Page images
PDF
EPUB

XXIV.

ALL STAND IN NEED OF A REDEEMER.

(PART v.)

HEBREWS IX. 26.

Now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to

put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

In former discourses upon this text I have shown, first, that the Scriptures expressly state the death of Jesus Christ as having an efficacy in the procurement of human salvation, which is not attributed to the death or sufferings of any other person, however patiently undergone, or undeservedly inflicted : and secondly, that this efficacy is quite consistent with our obligation to obedience; that good works still remain the condition of salvation, though not the cause ;

the cause being the mercy of Almighty God through Jesus Christ. There is no man living, perhaps, who has considered seriously the state of his soul, to whom this is not a consoling doctrine, and a grateful truth. But there are some situations of mind which dispose us to feel the weight and importance of this doctrine more than others. These situations I will endeavour to describe ; and, in doing so, to point out how much more satisfactory it is to have a Saviour and Redeemer, and the mercies of our Creator excited towards us, and communicated to us by and through that Saviour and Redeemer, to confide in and rely upon, than any grounds of merit in ourselves.

First, then, souls which are really labouring and endeavouring after salvation, and with sincerity—such souls are every hour made sensible, deeply sensible, of the deficiency and imperfection of their endeavours. Had they no ground, therefore, for hope, but merit, that is to say, could they look for nothing more than what they should strictly deserre, their prospect would be very uncomfortable. I see not how they could look for heaven at all. They may form a conception of a virtue and obedience which might seem to be entitled to a high reward ; but when they come to review their own performances, and to compare them with that conception; when they see how short they have proved of what they ought to have been, and of what they might have been, how weak and broken were their best offices; they will be the first to confess, that it is infinitely for their comfort that they have some other resource than their own righteousness. One infallible effect of sincerity in our endeavours is to beget in us a knowledge of our imperfections. The careless, the heedless, the thoughtless, the nominal Christian, feels no want of a Saviour, an intercessor, a mediator, because he feels not his own defects. Try in earnest to perform the

. duties of religion, and you will soon learn how incomplete your best performances are. I can hardly mention a branch of our duty, which is not liable to be both impure in the motive, and imperfect in the exe. cution; or a branch of our duty in which our endeavours can found their hopes of acceptance upon any thing but extended mercy, and the efficacy of those

means and causes, which have procured it to be so ertended.

In the first place, is not this the case with our acts of piety and devotion? We may admit, that pure and perfect piety has a natural title to reward at the hand of God. But is ours ever such? To be pure in its motive, it ought to proceed from a sense of God Almighty's goodness towards us, and from no other source, or cause, or motive whatsoever. Whereas eren pious, comparatively pious men, will acknowledre, that authority, custom, decency, imitation, have a share in most of their religious exercises, and that they cannot warrant any of their devotions to be entirely independent of these causes. I would not speak disparagingly of the considerations here recited. They are oftentimes necessary inducements, and they may be means of bringing us to better; but still it is true, that devotion is not pure in its origin, unless it flow from a sense of God Almighty's goodness, unmixed with any other reason. But if our worship of God be defective in its principle, and often debased by the mixture of impure motives, it is still more deficient, when we come to regard it in its performances. Our devotions are broken and interrupted, or they are cold and langaid. Worldly thoughts intrude themselves upon them. One worldly heart is tied down to the earth. Our deratione are unworthy of God. We lift not up our heare 2 pts him. Our treasure is upon earth, and our hefta* m, with our treasure. That heavenly-minderie ross ought to be inseparable from religious szem? not accompany ours ; at least not esant, not now of the hypocrite in peirian, Ip 1:19 makes a show of it. His case mimor 1r present consideration. I spala 40554

[ocr errors]

VOL. VI.

cere men. These feel the imperfection of their services, and will acknowledge that I have not stated it more strongly than what is true. Imperfection cleaves to every part of it. Our thankfulness is never what it ought to be, or any thing like it ; and it is only when - we have some particular reason for being pleased that we are thankful at all. Formality is apt continually to steal upon us in our worship; more especially in our public worship: and formality takes away the immediate consciousness of what we are doing : which consciousness is the very life of devotion ; all that we do without it being a dead ceremony.

No man reviews his services towards God, his religious services, but he perceives in them much to be forgiven, much to be excused ; great unworthiness as respecting the object of all worship; much deficiency and imperfection to be passed over, before our service can be deemed in its nature an acceptable service. That such services, therefore, should, in fact, be allowed and accepted, and that to no less an end and purpose than the attainment of heaven, is an act of abounding grace and goodness in Him who accepts them : and we are taught in Scripture, that this so much wanted grace and goodness abounds towards us through Jesus Christ; and particularly through his sufferings, and his death.

But to pass from our acts of worship, which form a particular part only of our duty to God; to pass from these to our general duty, what, let us ask, is that duty ? What is our duty towards God? No other, our Saviour himself tells us, than “ to love him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind :” Luke, x. 27. Are we conscious of such love, to such a degree? If we are not, then, in a most fundamental duty, we fail of being what we ought

ܪ.

[ocr errors]

to be. Here, then, as before, is a call or para mercy on the part of God; which merry is in to us by the intervention of Jesus Christ: 62% the Scriptures represent it.

In our duties towards one another, I na" iom that our performances are more aieman. 3) Wo.co gation, than in our duties to God; that ex. them lie more level with our capacity : 2.22.44 be truth in this observation. Eat itu: both in principle and execution sur 2"> not only defective, but detactra 2 *i we are not sufficientis 272re cr. The... for us is this, “ to lose our sur 09.3***** Which rule, in fact, er tha cutere 12 ... 25 strong as our self-interest: robe 22.1; +7 good, as quick to disco, 24 2*s su vrlo opportunity of doing it, and 24 267232, persevering in our endeats 3:52:58 2.09 2. for ourselves, and active case picke terest. Now is this the case with us? Wei not, we fall below our rue. In the apes of Jess Christ, to whom this rule was gren from his own mouth, you may read tow it operated : and their example proves, what some deny, the possibility of the thing; namely, of benevolence being as strong a motive as self-interest. They firmly believed, that to bring men to the knowledge of Christ's religion was the greatest possible good that could be done unto themwas the highest act of benevolence they could exercise. And, accordingly, they set about this work, and carried it on with as much energy, as much ardor, as much perseverance, through as great toils and labours, as many sufferings and difficulties, as any person ever pursued a scheme for their own interest, or for t?

« PreviousContinue »