« PreviousContinue »
vine. The old Teftament foretold it--the new Teftament confirms the glorious truth ;-the Spirit, whom Chrift promifed, as the confequence of his refurrection and afcenfion, teftifies of it, in the miracles which the apoftles wrought, and the happy effects which the gofpel had amongst the nations of the earth; for though the gates of hell were fet in oppofition to it, the kings of the earth and all human power united against it, and a fortress still more invulnerable in the hearts of finners; yet fuch was the almighty power attending it, that it bore down all opposition and proved itself mighty to fave. If to all this be added the teftimony of them whofe intereft it was to conceal it, it must appear that no fact can be fupported by ftronger evidence; and the truth of the refurrection of Chrift being established, the fufficiency of his work to fave the guilty, is confirmed. It is acknowledged, that according to the tenor of the law, which faith, the man that doeth these things fhall live by them, Chrift merited life for himself only; but then, by his being placed under the law by fovereign grace, that according to the eternal purpose men might be bleffed in him; God, by whose act of fovereignty he was appointed Mediator, very faithfulness imputes his obedience and atonement to every one that believes, whereby they are made the righteoufnefs of God in him.
The belief of this truth is the first and only thing that gives peace to a guilty confcience; for as the only reafon God affigns, why any fhould be delivered from going down to the pit is, I have found a ranfom; fo this is the only reafon of that good hope that comes through grace. When a guilty finner understands that it is the voice of God that addreffes his confcience, informing him that righteoufnefs is imputed without works; he believes, ceafes from his own works, and enters into reft by virtue of what he believes, concerning Christ's being delivered for our of fences, and raised again for our juflification.
Again: that good news which the gospel brings is, that Jefus Chrift came into the world to fave finners, as fuch Unless this be true, the fcriptures contain no tidings of great joy to all people: nay, unless this be an eftablished fact, there is no juft ground up n which any of the human race can approach to God; nor can any foul receive the least benefit by the work of Christ. Nature will teach us, and the law of Moles will confirm it, that if we do well we shall be accepted. But this cannot be glad tidings to thofe who are confcious of being the unhappy fubjects of every evil inclination, and of having been to every good work reprobate. But happy for fuch fons and daughters of wretchednefs, that the gofpel is a pure. Stream of grace, flowing out of the throne of God and the Lamb. Far from being clogged with those manifold qualifications and prerequifites, which the fons of pride would make a kind of stepping-ftone to the falvation of Jefus; the heavenly publication of grace does not lead poor finners to look for the beginning of fomething for the better in themselves, under any notion whatever, previous to faith on the Son of God; but teaches them, even while deftitute of every fign, work, or evidence, except what confirms their mifery, to hope in the bleeding facrifice. It reveals and establishes an important, comfortable, precious, undeniable truth; and leads the most guilty to take their first beginnings of hope, peace, and comfort from it alone. Thus the genuine gospel pafles by, and totally difregards all thofe fine dif tinctions, which the pride of men prompts them to make, as fo many cyphers; and in the moft fovereign manner beftows, the richel favors on the most unworthy among men. Every other fcheme, but the gofpel, leads men, either directly, or indirectly, to take the beginnings of their hope from their fincere obedience, penitential tears, de p humiliations, watchfulnefs, earneft defires, holy breathings, repentances, faith, advancements in holiness, &c. If
it be admitted that SOMETHING is requifite to appear in the foul, that is favorable, and whereby we become, in fome measure, different from the ungodly and profane, this fatal SOMETHING, whether we are afpiring after it, waiting for it, or in the fuppofed poffeffion of it, is that awful inftrument by which the God of this world blinds the minds of them that believe not, left the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jefus Chrift, fhould Thine into their hearts, and is a grand reafon why the gofpel is foolishness to fome, and a tumbling block to others; in fhort, it is the true caufe of all diffaffection to the gofpel.-The gospel of grace, } founded in the fincerity and faithfulness of Jehovah, making known the fufficient righteoufnefs, and perfect atonement of Chrift, as the fovereign cure provided of God for finners, may very fitly (and with the ftricteft propriety) be called the ONE THING NEEDFUL. This in the word of faith is brought near to us, Rom. x. 6-10. is directed to the attention of finners of all forts; to fuch as poffefs nothing but what is loathfome and difguftful; to perfons whose character is fitly fet forth, Luke xiv. 21. The poor, and the maimed, the halt and the blind; and fhows that as mankind are in an equal ftate of reprobation by nature, the moft zealous devotce is as far off from God as the most profane. In fine, it confiders the whole human race as having turned their backs on God; and fo the word of faith is a voice behind them, calling them in the most benevolent language to return, at the fame time prefenting a fufficient encouragement thereto. Hearken unto me ye ftour hearted and far from righteousness: I bring near my righteousness; it shall not be far off, and my falvation Shall not tarry-Hear and your fouls fhall live-Believe on the Lord Jefus Chrift and ye shall be faved.
