« AnteriorContinuar »
and all the orthodox doctrine which , grace, to make light of human inayou can set earnestly before them, bility, or to confound works with you have remained shut up to the faith, perhaps causes the preacher melancholy conclusion that the mea- to overshoot nine out of ten of his sures which their case demands, al- hearers, and prevent his making any most take for granted the conversion thing of aggression on the most dewhich they are designed to bring for- praved and dissolute among them. ward. Now it should be observed, He will insist on wickedness of life, that the Bible seems to know nothing as the produce of wickedness of heart; of this difficulty, and addresses itself and so men shall come to think, unreservedly to sinners, as though that it is needless to deal with outthey had a moral power of action, for | ward manifestations, unless God inwhich they were, in the largest sense, terposes an overpowering of inward accountable, and through which they corruption. might make some progress towards Now we wish, on this occasion, to deliverance. Hence, it calls on the give you what we reckon the simple wicked to forsake his ways, and the ruth, in regard to what may be, and unrighteous man his thoughts, and to what ought to be done by those who turn unto the Lord. It bids them are yet unconverted. We shall find cease to do evil, and learn to do well; some difficulty in so handling our and in other places, as well as in our subject, as to keep clear and well detext, it clearly demands a preparatory fined the facts of human helplessness reformation, and such an attention to and human insufficiency; but we are the conduct as shall, in some sense, not, on this account, to be deterred make way for the free pardon of the from attacking a number, and posGospel. And this portion of scrip- sibly a great number among you, tural exhortation it is, to which we through the only avenue which seems doubt whether due pre-eminence is to present an opening to moral asordinarily given.
sault. We consider the likelihood The preachers who insist—and too to be, that in a congregation such as strongly they cannot insist—upon the this, there are many who with somenecessity of regeneration, and upon thing of a wish to be saved, make the insufficiency of works as an en- little or nothing of an effort to be gine of justification, run the risk, in saved—who have had the alone-mode their zeal for the maintenance of or- of salvation set oftentimes before thodox doctrine, of leaving practically them—who have been directed to put untouched the great mass of a con- faith in Christ, and to pray earnestly gregation. The unregenerate have for the teaching of the Holy Ghost. no power of regenerating themselves; But at the same time they are conand works if attempted and if per- scious—and it is one object of our formed, can gain no acceptance. What preaching to foster this consciousness then is the inference, but that those that they have no power of dowho are yet unconverted, must con- | ing what they are advised to do, that tinue where they are ; and that there faith is more than a human task, and is no step which they can take, and that prayer is more than a human the whole blam of not taking which breathing; and they, therefore, reis chargeable on themselves, towards main inactive, wringing from the acattaining the power of greater worthi- knowledged truth that they cannot conness? And thus the fear of even vert themselves, the false inference seeming to depreciate the doctrine of that they can do nothing towards
BOTYD TO DO IF THEY HOPE FOR CON
facilitating or producing conver- | Whatever the man's calling in life sion.
we do not hesitate-and it is not the It is with this case that we now set fear of being thought legal that can ourselves to grapple. We shall, First make us hesitate-to require of the of all, show you, whAT LIES WITHIN man, as a step towards salvation, that THE POWER OF THE UNCONVERTED ; he search into the manner in which AND WHAT THEREFORE, THEY he follow his calling, and give him
self to the supplying what is deficient, VERSION.-Weshall then in the Second and to the remedying what is faulty. place endeavour to demonstrate, THE We do not teach him that he can be HARMONY OF OUR STATEMENTS WITH saved by the effected reformation ; ALL THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE.
