Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

upon the block, or rather stretch my hands upon the cross : and say, the law is holy, just, and good, and cry, AMEN, AMEN, AMen, twelve times going :" as God, of old taught his church to do. Deut. xxvi. 14. 20 f.

Oh, my dear Aspasio ! in the time of the late rebellion, when I lived in England, had I, through a hearty attachment to the pretender's interest, secretly, poisoned ten of the house of Lords, and twenty of the house of Commons, from mere spite, only because of their loyalty to their rightful sovereign ; and had I laid a plot to blow up King and Parliament, burn the city of London, and deliver the nation into the hands of a popish pretender, all through pure malignity, what would it have availed before a court of justice, after I was arraigned, convicted, and condemned, to have pleaded, “Oh, spare my

f I must confess, my dear Aspasio, I am shocked to hear some divines represent the law as a tyrant, as tyrannizing over Christ upon the cross, as tyrannizing over sinners, as being slain for its tyranny, &c. For these hard speeches are not so much against the law, as against the God that made it. Just as if God and his law were tyrants, while Christ and his Gospel are all made up of love! But shocking as this is, yet I must own, this was once the very temper of my heart. (See the Marrow of Modern Divinity, with Notes, p. 146.) I loved the Gospel : I did not love the law. The dying love of Christ, 0 how sweet a theme! Law, obligation, duty, were disagreeable, dead, and legal things. Faith, pardon, joy, heaven, grace, free grace, these topics only ravished my heart. Christ loved the law, or he had never died : I only loved myself. The honour of his Father's law was dear to him. Heb. i. 9. Ps. xl. 8. Matt. v. 17, 18. Myself alone was dear to me. I viewed his death, his dying love, as all for me. His agony in the garden, his bloody sweat, his dying groaps, all out of love to me! This pleased my heart. His Father's glory I had never seen : the law's beauty I had never beheld. The wisdom of God in the death of his Son, I had never brought into the account. Love, love! love to me, to me! was all in all. This only ravished my heart. I loved myself, I only loved myself. Strange, that I should think my love to Christ so great! The very joy I had, to think he died for me, was a full proof that I loved him not at all; since I did not delight in the law, nor love the law, in honour to which he died. Had my wife, or child, or friend, or any whom I loved, been punished by that law, I had been full of grief, and thought it very hard : for indeed that law appeared to me like the laws of Draco. But when CHRisT was the victim, I was pleased ; for I loved myself: but CHRIST I did not love. I cared not what he suffered, nor why; if I myself was safe. In truth, if the law is not holy, just, and good, glorious and amiable, the death of CHRIST, to answer its demands, is the most shocking affair that ever happened. But I was wholly swallowed up in self: and, " if I was but safe, I cared not how." VOL, II.

41

life; I am sorry for what I have done ; I will never do so any more; I will be a good and loyal subject for the time to come !" Especially, if all the court knew I was a jacobite by blood, and had shown muself a jacobite, in ten thousand instarices, all my life long, and had still very much of the heart of a jacobite; and had lived and died a perfect jacobite in heart and practice, were it not for some irresistible arguments, or rather something more powerful than arguments, that had begun to give me a new turn of inind; would my penitence be esteemed any atonement for my horrid crimes ? Nay, rather, would not the whole nation cry, “ Away with such a vile wretch from the earth, for he is not fit to live !" And were I brought to view the whole affair in a right light, and to feel right; what would be the language of my heart ? would it not echo back the general cry? " Right ! right! away with such a vile wretch from the earth ! for, indeed, I am not fit to live!” And on the gallows, even in my dying agonies, I should not have the least reason to dislike the law, by which I was condemned ; or to love my judges ever the less for pronouncing the sentence of condemnation upon me. But rather, with all my heart, I ought to approve the law as good ; and esteem their conduct to be truly praise-worthy.

But to murder thirty of my fellow-worms, blow up King and parliament, burn a city, ruin a nation, viewed only as injuries to a civil community, and breaches of a civil law, are no crimes, in comparison with rising in rebellion against the INFINITELY GLORIOUS MONARCH OF THE UNIVERSE; compared with whom, the whole created system is less than nothing and vanity 5.

3 Is it a sinner's duty to be willing to be damned ? No, by no means The damned will for ever hate God. The sinner ought for ever to love him. The damned will be for ever miserable. The sinner is invited to be for ever happy, through Christ. His duty is to be reconciled to God, and return to him through Jesus Christ. Indeed, were there no other way to support the honour of the divine government, but by the eternal misery of the sinner, the sinner ought to be willing that the honour of the divine government should be supported, although at the expense of his eternal sufferings. God and Christ, angels and

nts, will all be of this mind at the day of judgment, with respect to the wicks

as he

Wherefore, in my best frames, in my devoutest hours, when I feel the greatest veneration for the Deity, and the greatest regard to his law, and am most sorry that I ever have been, and am still such a vile rebel against my rightful sovereign, the God of GLORY; I am so far from thinking that I am fit to live, that my whole heart is ready to say, “ No! but infinitely unfit to live ! Eternal death is my due! And hell my proper home !" Yea, it appears to me, although I had attained to love God and Christ in the same degree as Saint Paul did, and were as willing to die in the cause of religion