It has pleafed the Lord alfo to leave on record many PATTERNS of his grace, all of which import, that it is divinely fovereign, unboundedly rich, and infinitely free. And we are morcover informed,
that thofe examples of Jehovah's long-fuffering and mercy, were recorded to this end, that in the ages to come he might fhow the exceeding riches of his grace through Christ Jefus. Thus it appears that the eternal purpofe of Grace, manifefted by the appearance of God our Saviour, and publifhed in the word of faith, is the only encouragement that the wretched have to hope in Jehovah's mercy; fo that hope, peace, or comfort taken from any fource afide from, or in conjunction with this abundant Grace, is delufive, and muft, in the end make ashamed.
I fhall conclude this Section with the words of an author, who writes with becoming reverence for the true grace of God, and like one who has tafted its fweetness, and knows its value. "The genuine gofpel will always appear an infult on the taste of the public. Wherever it comes, if it be not received, it awakens difguft and provokes abhorrence. Nor can it be otherwife. For its principal defign is, to mortify the pride of man, and d fplay the glory of grace; to throw all human excellence down to the dult, and to elevate, even to thrones of glory, the needy and wretched; to fhow that thofe things which are highly efteemed among men are an abomination in the fight of God, and that he who is despiled of men and abhorred by the nations, is Jehovah's eternal delight.-The ancient gofpel is an unceremonious thing. It pays no refpect to the academic, because of his profound learning; nor to the moralift, on account of his upright conduct. It has not the leaft regard to the courtier, because of his pompous honors; nor to the devotee, for the fake of his zeal or his righteoufnefs. No: the potent prince and the abj et flave; the wife philofopher and the ignorant ruftic; the virtuous lady and the infamous proft:tute, ftand on the fame level in its comprehenfive view.-Its bufinefs is only with the worthless and miferable, whoever they be. If these be relieved, its end is gained. If thefe be made hap
py, its author is glorifie, whatever may become of the reft. Towards thefe it conftantly wears the moft friendly afpect, and rejoices to do them good. But the felf-fufficient of every rank, are treated by it with the utmost reserve, and beheld with a steady contempt. He (the convinced finner) wants to find himfelf fome way diftinguished, as a proper object of mercy, by holy tempers and fanctified affections. This is a bar to his comfort: this is his grand embaraffment. In other words, he is ready to fear, that he is not fufficiently bumbled under a fenfe of his fins; that he has not a fuitable abhorrence of them; or that he has not thofe fervent breathings after Chrift an holiness, which he ought to have, before he can be warranted to look for falvation with a wellgrounded hope of fuccefs. But the spirit of truth shows that there is no good qualities to be obtained; no righteous acts to be peiformed-that we must come to Jefus under that character by which he calls But it is evident, he calls us by the name of finners. As finners, therefore, miferable, ruined fin- ̈ ners, we must come to him for life and falvationIt was wrought for the finner; it was defigned for the finner; and is bestowed, freely bestowed on the vileit of finners. It is not matter of bargain or the fubject of fale; it is not propofed on, I know not what conditions; as the performing fome arduous courfe of duties, or the attaining fome norable qualifications; but it is a free gift. Grace, as a fovereign, is exalted to confer it; and grace we know, deals only with the unworthy. As a gift it is impared; as a gift, therefore, it must be received; and as for an abfolute free gift, the poff ffor of it ought to be thankful.-From thefe confiderations. we may with confidence affirm, that the mere finner, the obnoxious wretch; he who feels him elf in a perifhing co..dition, and is confciou that he deterves no favor; has the ftron eft encouragement given him to rely on it, as fufficient for his ju.tification and free for his ufe." +
+ See Booth's Reign of Grace, pe 3-9. 124-130, 416,