« PreviousContinue »
thing else' is viewed: as desirable and pursued with avidity; but the one thing needful is ne. glected or forgotten.
But while the objects of discriminating grace are, with others, thus wandering far from their heavenly Father in pursuit of sublunary bliss, he views them with unspeakable compassion; he stops them in their mad career, and says, by his word, or his providence, Hi. therto shall ye go, but no farther. He shows them that they are walking in a path that is not good: he turns them back greatly ashamed; and mercifully brings them to the knowledge of himself by a way which they knew not. But who, I ask, are the men whom the Lord thus turns from the errour of their ways, and to whom he graciously makes known the be. nignity of his heart ? Are such cnly, or principally, the objects of attention who are comparatively moral and devout; who, because, they are less vile than others, are more proud, and think that, in consequence of this negative goodness, they have a right to monopolize the felicities of glory? No; quite the reverse.
einture, and befo
Persons of this description are, in conformity to the estimate which they make of themselves, denominated in scripture, whole--just persons that need no repentance ; and before whom, publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of heaven. I came not to call the righteous, said the compassionate Redeemer, but sinners to repentance.
To the same purpose speaks the great apostle of the Gentiles. It is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ;' of whom, he immediately adds, I am chief. “Return, saith the Lord, for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity ; thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help.' To whom should you carry your complaints ; to whom unbosom · yourself, but to the Father of mercies? There is none else to deliver, and besides him there is no Saviour. Let not the number nor the greatness of your sins excite discouragement. When a profligate woman came to Christ, in the days of his humiliation, no mention was made either of the multitude, or the magnitude of her crimes; but the answer given to the pharisee, who brought them as an objection against her, is ;- Her sins, which are many, are forgiven.'
As no comparative worthiness in the sinner can induce God to bestow mercy, so no demerit can frustrate the benevolent intentions of divine goodness. Salvation is of the Lord : it is the effect of his own sovereign pleasure. To say, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion,' is the prerogative of Jehovah : and why the inestimable blessing should be conferred on any of the sons of Adam, no reason can be given but this; that salvation, in its origin, completion, and bestowment, may redound to the praise of the glory of his grace.
Could you exhibit a catalogue of the blackest crimes that ever stained the records of history, or disgraced the character of man ; these crimes could not be urged as too great, or too complicated for the blood of Christ to
expiate. To a truth so animating, and so honourable to the riches of grace, the great apostle of the gentiles repeatedly bears unequivocal testimony. Of this, we have a stri. king instance in his first admirable epistle to the Corinthian church. After having reproved the brethren for going to law with each other before the. unjust, he reminds them of their former situation by reciting enormities, the commission of which had made them deservedly the reproach of men, and justly the objects of divine abhorrence. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. Now, had the faithfui remembrancer stopt here, we might, perhaps, have considered these Corinthian profligates as without the verge of divine forgiveness. But the sequel proves, that among these abomi-, nable wretches there were many vessels of mercy: and therefore he immediately adds• Such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in
the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God.'
How wonderful the love, the grace, and the mercy of God! In this list of detestable criminals, we perceive sinners of every class : sinners of enormous magnitude ; who, consequently, could have no moral worth to plead as a ground of forgiveness ; and yet their filthy souls were washed in the blood of Christ, were justified by his righteousness, sanctified by his spirit, and made meet for the enjoyment of heaven. Surely such incontestable instances of the aboundings of grace over the aboundings of sin, must constrain us to acknowledge that Christ is able to save to the uttermost!..
Having, therefore, indubitable evidence of the riches of grace in the salvation of such atrocious sinners, attempt not to limit its ful. ness or its freeness respecting yourself. Would you accept of pardon as revealed in the gospel for the relief of the guilty and the wretched, approach the mercy seat just as you are. Carry