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ashamed of our hope, under any circumstances of affliction, or of persecution ; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us ;' and we know that He has been given unto us, because we see with unsealed eyes, that God has already manifested His love toward us, in a way which must, when properly considered, prevent us from looking upon any thing He has promised to do for us hereafter, however great and glorious it may be, as more than we can expect. We feel all the force of that apostolic argument, which at once convinces the judgment, and touches every string in our nature that can vibrate in harmony with infinite mercy and love :
—He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him
up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things ?” When we know and believe the love wherewith God hath loved us, so as to perceive that it pervades the whole of our inner man, and sheds its hallowing influence over all our thoughts and affections ; and that we love Him because He hath first loved us; we cannot doubt of the continuance of His love toward us, till He has given us all the good He has promised to bestow upon us, as the mystic body of His beloved Son. We can thus keep ourselves in the love of God, and confidently look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
The power of God cannot be questioned by us for a moment. With God all things are possible. His power is infinite. When we say, with the apostle, that He cannot lie, or deny Himself; with Abraham, that He cannot do any thing that is wrong or unjust; or, with philosophical and deeply thinking men, that He cannot do what implies a manifest contradiction in terms; we do not so properly limit His power, as declare the absolute perfection of His pure, uncompounded and infinite nature. In Him, it would argue infinite imperfection, to be able to say or do any thing untrue or unjust; and it is mere absurdity, to maintain that it is in the power of Omnipotence to do what must be deemed by every rational being a mere nonentity. If we would fairly look at such questions as these, Can Omnipotence make any thing to be and not to be at the same time? Can Omnipotence make a creature eternal à parte ante ?' &c, unless we suffer ourselves to be bewildered in mazes of words without meaning, we must deem them foolish and unlearned questions; and such as no man will think of proposing, who attends either to revelation or reason.
But, though we cannot think it beyond the power of omnipotent goodness to realize, to the full, our hope of His glory; yet, it may be thought, that the consciousness of our own unworthiness and present apparent insignificance ought to cause us to doubt, whether that power will be put forth, in the amazing manner implied in our boast, in be
We know that we are unworthy of the least of His mercies, and that we are by nature the children of wrath, even as others ; but such considerations do not cloud our future prospects ; nor, in the least, check our boasting in hope of the glory of God: because that hope rests upon His love already manifested toward us, when we were sinners, ungodly, enemies, and without any strength to correct the sinfulness of our nature, or any means of removing His just displea
But He spared not His own Son; He delivered Him up to the cross, for our redemption; and with Him He will also freely give us
half of us.
all things. His grace is free, and has prevented, or gone before, all our efforts to regain His favor ; which efforts, indeed, would never have been made by us, without His previous grace ; nor, had they been made, would they have succeeded. We were fallen too low to be redeemed at any price less than that which infinite goodness provided; or by any power less than that possessed by Him, by whom and for whom all things were created; who upholds all things by the word of His power; and who, having by Himself made a purification of our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.We are taught by the apostle, that the psalmist addressed himself to that Divine Redeemer, when he said, O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days : thy years are throughout all generations. Of old hast thou laid the foundations of the earth : and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou art the same, and thy years shall bave no end. The inspired author of that psalm had known trouble, and persecution, and various other afflictions ; as is evident from the general strain of it. He had eaten ashes like bread, and had mingled his drink with weeping. He compares his days to a shadow that declineth; and says, that he was withered like grass. But that did not lessen his confidence in his omnipotent, eternal, and immutable Redeemer.
