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could not, in the very nature of things, be released from obligation to its precepts, nor, in the case of failure, be exempted from suffering its penalty.
By the scriptures of truth, and by these only, we know that there is forgiveness with God, that he may be feared. Without this astonishingly merciful intelligence, we should have been involved in perpetual uncertainty and darkness, For all the light that ever chased the gloom of doubt, or cheered the bosom of despondency ; for all that gives confidence to faith, energy to hope, ardency to love, or fervour to devotion; for whatever can tranquillize the mind in life, or administer consolation at the last hour, we are indebted to the Bible.
That this inestimable book exhibits a salva.. tion worthy the benignity of God, and exactly suited to the wretchedness of man, I have at tempted to prove in the following pages. To this salvation, therefore, I have directed my amiable friend, from whom, notwithstanding all her doubts, and all her fears, I had satisfactory evi
dence that her sorrow was not like the sorrow of the world which worketh death.
It may, perhaps, be asked, If the salvation revealed in the Bible be so admirably well adapted to relieve our miseries, to encourage hope and inspire confidence in the divine benignity, whence the doubts and the fears with which Lavinia appears to be constantly harrassed? This, I allow, is a question natural to him who has never felt the bitterness of sin; who has never experienced the corruption of his own heart; nor ever seen, by the light of divine truth, the purity and the perfection of the blessed God. Let the querist have but a discovery of these, and he will see cause enough for dlejection: he will cease to wonder that the trembling sinner should reason like the rebel who has ungratefully risen up in arms against his lawful sovereign ; who, when contemplating the heinous nature of his crime, is led to conclude that, if punishment be remitted for the present, his rebellion cannot be forgotten, nor he himself again restored to the favour and affection of his prince.
But notwithstanding what the scriptures have said to excite confidence in the divine mercy through Jesus Christ, it will not appear strange that we are so slow of heart to believe, if it be remembered that unbelief is a radical evil in human nature; that by which it was first contaminated, by which it is still infuenced, and, in fact, the fruitful source of many atrocities that disgrace the character of man.
When that positive law was given by consormity to which the first pair were to manifest their submission to the divine will, they were expressly told, that, in case of disobedience, ‘They should surely die.' But no sooner was the command made known to Satan, that enemy of all righteousness, than he had the audacity to assert, that the prohibitory injunction might be violated with impunity-'That they should not surely die'-declaring, at the same time, That this was only an artful pretext by which to preclude them from the godlike knowledge which the Almighty knew the fruit of that tree' was adapted to impart.
Now on this principle all men proceed in attempting to extenuate the turpitude of their own actions. For though God have peremptorily declared, That he will by no means clear the guilty-that the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God: yet they say, not merely of comparatively small, but of enormous sins, “ The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.' Though they continue to indulge their evil propensities in almost every species of iniquity, yet they flatter themselves with the hope of escaping divine justice, or at least that, in consequence of sorrow and repentance at the last hour, the Almighty will mercifully pardon and accept them. Why, therefore, should it be thought unaccountably strange that the real christian should, when left to himself, feel the painful effects of unbelief? be harrassed with doubts and fears, and sometimes manifest distrust of the divine goodness? Human nature is the same in both, and so totally depraved, that, without foreign aid, it has neither power nor inclination to counteract the pernicious influence of this diabolical principle. It is not, therefore, the mere
promulgation of a fact in reference to salvation by Jesus Christ, that will calm the perturbed mind, or excite confidence in divine mercy. The carnal mind is alienated from God; and this alienation, especially if attended with deep conviction of apostacy and guilt, generates sus: picion, and suspicion distrust: the impediments to reconciliation and to peace must therefore be removed before there can be either confidence or affection. But, as the springs to resist evil in the moral system are in man so completely weakened, the sinner must inevitably fall a prey to his own disease, unless he that spake the world into being mercifully interposé' to save the soul from perdition.
li then it be true, that in God we live, and inove, and have our being; and that without his divine agency we perform no physical action, surely no argument can be wanted to prove that we must stand solely indebted to him for that faith which counteracts the sinful propensities of our nature, which purifies the heart, and overcomes the world; which, in opposition to sense, is conversant with invisible realities, and which