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fabric. She resolves the importance of man into its true reason the value of his soul. She sees under every human form, however rugged or abused, a spirit unalterable by external change, unassailable by death, and endued with stupendous faculties of knowledge and action, of enjoyment and suffering; a spirit, at the same time, depraved and guilty; and therefore liable to irreparable ruin. These are Christian views. They elevate us to a height, at which the puny theories of the world stand and gaze. They stamp new interest on all my relations, and all my acts. They hold up before me objects vast as my wishes, terrible as my fears, and permanent as my being. They bind me to eternity.
Secondly. Having thus unfolded the general doctrine of immortality, the gospel advances further, informing us, that although a future life is sure, future blessedness is by no means a matter of course. This receives instant confirmation from a review of our character as sinners.
None but an atheist, or, which is the same thing, a madman, will deny the existence of moral obligation, and the sanction of moral law. In other words, that it is our duty to obey God, and that he has annexed penalties to disobedience. As little can it be denied, that we have actually disobeyed him. Guilt has taken up its abode in the conscience, and indicates, by signs not to be
misunderstood, both its presence and power. To call this superstition, betrays only that vanity, which thinks to confute a doctrine by giving it an ill name. Depravity and its consequences meet us, at every moment, in a thousand shapes; nor is there an individual breathing, who has escaped its taint. Therefore our relations to our Creator as innocent creatures have ceased; and are succeeded by the relation of rebels against his government. In no other light can he contemplate us, because his judgment is according to truth. A conviction of this begets alarm and wretchedness. And, whatever some may pretend, 'a guilty conscience is the secret worm, which preys upon the vitals of human peace: the invisible spell, which turns the draught of pleasure into wormwood and gall. To laugh at it as an imaginary evil, is the mark of a fool: for what can be more rational than to tremble at the displeasure of an almighty God. If, then, I ask how I am to be delivered? or whether deliverance is possible? human reason is dumb: or if she open her lips, it is only to teaze me with conjectures, which evince that she knows nothing of the matter. Here the Christian verity interferes; showing me, on the one hand, that my alarm is well founded; that my demerit and danger are far beyond even '
my own suspicions; that God, with whom I have to do, will by no means clear the guilty; but, on the other hand, revealing the provision of his infinite wisdom and grace, for releasing me from guilt. God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life. The more I ponder this method of salvation, the more I am convinced that it displays the divine perfection, and exalts the divine government; so that it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Now I know where to obtain the first requisite to happiness, pardon of sin. In Christ Jesus, the Lord, is that justifying righteousness, the want of which, though I was ignorant of the cause, kept me miserable till this hour. I cling to it, and am safe. His precious blood purges my conscience. It extends peace to me as a river, and the glory of redemption like a flowing stream. My worst fears are dispelled: the wrath to come is not for me;
I can look with composure at futurity, and feel joy springing up with the thought that I am immortal.
Thirdly. In addition to deliverance from wrath, Christianity provides relief against the plague of the heart. 1,
It will not be contested, that disorder reigns among the passions of men. The very attempts to rectify it are a sufficient concession; and their ill success shows their authors to have been physicians of no value. That particular ebullitions of passion have been repressed, and particular habits of vice overcome, without Christian aid, is admitted. But if any one shall conclude, that these are examples of victory over the principle of depravity, he will greatly err. For, not to insist that the experience of the world is against him, we have complete evidence, that all reformations, not evangelical, are merely an exchange of lusts; or rather, the elevation of one evil appetite by the depression of another; the strength of depravity continuing the same; its form only varied. Nor can it be otherwise. Untaught of God, the most comprehensive genius is unable either to trace the original of corruption, or to check its force. It has its fountain where he least and last believes it to be; but where the omniscient eye has searched it out; in the human heart; the heart, filled with enmity against God -the heart, deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. "But, the discovery being made, his measures, you hope, will take surer effect." Quite the contrary. It now defies his power, as
. it formerly did his wisdom. How have disciples of the moral school studied and toiled! how have they resolved, and vowed, and fasted, watched, and prayed, traveling through the whole circuit
of devout austerities! and set down at last, wearied in the greatness of their way! But no marvel! the Ethiopian cannot change his skin, nor the leopard his spots. Neither can impurity purify itself. Here again, light from the footsteps of the Christian truth breaks in upon the darkness;
'and gospel again flows from her tongue; the gospel of a new heart—the gospel of regenerating and sanctifying grace; as the promise, the gift, the work of God. “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you
shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you ; a new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony
I heart out of your flesh; and I will give you a heart of flesh; and I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and keep my judgments and do them.” Here all our difficulties are resolved at once. The spirit of life in Christ Jesus, quickens the dead in trespasses and sins. The Lord, our strength, works in us all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power. That which was impossible with men, is not so with him ; for with him all things are possible ; even the subduing our iniquities; creating us anew, after his own image, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness; turning our polluted souls into his own habitation through the Spirit ; and making us meet for the VOL. I.