It is true, that he that believeth not shall be damned, that he is condemned already, and that the wrath of God abideth upon him; that without holiness no man shall see the Lord, and that we can only behold His face in righteousness. All this is awful certainty, and ought not to be blinked by any man living. Were it attended to as it ought, it would cut the sinews of all the pernicious boastings of Antinomian self deceivers. We know, that, without faith, it is impossible to please God; and we judge, that we begin our work at the wrong end, if we attempt to make our hearts clean by our own unassisted efforts ; and must fall into the pernicious error, that the holy and immutable law of God will bend to our imperfections, and that God will tolerate our sins. However the Antinomian may despise the Pharisee, and laugh at his notion of doing what he can, to fulfil the law of God; and then trusting to the merits of the Redeemer to supply his defects; he has, in effect, fallen himself into the same gross error. For, though he may talk of the perfect obedience of Christ, and dream of its imputation to himself, in a sense most manifestly unsanctioned by a single declaration of the book of God; his conscience, however seared, will oblige him to have some kind of personal respect for the law of God; though he may never get beyond the state of a man in the flesh, under the law. If there be a way of wresting the Scriptures, to a man's own destruction, more glaring and dangerous than another, it is that so madly persisted in by those who insist upon it, that the holy apostle,—who expressly tells us that the design of God in sending His own Son in the likeness of flesh subjected to sin and death, and in making Him an offering for sin, was to condemn sin in the flesh, that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in,' or by, • us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit ;' and who expressly tells us, that the law of the Spirit of life in,' or by, Christ
Jesus had made him free from the law of sin and death,' was still subject to the law of sin, and obliged to say, . The good that I would I do not, and the evil that I would not that I do;' and to use other language, as descriptive of his state, which has been naturally used even by the vilest of pagans. Surely these expressions, in the flesh;' • under the law,' • not in the flesh, not under the law, are directly opposite to each other; and cannot, at the same time, be descriptive of the same individual. If so, then it is the grossest perversion of the apostle's words, to apply to him what belongs to a man in the flesh, under the law; though he does speak in the first person singular, in order that he may describe with greater effect, and, at the same time, in the least offensive manner, what was still the actual state of so many of his brethren and kinsmen according to the flesh. The Pharisee and the Antinomian may commence their journey due east and west ; but the greater the speed they make in the direction each has chosen for himself, supposing their speed to be equal, the sooner they meet face to face at the antipodes.
We must judge differently from both these characters of our obligation to obey the holy law of God, so long as we have any just respect for His authority, who said, “ Think not that I am come to destroy the law and the prophets : I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle of the law shall in no wise pass away, till the whole be fulfilled. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach them shall be called great in the kingdom of hea
Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.' And let no vain man, who says he has faith and has not works, tell us, that the perfect fulfilment of the law by the Redeemer Himself is his, and in that he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. For, though we believe that the salvation of every saint is based on the obedience of the Redeemer to death, even the death of the cross ; yet we as freely believe, that without personal holiness and obedience to the law of God, where there is time and opportunity for that obedience, no man shall see the Lord ; and that this is the doctrine here taught by the Son of God.
As sinners, ungodly, enemies to God, and utterly void of strength, we see that God so loved us, as to send His Son to be our Redeemer ; we therefore come to Him, as the only hope and rock of our salvation, with perfect confidence; when His love is shed abroad in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost given unto us, the faith we then exercise purifies our hearts, works by love, and prompts us to cheerful and uniform obedience to the whole law of God. We feel we need not enter into a long and particular comparison of what we find in our own hearts and lives with what we read in the word of God of the thoughts and feelings and conduct of those who are called saints, in order to rise to a hope of God's glory which shall never make us ashamed. The Holy Ghost, given unto us, has led us to all the certainty and joy of that hope, in another way; and that the only way in which any man ever did, or ever will, be led to such enjoyment. We who believe that Christ hath loved us and given Himself for us, feel a peace
eth all understanding, and a joy unspeakable and full of glory, that tells us we have received the reconciliation. We also perceive that ours is a holy and hallowing confidence ; for we love God, because we are assured that he hath loved us. That love has destroyed the carnality of our minds, which was enmity against God; and neither was, nor could be, subject to His law. To be spiritually minded is life and peace.'
