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fore love in conversion, is calculated to lead men into the most fatal delusion. It teaches them to believe, that Christ died for them in particular, and intends to save them; and to love him, and to love God, to repent, and to obey, from mere mercenary, selfish motives, which is a fatal error, and if cordially embraced and acted upon, will destroy them forever. Christ always did, and always will reject those, who love him merely for his favours.

3. If there can be no true experimental religion, but what originates from that supreme love to God, which is before faith in Christ; then there is ground to fear, that there is a great deal of false religion among all denominations of Christians. For many of their most devout Teachers inculcate the doctrine, that faith in Christ is always before love to God. And it is to be presumed, that a doctrine so agreeable to every natural man, has been cordially embraced by multitudes, who have been made acquainted with it, by books and by preaching. If we look into many grave Treatises published upon vital or experimental religion, we find faith placed before love and repentance. If we read Hervey's Dialogues, Marshall's Gospel Mystery of Sanctification, The Marrow of Modern Divinity, or many of the Writings of the Presbyterean Divines in Europe or America, we find that those Authors inculcate the doctrine, that faith always precedes love, and lays the foundation for love, in the sinner's conversion. If we hear many of the most admired Preachers of the present day, we find them most frequently and most pathetically dwelling upon the love of Christ to sinners, and endeavouring to persuade them to believe, that Christ is willing to receive them into his favour just as they are, before they exercise either love or repentance. They preach this false and dangerous

doctrine, in direct opposition to the well known sentiments of those Divines, who, by their writings and preaching, teach the true Order of gracious affections in the renewed heart. People generally are much more fond of hearing their errour, than the opposite truth; and consequently their preaching is calculated to make many converts, and to make them rapidly. They firstendeavour to alarm sinners with a deep sense of their perishing condition by nature; and then most affectionately urge them to believe, that Christ loves them, , and is willing to save them just as they are, unholy and impenitent. And as soon as awakened, impenitent, selfish sinnerscome to believethis, their faith fills their hearts with love, and gratitude, and the most ravishing joys. There are many ministers, and some who affect to be the most learned, the most eloquent, and the most sincere friends of vital piety, who are using every method in their power, to propagate through the country, sentiments whichare directly suited to promote such unholy, unsound, and dangerous conversions.

Finally, this subject teaches all, who have entertained a hope of having experienced a saving change, the great importance of examining themselves, whether they have ever exereised that precious faith, which flows from supreme love to God. There has been a great deal of false religion in the world, and many have been fatally deceived, in respect to the nature of their religious experiences. The vast multitudes, who entered into covenant with God at mount Sinai, were deeply impressed with what they had heard and seen, and probably thought they were sincere friends to Jehovah; but they deceived and destroyed themselves; and are set up as awful monuments, to deter others from the same self-deception. Many who followed John and Christ, and heard them gladly, and thought they SERMON XVII.

ON THE GROWTH OF GRACE.

2 Peter, iii, 18. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord

and Saviour Jesus Christ.

THE apostles were solicitous not only to convert men to the belief and profession Christianity, but to build them up in their most holy faith. They often visited the churches which they had planted, to look into their state, and to rectify whatever they found amiss in their sentiments, or practice. And when they could not consistently visit them, they frequently wrote them very friendly and occasional epistles, in which they meant to instruct them in some particular doctrines, or warn them against some particular errours, or solve some particular cases of conscience, or exhort them to constancy and perseverance in their christian course. But Peter, in writing to christians in general, seems to have but one great object in view, and that is, to urge upon them the importance of their growing in grace, which would afford them the best support under their trials, and the best security against all the snares and seductions of their spiritual enemies. The conclusion of this last epistle is agreeable to the whole tenor of both, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the errour of the wicked, fall from your steadfastness. But

grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Christians are still in a state of moral imperfection, and exposed to the subtile devices of the great adversary of their souls, and to the snares and temptations of the present evil world. The in

grow in

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change, merely because they have been in great anxiety, and distress, and afterwards felt peculiar love, and joy, and peace. For love, and joy, and peace, may flow from an appropriating faith, or a belief, which has no evidence from scripture, sense, or reason, that Christ died for them in particular, and intends to save them. Such religious affections, which flow from such a false faith, afford no evidence of the renovation of the heart. But on the other hand, those have a right to hope, that they have passed from death to life, if they are conscious of having loved God for what he is in himself, of having hated sin because of its odious nature, and of having loved Christ for honouring God, and opening the door of mercy to perishing sinners. Such repentance and faith flowing from such supreme love to the divine character, afford good evidence of a sound conversion. For these are the love, the repentance, and the faith, which the holy Spirit always produces in those whom he renews and sanctifies. And such sanctification of heart is the only evidence of justification, and a title to eternal life. The Antinomian faith precludes all self examination. Those who place faith before love, hold that it is a sin for those who have once believed, that Christ died for them in particular, to doubt of their gracious state. The reason is obvious. If a faith before love, and without love, be a justifying faith; then assurance belongs to the essence of faith, and consequently, there is no occasion for sanctification, to prove a believer's justification. But let no man be deceived; for if he have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

SERMON XVII.

ON THE GROWTH OF GRACE.

But grow

2 PETER, iii, 18.
in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord

,
and Saviour Jesus Christ.

THE apostles were solicitous not only to convert men to the belief and profession Christianity, but to build them up in their most holy faith. They often visited the churches which they had planted, to look into their state, and to rectify whatever they found amiss in their sentiments, or practice. And when they could not consistently visit them, they frequently wrote them very friendly and occasional epistles, in which they meant to instruct them in some particular doctrines, or warn them against some particular errours, or solve some particular cases of conscience, or exhort them to constancy and perseverance in their christian course. But Peter, in writing to christians in general, seems to have but one great object in view, and that is, to urge upon them the importance of their growing in grace, which would afford them the best support under their trials, and the best security against all the snares and seductions of their spiritual enemies. The conclusion of this last epistle is agreeable to the whole tenor of both. “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the errour of the wicked, fall from your steadfastness. But grow

in

grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Christians are still in a state of moral imperfection, and exposed to the subtile devices of the great adversary of their souls, and to the snares and temptations of the present evil world. The in

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