but there lies an unmeasured differNow we take, as the basis of our ence between the statement that a reasoning, the direction of our text, man shall be saved by his honesty, which clearly enjoins the keeping of and that a man cannot be saved in his judgment and the doing of justice as dishonesty. We would, if it were the preparation that men must make possible, purge out from amongst you for the reception of the Gospel. We the specks which we behold ; for it is apply this direction to the case of not uncommon, that a man who has every individual, whatever his station correct views enough of doctrine to in society; and we consider it as know that he must mourn and pray requiring of him a more diligent at- over the wickedness of the heart, tention to the duties of that station, never think of correcting his life as preliminary to his obtaining a single though there
may be a share in the mercies of redemption. ness of which he is bound to be We find a man professing a wish to ashamed, and an overreaching for be saved, yet entrenching himself which he deserves to be exposed in within the orthodox doctrine that he the mode of his plying at his daily can do nothing for himself; and occupation. therefore inclined to sit idle until But if a man be in no degree blamesomething is done for him. We re-worthy in his profession—and we are buke this inactivity. If the person quite aware, and we yield willingly be a servant, we say to him, you will the homage of the confession, that make an advance towards salvation, men who are destitute of religion, by serving your master more diligently display an honour and fairness and a and more faithfully. If he be a shop- rectitude in all the intercourses of life keeper, we enjoin on him the looking which commands our warmest admiwell to his honesty, and the getting ration, and perhaps puts to shame rid of the trick of the scant measure, some that call themselves believers) and of the false balance. If he be a if then a man be in no degree blamemerchantman, we assure him that he worthy in his profession, we have will be taking an onward step if he still to tell him of much which lies in have done with all shuffling and un- his power, and which will make way derhand dealing. If he be a lawyer, for his salvation. If he be living in we bid him begin the work of his any known sin, let him purge himself soul's salvation, by examining whether of it, let him renounce it. God's there be any swerving from the strictest Spirit, so to speak, is scared away by integrity in the mode of his following his intemperance, by his lust, by his his profession, and by his giving up uncontrolled tempers, by his unbridled all chicanery, if ever he practised it. I desires; and if he would hope for visitation from this Spirit, let him requisite assistance. We tell him, strive to sweep the chamber, and to then, at all events, there is another karnish it for its reception. He can- duty which must go hand in hand not give l:imself the Holy Spirit, but with the duty of prayer. Let him he can clear away many of those not mock God by seeking more hindrances which palpably oppose strength, while he makes no use of the entrance of the Spirit ; and thus that which is already at his disposal. be may bring himself into something We send him to his shop or his countof a waiting attitude, in the place of ing house, or his office; and then we continuing in a hostile and a repul- i carry him from the stir of public life, sive. We say that he is able to do this; into the privacies of domestic ; and and we over-rate not his power when we require of him as he goes along, we prescribe him the task. He can that he take an inventory of his conchange his conduct for the safety of duct, that he observe what there is his health. A physician's prescription that stands in need of correction, and will work the reformation. The pros-, that strenuously, like one who is pect of secular advantage will induce : verily in earnest, he labour to rectify him to forego his most cherished whatever is oblique, and repress whatpleasures. And thus he sees his own ever is turbulent. And we are not fitness, that there lies no insuperable afraid to tell him, that hereby he will impediment in the way of his correct- be increasing his likelihood of salvaing the evil of his actions, and so vion, as he will be making that prethrowing open the inlets through paration which is contemplated by which may be expected the entering the injunction, “Keep ve judgof the means of grace. We merely ment, and do justice ; for my salvasulstitute the heart work of the Al- tion is near to come, and my rightwighty, for the possible injury to be eousness to be revealed.” done to health, or to the acquisition Now we feel most strongly the imof worldly substance ; and we have a portance of showing, THE PERFECT right to demand that, the motive being HARMONY OF THESE STATEMENTS WITH a thousand fold more stirring, there should be, at least, as much vigorous- accustomed to preach to you the inness in reformation. So that we sufficiency of works, in helping forwould allow no man to sit down under ward that justification which is purely the impression, that, inasmuch as of faith; and now we seem to teach salvation is wholly of grace, there is the vast importance of works, and nothing to be done unless grace- those too, works wrought by mere mighty and irresistible grace-seize lauman strength, as distinctly instruon his energies and apply them to mental to human salvation. We shall godliness. There is a great deal that strive to show you that there is no may be done, and in a man have a inconsistency in this; and in bidding wish to be saved, there is a great the candidate for grace busy himself deal that must be done.
with exterval reformation, we trench We tell the man who professes the not one jot on the freeness and divivislı, that he must pray for God's nity of the sought for blessing. Spirit; but at the same time we feel We observe, first of all, that the that he camot pray acceptably with- throwing of a man upon certain reout the Spirit, and therefore, we are sources which we hold him to possess, perhaps, urging him to a duty for is not representing him as able to which, as yet, he possesses liot the advance one step without God. The
THE DOCTRINES OF GRACE.
labourer who digs the ground, digs or guarding against the faults to not in his own strength. What nerves which, in their condition or profession, his arm but the might of Deity, seeing they were especially liable. Thus he that in God we live, and move, and bids the Pharisees and Sadducees, breathe, and have our being? Yet I who prided themselves on their pribid the labourer dig he have any vileges, wrestle against the notion hope of a harvest; and when the that their being Abraham's seed could harvest comes I still ascribe the procure them impunity from Christ. whole increase to God. Thus, in the He knew that the publicans were moral or spiritual husbandry,I require common extortioners, and he set them the man to clear away the weeds ; accordingly to the culture of honesty, but I forget not all the while that his bidding them to extort no more than strength is from God; and I suppose what was plainly due. He knew that not that because he destroys some the soldiers were likely to be overWeeds, he makes the after corn. It bearing and turbulent; therefore he is God's own appointment that we prescribed to them gentleness and should use the strength which we moderation, exhorting them to do have, before more is imparted; and violence to no man, and to be content since we only teach submission to this with their wages. So that he made appointment, there can be nothing of the precept of our text the groundinterference with the freeness of work of his teaching, and he applied grace.