Thus, on receiving the Holy Ghost, we are not filled with unaccountable impressions and wild imaginations, but are led by Him to a distinct and perfectly satisfactory apprehension of the manifest truth of God; taught by all the holy and inspired prophets and apostles of God; and intimated by the Son of God Himself, in such language s men were able to bear, till that Spirit was poured out from on high, to bring what He had said to their remembrance, and to give them a power to comprehend clearly what before appeared to them obscure, and, in many of its parts, altogether unintelligible. The greatest blessing a man can possess in this world of shadows and changes, is a sound mind; which prevents him from taking up with the deceitful reveries of imagination, especially in reference to the things which belong to his peace, and which makes him love the undoubted and unchanging truth of God, in whatever way that may be discovered to his spirit. Truth ever shines by its own light; and the revealed truth of God commends itself to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And when that truth presents itself to our minds defecated from all impure, and low, and secular imaginations, by the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit of truth and love, rest on its immutable certainty, and exult in its hallowing radiance with ineffable security and joy.
Did we maintain that the Holy Ghost is given to us, for the purpose of assuring us of our personal interest in the Redeemer, independent of the revealed truth of God, or intimate any thing inconsistent with the great truths, that. Christ, by the grace of God, tasted death for every man ;' and that God wills all men to be saved,' through the merit of His death, and to come to the knowledge of the truth,' in order to their salvation, we might find it more than difficult to free ourselves from the charge of enthusiasm, and of opening a wide door to the wildest and most dangerous notions and fancies. But we do nothing of the kind. We only maintain, that, however clear and express the revelation of the common salvation may be, the mind of man is so obtuse in reference to the things of God,' and so liable to have its conceptions on those sacred and sublime subjects blinded by the god of this world, who is ever laboring to prevent the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God,' from shining into them; that, unless the Holy Spirit of truth come upon them to change their downward and sinful tendency, they will for ever remain in their guilty hallucinations and obstinate heedlessness of the manifest truth of God's revelation.
Were I required to give a glaring proof of the apostle's strong assertion of the natural man's moral incapacity to apprehend aright the things of the Spirit of God,' I should not hesitate to say, though at the certain hazard of being deemed by many an uncharitable bigot, Look at the numerous and conflicting opinions which divide what is called the Christian world on all the great truths of the Gospel, for that glaring proof. For I would rather be charged with uneharitable bigotry by my erring fellow creatures, who know
not that my heart is a stranger to such an unchristian feeling, than I would charge inspired men (which is, in effect, charging the Spirit of truth Himself) with either the want of ability, or of the will, to give a fair and intelligible exhibition of those truths on the right knowledge of which depends our salvation. I believe our apostle spake the truth when he said, "We use great plainness of speech;' and that our blessed Lord uttered nothing deceptive when he said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.' But too many do not continue in that word, till they know the truth. Party prejudices, erroneous education, various passions, and, above all, the love of the world, draw a veil over the eyes
of their understandings, and prevent any distinct perception of the truth.
We may venture to assert in opposition to all that is said about the weakness of the human intellect, and the absolute impossibility of a unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, that, if the Holy Ghost were given to us all, we should soon come to such an agreement; and, each being happy in the enjoyment of the love of God, and filled with a sure and certain hope of immortal life, we should all speak the same thing; and, being perfectly joined together in the same mind and judgment respecting all the great truths of the Gospel of our salvation, we should have something else to do than quarrel about matters of indifference; we should then no longer suffer our good to be evil spoken of on account of our uncharitable divisions; knowing that the • kingdom of God not meat and drink, but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost;' and that he that in these things serveth Christ is,' not only acceptable to God, but also approved of men.'
If, therefore, you wish for the peace and unity of the Church of God, the salvation and happiness of the world at large, and your own present and future bliss, pray humbly and devoutly and constantly for * the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him ; the eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ when he raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come ; and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.'
THE WORKS OF THE REV. JOHN FLETCHER.
In our number for October last we endeavored to give a connected view of the rise, progress, and nature of the controversy in which Mr. Fletcher was so eminently and usefully engaged, as well as of