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said in reference to the ancient Jewish high priest— Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire ?! Or at least this will be said of him whom the compassionate Saviour took from the cross to the crown—who was introduced in triumph to bear witness in heaven, as he had done upon earth, that salvation is not of works, but of
What advantage, it may be asked, do those gain over their opponents, who zealously maintain that good works are essential to salvation? For whatever is essential to the completion of any purpose cannot be relinquished. On this hypothesis, the salvation of the expiring thief was absolutely impossible. He had neither time nor opportunity to perform good works. Impossible also must it be to thousands, perhaps to millions, who have died, or may die, if not in similar situations, yet so circumstanced as to have no space for amendment: and equally impossible to infants, more than half of whom die before they are capable of moral action. This incapacity may probably be urged to prove, that, in reference to them,
the cases are dissimilar; and that their not having committed actual sin, is a sufficient warrant to believe that they are not obnoxious to the divine displeasure. But this conclusion is not just. The scriptures positively declare, that we are by nature the children of wraththat we are shapen in iniquity, and conceived in sin ; the offspring of a degenerate head, in whom we sinned, and from whom we derive pollution and guilt: and unless these facts be admitted, it is impossible to reconcile the conduct of Providence with the oracles of truth; because death, which is the wages of sin, passes upon infants, though they have not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. But this would not be the case-it would be incompatible with divine goodness and the divine government, were they not federally connected with him, involved in his guilt, and the subjects of moral evil. deny the imputation of that offence, and yet grant, as it must be, that we suffer in consequence of it, necessarily supposes that we are condemned and punished, considered as innocent; than which nothing can be more unjust.' But, were it admitted that there never existed any federal relation between Adam and his posterity, the difficulty with which the subject is supposed to be embarrassed would not be lessened. It is demonstrable, as far as cause and effect can be, that children are naturally depraved-that they are, without exception, agitated by sinful passions, long before the mind can possibly be influenced by example. Now, as these passions must arise from a corrupt principle latent in the heart, it cannot reasonably be denied, that defiled nature in an infant is, in its degree, as inconsistent with the purity and felicity of heaven, as that which is peculiar to those who have committed actual transgressions; and that the comparatively small depravity of the one will as effectually bar the way to blessedness, as the enormous load of the other.
But, heaven and glory are not to be obtained by any of the sons of Adam, on such conditions. They possess no moral qualities that merit the divine favour, nor that fit them to enjoy it. The gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ. Grace reigns--and is, I have no doubt, glorified in the salvation of infants : and it will reign, and will be glorified in all that are finally saved. He, therefore, who shall think, that because he has lived to augment his debt, he has thereby increased his capacity for payment, will find himself at last-more than insolvent! I am, said Jesus, the
way, and the truth, and the life : no man cometh unto the Father, but by me: and he that shall presumptuously attempt to climb to heaven in
way, will be treated as a thief and a robber.
Were justification by works, either in whole or in part, what encouragement could I administer to you, whose distress originates in a conviction of having none to plead as a ground of forgiveness? What could he say that is called to the bed of a wretched sinner, who, in the prospect of death, is alarmed with a consciousness of enormous guilt-of having lived without God in the world, and of being shortly to appear before him as his Judge ? or what to the condemned criminal who, the next
hour, is to pay his forfeited life to the laws of his country, as the only possible expiation of his crimes against society ?-He must leave them both a prey to dejection and sorrow: he could not, consistently with his own principles, say any thing either to remove the pangs of guilt, or to assuage the horrours of despair. The hopeless delinquents might each, in their turn, adopt the expostulatory language of Job. *How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength ? how hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? How forcible are right words! but thou art a miserable comforter a physician of no value.'
But while it is maintained that salvation is entirely of grace that good works have nothing to do in the justification of a sinner before God—that dying infants are redeemed from sin and all its consequences by the blood of Christ; and that it is possible for the most notorious offender to be saved, even at the last hour; it is, at the same time, affirmed with equal confidence, "That God never intended