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In fine, the dispensation of the Gospel answereth to man's condition, as heart doth to heart, or face to face. It is a stimulus to our advancement ; it rallies us when driven back, and breathes hope in the most perilous extremes. But, though it be a refuge in discomfiture, it is no encouragement to shun the encounter. That forgiveness of God through Christ, which is its watchword, is not yielded, save to a spirit that truly sighs after it ; none of these consolations of grace and mercy come to any who are not occupied to their utmost with the sincerest desire after holiness. No one can calculate on this acceptance into favour, or this remission of his daily sins, who is not occupying his faculties and his means with Christian efforts, strengthened and sustained by Christian hopes and Christian aids. The moment he ceases to make head after his captain's orders he loseth of his captain's favour, and if he come not under obedience he inherits double disgrace in the end.So that the spiritual man is held to obedience by his affections, his interests, his desires, his hopes, his fears, his every faculty and power ;-than which nothing more can be made of any creature perfect or imperfect.
Now as to those who hold out against this constitution of grace and justice and mercy, refusing to shelter themselves beneath law and gospel, the two wings of his love, with which the Lord of Hosts overshadoweth the tabernacles of men, (though this is not the time to speak of judgment) we cannot close without asking them what defence they can set up for themselves at all. They admire not the purity of the law, else they would long to reach as near to it as possible through the means of the Gospel ; they fear not its undischarged demands, else they would flee to the cross of Christ for a ransom ; they are not accessible to affection, else Christ's charities would attract them ; they are not grateful for favours, else Christ's unspeakable gifts would ingratiate him with their souls ; they care not for the favour of God, else they would revere its overtures ; they are not afraid of judgment, else they would provide against its issues. Heaven they af fect not ; hell they dread not. The compass of God's promises containeth no attraction; the scope of his power createth no awe; the magnitude of his threatenings engendereth no terror. The past hath no sticking remorses, the womb of the future no fearful presentiments. The present world gloweth before them in all the glory of the New Jeru. salem ; time filleth their minds like the immensity of eternity ; the favour of the world stands them in the stead of
God's. Some form of creation is their idol, some condition of earth their heaven.
Men who have thus stood out against the overtures of God, and steeled their hearts to the noble and engaging sentiments of the Gospel, have made free choice of the fatal consequences, and have themselves alone to blame. They cannot dispute God's right to place us under government, nor that the constitution of government, under which he hath placed us, is well devised to please every good feeling and to uphold every good interest. In rejecting it, therefore, they stand condemned at the bar of every good feeling which refused to listen to his voice, and of every good interest which refused to be built up by his power. And, if it should appear in the progress of this enquiry, that God denudes their future being of those good feelings which would not hear his voice, and ships them far away from those good interests which would not be upheld by his power, can they have the boldness to complain? Why, the whole matter is before them! They can take or reject; and if they coolly reject, they must stand to the consequences of their choice.
No legislator ever pledged himself to make laws which no one would break: neither does God. The legislator makes the best he can devise, and assigns to the breaking of them suitable punishments : so doth God. A culprit may curse the law, but the law seizeth him notwithstanding : so doth God. This is universally held just, wise, and the greatest mercy upon the whole : why should not God have the same verdict of our mind ? For no code was ever constructed on such principles of mercy and forgiveness as his, or took such pains to captivate its subjects to obedience. But have our verdict, or not have it, God careth not. He hath prepared a constitution upon which all men may be justified before all created intelligences, and upon which they may be condemned before all created intelligences ; upon which he can justify himself to himself, and to the noble orders of creation, and even to our own conscience, reprobate and sunken though it be. That is all, and there needeth no morę upon this head of our argument.
OF JUDGMENT TO COME.
THE GOOD EFFECTS OF THE ABOVE CONSTITUTION, BOTH UPON THE INDIVIDUAL AND UPON POLITICAL SOCIETY.
God is not wanting in his care of that constitution under which he hath placed the world ; but accompanies the acceptance and obedience thereof, with all the rewards which the soul of man is capable of tasting in this sublunary state.
Being turned to contemplate those pictures of purity which the law contains, we forget all meaner things, and are delivered by degrees from the vulgar fears and ordinary mea. sures under which we were formerly in bondage. The guardianship of human laws and the eye of man, the laugh of the world and the world's frown, to which we are such slaves, lose their power in proportioti as conscience, which is the
eye of the mind, comes to take the oversight of our affairs. A liberty, a self-mastery, an independance upon the opinions of others, and a mind ever conscious of a right intention, come instead of artifice and cupning and plodding adherence to customary rules. And this self-guidance is hindered from degenerating into self-conceit or self-willedness, by the constant superiority of the law of God, which is, as it were, the telescope through which conscience looks upon the world of duty. The spheres of honour and honesty and domestic worth and patriotism become absorbed, with all the estimable things which they contain, in the wider sphere of obedience unto God, which contains them as the primum mobile of the ancient astronomers contained the celestial spheres.
