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to appear in the garb of inoffensive sheep. But is it possible, that innocence so constrained should be accounted of any value even among heathens themselves? It is impossible, since we find one of their own poets declaring—
Oderunt peccare mali, formidine poena:.
The wicked abstain from mischief through fear of punishment. And all the recompense he conceives due to such guiltless persons, consists in not becoming the food of ravens upon a gibbet:— Non pascct in cruce corvos.
6. If servile fear is sometimes the cause of our innocence, necessity is more commonly the cause of our apparent virtues. A youth of any modesty is generally cautious among his superiors, who afford him neither money to indulge, nor liberty to discover his inclinations. Now, if this forced discretion should, at length, become habitual to him, he may in such circumstances esteem himself a virtuous man, because he has not, like the son of a dissolute courtier, plunged himself into every kind of impiety. Whereas had he enjoyed but equal liberty with the licentious rake, he might have surpassed him in every sinful excess. On the other hand, when an infamous voluptuary, enfeebled either by age or by his frequent debaucheries, finds it absolutely needful to live in a more sober and orderly style, immediately he takes himself for another Cato; not considering that necessity alone is the source of his temperance. The least excess disorders his health, and the weakness of his stomach obliges him to abstain from those luxurious feasts, of which he can still converse with so much satisfaction. If such a one be virtuous, because no longer able to rush into his former excesses, then we may prove the most incorrigible robber to be an honest man, while the irons are on his hands, or when scared by the officers of justice, he flies to some secret retreat. Has that woman any reason to boast of her virtuous conduct, who was never solicited by those men who were most likely to have triumphed over her modesty? And yet, many such, filled with self approbation, will frequently applaud their own innocence, placing that to the account of virtue, which was merely owing to providential circumstances; or, perhaps, to the want of personal attraction. Such plausible appearances no more merit the commendation due to solid virtue than the sickly wolf, who peaceably passes by a flock of sheep, can be said to deserve the caresses which a shepherd bestows upon his faithful dog.
7. Effectually to impose upon others by a beautiful outside, we practise a deeper deceit upon our own hearts; and very frequently we succeed as well, in hiding from ourselves our own evil dispositions, as in concealing from others our unworthy actions. Could we discover all that secretly passes in the world, we should not want demonstrative proofs of the depravity of the human heart. But why need we go abroad in search of a truth, which is easily evidenced at home? Had we ourselves but dared to have executed openly, what we have acted in imagination, when our irascible or concupiscible passions have been roused, where should we have hidden our guilty heads, or how should we have escaped the sword of justice? Convinced too late of our degenerate nature, we should, haply, have smitten upon our breasts, with the repentant publican, adopting long ago his humiliating confession, in the anguish of our souls. Every thinking person must allow, that had evil intentions fallen under the cognizance of human laws, and had the secular power possessed equal ability to punish them, as it punishes those actions, of which they are the very root and soul, the whole earth must, in such case, have become as vast a scaffold, as it is now a place of graves. Can it be necessary to multiply observations upon this head, when the Almighty, whose mercy and justice are infinite, sufficiently declares the universal depravity of mankind, by the variety of scourges with which he is constrained to punish both individuals and commonwealths?
8. If the children of this world are unable to form any just conception of the human heart and its evil propensities, it is because they are in the numberof those natural men, of whom the Apostle Paul makes mention, 1 Cor. ii, 14. And such, having a natural antipathy to the Gospel, while they are ever ready to cast reproach upon the faithful, are equally prepared to favour those of a like disposition with themselves. Thus Herod, Caiaphas, and Pilate, mutually overlooked the faults of each other, while they united in accusing and persecuting Christ.
It is usual with many, who are destitute of true religion, to esteem some of their sinful companions as moral and well-disposed men. But, were they themselves to be really converted, their error, in this respect, would soon become apparent. Upon daring to oppose any torrent of impiety with the zeal of their heavenly Master, instead of finding among their associates any natural disposition to real virtue, they would meet with indisputable proofs, in spite of a thousand amiable qualities, that all unregenerate men resemble one another in their "enmity against God," Rom. viii, 7. Yes; whether they inhabit the banks of the Thames or the Seine; the lake of Genesareth or that of Geneva; they are, in the sight of God, as filthy swine trampling under foot the pearls of the Gospel, Matt, vii, 6, or like "ravening wolves," Matt, vii, 15, outrageously tearing in pieces the Lamb of God.
It might, perhaps, have been objected that this portrait is overcharged, had not Christ himself, who is immutable Truth, and unsearchable Love, penciled out the gloomiest traits observable in it. Following such a guide, though we may give much offence, yet we can never err.
The second point of doctrine, insisted upon by the true minister, is a living
To show the necessity of repentance, without publishing the remission of sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, would be to open a wound without binding it up. It would be leading sinners to the brink of a tremendous gulf, and cutting off all possibility of their retreat. But nothing can be more contrary to the intention of the faithful minister, than to sport with the miseries of man, or ultimately to aggravate his distress.
