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his soul, so that he must let that alone for ever. When he considers his past life, he will be astonished at his former ignorance and insensibility. He will seem to himself like one roused from a deep sleep, in which every faculty of his soul had been completely locked up : but he will awake only to perceive himself destitnte, bare, and miserable. He will now, with the astonished jailor, be ready to cry out, What shall I do to be saved ? Driven from every strong-hold of vanity and presumption, he will leave the absurdly proud notion of self-justification to the blind Socinian and to the arrogant Pelagian. However he may once have indulged in the fantastic airy dream of his own excellence and dignity, he will now clearly perceive, that there is no hope, no comfort, no solid expectation of future happiness, but in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ.
different classes of men frequently attain to a considerable, I had almost said an equal, degree of spiritual knowledge, with respect to the sinfulness of sin and the requisitions of the divine Law. They are both deeply convinced of the depravity of the human heart. They are both conscious of their manifold aberrations and deficiencies in practice. They both feel the load of their iniquity to be grievous and its burden to be intolerable. Neither of these classes attempts to justify itself. Each is forced by conscience to cry out: Unclean, unclean. Each is secretly constrained to acknowledge the righteousness of God. Thus far, the parallel holds good between them: but here it terminates; and a
striking difference commences, which will best be discerned by a separate delineation of the character of each.
I. The anguish, which persons of the first description feel, arises merely from a consciousness of guilt and from a dread of threatened punishment.
In their case, there is no spiritual loathing of the blackness of sin; no horror of it, springing from the knowledge of its hatefulness to God; no indignation, no vehement desire, no zeal, no revenge*. The tempest in their hearts is conjured up solely by terror, unmixed terror. They feel nothing of filial sorrow at having offended their heavenly Father : they feel no compunction at having counted the blood of atonement an unholy thing: they feel no grief at having resisted the gracious influences of the Holy Spirit. Sin still reigns triumphant in their hearts : and they inwardly abhor that Law, which strikes at the very existence of their idol. Were all fears of future punishment removed, and were they assured beyond a possibility of doubt that mere annihilation would hereafter be their portion : these joyful tidings would wipe away all tears from their eyes, and would remove every uneasy thought from their heart. Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die. They would return, with avidity, to their former vicious indulgences; regardless, whether their conduct was pleasing or displeasing to the Most High. It is not sin that they hate, but the wages of sin: it is not God that they love, but their own safety.
* 2 Cor. vii. 11.
In vain is the wonderful goodness and long suffering of the Lord held up before the eyes of their understanding. The numberless blessings which they enjoy, the numberless evils from which they are exempt, the patience with which God has endured their perverseness, the opportunities which he has given them of repentance, the tender loving kindness with which he condescendingly solicits (as it were) a reconciliation with them; like Gallio, they care for none of these things. In vain for them,
doth the whole creation proclaim the beneficence of the great Creator. In vain for them, doth he cause the sun to shine, and the seasons to revolve in grateful vicissitude. In vain for them doth he, by the powerful machinery of nature, send the springs into the rivers, which run among the hills. In vain for them, by the united operation of various causes, doth he bring food out of the earth, and wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make him a cheerful countenance, and bread to strengthen man's heart *. They will riot in these blessings even to satiety; the harp and the viol, the tabret and pipe, are in their feasts: but they regard not the work of the Lord, neither consider the operation of his hands +.
The mysterious act of mercy displayed in man’s redemption may be described to them; but it excites no feeling of gratitude in their souls. The blameless life, the wonderful love, the bitter sufferings, and the lingering death,