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of God to desist from his strivings with us. But we must not imagine that we can recommend ourselves to Christ by our exertions, under the mere influence of an awakened conscience, to oppose particular sins, while the great sin of unbelief is voluntarily cherished. “ To-day, if ye will hear the voice of Christ, harden not your hearts,” either by persisting in your former habits of sin, or by giving indulgence to an evil heart of unbelief. You justify this leading provocation, if you think that you ought not at present to believe on the name of the Son of God. If you think that it is not your duty to believe on Christ till you have labored with success to rectify your bad habits, you think that unbelief is not at present your sin, but an acceptable instance of modesty in declining to receive the richest blessing which God can give, till you are better qualified to receive it. But is it. not daring presumption, and not an expression of humility, to put away from you that great salvation which God holds forth in the gospel for your acceptance ?
This dangerous error is closely connected with another, that ought no less to be guarded against, of imagining that the salvation of Christ is only a salvation from that misery which is the just consequence of sin, and not a complete salvation from every evil, and from sin as the greatest of evils. Why is our Redeemer called Jesus? Because he saves
his people from their sins. Will you then pretend to begin the great work, by saving yourselves from some of your sins, and then coming to Jesus to save you from the rest ? Do you not know that Jesus is made of God unto you sanctification, and that sin must reign in you, whatever efforts you make to subdue it, till you are made partakers of his death?" He bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead unto sin, might live unto righteousness, by whose stripes we are healed.” Till we are healed by bis 'stripes, "from the sole of the foot, even to the head, there is no soundness in us, but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores that have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.” • It would be tedious to reckon up all those errors on this important subject, into which men may be led by the workings of their own minds, when they are pressed with a sense of its necessity on the one hand, and of the difficulty of believing on the other. '
It might be useful for preventing or removing many of them to consider the reason why God has given faith that office which it holds in our salvation. It is of faith, that it might be by grace.” To be saved, therefore, through faith, and to be saved by grace, are in effect the same thing. Whatever notions are entertained concerning faith, that derogate from the 'richness and freeness of . the grace of God in our salvation, must be mistakes of a dangerous nature, And what can be more derogatory to the glory of the grace of God, th:n to suppose that we must forsake sin, in order to possess a better title to believe.on Chrit; or that any of our altainments, in an unconverted state, can give us a better title than other men have to par, take of the virtue of his blood ? The sov. ereignty of divine grace is one of its glories. All that seek salvation must acknowlege that God has a right to be gracious to whom he will be gracious, and to have compassion on whom he will have compassion. Applying this important truth to themselves, they must cheerfully acknowlege that there is nothing in themselves after their utmost attainments, and that there never can be any thing in them. selves that would make it unrighteous with God, or inconsistent with his equity and goodness, to inflict upon them all that ven. geance which his law threatens to sinners. Surely our apprehensions of the evil of sin must be very slight, if we imagine that all our tears, all our endeavors to reform our conduct, all the exertions of our activity in religious duties, can lay an obligation of any kind us on the Most High to exempt us from the punishment which is due to the least of them.
you, or bring some cause of reflection upon his own goodness. What is there in any part of your conduct that can excuse such vain thoughts? You have perhaps heard the word of God with attention and earnestness. You have felt much sorrow for your sins. You have been enabled to pour forth your hearts in importunate requests for pardon. You have continued long waiting at the gates of wisdom. Will you then be hardly dealt with after all, if God does not shew you that mercy which you so much need, and so earnestly implore ? Let me ask you one plain question. With all your other exercises of religion, have you joined confession of your sins? With what temper of mind then did you confess them? Under a heart felt conviction that any one of them, although you had been chargeable with one only, must expose you to the everlasting wrath of God, unle s free and unmerited mera cy interpose? If you have noi thus confessed your sins, you have not seen how evil and bitter a thing sin is. If you have confessed them with this temper of mind, how do you imagine that the goodness of God is liable to impeachment, if you are not pardoned ? When we truly believe in Christ, we look for his mercy unto eternal life; but his inercy is sovereignly iree, and if our hope is founded in any degree upon any thing in ourselves, we, in so far, look for eternal life froin our own qualifications and fitness to partake of it, Confidence in that mercy and grace which is described in the Scripture, excludes all confdence in any thing else. If it be the design of God in our salvation by faith to exclude boasting, that faith which is founded upon something which gives room for boasting, is not the faith which pleases God. The faith of the true seed of Abraham is a faith which gives all glory to God, and especially to the exceeding riches of that grace, which would cease to be grace, if it did not exclude works from all partnership with itself. .
The consideration of God's view in saving us by faith, may likewise rectify the uncomfortable error of supposing that the greatness or special aggravation of our sins debars from that salvation which is offered in the gospel. Had I not sinned against light and conviction, wilt one say, I would not be afraid of my welcome reception, by him who invites the laboring and heavy laden sinner to come to him for rest; but I am such a sinful man, that Peter's prayer, however unfit for his own mouth, becomes my unclean lips, “ Lord, depart from ine." But is not David's prayer a better example for your imitation ? " For thy name's sake, O Lord, pardon mine ini. quity, for it is great.” If it be God's design in pardoning sin to glorify his own great name, “ The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracions, long suffering and abundant in goodness and truth, pardoning iniquity, trans