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knowledge of his sinfulness, and became more strict and serious, yet still he could gain no solid peace of conscience. All his strictest mortifications, his inultiplied and most exact performances of duty, were defective, when measured by the holy law of God, to the divine spirituality of which he could not perfectly attain, nor save himself from its just condemnation. In this situation, his soul was in much distress. He saw the Word of God was in many places fully opposed to him, which served to aug: ment bis fears.
The Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans, was particularly offensive and distressing to him. He perceived that it evidently overthrew all his hopes, and made no account of a life of superior piety and godliness, to which he had aspired. He was then ignorant of God's righteousness, and of any other
way of salvation than by the merit of his own goodness, the levelling strain of the apostle was, in a very high degree, grating to his selfrighteous pride. He could not bear to see those who were esteemed good men treated only as sinners, and all their best righteousness passed by, as of no account towards their justification. He was sensible that St. Paul taught a very different doctrine from that which he held and preached, and that his doctrine, and that of the apostle, were directly contrary to each other, in the important article of man's justification and acceptance in the sight of God. Mr. Adam was indeed truly desirous to know, and to teach his people the real truth, as it is revealed in the word of God; nor could he suffer his conscience to be pacified and laid asleep with the too common way of persuading himself that both he and St. Paul
meant in reality the same thing, though they appeared so opposite : he dreaded the thought of being a teacher of false doctrine, and especially in a point of such essential consequence to the salvation of his parishioners ; and therefore he determined to take all possible pains to inform himself on the subject : and hence he applied himself with all his power, to every probable source of information. Hammond, Whitby, Grotius, and other commentators, were consulted with the utmost care and attention, but all in vain. These gave him no relief. He found they understood the case no better than himself. In after-life he observed of them, that he was amazed to see men of sense and understanding take pains to impose upon themselves and others, by labouring to no purpose, with much expense of learning and argument, to reconcile things so diametrically opposite, as justification by works and justification by faith ; and to unite two systems which it is the professed design of St. Paul to oppose to each other, and to show their necessary and irreconcileable contradiction. (Rom. xi. 6.) “And if” (namely, the salvation of sinners)" by grace, then it is no more of works : otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Mr. Adam proceeded in great uncertainty of mind for some time, yet resolutely determined not to give up the pursuit of truth without obtaining full satisfaction. He could not suppose, indeed, that St. Paul was wrong; as he was fully persuaded of the divine inspiration of his writings; or that the doctrines he taught were unintelligible,
much less that he really inculcated, or countenanced, licentiousness of life. Hence he began to suspect that the fault must be in himself, and in the system which he had adopted, and that he had not properly considered the apostle's doctrine, in all its connexions and relations. Leaving, therefore, the bewildering guidance of the commentators and expositors, whom he had consulted, he applied himself to God, the fountain of all knowledge, and besought him to teach and direct him.
While he was thus engaged, and had his mind much perplexed, many of his friends and acquaintances entertained fears, lest his intellects should fail through his too great study and care about religion. Upon which Mr. Stillingfleet observes, “ This is nothing uncommon. The little attention which most people give to the care of their souls, and the slight views which they take of the evil of sin, together with their lamentable ignorance of the great truths of the Bible, make them entertain that suspicion of all who begin seriously to consider the infinite importance of these things, and to feel their weight; whereas, it is only the just and natural effect of a right conviction of sin. What should call for our distressing grief, if sin against God does not? or what should engage all our anxiety equally with a concern how we may obtain pardon, and recover the favour of God ? Mr. Adam was lost here. The means which he had tried were ineffectual. His own soul, and those of his people, were at stake; and till this great difficulty was solved, it is no wonder that his mind could find no rest. Whoever searches the Scriptures will find that there
is nothing new in such circumstances. Psalms vi. xxxii. lxxvii. cxxx., with many other parts, show a similar situation of things in the minds of the true servants of God in those times; nor has it been otherwise in any age of the church. We may venture to assert, that this madness, if such it is called, is far wiser than the wisdom of the world."
God did not leave Mr. Adam in this perplexity of mind. He betook himself to his study one morning, as he had often done before, under feelings of great distress, on the subject which had so long engaged his thoughts. He fell down upon his knees before God in prayer-spread his case before himimplored him to pity his distress--and to guide him by his Holy Spirit into the right understanding of his holy word. When he arose from his supplications, he took the Greek Testament, and sat down to read the first six chapters of St. Paul's epistle to the Romans. He was sincerely desirous to be taught of God, and to receive, with the simplicity of a little child, the word of his revelation ; when, as he read, to his unspeakable joy, bis difficulties vanished ;-the subject appeared in a clear and satisfactory light. He saw the doctrine of justification by Christ alone, through faith in him, to be the great subject of the gospel—the highest display of the divine perfections—the happiest relief for bis burdened conscience--and the most powerful principle of constant and unfeigned holiness of heart and life. He was exceeding joyful, and found peace and comfort spring up in his mind. His conscience was purged from dead works, and from the guilt of sin through the atoning blood of Christ, and his heart was set at liberty, to run the way
of God's commandments without fear, in a spirit of filial love and holy delight. From this period he endeavoured to preach salvation, “ through faith in Jesus Christ alone,” to man, by nature and practice in a lost state,-condemned under the law, and, to use his own expression, “ always a sinner.” He immediately discovered that he had misconceived the effects of the doctrine of St. Paul, as if it tended to licentiousness, or did away with the necessity of good works, except as a condition of our justification. He found that the apostle's doctrine had a contrary tendency, and that it prompted him to diligence in the discharge of his duties, both public and private. Mr. Adam was made happy; God was glorified by his servant; and those around him began to receive benefit.
His sermons before this happy change, had been animated with a mistaken zeal, and they amounted to little more than lectures on morality, or were full of maledictions against those who did not keep the commandments of God. Now Mr. Adam set forth God's remedy for sin. He duly enforced all godliness in principle and practice, while he seasoned every discourse with enlivening displays of that glorious Saviour, whose worth and excellency he had tasted, and who was become “ all his salvation and all his desire.” Henceforth it was his great care to beat down the pride of self-righteousness, and to set forth the righteousness of Jesus Christ, “ which is of God by faith.” He endeavoured to show that it is the great intent of the gospel to publish salvation, through faith in Christ, to a fallen