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7, 8.; and there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked, Isa. Ivii. 21.
Thus, by the terrors of the law, they are driven from under the presumptuous covert of God's general mercy : but no sooner are they so, but they fly under another shelter, equally dangerous, even confidence in the flesh, and begin to rest in external performances and carnal privileges, hoping these things will commend them to God.
To force them from this also, they are threatened with condemnation : " By the “ deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be “ justified in his sight," Rom. iii. 20.; " and “ except your righteousness shall exceed the “ righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, “ ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom
of heaven,” Matth. y. 20.
Thus sinners are driven from under the shelter of confidence in the flesh also : But anxious still to shelter themselves under a covert of their own choosing and making, they immediately run under the old root ot self-righteousness, and endeavour to reform their inward man, by keeping a stricter watch
over their thoughts and words, while they double their external duties, so that God may be pleased with them, and save them from wrath, on account of their strict and holy lives : now they are apt to conclude, however it be with others, all shall be well at last with them: but now and then a sinful thought they obserye passing through their hearts, and words they ought not to speak flowing from their tongues, for which they are grieved, but endeavour to make amends to God for such in future, by striving to restrain the lawless wanderers from their minds, and keeping a stricter watch over their tongues. But to drive them from this root of self-righteousness likewise, the sharp law is thrust in upon them, with this malediction, “ Cursed is every one that continueth “ not in all things which are written in the “ book of the law to do them,” Gal. iii. 10. This stuns them fearfully, knowing that they have not kept the law perfectly; their recollections now begin to be awakened, they see not only now and then they have broken the divine law, but almost in every instance, times and ways without number; and what to do they know not, they are horribly afraid, terrified to stay a moment long
er under the false refuge of their own righteousness,
What shall they do, or where shall they fly, to be safe from avenging wrath? In this dreadful plight, when every other refuge they sadly discover to be unavailing, the net of the everlasting gospel, by the fishers of men, the ambassadors of Christ, is freely let down, and spread wide, with a “Ho! every one that “ thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he “ that hath no money; come ye, buy and seat, yea come, buy wine and milk, with" out money and without price," Isa. lv. 1. “ Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou “shalt be saved,” Acts xvi. 31. “ Come “ unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy “ laden, and I will give you rest,” Matth. xi. 28. And him that cometh to me, I will “ in no wise cast out,” John vi. 37. “ The “ Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let “ him that heareth, say, Come: And let him " that is athirst come: And whosoever will, “ let him take of the water of life freely,” Rev. xxii. 17.
Transported at the all-joyful tidings, they embrace the thrice welcome news, with the
keenness of a condemned man receiving a reprieve from death : thus they are caught in the gospel net and saved,
But ministers, though fishers of men, are only men themselves, and like the seven disciples of old, they may toil all night, nay, all the nights and days of their lives, and take nothing, unless the Lord by his Spirit cause success; it is then only with the disciples, they cast the net on the right side of the ship, and catch a draught (John xxi. 2.---6.) of elect sinners. “ Paul may plant, and A• pollos water, but God alone giveth the in“ crease,” i Cor. iii. 6, 7,
· My part is now to examine, whether I have been taken captive by Satan at his will, eagerly grasping at his hooks, and swallowing down his baits; and, alas! my conscience accuseth me of having done so in too many instances : But have I too seen my lost and undone state by nature, and been endeavouring to find a refuge from divine wrath under any or all of those coverts I was noticing, and have been driven out of them by the terrors of the law; the Holy Spirit convincing me of my dangerous situation, and the total insufficiency of such refuges to screen me from the wrath of the Almighty? And have I been led to see that there is no safety any where else, but under the covert of Christ's blood and righteousness, and to my sweet experience been taken with the gospel net, and closed with Christ alone for my Saviour, believing that he is both able and willing to save poor, wretched, sinful me, taking him for my all in all ? .