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a finner's being found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, weakens the obligation to holiness, and tends to introduce licentiousness of practice. But from what hath been said in the above discourse, we may learn, not only in general the absolute necessity of a change, but how this stands connected with the purchase and gift of falvation, the character and work of a Redeemer. It will plainly appear, that a change in some respects is necessary to bring us to, and in others is the necessary effect and confequence of, the acceptance of salvation.
I have endeavored in the preceding pages to fhew, that a discovery of the nature and glory of God, and of the infinite evil of fin, is absolutely necessary, in order to our either understanding or relishing the doctrine of the cross. What is this then, but a change begun ? Must not the do. minion of fin in every such person have received a mortal blow? Doth any thing more directly tend to holiness, than to see the power and glory of a holy God, and how “ evil and bitter a thing” it is to depart from him ? On the other hand, is it not necessary to complete the change, that there be a sense of reconciliation and peace? “ Can “two walk together except they be agreed ?” Can any person live in the love and service of God, while he con. ceives him to be his enemy, and supposes himself ftill the object of his wrath and displeasure ? But supposing this reconciliation obtained, let me boldly ask, What motive to holiness in all manner of conversation, equal to the force of redeeming love? Judge, O Christian, will any cold reasoning on the nature and beauty of virtue have such an effect in mortifying corruptions, as a believing view of a pierced Saviour ? Where shall we find so faith. ful, so active, fo chearful a servant of God, as one who joins with the apostle Paul in saying, “I am crucified “ with Christ : nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ " liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, ** I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, " and gave himself for me.”* Faith in Christ Jesus never can take place in any heart, unless there has been an in
* Gal. ii. 20.
ternal work of the Spirit of God teftifying of him; and there is no effectual principle of new obedience, but faith which worketh by love.
2. What has been said above, will serve to explain some controversies with which the truths of the gospel have been often darkened and perplexed; particularly those relating to the priority, or right of precedency, fo to speak, between faith and repentance. Some make repentance, that is, as they explain it, forrow for sin, serious resolutions of forsaking it, and begun reformation, the joint grounds of our acceptance, with the merit of a Saviour. These, with great plausibility, state the matter thus: That our sincerity is accepted through the fatisfaction of Christ, instead of that perfect obedience to which we cannot now attain; and, when taken in a certain light, this assertion is undoubtedly true. Others, discerning the falfhood that may lurk under this representation, and fearing the consequences of every self-righteous plan, are tempted to go to the opposite extreme. That they might shew salvation to be wholly of grace, fome have even presumed to use this harsh and unscriptural expression, that it is not necessary to forsake fin in order to come to Christ. I could fhew a fense in which this also is true, even as it is not necessary to forsake your disease, in order to apply to the physician. But if it is not necessary to forsake it, I am sure it is ne. cessary, in both cases, to hate it, and desire deliverance from it.
This difficulty will be easily solved from what has been said in the preceding parts of this treatise, and we may learn to preserve the truth, without exposing it to the scorn or resentment of its enemies. The reader may observe, then, that none can see the form or comeliness of a Savi. our itanding in the room of finners, and purchasing forgiveness from a holy God, till the glory of this God is discovered, till the guilt of fin lays hold of the conscience, and its power is both felt and lamented. This may, perhaps be called repentance, and I believe it is called so fometimes in the holy scriptures, particularly in the following passage : “ Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your lips s may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing Mall “ come from the presence of the Lord."* But the funer does not so properly forsake sin in order to come to Christ, as he flies to him for deliverance from its condemning guilt and enslaving power. He is so far from coming to God with a gift in his hand, even of his own prayers and penitential tears, that his conti&tions continue to follow him, if I may speak so, through every lurking place, till he is entirely subjected, till he is strip: naked and bare, and deprived of every shadow of excuse. Then it is that falvation through a despised crucified Saviour becomes un: speakably amiable in all it parts, fin becomes more perfectly hateful, and an assured prospect is obtained of its im. mediate mortification, and, in due time, of its entire and complete destruction. Thus faith and repentance are involved in one another, they produce, and are produced by one another. They may be treated of distinctly, but they cannot exist separately. So that whenever any of them is found alone, or stands independent of the other, that very thing is a sufficient evidence that it is false and fpurious.