the precept exactly as we have done And we next observe, that our | in our foregoing statement. He bore representation of the duties of the down upon every class of enquirers, unconverted, if they desire conversion, with a demand of reformation. He must be correct, inasinuch as it is referred them onwards to the coming formed altogether on a scriptural Redeemer for the baptism of the Holy model. We refer you to the preach- Ghost, and consequent regeneration. ing of John the Baptist, as furnishing But he did not bid them wait until this model. It was the business of regenerated, before they applied themthe Baptist to prepare men for the selves to amendment of life. On the reception of Christ. He was the contrary, he clearly assumes that harbinger of Messiah, and as such he reformation of conduct, which was in must labour to bring the world into a their power, would inake way for that fit posture to receive the Redeemer. regeneration of heart which was not Hence, what he had to effect, was in their power; and though we are precisely that which we have all quite ready to allow, that the whole along been seeking the mode of of Christianity was not delivered into effecting, namely, the making men the keeping of the Baptist, but that ready for Gospel news; and you will occupying a mysterious position beobserve, that he did this by setting tween the law and the Gospel, he men forthwith to reform their conduct. could preach neither freely the terrors There fiocked to him different classes of the one, nor the mercies of the into the wilderness, moved, as we other, still since his business was the gather from his address to the Phari- preparing men for Christ, we conclude sees, by some desire to flee from the that the mode he pursued, must in wrath to come. On each of these every age be applicable, and that classes he made, what we may call, a there was nothing in his office that professional attack; or rather, he gave that mode a fitness only for his gave to each, the task of correcting time. So that we consider ourselves to be shaping our preaching after the or a will to enter into life, keep the scriptural pattern handed down for commandments.” Now Jesus did not, our careful imitation, when we call and could not mean, that by obedion the unconverted to lose not a ence to the law, a man was to purmoment in trying for that highest of chase to himself heaven. His misall blessings, a reformed heart — to sion to earth was literally produced give themselves, at once, to the dis- by the impossibility of such an obeputing, inch by inch, the ground with dience. But he had to deal with a every known sin and every cherished man that professed a wish to be saved. lust-and to make trial whether it be He sent him then forthwith to the comnot by the appointment of the Al- mandments; he required him to set mighty, that a reformed life shall be about the improvement of the outward the high road to a reformed heart; conduct; and then he put him, so to while again the heart shall tell back speak, in the way of regeneration. on the life, and working a mature re- “ Thou hast a wish to enter into life, volution in every deportment of con- well, then, it is your business, and it duct, leave unassailable the truth that is in your power, to gird yourself to none but the regenerate man is the a loftier obedience than any which truly saved man. The whole line of thou hast yet attempted, keep the our argument must run parallel with commandments. Not that thou canst the doctrines of grace, seeing that so keep them as to deserve life, but we have the herald of the Messiah on because in the endeavour to keep, God our side. Therefore, with every ad- may communicate the grace of conmission that outward doings are version.” So that the Saviour's mode nothing worth, except as induced by of treating the incipient desire after an inward faith, we direct men, at salvation, was just that which we have once, to the attempting of the doing got from our text; reformation of life in place of pausing for the faith; and being marked out as the high road to with every warning that works cannot regeneration of heart. save them, we press it home upon But we shall not content ourselves their belief, as a truth of first rate with thus showing, that the rules which importance, that a man who seeks we have laid down for the unconverted the new heart, without any effort to are constructed on a scriptural model. attain the new life, is in the position We will give you briefly one or two inof one who, despising the means, can dependent reasons which seem to us to have no right to expect the result. take off every possible objection. You
Now we have higher witness than may argue that if men can prepare the witness of John. There is a diffi-themselves for regeneration, they are cult passage in the history of our in some degree the authors of their Lord's ministrations, which can only own regeneration. Now we do not be explained on the supposed truth of say that men have any thing whatwhat we have advanced. When the soever to do with regenerating or conyoung man came to Jesus, and de- verting themselves; from the beginmanded what good thing he must do ing to the end, the work is simply of that he might have eternal life, the grace. But we do say, that if one Saviour replied, “If thou wilt enter man be living in unrestrained wickedinto lise, keep the commandments.” ness, neither praying for grace nor In this, as in many other passages, striving against sin; and that anowhere the word wilt occurs, the ori- ther, while he seeks God's Spirit, is ginal is wish, “ If thou hast a wish endeavouring to make head aguinst