Now it cannot otherwise happen, than that a mind constantly accustomed to behold, and constantly training itself to practise whatever is noble and good, must grow greatly in its own esteem, and advance likewise in the estimation of
the wise and good, and rise into influence over the better part of men: so that there will attend upon the goings of the servant of God, a light which shineth more and more unto the perfect day, a harmony of motion pleasant to all beholders, and a liberty of action delightful to himself. There will also grow within his soul a unison of faculties through the tuition of the law of God ;-impetuous passions being tamed, irregular affections being guided in their proper courses, the understanding being fed from the fountain of truth, hope looking to revelations that shall never be removed, and will being subordinated to the good pleasure of God. Like a busy state, in which there is no jarring of parties, but one heart and one soul through all its people ; like the body, when every member doth its office, and the streams of life flow unimpeded; the soul, thus pacified from inward contention, and 'fed with the river of God's pleasure, enjoys a health and strength, a peace which passeth all understanding, and a joy which the world can neither give nor take away.
These and many other rewards, whereof the Scriptures contain the constant promise, are ever addressing the feelings and interests of man, in order to win him over to be a freeman and denizen of the divine government: and, as he enters himself with heart and hand to the duties of the same, these spiritual rewards grow apace, and he feels himself more and more emancipated from the bondage of all other laws and customs into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. It feels with his soul as when a slave escapes from his stripes and weary toils unto his rightful liberty; or a free man of this land escapes from the spies of police, the inquisitions of prefects, the passports of men in power, and the thousand other degradations with which foreign nations are impeded and perplexed. There needeth no one to point out the new happiness which he possesseth. Nature speaks within : he is as man should be: he feeleth his state: ,he useth it: he rejoiceth in it. So doth the soul under divine government, compared with which the best human administration of law, and the most sweetly regulated intercourse of social life, is a masterful rule and a degrading servitude.
Nor are there wanting, upon the other hand, many foul degradations and cleaving curses to disturb the mind and wreck the peace of him who keeps aloof from this Goshen of the soul, which none of these plagues afflicts,
The accidents of life come upon him like an armed man upon his sleeping foe. He has no consolation when the sight of his eyes is taken from him with a stroke, when the
beauty of his health doth fail, or when disaster hath smitten the four corners of his house; but he feeleth like a dismantled ship upon the troubled waters, or like a desolate wreck upon the naked shore. And though the outward estate of ungodly men should be prosperous, they are ever liable to be scorched and consumed within the soul by many fires. The fever of passion, the rage of appetite, the heat of riot and intemperance, the ardour of unregulated love, the glow of indignation and the burning of revenge, and the other furies of unregenerate nature are ever waiting an occasion to set the breast in a flame. And anon, like those unhappy regions of the earth which alternately are -invaded by the pestilent Siroc of the South and the biting blasts of the North, the souls of such ungodly men are liable to as many invasions of an opposite kind. Disappointment of fond hope, defeat of strong desire, weariness of pleasure, the coldness of malice and hatred, the cruelty of wit and satire, and the indifference which every earthly good oft tasted begetsthese, like scornful and deriding demons, lie in wait at the extremes and issues of all their eager pursuits, to reward them with mockery and cold disdain for yielding such willing obedience. To these outward and inward grievances, to which they doom themselves that know not God, must be added many fears and many intrusions from the world around :-the fear that fortune may desert those channels which now with full tide she filleth, and leave us naked and waste the fear that our hypocrisies may be detected, and our concealments disclosed to the eye of public scorn or legal justice—the fear of death, which will not be parried, but aye makes head again with every sickness ;--the intrusion of social customs upon our domestic liberty-the intrusion of fashionable follies upon our own good sense the intrusion of rivals upon our beloved path-the intrusion of another's rights upon our rights, and the legal contentions to which this giveth rise-these, with many other fears and intrusions which it were tedious to enumerate, are ever trespassing upon that mind which is not placed under the regimen of God:-which is the only regimen that arms the soul and body at all points to meet its disaster, and gives it to dwell in a land from the border of which these invaders are scared away as the frights and terrors of darkness are scared from the borders of light.
It doth therefore appear, that this government of God, whose unseen rewards we are about to disclose, is patron ized, during the whole of human life, by all the watchmen