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Your own, in the very best state you will ever be in on this side of the grave, when you have done all you can, will be obedience only in part, far short of what he requires of you, and therefore, upon the whole, no better than sin. You must not think of pleading this before God for your justification. You are told that you must

rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,” Phil. iii. 3, or any thing you do, as entitling you to the reward of eternal life. If you would be safe, and

, at rest from all your fears of coming short of the glory of God, you must behold it in the person of Christ, and be grounded in this belief of him, that God “ made him who knew no sin, to be sin for us,” not only in our sinful nature, but laid the sin of the world upon his head, and gave him to obey and die for our sins, " that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Cor.

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v. 21.

All these points, the evil and damnableness of sin, every man's sinfulness, and the necessity of Christ's atonement and righteousness for all, the Scripture reveals to us with sufficient clearness, and in words easy to be understood. But then it also tells us as plainly, that, without a supernatural assistance, they will not be understood, or believed, to any saving purpose.

“ For the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God," no man does by the strength of his own reason only, “ for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned,” 1 Cor. ii. 14. To which purpose it is remarkable, that Christ told the disciples, notwithstanding what he had taught them, and testified of himself during his abode upon earth, that " it was expedient for them that he should go away,” namely, to send down the Holy Ghost, “ to teach them all things," as it were, over again, “ to bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever he had



said unto them,” and “ to guide them into all truth,” John, xiv. 26; xvi. 7, 13. And if they wanted the Spirit to bring to their remembrance, and teach them effectually, what they had heard before from Cnrist's own mouth, it is not to be supposed that any now are better qualified or better disposed to receive what they hear, have less occasion for a divine influence to make it light and life in their hearts, or less need to pray for the fellowship of the Holy Ghost.

Consider only how the case stands with us in regard of the several particulars I have already mentioned.

The great evil of sin, and God's will to punish it, is a fundamental doctrine of Scripture; but how little is it attended to, nay, how vehemently do we struggle against it! Put the reason of man to answer the questions, what sin is, or how God shall deal with sinners, and he will make sin in the main a harmless thing, shrink up the notion of God into the single idea of mercy, deride and bid defiance to his justice. That it is so, the general fearlessness of God and of sin testifies against us to our faces; and, I beseech you, let your own hearts bear witness to the truth of what I am saying.

Again, it is hard for every one of us to see our own sin; to be convinced of and acknowledge the depth of our fall from God; the pride, sensuality, and worldliness of our natures; the self-will, disobedience, and unbelief, which God in Scripture lays to our charge; our forgetfulness, contempt, and even hatred of God; in a word, our desert of damnation. You are denying the charge now while I am speaking, flying to vain excuses, and saying within yourselves, every man and woman to clear one, This is hard judging, and unreasonable aggravation of the state of inankind.

And when you do see and acknowledge your sin, you will be for dealing with it in your own strength. You will

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think of nothing but making your peace with God as well as you can by your own doings, your repentance, your future obedience, something or other that you can call your own. The natural pride of your hearts will keep you to a law-work; and so long as you can find any thing within yourselves to support you against self-condemnation, the sole remedy of God's providing for sinners, the Lord Jesus Christ, your only hope, will be rejected; you will not consent to come to him naked and stript of all, as condemned malefactors, for pardon and righteousness.

And do you not now perceive why he said to Peter, flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee?” and what reason St. Paul had to affirm, that “ no man can say that Jesus is the Lord but by the Holy Ghost ?” 1 Cor. xii. 3. To confess, from the bottom of our souls, that we are undone sinners, by nature as well as actual transgression; that we are snatched as brands out of the fire, and can be saved only by grace; to receive and apply Christ for salvation, in a full renunciation of ourselves as insufficient for the work : this is the foundation we must be upon for life. And yet, though Christ is so seasonable a mercy to us, such full relief, and so exactly suited to our wants, we do not, we cannot receive him without grace given us from above, and the supernatural working of the Spirit of God, enlightening our understandings, leading and drawing us to him. The feeling of our wants, the unfeigned acknowledgment of them, the desire of help from God, the humility of casting our selves wholly upon Christ for deliverance, never was the work of any man's own spirit; and all the calls of God to repent and believe the Gospel would be only speaking to the dead, all his promises would be ineffectual, if we were not stirred up by himself to hear and embrace them.

You need not suppose that this is to be done only in

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a way of extraordinary grace, and by God's putting a force, as it were, upon our wills; though he is pleased so to work in some, for the conviction of others, as well as in great mercy to themselves; and I can hardly think that any are called out of a state of darkness into the marvellous light of Christ, without some knowledge of the hand of God in it. But, nevertheless, the work, especially as to the progress of it, is more generally carried on in secret; and our wills and affections are brought over to God in the use of our own reason and understanding, in such a manner as not easily to be distinguished from what he does in us, and to the end we may serve him with full choice and freedom of spirit. And those who, by the benefit of a religious education and the grace of God, have always kept close to him in the faith of Christ, and the sincerity of a pure obedience, would be great enemies to themselves if they questioned the goodness of their state, on account of the Spirit's operation being concealed from them, as to the time and manner of it. Where he does work savingly, it may as certainly be known, as that corn and other fruits of the earth, when they are come to maturity, have had the benefit of rain and sunshine. It is our Lord's own comparison, Mark, iv. 27; " so is the kingdom of God” in the world, and in

soul as if a man should cast seed into the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how;" that is, as it keeps going forward and attains its full growth imperceptibly, so is a work of grace in the soul. And again, he likens it to the wind, John, iii. 8; we hear the sound of it, and see an effect, but can give no account how it rises, and where it ends. On the contrary, we may know certainly where there is no effect wrought, nor work of the Spirit, by understanding what it is. It is faith in Christ dying for our sins,



making our peace with God, delivering us from eternal death, and opening a way for us into the kingdom of heaven; and the only thing which drives us to him as our refuge, and the Christ of God, is a penitent humbling sense of our guilt, danger, and misery in sin. The Spirit first shows us of the things of Christ, by revealing them in the Scripture; and then, in the use of Scripture or the preaching of the word, reveals them to our hearts. This is his office in the world; and he has no way of bringing souls to Christ, but by first convincing them of sin, and then showing them their want of him for salvation. So that, if you are strangers to any such work as this, if you are ignorant of, or deny, your sin, if you have not been earnestly seeking after Christ to deliver you from it, and do not prize your portion in him as your greatest treasure, and resolve to keep it in spite of all the world, you are in the darkness of unbelief; your profession of Christ is not from any knowledge wrought into your hearts; you are Christians only in name; and “the grace of God, which bringeth salvation," hath not yet appeared

to you.

And now you see the reason why there is so little appearance of Christian practice among us, and why you are such strangers to a life of godliness; why you do not keep your sabbaths conscientiously as unto the Lord; why you do not value and read the Scripture more; why you are not oftener upon your knees to God in secret; why you have no prayer or appearance of religion in your families; why you do not come constantly to the sacrament; why the breaking of a commandment is as nothing in your eyes, and you never sit down to examine, as in the presence of God, how your obedience stands with regard to any one of them. It is because what you call your religion has nothing of the Spirit in it, but is something which you take up without his rule, and can

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