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of the human mind ? Surely it is not ! What human mind could have invented or conceived it? It is a plain, a certain fact, that thou didst leave the magnificence and joy of the heavenly world in compassion to such a wretch as I! Oh! hadst thou, from that height of dignity and felicity, only looked down upon me for one moment, and sent some gracious word to me for my direction and comfort, even by the least of thy servants, justly might I have prostrated myself in grateful admiration, and have kissed the very footsteps' of him that published the salvation.' Isai. lii. 7. But didst thou condescend to be thyself the messenger ? What
grace had that been, though thou hadst but once in person made the declaration, and immediately returned back to the throne from whence divine compassion brought thee down? But this is not all the triumph of thine illustrious grace. It not only brought thee down to earth, but kept thee here in a frail and wretched tabernacle, for long successive years ;
and at length it cost thee thy life, and stretched thee out as a malefactor
the cross, after thou hadst borne insult and cruelty, which it may justly wound my heart so much as to think of. And thus thou hast atoned injured justice, and redeemed me to God with thine own blood.' Rev. v. 9.
“ What shall I say? Lord, I believe ; help thou my unbelief!' Mark, ix. 24. It seems to put faith to the stretch, to admit what it indeed exceeds the utmost stretch of imagination to conceive. Blessed, for ever blessed be thy name, O thou Father of mercies, that thou hast contrived the way! Eternal thanks to the Lamb that was slain, and to that kind Providence that sent the word of this salvation to me! O let me not, for ten thousand worlds, receive the grace of God in vain!' 2 Cor. vi. 1. O impress this Gospel upon my soul, till its saving virtue be diffused over every faculty ! Let it not only be heard, and acknowledged, and professed, but felt! Make it thy power to my eternal salvation ;' (Rom. i. 16.) and raise me to that humble, tender gratitude, to that active, unwearied zeal in thy service, which becomes one to whom so much is forgiven,' (Luke, vii. 47.) and forgiven upon such terms as these !
"I feel a sudden glow in mine heart, while these tidings are sounding in mine ears; but, oh! let it not be a slight superficial transport ! O let not this, which I would fain call my Christian joy, be as that foolish laughter, with which I have been so madly enchanted, like the crackling blaze of thorns under a pot ! Eccles. vii. 6. O teach me to secure this mighty blessing, this glorious hope, in the method which thou hast appointed ; and preserve me from mistaking the joy of nature, while it catches a glimpse of its rescue from destruction, for that consent of grace, which embraces and ensures the deliverance !"
A MORE PARTICULAR ACCOUNT OF THE WAY BY WHICH
THIS SALVATION IS TO BE OBTAINED.
1. An inquiry into the way of salvation by Christ being supposed,
2. The sinner is in general directed to repentance and faith. 3. And urged to give up all self-dependence.-4. And to seek salvation by free grace.-5. A summary of more particular directions is proposed.-6. That the sinner should apply to Christ.—7. With a deep abhorrence of his former sins.-8. And a firm resolution of forsaking them. -9. That he solemnly commits his soul into the hands of Christ, the great vital act of faith.-10. Which is exemplified at large.-11. That he make it in fact the governing care of his future life to obey and imitate Christ.–12. This is the only method of obtaining Gospel salvation. The sinner deliberating on the necessity of accepting it.
1. I now consider you, my dear reader, as coming to me with the inquiry which the Jews once addressed to our Lord, “ What shall we do, that we may work the works of God ?" John, iv. 28. 6. What method shall I take to secure that redemption and salvation which I am told Christ has procured for his people?" I would answer it as seriously and carefully as possible, as one that knows of what importance it is to you to be rightly informed ; and that knows also, how strictly he is to answer to God for the sincerity and care with which the reply is made. May I be enabled to “speak as his oracle,” (i Pet. iv. 11.) that
is, in such a manner as faithfully to echo back what the sacred oracles teach!
2. And here, that I may be sure to follow the safest guides, and the fairest examples, I must preach salvation to you, in the way of “repentance towards God, and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Acts, xx. 21.) that good old doctrine, which the apostles preached, and which no man can pretend to change, but at the peril of his own soul, and of theirs who attend to him.
3. I suppose that you are, by this time, convinced of your guilt and condemnation, and of your own inability to recover yourself. Let me nevertheless urge you to feel that conviction yet more deeply, and to impress it with yet greater weight upon your soul; that you have “ undone yourself,” and that “ in yourself is not your help found.” Hos. xiii. 9. Be persuaded, therefore, expressly, and solemnly, and sincerely, to give up all self-dependence; which, if you do not guard against it, will be ready to return secretly, before it is observed, and will lead you to attempt building up what you have just been destroying.
