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be the object of esteem and love. and it continues to be the same so It is one thing to know, and ano- long as they are kept in bondage ther to approve: and, whilst this and terror. They have an awful last is not the case, whatever we view of the holiness of God's namay know or affirm, or be per- ture, of the strictness of his law, suaded of, with relation to the Su- and the greatness of his power. preme Being, we do not know him This is directly levelled against to be God, nor can possibly glorify their own corrupt inclinations, and him as God. This momentous truth carries nothing with it but a senwe may surely comprehend, by what tence of condemnation against is analogous to it in our experience, them: “Cursed is every one that between created natures. Specu- continueth not in all things which lative knowledge and love are by are written in the book of the law, no means inseparable. Men may to do them."* This brings forth truly know many things which their enmity, which before perhaps they sincerely hate; they may hate lay hid. It is remarkable that some them even because they know them: persons of loose and disorderly and when this is the case, the more lives, will sometimes maint in, at they know them they will hate them stated seasons, a profession of piety. with the greater virulence and ran- so long as they can keep their concour. This not only may, but al. sciences still and quiet by general ways must take place, when na- indistinct notions of God, as very tures are opposite one to another, easy and gentle, no way inclined to the one sinful, for example, and the punish, they think of him without other holy. The more they are aversion, nay, will go through some known, the more is their mutual outward forms with apparent satishatred stirred up, and their perfect faction and delight. Their notion opposition to each other becomes, of divine mercy is not a readiness if not more violent, at least more to pardon the greatest sinper on resensible.
pentance, but a disposition to inWe have little reason to doubt, dulge the sinner, and wink at his that the fallen angels, those apos- continuance in transgression. No tate spirits, have a great degree of sooner are such persons brought to speculative knowledge. I would a discovery of the real character of not, indeed, take upon me to affirm a holy God, than their thoughts of that they are free from' error and him are entirely changed. They mistake of every kind, yet it seems have gloomy views of his nature, highly probable that they have a and harsh thoughts of his proviclear, though, at the same time, a dence; they fret at the strictness terrible apprehension of “what God of his law, and, as far as they dare, is;" for they have not the same op- complain of the tyranny of his goportunities, or the same means of vernment. Their sentiments are deceiving themselves, that we have the same with those expressed by in the present state. But do they the men of Bethshemesh: “Who is love him, or see his excellence
and able to stand before this holy Lord glory? Very far from it. They God, and to whom shall he go up believe and tremble; they know from us." God, and blaspheme. The more I cannot help observing, that here they know of him, the more they we are, if I may, speak so, at the hate him; that is to say, their in very fountain head of error. What ward, native, habitual hatred is the 'is it else that makes many frame more strongly excited, and the to themselves new and flattering more sensibly felt.
schemes of religion, that makes The case is much the same with some sinners, when first awakened, Gal. iii, 10. | 1 Sam. vi. 20.
them imagine a God so extremely But I further add, that this is absodifferent from that holy Being he lutely necessary to the very beginis represented in his own word? ning of the change, or the foundaWhen men will not conform their tion on which it is built. It is pepractice to the principles of pure , cessary, in order to any genuine, and undefiled religion, they scarce salutary convictions of sin. What ever fail to endeavour to accommo- is it else but a discovery of the date religion to their own practice. spotless holiness, the perfect excelAre there not many who cannot lence, and infinite amiableness of endure the representation of God the divine nature, that humbles a as holy and jealous, which is given sinner under a sense of his breaches us in scripture! With what vio- of the divine law? Without this, lence do they oppose themselves to there may be a sense of weakness it by carnal reasonings, and give it and subjection, but never a sense the most odious and abominable of duty and obligation. Without names? The reason is plain. Such' this, there may be a fear of wrath, a view of God sets the opposition, but there cannot be a hatred of sin. of their own hearts to him in the This seems directly to lead to strongest light. Two things oppo- the next great step in a saving site in their nature cannot be ap- change, viz. a conviction of sin and proved at once, and, therefore, the misery. But before we proceed to consequence is, God or themselves point out the progress of conviction, must be held in abhorrence. But it will not be improper to take nowe have reason to bless God, that tice of a few truths which result their resistance to the truth is only from what hath been already said. a new evidence and illustration of This is the more necessary, that it, showing that “the carnal mind - erroneous or defective views of reis enmity against God; for it is not ligion are commonly occasioned by subject to the law of God, neither some mistake in the foundation. indeed can be."* And as this' en 1. The necessity of regeneration mity to God discovers itself in op- itself appears with peculiar force, position to his truth on earth, it from what hath been said on this will become much more violent, part of the subject. There must be when further resistance is impossi. a real inward change of heart, beble. When an unregenerate sin- : fore there can be any true religion. ner enters upon a world of spirits, If the moral excellence of the diwhere he has a much clearer sight vine nature must be discovered, if and greater sense of what God is, God must be seen as glorious in bis his inherent enmity works to per- holiness, the heart and temper must fection, and he blasphemes like be changed as well as the life. those devils with whom he must Nothing is more plain from the forever dwell.