was,
that
yet

I should merit hell every moment for not loving God and Christ more. And therefore, with him I would have no confidence in the flesh; and would seek to be found, not in myself, but in Christ; not having my own righteousness, but his. Phil. iii. 3. 9. And would say, In the Lord alone have I righteousness, and in him alone will I glory. Isai. xlv. 24, 25. : Yea, suffer me to say, I apprehend, and verily believe, that even Saint Paul himself deserved eternal damınation, for that wickedness which God saw in his heart, then, at that instant, when a little before he died a martyr, he said, I am now ready to be offered. For although he was willing, quite willing to die for his master; yet he did not love himn perfectly as he ought. He himself owns, he had not already attained, nor was already perfect. But the least defect deserves punishment, yea, eternal damnation. Therefore, Saint Paul always felt in his heart, that hell was his proper due; and always looked on the law, even as a ministration of death and condemnation, to be glorious, (2 Cor. iii. 7. 9.) and always placed all his dependence, for acceptance in the sight of God, on Jesus Christ. He did so, not only when first converted, but habitually, all the days of his life, to his very last breath.

0, in how lively, how striking a manner, are all these sentiments expressed in those words of the blessed apostle, in Gal. ii. 19, 20. which were the genuine language of his heart,

ed. And they will all judge rightly. Rom. ii. 2. Nor will the wicked have any reason to dislike them for it; but rather to esteem their conduet herein truly praise-worthy. Rev. xix. 1. 6,

and give a picture of the inward temper of his soul. I through the luw, am dead to the law, that I might live to God. I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live ; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.

And the life I live in the flesh, even to my latest breath, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Who loved me, as his own before the foundation of the world; and in the fulness of time, gave himself for me, as one whom the Father had given to him. For, in the midst of these holy views and gracious exercises of heart, Saint Paul's Calling and Election were always sure; and he steadily knew, that he was of that blessed number for whom Christ died, with an absolute design to save. Yet this knowledge was not the fou ndation, but rather the consequence of his faith and holiness.

Your Theron does no more doubt of God's readiness to be reconciled to the sinner, that returns to him through Jesus Christ, than he doubts of the truth of the Gospel. He believes the one just as firmly as he believes the other. If the chief facts related in the Gospel are true, he knows this consequence is equally true.

If God has so pitied this apostate world, as to give his own Son to die a sacrifice for sin to answer the demands of his law, and secure the honour of his government, for this very end, that he might be just, and yet the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus ; and if he has testified his acceptance of the atonement, by raising him from the dead, and setting him at his own right hand in heaven. I say, if these facts are true, your Theron knows the consequence cannot but be true, viz. That any sinner, how ill deserving soever, who upon the invitation of the Gospel, shall repent and be converted, shall return to God through Jesus Christ, he will be accepted, pardoned, and saved, for Christ's sake. And, beholding as in a glass the glory of thc Lord, I cannot but return and give up myself to God through Jesus Christ with all. my heart. Psalm cx. 3. John xvii. 3. 8. Psalm ix. 10.

Such were the views; such were the tempers of the Apostle Paul, who wrote, and of the Christians to whom he direeted his Epistles; as he himself affirmas. 2 Cor. iii. 18. And it was under such views, and in consequence of such tem

s, that they were assured, the spiritual and everlasting

[ocr errors]

blessings of the Gospel were theirs; as another Apostle asserts, i John ii. 3, 4, 5. And in such views, and with such tempers, Saint Paul might well expect, that the consideration of the infinite goodness of God towards them, in their election, redemption, effectual calling, justification, adoption, sanctification, and in the eternal joys of heaven, to be certainly be stowed upon them, would powerfully animate them to present themselves a living sacrifice to God, to be for ever entirely his. Rom. xii. 1.

The Saints at Rome, viewed the wrath of God as revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, against the least sin, felt themselves without excuse, their mouths stopped, guilty before God, according to law; a law holy, just, and good; were therefore dead to the law and married to Christ, exercised faith in the blood of Christ, depending entirely on free grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. And as by virtue of their union with Adam, they became sinners; so by virtue of their union with Christ, by a true and living faith, they became righteous. And were deud to sin, so that they could not any longer live therein. For they not only approved the law as holy, just, and good, but even delighted in the law of God after the inward man, and maintained a constant conflict against every contrary bias. For they were made partakers of the divine nature; had every one of them the spirit of Christ dwelling in them; and walked not after the flesh, but after the spirit ; were daily led by the spirit, and lived under the government of divine graçe, feeling the temper of children towards God; crying, Abba, Father. And if children, they knew they were heirs of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. And as they were willing to suffer with Christ, they expected to reign with him. And they esteemed the sufferings of this present life not worthy to be compared with the glory they had in view, in a future state. Besides, they found by experience, that all their sufferings worked together for their good, brought them nearer to God, and made them more like him. And they were persuaded that nothing in life or death should ever separate them from the love of God; who, of his mere sovereign grace, had predestinated, called, and done all things for them; not because they had

« AnteriorContinuar »