When he has discovered to his hearers that natural propensity to evil, which manifests its existence in every heart, by a variety of external transgressions: when he has convinced them, by the word of God, and by an appeal " to every man's conscience," 2 Cor. iv, 2, that they are unable to deliver themselves, either from that fatal propensity, or its dreadful consequences: after he has thus demonstrated the need in which they stand of a Redeemer, who hath " all power in heaven and in earth," Matt, xxviii, 18; if they "harden not their hearts," Psalm xcv, 8; if they stand, like the first sinner, naked and trembling before God, Gen. iii, 10, having received the sentence of death in themselves, 2 Cor. i, 9: in a word, when they cry out, like the publicans and soldiers alarmed by the preaching of John, " What shall we do?" Luke iii, 12; they are then properly disposed to receive "the glorious Gospel of Christ," 2 Cor. iv, 4, and will be enabled to experience its powerful eflects. From this time, the evangelical pastor affectionately preaches remission of sins through faith in the name of a merciful Redeemer.
This is the very same method which Christ and his forerunner pursued. "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world," was the cry of John the Baptist, John i, 29. And "blessed," said our Lord, "are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven," Matt, v, 3. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life," John iii, 16. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him," John iii, 36. "Whosoever shall drink of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but it shall be in him a well of water, [a source of sacred consolation,] springing up into everlasting life," John iv, 14. Again, when it was inquired by the multitude, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day," John vi, 28,29, 40. Thus it was, that our adorable Master proclaimed salvation through faith in himself. And, indeed, it was for this end alone that he appeared upon earth; as we learn from the last address he made to his disciples: "It behooved," said he, "Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, that remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem," the abode of his murderers, Luke xxiv, 46.
Observe the great commission given to those messengers of peace. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned," Mark xvi, 15, 16. To the same purpose was the commission with which the Apostle Paul was afterward honoured. I have "appeared unto thee," said the persecuted Jesus, "for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness to the Gentiles, unto whom I now send thee, to open their eyes, to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them that are sanctified, by faith that is in me," Acts xxvi, 16, 17, 18.
The apostles unanimously preached in obedience to the orders, and in conformity to the example of their benevolent Lord. And all true ministers, instructed by the same Divine Teacher, continue to proclaim the glad tidings of the Gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ; laying a.<t much stress, in all their sermons, upon this efficacious grace, as the apostle of the Gentiles was accustomed to do in all his epistles. Take a few instances of St. Paul's usual custom in this respect. After having convinced the Romans of their corruption and misery, he sets before them "the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past: that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus," Rom. iii, 24, 25, 26. "Therefore," continues he, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ," Rom. v, 1. To the Corinthians he writes: "Brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, unless ye have believed in vain," 1 Cor. xv, I, 2. For "ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus," 1 Cor. vi, II. "God hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them: for he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him," 2 Cor. v, 18, 21. To the Galatians: "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith, and not by the works of the law," Gal. ii, 16. Before "faith came, we were kept under the law. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ. But after that faith is come, we are no more under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus," Gal. iii, 23-26. To the Ephesians: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath made us accepted in the Beloved: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins," Eph. i, 3, 6, 7. "By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast," Eph. ii, 8, 9. "Finally, my brethren—put on the whole armour of God—above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked," Eph. vi, 10,11, 16. To the Philippians: "Stand fast in one spirit, with one mmd, striving together for the faith of the Gospel," Phil, i, 27. "We rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Yea, I count all things but loss, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith," Phil- iii, 3, 8, 9. To the Colossians: "It pleased the Father, that in him [the Son] should all fulness dwell; and (having made peace through the blood of his cross) by him to reconcile all things unto himself. And you that were sometimes alienated, and enemies in your mind by wicked works, hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable in his sight; if ye continue grounded and settled in the faith," Col. i, 19, 23. "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. Rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving," Col. ii, 6, 7. To the Thessalonians: "Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith. For God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him," 1 Thess. v, 8, 10. "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, because that your faith groweth exceedingly. Now the Lord shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. Wherefore we pray that our God would fulfil in you the work of faith with power; that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and you in him," 2 Thess. i, 3, 12. To Timothy: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. Howbeit, for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting," 1 Tim.i, 15,16. "For God our Saviour will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom for all," 1 Tim. ii, 3, 6. "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory," 1 Tim. iii, 16. "God hath saved us, [that is to say, hath put us in possession of the same present salvation, which the sinful woman experienced, who, while she prostrated herself at the feet of Jesus, in faith and prayer, received from him these consolatory sentences, "Thy sins are forgiven thee; thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace," Luke vii, 48, 50.] God hath saved us, not according to our works, but according to his own grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus—who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel," 2 Tim. i, 8, 10. To Titus: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to Titus, mine own son after the common faith: grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour," Tit. i, 1,4, " who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works," Tit ii, 14. "We ourselves were sometimes disobedient: but after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us—that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs of eternal life," Tit. iii, 3, 7. To Philemon, he writes: "Grace be to you, and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, hearing of thy faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus Christ. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit," Philem. Thus, a persecuted Saviour became the Alpha and the Omega of this great apostle.
In his Epistle to the Hebrews he uses the same language. It begins and concludes with Him who is " the beginning and the end" of all things, Rev. xxii, 13. "God," saith he, "hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, by whom also he made the worlds. Who being the brightness of his Father's glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high," Heb. i, 1,2,3. "It became Him, for whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through suffer