holy scriptures, than that "the naFrom all this it will evidently tural man receiveth not the things appear, that there must be a disco of the Spirit of God;" and it is very of the glory and beauty of the equally plain from experience and divine nature, an entire approbation the nature of the thing. While of every thing in God, as perfectly men continue in the love of sin, it right and absolutely faultless. It is impossible that they should see is self-evident, that without this, the beauty of infinite holiness. So there cannot be a supreme love to long as they love sin, they must God, in which true religion properly hate holiness, which is its opposite, consists; no man can love that and not less contrary to it than which doth not appear to be lovely. light is to darkness. Therefore, all
restraint upon our outward conver• Rom. viii. 7.
sation, all zeal and diligence in ex.
pensive rites and ceremonies; all saying, Depart from me, for I am a duties of whatever kind that arise sinful man, O Lord."* See another from fear, or other external motives, instance of the same kind.
“ And are of no consequence, till the tem- the whole multitude of the country per and inclination of the heart is of the Gadarenes round about, beentirely renewed.
sought him to depart from them, for 2. From what hath been said, we they were taken with great fear.'st may plainly perceive, that regene Another common effect of this ration, from first to last, must be natural fear, in some respects conascribed to the agency of the Holy trary to the former, is to dispose Ghost. It must be the effect of di. men to perform some constrained vine grace,
and the work of sove- and hypocritical services, in order reign power. Let not any creature to avoid punishment. This is debe unwilling to stand indebted for scribed in the temper and conduct bis new creation to the Author of of the children of Israel, as reprehis first being; " for of him, and sented by the Psalmist; “When through him, and to him, are all he slew them, then they sought things. While man is in his na. him; they returned, and inquired tural state, he is an enemy to God' early, after God. And they rein his mind by wicked works. The membered that God was their rock, discoveries that are made to him of and the high God their Redeemer. the real nature of God in his works Nevertheless they did flatter him and in his word, while he continues with their mouth, they lied unto in this disposition, are not amiable him with their tongues; for their but hateful. Nay, he is so far from heart was not right with him, neiloving him as his father, that he ther were they stedfast in his covefears him as his enemy. This fear nant.”I Hence it appears, that to will discover itself one of these two a discovery of the glory and excelways. Sometimes it will make the lence that is in God, it is neces. sioner fly from God, cast instruc- sary that we be in some measure tion behind his back, and increase changed into the same image. To unto more ungodliness, till natural say that this is the effect of our conscience is seared and insensible. own attempts and endeavours in How many there are of this kind, the way of duty, without the conwhom one crime only precipitates straining power of divine grace, is, into another, experience is a melan. when thoroughly examined, a manicholy proof. It is worth while at fest contradiction. If persons enthe same time to observe what inti- deavour to force or oblige themmations are given us in scripture, selves to love any one, it is a sure that this is the first and natural ef- sign that he is very unlovely in fect of sin upon all, to drive them their eyes. Love cannot be forced, at a further distance from God. or rather, to speak more properly, Two instances of this have been forced love is not love at all. In a given above. Our first parents no word, it is our indispensable duty sooner sinned, than they fled and to attend to every dictate of conhid themselves when they heard' science, and to follow it so far as it God's voice in the garden, as im- goes; but I cannot help thinking, patient of his approach. A similar that for a singer truly and sincerely reflection we see in the apostle Pe- to desire a change of nature, would ter, on being witness to an extraor- be an evidence of a change begun. dinary effect of his Saviour's divine Therefore, till a sinner get a superpower: “And when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees,
Luke v. 8.
† Luke viii. 37. • Rom. xi. 36.
Psalm lxxviii. 34, 35, 36, 37.
natural illumination, he can never There are some legal hypocrites. see the glory and beauty of the di Awakened to a sense of their danvine character. Before this, he ger merely from the irresistible may seek to propitiate God's favour, power of God, they fall to the exhe may wish to avoid his wrath; he ercise of repentance, and hope that may desire a change in God for his by so doing they may live. 'Hence own safety, but he cannot be satis- the whole system of bodily penance fied with him as he really is. It and mortification. Hence also so must be the same almighty power, strong an attachment, in some which brought the world out of no- worldly persons, to the external thing into being, that must bring forms of religion, and veneration back the sinner from his rebellion for the places of divine worship. and apostacy, according to that Being now somewhat more regular promise, evidently applicable to and decent in their ordinary carthe Saviour; “Thy people shall be riage than before, they entertain a willing in the day of thy power, in fond hope that all shall be well. In the beauties of holiness.:** Neither the mean time, they are so far is the same thing less clearly as- from being restored to the image of serted in the New Testament; God, or being governed by his love, « For it is God which worketh in that all this is a burden to them ; you, both to will and to do of his and indeed it is because it is a burgood pleasure."
