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Christian profession, or displease his Lord.' He would even be perfection itself, for his Master's glory, and for the good of men. And he has nothing so much to bewail, as this; that the evil, dying, body, which he bears about with him, is so contrary to the law of his mind, that he cannot always do, nor at any time do perfectly, the things that he would. As he abhors the spirit of the pharisee, which would rob Christ of his redeeming glory; so he lothes that filth of corruption, which, while it pours contempt upon the just and good law, would turn the grace of God itself into the contradiction of licentiousness. And thus he walks on from day to day; living, in the denial of self and its corruptions, upon Christ for every thing; and desirous of receiving out of his fulness every grace, which can improve or adorn the Christian life, or manifest the divine glory.
Thief.— This, surely, is a very different statement of the matter from that, which represents man as the first mover, if not the prime agent, in his own salvation ; the patrons of which opinion consistently make self the last great end. For my own part, though I was among what is called the scum and refuse of mankind, I had often enough heard, from those who knew our pharisees, that a good life (by which was meant the decent observation of moral duties) was the sure recommendation to the divine favour; but I never had any power or love for goodness or moral duty, till my dear Saviour looked upon me withı ineffable mercy, when I was hanging by his side, and spake peace to my heart by the blood of his cross. His Holy Spirit then instructed me, that he was my Lord and my God, crucifying for my sins; and accordingly enabled me to pray, that I might have one kind thought of his holy remembrance, when he should come into his kingdom. I could not have seen, but by his divine tuition, that a crucified insulted Man, as he appeared to be, was LORD over all; and that this death of shame was the necessary passage, by which he would open an entrance for himself and his redeemed into glory. In short, I think myself the most singular instance of divine benignity :-o singular, that (as a great christian, who lived an age or two after me, observed) there is my one case recorded, of such a sinner pardoned in a dying hour, that none might despair; and but one, that none might presume.
Paul. True, my brother : thou lovedst him, because he first loved thee, and ordained thee to be the first distinguished pledge of his victory over the powers of darkness. It was the same divine power, which reached your heart and mine, and without which we both must have perished; you in the pollution and mischief of the beast, and I in the pride and rebellion of the devil. You were and are greatly indebted to him. I mean not to deny or to lessen the importance of the mercy which saved you. But, after all, the eminence of the blessing is undoubtedly mine. Your case indeed was singular, and not to be drawn into example for the rest of mankind; whereas mine was ordained for a pattern for them who should hereafter believe. You had nothing to trust in of your own, and accordingly had no false foundation to be removed : I depended upon a thousand things beside Christ, and was commended, encouraged, and hardened in that dependence; and I had also many a refuge of lies to be swept away. You had no opposition, but a dull, gross carnality against God: I had a more subtle and direct enmity, kindled into rage and sublimated by pride, through the influence of that evil one, to whom I was assimilated in his fairest form of an angel of light. You gave up all resistance against your Saviour in a moment; I sustained a conflict of three days and nights, and he knows how often beside, before I could utterly renounce myself, and take my Jesus for my all in all. O then never contend any fur
* Bp. Hall likewise descants on this subject, in the following devout apostrophe :-“O Saviour, what a precedent is this of thy free and powerful grace! Where thou wilt give, what unworthiness can bar us from mercy! When thou wilt give, what time can prejudice our vocation! Who can despair of thy goodness; when he, that in the morning was posting towards hell, is in the evening with thee in paradise?-Lord, he could not have spoken this to thee, but by thee and from thee. What possibility was there for a thief to think of thy kingdom without thy Spirit? That good Spirit of thine breathed upon this man-breathed not upon
his fellow. The trade was alike; their sin was alike; their cross alike: only thy mercy makes them unlike. One is taken; the other refused. Blessed be thy mercy in taking one: blessed be thy justice in leaving the other. Who can despair of that mercy? Who cannot but tremble at that justice?” Contempl. on the Crucifixion.
upon this point with me; but own, that I am at once in myself less than the least of all saints, and the very chief of sinners; and that consequently I am one of the most extraordinary instances, if Eot the most extraordinary instance itself,* of the extent,
1 Tim, i, 16.
the riches, and free favour of the divine attributes, which ever could be shown to a poor, wretched, worthless, undone creature. We will magnify the Lord together most joyfully; but still the longest and the loudest note shall be mine.
Thief.--I grant, dear Paul, that the view you have even now of your being the the least of all saints is a sublimity of grace and glory, which God, who speaketh not after the false conceptions of men, hath bestowed upon you. The lowest in self is the highest in Christ, even here. They, who have most received, are certainly most in debt to the divine mercy. The first of God's creatures, enjoys nothing by right, but every thing by bounty. The sense of this is the suppression of pride, and the exaltation of humility. Indeed, the deepest humility is the most exalted grandeur in these courts of heaven. None of God's creatures therefore are or can be so humble as himself; because none, in the comparison, can stoop so low. You called yourself the chief of sinners, because you saw and felt most of the enormity which is in sin, and especially in your own sin: and you triumph now, as before, in your meanness; because most eminently the power and glory of your dear Lord appear in you and upon you. I follow you in
my humble measure of praise, and shall never cease to adore that precious mercy, which delivered me in my forlorn condition, and brought me to such company as your's, and to so bright a place in this heaven of glory.
Paul.-My dear brother, I rejoice in your happiness, as in my own; and I bless our dear Redeemer for his
kindness and mercy, which snatched you from the very jaws of hell, and carried you up hither as a first-fruit of his victorious redemption. Come then, and let us cast our crowns together before his sacred feet, and acknowledge, with all this innumerable company, that HE only is worthy to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing ; for, He only redeemed us all to God by his blood, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation, and made us unto our God kings and priests, to live and to reign with him for ever and ever! Amen; Hallelu-JAH!