3. From what has been said on this subject, we may he enabled to judge what are the fundamental and ellentia! doctrines of the gospel, to which all others are but subordi. nate and subservient, Regeneration, or the New Birtb, we are warranted to say, after the example of our Saviour, is absolutely necessary to salvation : “ Except a man be “ born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” If any man, therefore, depart from this truth, he makes hipwreck of the faith, and will at last be found to fight against God. It is also plain, that the reconciliation of a finner to God must be through the blood of the atonement : “ For other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, “ which is Jesus Christ.”+ If any man hold by, and build upon, this great foundation, he shall be finally accepted, though many things may be found in him justly blame-worthy. Nor is it easy, indeed, to say what degree of error and misapprehension concerning these truths themselves, may be consistent with abiding by the sub,
stance. But certainly all who directly and openly oppose them, may be faid “ to bring in damnable heresies, even “ denying the Lord that bought them, and to bring upon " themselves swift destruction.'' *
This may teach us, what judgment Christians ought to form of the many parties and factions which divide the visible church. There may be smaller differences, which keep them asunder on earth, while, in faith and in love to an unseen Saviour, they are perfectly united. We are told that God shall gather his elect from the four winds, and that “ many shall come from the east and west, and “ thall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in “ the kingdom of heaven.”+ I always think with much plealure on the perfect union of this great and general af. fembly of the church of the first born. Then, all other distinctions, all other designations, shall be abolished, and those thall make one pure and unmixed society, who have received " a white fione and a new name,” and “ whole " names are written in the Lamb's book of life.” The prospect of this should keep us from immoderate resent. ment, at present, against any of whom we have reason to think that they hold the foundation, are acquainted with real and practical religion, or have had experience of a faving change.
No man, indeed, can deny it to be just, that every one should endeavor to support that plan of the discipline and government of the church of Christ, and even the minutelt parts of it, which appear to him to be founded upon the word of God. But still sound doctrine is more to be el teemed than any form. Still we ought to consider the ex. cellence of every particular form, as consisting in its fitness to promote or preserve the knowledge of the truth, and to carry on a work of illumination, conviction, and converfion, to the saving of the soul. Would any Christian shew that he is of a truly catholic disposition, let him discover a greater attachinent to those even of different denominati. ons, who seem to bear the image of God, than to profane persons, be their apparent. ar pretended principles what
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they will. Let us pay some regard to other distinctions, but still the greatest regard to the most important of all dif. tinctions, that of saints and sinners.
4. As this great distinction divides the whole human race, and is so very important in its consequences, let me earnestly intreat every one who peruseth this treatise, to bring the matter to a trial with regard to himself. Answer this question in seriousness, Whether do you belong to the one class or the other? We are dropping into the grave from day to day, and our state is fixed beyond any posibility of change. What astonishing folly to continue in uncertainty whether we shall go to heaven or hell, whether we shall be companions of angels, or associates with blafpheming devils, to all eternity. Nothing, therefore, can be more salutary, than that you make an impartial search into your present character and state. If you have ground to conclude that you are at peace with God, what an unspeakable source of joy and confolation ? If other. wise, there is no time to lose in hastening from the brink of the pit. May I not with some confidence make this demand of every reader, that he would fet apart some time and apply with vigour and earneftness to the duty of self-examination? Is not this demand reasonable? What injury can you suffer by complying with it: Will conscience permit any to continue unreproved in the neglect of it? Have you read so much on the subject of regeneration, and are you unwilling to reap the benefit of it? Let every one, without exception, take up or renew this grand en. quiry, “ Am I in Chrift? That is, am I a New Creature " or not? Am I a child of God? or do I still continue ani “ heir of hell?"
5. As it is more than probable there will be some read. ers who are, or have reason to suspect, themselves unre. newed, I would now come as an ambassador from Chrift, and endeavor to negociate peace. Wherefore “ as though “ God did beseech you by me, I pray you in Chritt's “ stead, be ye reconciled unto God."* While I attempt this, I desire to do it under a just imprellion of the great
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* 2 Cor v. 20.