den, that they are so prone to think 3. Hence, we may see wherein it meritorious. Conscience checks lies the fundamental essential dif- them, and they dare not run to the ference between common or imper- same excess with others, or even fect convictions, and the effectual repeat what they themselves did sanctifying and saving influences formerly; and by this comparison, of the Holy Ghost. The first arise cannot help thinking they are in a from a view of the natural perfec- hopeful way. But did such pertions of God, from a belief of his sons reflect a little on the nature power and severity, without any of God, they would see their error. discovery of his righteousness and They would learn, that they are so glory. Therefore, however great far from being renewed in the spia length they may proceed, how. rit of their minds, that whatever ever different or opposite their ef- lengths they go, they are dragged fects may be, they never produce or driven against their will; and any real change in the heart. It is whenever they can find a plausible of great consequence to attend to
excuse, they are ready to withdraw this important distinction; for their neck from the yoke. A just though imperfect convictions some view of the glory of God, and the times are entirely effaced, and are obligation upon every rational creafollowed by no lasting effect at all, ture to love and imitate him, would yet it is often otherwise. They effectually cure them of all selffrequently produce a a counter- righteousness and self-dependance; feit' religion, which not only con- would lead them to himself and the tinues for a time, but is carried grace treasured up in his Son, to down by some to the grave, as a lie“ work in them the whole good pleain their right hand. So subtle are sure of his goodness, and the work the deceits of Satan, that there are of faith with power.” many hollow forms of religion, not On the other hand, there are only upon a legal, but an evangeli- evangelical hypocrites. These becal bottom. I shall give the reader gin upon the same principles, and a sketch of the principles and out their views have the same radical lines of both.
defect with the former. They are * Psalm, cx. 3.
| Phil. ij. 13. awakened to a sense of danger, and
1830. Serious Inquiries for a Christian, at the Close of the Year. 621 sometimes made to tremble through continue their profession of attachfear of divine judgments, but with ment; but when self-denial or bearout any discovery of the glory and ing the cross is required, they reamiableness of the divine nature. ject the terms, they lose their transIf such persons happen to live in a porting views, and return to their family or congregation, where they sins. hear much of the doctrine of re There are many examples of this, demption, it may have its place in not only in scripture, but in the their scheme. They may be so con- history of the church in every age. vinced of their own manifold trans Many of those disciples who seemgressions, as to be satisfied to throw ed gladly to embrace the doctrine their guilt upon the surety, and rely and highly to honour the person of on the sufferings and death of Christ, when they heard some of Christ, for deliverance from the the most mortifying precepts, "went wrath of an offended God. Nay, I back and walked no more with have not the least doubt that some him."* The character is little difmay, by a confident presumption, ferent, which we find described unimitate the faith of God's elect, and der the image of the stony ground believe that Christ died for them. hearers, who “ having not root in selves in particular. So long as themselves, when persecution or this persuasion can maintain its tribulation arose because of the ground, it may, and must give word, by and by were offended.” them great joy and satisfaction. I hope this, with the explication Who would not find consolation in above given of its cause, may be thinking theinselves in safety from of use to account for some appeardivine wrath? Yet all this while ances in a time of the revival of rethey never see the evil of sin in ligion. Persons who seem to have itself, as an opposition to the na- the same exercises with real conture, and a breach of the law of verts, yet afterwards fall away, and God. They are never brought to "return with the dog to his vomit love an infinitely holy God in sin- again, and with the sow that was cerity of heart. They may love washed, to her wallowing in the him, because they suppose them- mire.” This gives occasion to adselves the peculiar objects of his versaries to speak reproachfully, love, with some obscure, confused, and is greatly distressing to those sensual idea of the delights of hea- who truly fear God. But would ven; but they know not or consi men carefully attend to what the der not, the nature of that salva. holy scriptures teach us to expect, tion he hath provided for his chosen. their surprise in all such cases
All such love, it is plain, ariseth would cease. “ For it must needs from a false confidence in their be that offences must come.”+ And own state, and not from a true though there are many counterknowledge of God. Their notions feits, there will still be sufficient of God's love to them contain more means to distinguish the gold from of a partial indulgence to them as
the dross. they are, than of his infinite compassion in forgiving what they have been. The effects of such religion are just what might be expected
SERIOUS INQUIRIES FOR A from its nature, violent and pas
TIAN, AT THE CLOSE OF THE YEAR. sionate for a season, and commonly What have I done, in the year ostentatious, but temporary and which is closing, to promote the glochangeable. Self-love lies at the ry of God and the salvation of root, and therefore, while they are pleased and gratified, they will * John, vi, 60. Matt. xvüi. 7. Vol. VIII-Ch. Adv.