words, how to and right that he should be so, you may communicate to human obedience, that prevail on him to give up many evil doings; principle, without which it is no obedience and right that the whole urgency of the at all,-to make him serve God because he coming wrath should be employed to make loved him; and to run in the way of all his him give them up immediately, you may commandments, because this was the thing set him a trembling at the power of God, in which he greatly delighted himself. To and better this than spending his guilty lay upon us the demand of satisfaction for career, in thoughtlessness and unconcern, his violated law, could not do it. To press about the great Lawgiver;--but where, in home the claims of justice upon any sense the midst of all this, shall we find obedience of authority within us, could not do it. To to the very first and greatest commandment bring forward, in threatening array, the of the law? Has this obedience been yet terrors of his judgment, and of his power so much as entered on? Has love to God against us, could not do it. To unveil the so much as reached the infancy of its ex- glories of that throne where he sitteth in istence in that heart which is now beginning to be agitated by its terrors? Amid all the bitterness of remorse, and all the fearful looking for of judgment, and all the restless anxieties of conscious guilt, and anticipated vengeance, tell us, if a single particle of tenderness towards God has any place in this restless and despairing bosom? Tell us, if it act as an element at all, in this wild war of turbulence and disorder? Or,
has it yet begun to dawn upon the mind, and spread its salutary and composing charm over that dark scene of conflict, under which many a sinner has to sustain the burden of the wearisome nights that are appointed to him? You may seek for love to God throughout all the chambers of his heart, and seek in vain. The man may be acting such reformations as he is driven to, and may be clothing himself in such visible decencies, as he feels himself compelled to put on, and may be labouring away at the drudgery of such observances as he thinks will give him relief from the corrosions of that undying worm, which never ceases to goad him with its reproaches; but as to the love of God, there is as grim and deter
ity, and manifest to his guilty creatures the awful inflexibilities of his truth and righteousness, could not do it. To look out from the cloud of vengeance, and trouble our darkened souls as he did those of the Egyptians of old, with the aspect of a menacing Deity, could not do it. To spread the field of an undone eternity before us, and tell us of those dreary abodes where each criminal hath his bed in hell, and the cen
shall wither and expire under the contagion of their ruffian example; and will patronize every step of that progress which leads from one depravity to another, till their ill fated proselyte, made as much the child of hell as themselves, shall share in that common ruin which, in the great day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God, will come forth from the storehouse of his wrath, in one mighty torrent, on the heads of all who boast of their iniquity. We have now
turies of despair which pass over him are not counted, because there no seasons roll, and the unhappy victims of the tribulation, and the wrath, and the anguish, know, that for the mighty burden of the sufferings which weigh upon them, there is no end, and no mitigation; this prospect, appalling as it is, and coming home upon the belief with all the characters of the most immutable certainty, could not do it. The affections of the inner man remain as unmoved as ever, under the successive and repeated in-touched on the limits of a subject of which half its horrors are untold; but through which, the minister of the counsels of hea ven must clear his intrepid way, in spite of all its painfulness. We will not pursue it at present, but neither will we count the digression out of place, should a single parent among you be led, from what we have now uttered, to be jealous over his children with a godly jealousy, and not to suffer those, for whose eternity he is so deeply responsible, to take their random direction through society, just where the prospects of busi
fluence of all these dreadful applications. There is not one of them, which, instead of conciliating, does not stir up a principle of resistance; and, subject any human creature to the treatment of them all, and to nothing else, and he may tremble at God, and shrink at the contemplation of God, and feel an overpowering awe at the thought of God, when that thought visits him; but we maintain, that not one particle of influence has been sent into his heart, to make him love God. Under such applications as these, we can conceive the crea-ness, and of worldly advantage, may chance ture, gathering a new energy from despair, to carry them; to calculate on the possi and mustering up a stouter defiance than bilities of moral corruption, as well as on ever to the God who threatens him. Strange the possibilities of lucrative employment; contest between the thing formed and him to look well to exposures and acquaintances, who formed it;-but we see it exhibited and hours of social entertainment, as well among the determined votaries of wicked-as to the common-place object of a situation ness in life; and it is the very contest which in the world. And when you talk of a gives its moral aspect to hell throughout all good line for your children, just think a eternity. There God reigns in vindictive little more of the line that leadeth to etermajesty, and there every heart of every nity, and have a care lest you be the instruoutcast, sheathed in impenetrable hardness, ment of putting them on such a path of mutters its blasphemies against him. O danger, that it shall only be the very rarest hideous and revolting spectacle! and how miracle of grace that your helpless young awful to think that the unreclaimed sons of can be kept from falling, or be renewed profligacy, who pour along our streets, and again into repentance. throng our markets, and form the fearful majority in almost every chamber of busi-mains unresolved. How then is this reness, and in every workshop of industry, generation to be wrought, if no threatenings are thither speeding their infatuated way! can work it,-if no terrors of judgment What a wretched field of contemplation is can soften the heart into that love of God, around us, when we see on every side of it which forms the chief feature of repentthe mutual encouragement,-the everply-ance,-if all the direct applications of law ing allurements,-the tacit, though effectual and of righteous authority, and of its treand well understood, combination, sustain-mendous and immutable sanctions, so far ing, over the whole face of this alienated from attaching man in tenderness to his world, a firm and systematic rebellion God, have only the effect of impressing a against God! We are not offering an ex- violent recoil upon all his affections, and, aggerated picture when we say, that within by the hardening influence of despair, of reach of the walk of a single hour, there stirring up in his bosom a more violent anare thousands, and thousands more, who tipathy than ever? Will the high and sohave cast away from them the authority of lemn proclamations of a menacing Deity God; and who have been nerved by all his not do it? This is not the way in which threatenings into a more determined atti- the heart of man can be carried. He is so tude of wickedness; and who glory in their constituted, that the law of love can never, unprincipled dissipations; and who, with- never be established within him by the enout one sigh at the moving spectacle of gine of terror; and here is the barrier to ruined innocence, will, in the hearing of this regeneration on the part of man. But companions younger than themselves, scat-if a threat of justice cannot do it, will an ter their pestilential levities around them, act of forgiveness do it? This again is not and care not though the hope of parents, the way in which God can admit the and the yet unvitiated delicacy of youth, guilty to acceptance. He is so constituted
But the difficulty in question still re