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that it may be round, but because it is made round” for that purpose ; 89 the true believer doth not perform good works, that he may receive grace, but because he hath already received it. Instead, therefore, of being vainly puffed up by a fleshly mind, which can neither understand nor enjoy the things of God, HE HOLDS THE HEAD, from which all the body, (i. e. the Church,) by joints and bands, (i.e. the individual members,) having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increuseth with the increase of God.
§ 62. It cannot, perhaps, be too often repeated, that these truths, however offensive to confident and self-righteous persons, are by no means discouraging to those, who have been taught of God the Spirit to know the extreme sinfulness of sin, or the plague of their own hearts, and who have the smallest desire for his special grace and assistance. If the desire be
sincere, the Lord gave it, and will fully answer it in due time; for, to such as have the lowest true longing for his salvation, is the promise most specially and directly made. But if the prayer for the divine teacher be formal, pretended, affected, lifeless, and unfeeling; or if uttered only for : the final purpose of exalting the powers of the flesh and the righteousness which the flesh would set up against the righteousness of God the Saviour, it cannot be expected to receive an answer of
because its intention proceeds in direct opposition to the rule of faith, and to the full and perfected salvation of Christ. All true prayer is a heart-felt expression of want, and the pathetic cry of the soul for things, which it hath not in itself, and which are utterly out of its own reach and power. It is an humble and direct application to God for his assistance, and for the blessings
promised in his word, which he only can bestow. All other asking is but mock-prayer, dry and unfelt; the prayer of the hypocrite, which, like himself and his hope, can only be expected to perish.
§ 63. This very important truth, the believer is desirous of maintaining most predominantly in his conscience; and, feeling the difficulty of thus maintaining it through the conflicts of fallen nature and the opposition of carnal reason, he is much in prayer, that the Holy Spirit would confirm and establish the power and experience of this safe and humbling principle within himn. - How differently does this doctrine affect the minds of other men! To these, whose spirits have never been truly broken down by the spiritual application of the divine Law; who have felt but little pain or anxiety on account of their natural guilt and state of enmity with God; who have
therefore but slight or theoretical views only of the condemnation in which they were born and have uniformly lived ; to these, Faith is but a light affair and a ready act of their own, and Grace itself not a heavy one, yet always within their reach ; but "
practice, practice,” is all in all, and this practice too, the result of human energy, the consequence of man's exertions and endeavours. Their professed object is that impossible thing, to make old Adam good, instead of crucifying him ; or, at most, to graft the life of Christ upon that old vile stock, which is utterly contrary to it, instead of bringing in and strengthening the new man, which is not of the earth earthly, but a new creation in the soul by the Lord. from heaven. Here stands the foundation of a thousand errors, in direct opposition to God's covenant or
constitution of grace. And if, by a life outwardly
decent, by a commendable denieanour, by liberal acts of kindness, or hy close attentions to the extrinsic forms of religion, all of which are most highly incumbent and necessary in their proper order,) they can thus acquire the shadow or assume the skeleton of Christians, and pass through the world with a high reputation among men; they sing a requiem to their souls, and possibly may be permitted to go on with little perturbation or inward trials to the end. one armed, upon this plan, will keep his goods in peace.
Those trials, and troubles, and anxieties of mind, respecting a sure interest in the salvation of Christ, the final victory over death, and the sure and approaching appearance before the Most Holy, are but little felt or seldom known by such
Perhaps, they are treated as wild and irrational rhapsodies, enthu. siastic reveries, .or, at best, pitiable