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God's glory. We are sheep that run astray, but we cannot of our own power come again to the sheepfold. We have neither faith, charity, hope, patience, or any thing else that good is, but of God. These virtues be the fruits of the Holy Ghost, and not the fruits of man. We cannot think a good thought of ourselves; much less can we say well, or do well of ourselves." (Homil. on the misery of man). We are, in short, what the scripture affirms us to be, naturally dead in trespasses and sins; and no dead man can make himself to differ from another. Conversion is a new birth, a resurrection, a new creation. What infant ever begat himself? What inanimate carcase ever quickened and raised itself? What creature ever created itself?
Boast not then of your free-will; for it is like what the prophet saith of Nineveh, empty, and void, and waste. They that feel not this, resemble delirious persons in a high fever; who imagine that nothing ails them, while in fact they are at the very gates of death. Nay, mankind in their native state are more than at the gates of death. The traveller in the parable, who went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, is said to have been left half-dead; but the degenerated sons of Adam are, spiritually speaking, stark-dead to God. An unrenewed man has not one spiritual sense left; no hearing of the promises; no sight of his own misery, nor of God's holiness, nor of the perfect purity of the law, nor of Christ as an absolute Saviour, nor of the blessed Spirit as the revealer of Christ in the heart; no taste of the Father's everlasting love, nor of communion with him through the ministration of the Holy Ghost; no feeling of grace in a way of conviction, comfort, and sanctification; no hungerings and thirstings after spiritual enjoyments and sweet assurances; no motive tendencies, no outgoings of soul, after the blood, righteousness, and intercession of Jesus Christ. If we experience these,
they are indications of spiritual life: and we may take those reviving words to ourselves, Flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.
5. Beg the Lord to show you the depth of your fall. Free grace, finished salvation, imputed righteousness, atoning blood, unchangeable mercy, and the whole chain of evangelical blessings, will then be infinitely precious to your heart.
6. Prize the covenant of redemption, which is a better covenant, and founded upon better promises, than that which Adam broke. The covenant of works said, "Do, and live: sin, and die." The covenant of grace says, "I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. The covenant of works insisted on a perfection of personal obedience; the covenant of grace provided and accepts the perfect atonement and righteousness of Christ as ours.
This shows both the folly and wickedness of depending on our own works for salvation. Which soul-destroying delusion is founded on ignorance that the covenant of works was broken and annulled the very moment Adam fell. I mean, annulled, as to any possibility of salvation by it: else it is still in full force, as the ministration of condemnation and death to every soul that finally clings to it for pardon and eternal life. Man unfallen, might have been saved by works. But there is no deliverance for fallen man, except by the free grace of the Father, and the imputed righteousness of a sacrificed Redeemer. -Therefore,
7. Let the sense of our original depravation, of our continued vileness, and the impossibility of our being saved in a legal way, induce us to prize the blood, obedience, and intercession of Jesus, the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. This is the inference, drawn by the apostle himself, from the doctrine I have been asserting. Therefore, says he,
as by the offence of one, judgment came upon all men [even upon all the elect themselves], unto condemnation; so, by the righteousness of one, the freegift came upon all men [upon all the elect, believing world] unto justification of life: for as, by one man's disobedience, many were made sinners; so by the obedience of one, shall many be made righteous, Rom. v. 18, 19.-And, elsewhere, St. Paul reasons in the same manner: All [i. e. all God's elect, no less than others] have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. What is the consequence? It is immediately added, being justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, Rom. iii. 23, 24.
8. Hence likewise appear the necessity and value of effectual calling. Why does our Lord say, that, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God? Because we are totally sinful and corrupt by nature: as unfit for, and as incapable of enjoying the glories of the celestial world; as a beetle is, of being elevated to the dignity and office of a first minister of state.
9. Since such is the natural condition of man, with regard to spiritual things; take heed that you do not look upon election, justification, redemption, and regeneration, as mere technical terms, belonging to divinity as a system, or science. They are infinitely more. These and such like terms are expressive of the greatest and most important realities; without the experience of which, we are condemned, ruined, lost.
10. The doctrine of original sin is the basis of the millennium. The earth, which is disordered and put out of course, through the offence of man, will be restored to its primitive beauty, purity, and regularity, when Jesus shall descend to reign in person with his saints, 2 Pet. iii. 13.
11. Original sin accounts for the remaining imperfections, too visible in them that are born of God.
The brightest saints below ever had, and ever will have, their dark sides. Abraham, Noah, Job, David, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Paul, Peter, John, were sanctified but in part. On earth, God's converted people are each a compound of light, and shades. In glory we shall be all light, without any mixture of shade whatever.
12. Since the earth and its inhabiters are degenerated from their original state, let not believers be afraid to die.
"Death has no pang, but what frail life imparts; Nor life true joy, but what kind death improves." By quitting its mortal cage, the heaven-born soul is delivered from all its sins, and cares, and pains; and kindles into perfection of holiness, and majesty, and joy. At the appointed time, the body too will partake of complete redemption; and be delivered, totally and eternally delivered, into the glorious liberty and dignity of the children of God.Accomplish, Lord, the number of thine elect, and hasten thy kingdom!
VARIOUS FEARS TO WHICH GOD'S PEOPLE ARE LIABLE.
"Within were fears."-2 COR. vii. 5.
FEAR is, properly speaking, that uneasiness of mind, which arises from the apprehension of some impending evil.
Spiritually taken, fear, as it respects God for its object, is of two kinds; legal and evangelical: i. e. law fear, and gospel fear.
Legal fear is an horror, occasioned by the mere expectation of punishment, without any mixture of love to the punisher. Such is the fear of the apostate angels; and such the fear, which agitates reprobate souls, when conscience is let loose, and when the thunderings and lightnings of God's fiery law set themselves in array against the haters of Christ.On the contrary,
Evangelical fear is peculiar to God's regenerate people; and consists in a melting humiliation for sin; accompanied, at times, especially in secret prayer, with gracious groanings which cannot be uttered; with a degree of self-abhorrence, and of self-renunciation; with a longing for the favour, the resemblance, and the presence of God, in the soul. And all this, not from a mere wish to avoid punishment; but likewise from a concern for having lost the image of God's holiness, for having crucified