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examine me, and prove me, try my reins and my heart; and that which I see not, teach thou me.
Lastly, if we will judge ourselves, we shall not be judged, at least, by the judge of heaven and earth; that is, we shall not be unprepared for the judgment seat of Christ. It is impossible to imagine a more solemn and yet miserable object, than a presumptuous, unreflecting, thoughtless man, standing at the bar of God. All the gay and gaudy trappings of self-applause fall off, and leave a poor, miserable, naked and shrivelled body of worthlessness, depravity and folly. He turns from the view of his own deformity; he shrinks in vain to avoid
? the eye of omniscience. He thought himself innocent. Guilty of few open vices, be passed through the world unreproached. He now sees, that his innocence was nothing but inaction; and that he was unreproached, because unknown or despised. He thought himself pious; he finds, that he has been only a formal repeater of solemn words. He thought bimself temperate; he finds, that he was often a cowardly venturer to the brink of excess, whence the danger of bis health only called him. He thought himself just; but he sees, that he has been equitable only within the limit of the law. He thought himself charitable ; but finds, he never made a disinterested sacrifice ; hospitable, but he was only ostentatious; compassionate, but be was only childish. He thought himself zealous for truth, but he finds it was only for system ; patriotic, but he was only a partizan; forgiving, but he was only cowardly. Think, then, can you bear to be stripped hereafter of so many fancied excellencies ? Are you ready now to submit your motives to the eye of omniscience? Have you ever ventured to look with a steady eye into your own hearts? Dare you read to the bottom of the page ? Are you not afraid to find there the sentence
of your condemnation? Do you know what manner of spirit you are of?
The time will not allow us to consider, minutely, the means, by which this knowledge may be attained. A few general precepts must conclude. First, then, suspect yourselves. Do not be afraid of doing yourselves injustice. When you suspect, watch your conduct ; and detect, if you can, your predominant motives.
Depend upon it, you will struggle hard to deceive yourselves. Compare yourselves, then, with the word of God, and with one another. Recollect, that what appears disgraceful in others, cannot be honourable in you ; and wbat diminishes your esteem of tbem, ought to diminish your esteem of yourself. Find, if you can, some disinterested and sensible friend, who will bave the courage to disclose to you your faults, and the goodness to assist you in correcting them. But, above all, look up to the Father of lights, lay yourself open to the eye of almighty mercy, and cry, Lord, who can understand his errors ? cleanse thou me from secret faults.
EPH. 11. 5.
BY GRACE YB AXX SAVRD
This simple proposition, though often in the mouth of christians, is yet not without its difficulties. Every believer in the gospel acknowledges its truth ; and yet there are very few men, who would entirely coincide in their interpretation of the passage.
It is not to excite your surprise, that we shall now proceed to enumerate some of the most popular senses, in which this proposition has been understood, but only to guard you against being carried away by the dogmatical assertions of men, who are contented with detaching a form of scripture words from the place where it is found, and insisting, that it means only what they choose to understand by the phrase.
What then is the meaning of grace? When spok. en of God, it means simply, gratuitous kindness, and thus is it often applied to any thing, in which bis favour is discovered. Thus the gospel is called the grace of God. The terms saved, or salvation, originally mean deliverance from danger, from disease, or evil of any kind, and hence, are often used with a latitude, wbich embraces all the benefits, derived from the introduction of the gospel, whether relating to this life or the next, including of course the healing of the mind, and deliverance from the power and consequences of sin.
The following are some of the interpretations, which the clause in our text has received.
1. There are many, who understand by the proposition, by grace are ye saved, that man can do nothing towards bis own salvation. By grace, they understand a supernatural operation of the divine spirit, which effects a change in the moral nature of a man, toward which his own exertions contribute nothing; and where this change is effected, salvation is certain, and thus God is not only the ultimate source, but the sole and immediate agent in the production of goodness in moral beings.
Tbis, in technical language, is the doctrine of human inability. It represents the moral state of man to be such, that he can do nothing to save himself from ruin ; for, if it were otherwise, his salvation, it is said, would not be of God, but of himself.
In this sistement, it is obvious to remark, that thous ise is a sense, and a very just one, in which
can do nothing without God, it cannot be regarded as any derogation from the grace or glory of God, to admit, that man can do all, that God enables him to do. God governs and treats bis moral creatures in a moral way; and it would seem to be charging God with folly or contradiction, to say that he offers wen means and motives to virtue, wbile he has provided them with no capacity to use the one, and no susceptibility of the influence of the viber, without his own immediate and extraordinary operation. To a plain man, there is no greater mystery in our dependence on God, in the affair of religion, than in any other.
We are to be saved, indeed, by grace, as by grace we are, every moment, preserved from natural and moral ruin; that is, by ihe goodạess of
him, who gives us our powers, and appoints us our circumstances.
Others on the contrary, to avoid the perversion, to which the interpretation just stated is exposed, and by which christianity has suffered, think, that they sufficiently answer the meaning of the apostle, when they admit, that man is not saved, either by his own exertions, or by the operations of divine grace alone, but by the concurrence or co-operation of God's spirit with human endeavours. Thus they suppose, that grace, by which they mean spiritual influence, is communicated to all good men, in answer to prayer, or in consequence of human endeavours, and especially in seasons of great temptation, trial, necessity, or peculiar infirmity; and yet always in such a silent manner, as not to be distinguished from the natural operations, or ordinary state of our minds. Thus, say they, we are truly saved by grace, because, if left to ourselves, we could not work out our salvation, but should, infallibly, sink in the arduous undertaking. In this way ibey propose to avoid the difficulties, attending the doctrines of human merit or ability on the one hand, and those of human inability and irresistible grace on the other ; while their adversaries say, that they only unite, in one unintelligible scheme, the real difficulties of both. Perhaps the principal advantage of this mode of interpretation is, that it seems to allow sufficient meaning for the various phraseology of different passages of scripture, while it leaves the real metaphy. sical difficulty of man's dependence and activity as inexplicable as ever, and as much open as before to the disputations of those, who wish to penetrate into the secrets of the divine influence on moral agents.
There is yet another class of christians, who conceive, that men are said to be saved by grace, because the introduction of the christian religion, by which men are prepared for salvation, or a state of future