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advice to a different supposition : he supposes a person to be doubting and deliberating with himself concerning his future conduct; either concerning some particular sin which he is tempted to commit, or concerning the general course of his future behaviour; and he charges such an one against bringing into the deliberation the account or consideration of God's mercy, so as to encourage himself thereby in giving way to the temptation by which he is urged. By this view of the subject the two passages are rendered consistent, and the important distinction upon the subject rendered visible.

We may proceed, therefore, to describe the cases in which we misapply the consideration of God's mercy, and act in opposition to the council delivered in the text.

First, then, we misapply the matter, when the thoughts of God's mercy beget in us ease under our past sins, and this ease makes us less afraid of repeating them. In minds not sufficiently thoughtful, if you

in any way take away or diminish the terror or pain which they suffer from what they have done, you in the same proportion render them apt and willing to do the same thing again. But it is only so with minds which are not sufficiently thoughtful : in a mind seriously disposed, and which rightly considers its situation, the contrary effect will take place; the sense of past forgiveness will produce gratitude; gratitude will produce love; and love will increase, not diminish, the dread of offending

Suppose a malefactor under sentence of death, looking for nothing but the execution of that sentence, should receive assurance, or even hopes of pardon ; no doubt this intelligence would take off much of the load which weighed down his spirits-much of the pain of

anew.

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-3.1-I: 'US Quis uit mi uleviation to

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sempli Guis remsspect to past

sve vrvari sa ke fitore, so to make us na pure ruines pre way to ter pratica, it is grier.

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Tin tener e method above described is an in-

ning ske mercy of God to the enWoment of our sils, that is to say, the considera

C's mercy renders us easy under the past; Renter past truseressions, serves to make us

trapious and act in copplying with return*** Irrtucons. But there is also a more direct way in w we carry jur preseption upon God's mercy to

viccerny ur ce consciences; and that is, when rentie wica vu seives in this manner; when in de

any concerning any particular sins which we are tramite so commit, we say within ourselves, if God be WAT 'Uus tirgiving, and merciful, as religion teaches

Rhe will not be extreme to condemn me for

Rüce_this one addition to the number of **** V * täis is what may be called sinning upon i won't sing the goodness of God the foundaze te psa; which is a very different case from 74**.ose mercies of God in the case of past sins. Warm s priace of the mildest and most placable visit u be informed concerning a malefactor,

we we committed the crime of which he was des clrwly depending upon forgiveness before

hand, would not this be a reason for withholding the mercy which had been thus perverted ? It certainly would.

Again, thirdly, this reliance beforehand goes sometimes to a greater extent. It

goes

the length of keeping men in a course of sins; because so often as men think of their condition, the first thing that fills their thoughts, is the abounding inexhaustible mercy of God: and the first effect of that meditation is, that if it so abound, and be so inexhaustible, they may still hope for salvation, although they go on to continue their pleasures and their practices. Now I will tell you what is properly meant by calling God's mercy abounding and inexhaustible. This is meant by it—that whatever be the quantity, or amount, or kind, or degree of our past offences, if we sincerely and truly repent and cease from them, their former enormity need not make us despair of pardon : but it relates solely to the past—it has nothing to do with the future, because it is then only applicable, when a reformation for the future takes place. Extensive as that mercy is, the case of a person intending to continue in sin does not come within it ; that intention totally excludes the application.

Upon the whole, the brief statement of the case is this. It is certainly true that God is merciful, but we are not authorised to use or apply the consideration of God's mercy any otherwise than to guard us against despair for our past sins, to quicken and incite us to reformation for the future, and to support and comfort us when we feel that reformation in ourselves beginning. If we go farther than this, and think of God's mercy when we are deliberating concerning some sin which we are about to commit, either concerning our continuance in some old, or entrance upon

VOL. VI.

N

some new, course of sin, we are sure to think of it improperly, and to build hopes and conclusions upon it which we are not authorised to entertain. I know nothing which can be a more powerful preservative against this turn of mind, and this fatal delusion, than the wise and solemn warning of the text : “ Concern- . ing propitiation, be not without fear to add sin to sin, and say not his merey is great, he will be pacified for the multitude of my sins; for mercy and wrath come from him, and his indignation resteth upon sinners.”

XIX.

OF THE DOCTRINE OF CONVERSION.

MATTHEW IX. 13.

I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to

repentance.

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appears from these words, that our Saviour in his preaching held in view the character and spiritual situation of the persons whom he addressed, and the differences which existed amongst men in these respects; and that he had a regard to these considerations, more especially in the preaching of repentance and conversion. Now I think, that these considerations have been too much omitted by preachers of the Gospel since, particularly in this very article ; and that the doctrine itself has suffered by such omission.

It has been usual to divide all mankind into two classes, the converted and the unconverted; and, by so dividing them, to infer the necessity of conversion to every person whatever. In proposing the subject under this form, we state the distinction, in my opinion, too absolutely, and draw from it a conclusion too universal : because there is a class and description of Christians, who, having been piously educated, and having persevered in those pious courses into which they were first brought, are not conscious to themselves of ever having been without the influence of religion ; ef ever having lost sight of its sanctions; of ever having

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