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and practically regard this important declaration of Moses : “ The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things which are revealed, belong unto us, and our children for ever, that we may Do all the words of this law."
When I hear a sinner boasting
Then, methinks, this man's a stranger
Did he once but feel the workings
'Tis the traitor lodg'd within us,
Inbred evils-dread corruptions,
Man would still resist the blessings,
XX. ON TWO COMMON ERRORS.
There are two fatal errors, which, it is to be feared, abound amongst professing Christians. The one, which considers divine grace as disrobed of its glory, by insisting upon the necessity of human endeavours in the great work of salvation. The other, which declares as injurious to morality, the stress that is laid upon the absolute necessity of divine grace to the production of every thing that is spiritually good in man.
The truth embraces both these propositions : viz. the absolute need of divine grace, without which
nothing is holy;" and the absolute necessity of human endeavours, since God“ worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Though salvation be all of grace, yet God is pleased to work by means. A Paul must plant, an Apollos water, whilst God giveth the increase. The husbandman deposits his seed in the ground, yet God alone can crown his labours with an abundant harvest.
To depend upon the divine blessing, without using the means which Infinite Wisdom has appointed, is enthusiasm. To use the means appointed, without an entire dependence upon the promised blessing, is impiety.
If a father, for instance, should pray for the conversion of his children, and yet suffer them to run wild, without presenting one check to evil, under the impression that the Almighty in his good time will save them, if they are to be saved ; and that if they are not amongst the elect, no blame can attach to him, should they finally perish : would he not by such erroneous views of the plan of salvation, be actually aiding the cause of Satan, and the destruction of his unhappy offspring, under the false notion of glorifying the sovereignty of God, and the freeness of divine grace ?
So, on the other hand, if a father should endeavour to train up his children in virtuous habits, and be anxious to guard them against the seductions of the world : and yet draw all his hopes of success from his own exertions, and parental instructions, without once feeling the force of that all-important declaration of the Saviour, 6. Without me, ye can do nothing :" would he not by such conduct manifest great impiety; and might not the Almighty withhold his spiritual blessing, to shew how easily he can blight the most powerful human endeavours?
To trust God with all our hearts, in the diligent use of the appointed means, is the path which Infinite Wisdom has marked out for man, as a moral agent. To be enabled to do this in a right spirit is the work of divine grace, and the way to obtain the divine blessing.
The Bible, whilst it reveals the utter inability of man to do any thing that is good, by any natural power of his own; addresses him as a creature endued with rational powers, and of high responsibilities. Hence the sacred volume abounds with exhortations to diligence, motives to obedience, and promises of grace and strength both to do and suffer the holy will of God.
Spiritual pride and spiritual sloth are alike condemned. He who says, “I will not," and he who says, "I cannot,” may be equally under the influence of a bad spirit. The latter, which has a shew of humility, may spring from spiritual sloth, as the former does from spiritual pride. When grace really enlightens the mind, and affects the heart, the sinner, though deeply conscioụs of his utter inability to save himself, dare not make this an excuse for continuing in sin. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he cries mightily to God through Christ, for deliverance from the guilt and power of sin ; and is
graciously helped by him, who never said to the seed of Jacob,“ Seek ye me in vain.”
The Antinomian and the self-righteous error are both reprobated in the Scriptures of truth.
Whilst we would carefully avoid those metaphysical niceties, which darken the simplicity of the Gospel, we should pray to discover those subtle webs, which Satan weaves to catch the feet of the unwary
Divine truth is beautiful in its own simplicityand grand in its own sublimity. Every human addition, like paint on the diamond, obscures its lustre.
An honest heart, and a sincere intention to please God in all things, will clear the path of duty from many a stumbling-block, which the pride of human reason has cast up; for “if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God.”
Men in general are more ready to argue a point in divinity, than to crucify a beloved lust.
Those who are much acquainted with the religious world, will find many polemical disputants for one self-denying follower of Jesus.
The apostle was compelled to say in his day : “there are many unruly and vain talkers.” And such characters have been found in every age of the church, to the annoyance of the humble Christian.
The Bible is not given to us for disputation, but for edification. And its doctrines are designed to have a practical tendency on the mind and heart.
If real Christians, who differ from each other on some abstruse points of theology, were to meet on the ground of our common Christianity; they would be surprised to find how nearly they approximate each other in genuine experience and practice. They would, with delightful feeling of joy, recognize a brother, where they expected to meet a foe.
weapons of controversy being thus laid aside ; and agreeing to differ on points confessedly abstruse, and beyond the power of finite reason to solve ; they would cheerfully hold out the right hand of fellowship, and exhibit to the world that charity, which is the bond of perfectness, and the beauty of the church of Christ.
This is a state of feeling devoutly to be wished for. May this spirit of mutual love and affection abound more and more amongst the true followers of the Lamb. Then will each member of the church mili. tant, by their holy walk and conversation, prove their election of God; and all the members of the body mystical, deriving daily nourishment and strength from their glorified head, be growing in a meetness for the “general assembly of the firstborn,” however they may differ in their views on some of those deep things of God, which can only be unravelled in the world of light and glory. It is no small artifice of Satan to engage the mind about non-essentials; and to beget amongst Christians a spirit of strife and contention.
This artful enemy has succeeded too well in all ages, to the grief of good men, to the weakening of the good cause, and to the joy of the enemies of the Gospel of Christ. All this only tends to confirm the Scripture doctrine of human corruption, and Satanical agency.
It calls for great watchfulness, circumspection, and prayer; as well as humility and dependence on the Spirit of truth.
The grand design of God in his revelation of mercy, is, the display of his own perfections in the salvation of his fallen creatures. Hence the command to perishing sinners is : “ Look unto me all ye ends of the earth and be ye saved, for I am God, and there is none else, and besides me there is no