4. Be assured, that, if ever you are saved, you must ascribe that salvation entirely to the free grace of God. If, guilty and miserable as you are, you are not only accepted, but crowned, you must “ lay down your crown," with all humble acknowledgement, “ before the throne.” Rev. iv. 10. “ No flesh must glory in his presence; but he that glorieth_must glory in the Lord : for of him are we in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” i Cor. i. 29, 30, 31. And you must be sensible you are in such a state, as, having none of these in yourself
, to need them in another. You must therefore be sensible that you are ignorant and guilty, polluted and enslaved; or, as our Lord expresses it, with regard to some who were under a Christian profession, that as a sinner “you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Rev. iii. 17.
5. If these views be deeply impressed upon your mind, you will be prepared to receive what I am now to say. Hear, therefore, in a few words, your duty, your remedy,
and your safety; which consists in this, " That you must apply to Christ, with a deep abhorrence of your former sins, and a firm resolution of forsaking them ; forming that resolution in the strength of his grace, and fixing your dependence in him for your acceptance with God, even while you are purposing to do your very best, and when you have actually done the best you ever will do in consequence of that purpose.
6. The first and most important advice that I can give you in your present circumstances, is, that you look to Christ and apply yourself to him. And here, say not in your heart, “who shall ascend into heaven, to bring him down to me?” (Rom. x. 6.) or, “who shall raise me up thither, to present me before him?” The blessed “ Jesus, by whom all things consist,” (Col. i. 17.) by whom the whole system of them is supported, " forgotten as he is by most that bear his name,
« is not far from any of us ;" (Acts, xvii. 27.) nor could he have promised to have been so wherever two or three are met together in his name," (Matt. xviii. 20.) but in consequence of those truly Divine perfections, by which he is every where present.' Would you therefore, O sinner! desire to be saved ? go to the Saviour. Would you desire to be delivered ? Look to that great Deliverer; and though you should be so overwhelmed with guilt and shame, and fear, and horror, that you should be incapable of speaking to him, fall down in this speechless confusion at his feet, “ and behold him as the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” John, i. 29. 7. Behold him therefore with an attentive
say, whether the sight does not touch, and even melt thy very heart! Dost thou not feel what a foolish and what a wretched creature thou hast been, that, for the sake of such low and sordid gratifications and interests as those which thou hast been pursuing, thou shouldst thus “ kill the Prince of Life?” Acts, iii. 15. Behold the deep wounds which he bore for thee, “ look on him whom thou hast pierced, and surely thou must mourn,” (Zech. xii. 10.) unless thine heart be hardened into stone. Which of thy past sins canst thou reflect upon, and say, “For
this it is worth my while to have thus injured my Saviour, and to have exposed the Son of God to such sufferings? And what future temptations can arise so considerable, that thou shouldst say, "For the sake of this I will crucify my Lord again ?” Heb. vi. 6. Sinner, thou must repent, thou must repent of every sin, and must forsake it; but if thou doest it to any purpose, I well know it must be at the foot of the cross. Thou must sacrifice every lust, even the dearest, though it should be like a “right hand or a right eye;" (Matt. v. 29, 30.) and therefore that thou mayest, if possible, be animated to it, I have led thee to that altar on which “ Christ himself was sacrificed for thee an offering of a sweet-smelling savour.” Eph. v. 2. Thou must “yield up thyself to God as one alive from the dead.” Rom. vi. 15. And therefore I have showed thee at what a price he purchased thee; "for thou wast not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of the Son of God, that Lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Pet. i. 18, 19. And now I would ask thee, as before the Lord, what does thine own heart say to it? Art thou grieved for thy former offences ? Art thou willing to forsake thy sins ? Art thou willing to become the cheerful, thankful servant of him who hath purchased thee with his own blood ?
8. I will suppose such a purpose as this rising in thine heart. How determinate it is, and how effectual it may be, I know not; what different views may arise hereafter, or how soon the present sense may wear off. But this I assuredly know, that thou wilt never see reason to change these views; for however thou mayest alter, the “Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever." Heb. xii. 8. And the reasons that now recommend repentance and faith as fit and as necessary, will continue invariable, as long as the perfections of the blessed God are the same, and as long as his Son continues the same.
9. But while you have these views and these purposes, I must remind you that this is not all which is necessary to your salvation. You must not only purpose, but, as God gives opportunity, you must act as those who are con