Page images
PDF
EPUB

guilt on account of their present state of mind. Doubtless they are willing and desirous to escape the wrath to come; and under certain convictions · would submit to relinquish many things, and to comply with other things as the condition of it: but they have no direct desire after spiritual blessings. If they had, they would seek them in the name of Jesus, and thus seeking, would find them. That preaching, therefore, which exhorts them to mere outward duties, and tells them that their only concern is in this manner to wait at the pool, helps forward their delusion; and should they perish, will prove accessory to their destruction.

Simon the Sorcerer was admonished to repent and pray to the Lord, if so be that the thought of his heart might be forgiven him. From this express example many who are averse from the doctrine here defended, have been so far convinced as to acknowledge that it is the duty of the unconverted to pray, at least for temporal blessings: but Simon was not admonished to pray for temporal blessings; but for the forgiveness of sin. Neither was he to pray

in a carpal and heartless manner;, but to repent and pray. And being directed to repent and pray for the forgiveness of sin, he was in effect directed to believe in Jesus : for in what other name could forgiveness be expected? Peter, after having declared to the Jewish rulers that there was no other name given under heaven, or, among men, whereby we must be saved, cannot be supposed to have directed Simon to hope for forgiveness in any

other way.

seed;

To admonish any person to pray, or to seek the divine favour in any other way than by faith in Jesus Christ, is the same thing as to admonish them to follow the example of Cain, and of the self-righteous Jews. Cain was not averse to worship. He brought his offering: but having no sense of the evil of sin, and of the need of a Saviour, he had taken no notice of what had been revealed concerning the promised

and paid no regard to the presenting of an expiatory sacrifice. He thanked God for temporal blessings, and might pray for their continuance: but this was not doing well. It was practically saying to his Maker, “I have done nothing to deserve be. ing made a sacrifice to thy displeasure; and I see * no necessity for any sacrifice being offered up, ' either now, or at the end of the world. In short, it was claiming to approach God merely as a creature, and as though nothing had taken place that required an atonement. The self-righteous Jews did not live without religion. They followed after the law of righteousness; yet they did not attain it; and wherefore? because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works of the law; for they stumbled at that stumbling-stone. And shall we direct our hearers to follow this example, by exhorting them to pray, and seek the divine favour in any other way than by faith in Jesus Christ? If so, how can we deserve the name of Christian Ministers?

The scriptures exhort sinners to put their trust in the Lord, and censure them for placing it in an

[ocr errors]

arm of flesh. Whether trusting in Christ for the salvation of our souls be distinguishable from believing in him, or not; it certainly includes it. To trust in Christ is to believe in him: if therefore the one be required, the other must be so. Those who loved vanity, and sought after lying, are admonished to offer the sacrifices of righteousness,

and to put their trust in the Lord: * and a trust connected with the sacrifices of righteousness must be spiritual. To rely on any other object is to trust in vanity, against which sinners are repeatedly warned: Trust not in oppression: become not vain in robbery-He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool-Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.t

[ocr errors]

It is allowed that if God had never sent his Son into the world to save sinners, or if the invitations of the gospel were not addressed to sinners indefinitely, there would be no warrant for trust in the divine mercy: and as it is, there is no warrant for trust beyond what God hath promised in his word. He hath not promised to save sinners indiscriminately ; and therefore it would be presumption in sinners indiscriminately to trust that they shall be saved. But he hath promised, and that in great variety of language, that whosoever, relinquishing every false ground of hope, shall come to Jesus as a

* Psalm iv. 5.
f Psalm lxii. 10. Prov. xxviii. 26. Jer. xvii. 5.

[ocr errors]

perishing sinner, and rely on him alone for salvation, shall not be disappointed. For such a reliance there.. fore there is a complete warrant. These promises are true, and will be fulfilled whether we trust in them or not: and whosoever still continues to trust in his own righteousness, or in the general mercy of his Creator, without respect to the atonement, refusing to build upon the foundation which God hath laid in Zion, is guilty of the greatest of all sins; and if God give him not repentance to the acknowledgment of the truth, the stone which he hath refused will fall upon him and grind him to powder.

But, “Until a man through the law is dead to “ the law,” says Mr. BRINE, “he hath no warrant

to receive Christ as a Saviour, or to hope for Sal“ vation through him."* If by receiving Christ were meant the claiming an interest in the blessings of his salvation, this objection would be well founded. No man while adhering to his own righteousness as the ground of acceptance with God, has any warrant to conclude himself interested in the righteousness of Jesus. The scriptures every where assure him of the contrary. But the question is, Does he need any warrant to be dead to the law; or, which is the same thing, to relinquish his vain hopes of acceptance by the works of it, and to chuse that rock for his foundation which is chosen of God and precious? To “receive” Christ, in the

* Motives to Love and Unity. pp. 38, 39.

[ocr errors]

sense of scripture, stands opposed to rejecting him, or to such a non-reception of him as was practised by the body of the Jewish nation.* An interest in spiritual blessings, and of course a persuasion of it, is

represented as following the reception of Christ, and consequently is to be distinguished from it; To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. The idea that is generally attached to the term in various cases to which the reception of Christ bears an allusion, corresponds with the above statement. To receive a gift is not to believe it to be my own, though after I have received it, it is so; but to have my pride so far abased as not to be above it, and

my

heart so much attracted as to be willing to relinquish every thing that stands in competition with it. To receive a guest is not to believe him to be my particular friend, though such he

may be : but to open my doors to him, and make him heartily welcome. To receive an in. structor is not to believe him to be

my

instructor any more than another's : but to embrace his instruction, and follow his counsel. For a town or city, after a long siege, to receive a king is not to believe him to be their special friend, though such he may be, and in the end they may see it: but to lay down their arms, throw open their gates, and come under his government. These remarks are easily applied ; and it is no less easy to perceive that

every sinner has not only a warrant thus to

* John i. 11, 12

« PreviousContinue »