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God: and if the risings of hope be depressed by the prevalence of unbelief, pray that you may be enabled to give implicit credit to the testimony of his own word; that you may be helped to say with grateful confidence, "I know in whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.'
Your concluding, that there mercy for such a detestable wretch as yourseif, arises from ignorance, or inattention to the way in which the infinitely gracious God hath determined to
sinners. remember, the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the issues from death.' Instead, therefore, of ransacking the heart for pious dispositions, or of adverting to good works already performed, with a view to forgiveness ; attend to the gracious and instructive language of him that saith, “Thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine helpI, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no Saviour.'
The - unworthiness. inseparable from depravity and guilt, is certainly matter of deep humiliation ; but a conviction of this unworthiness, however pungent, ought rather to excite gratitude than despondency; to rouse the torpor of dejection: to impel the soul to be urgent for mercy, and to engender a hope that the kind hand which discovered the disease, will not long withhold the remedy. The testimony of God speaks louder than the most clamorous conscience; and to this testimony, and this only, you must appeal in determining whether your fears be ill or well founded. If you search into the cause of your distress, it will perhaps be found to arise, not from a consideration of God's unwillingness to pardon; not from any want of efficacy in the blood of Christ to cleanse the most polluted sinner; but from a sense of having nothing to recommend yourself to his favour. It is a conviction of this fact that imperceptibly holds the soul in bondage ; that renders your taking encouragement from God's word altogether impracticable. Should you say, "No sins are like mine;' let me add, 'There is no salva.
tion like Christ's-his blood cleanseth from all sin.'
If, however, you will not believe while your sins are so great, and your heart so polluted; it is probable, were your heart less defiled, and your sins less in number, that you would not believe in Christ at all. You would be · more likely to trust in your own heart, and to rely on your own righteousness, instead of believing and trusting in Christ. Great sins and a bad heart, felt and bewailed, should operate in this case like hunger, which becomes an incentive to seek food. If men had clean hearts, it is very likely they would dispose of them otherwise, and rather think that Christ should come to them, than they to him. Instead of a man's poverty making him less desirous of relief, it should make him more importunate. To say, I will not come to Christ because I have great sins, is as if one should say, I will have nothing to do with happiness, if offered, because I have great misery: I will not go to a surgeon for healing, because my wounds are so great: I will eat no bread because I am ready to starve with hunger. This, surely, is bad logick; and it is not better to argue, Because I am filthy, therefore I will not go to the fountain to be cleansed.
But, admitting that you are a great sinner, nay, one of the greatest; will your staying away from Christ make your sins less ? Are yoa so rich as to pay the debt out of your own revenue? or have you any hopes of another surety? Can complaints of a great load, without endeavouring its removal, ease the shoulders that bear it? If your sins be so great, surely the Lord Jesus Christ, who is an almighty Saviour, and who delighteth in mercy, will not lose an opportunity of evidencing both his power and his pity on such a miserable subject: for, if there cannot be so great a sinner as you are, this is the last season he can have in which to display them!'
Ever since the fall of our first parents, all men invariably manifest a strong propensity to cleave to their own righteousness : to something they have performed, or are to perform, in order to final happiness. When a man contemplates the turpitude of his nature, and the imperfection of his conduct, he must, as a moral agent, be conscious of numberless defects; of being extremely culpable ; and, as he cannot but acknowledge, on reflection, that his pravity has been the result of his own choice, it is quite natural for him to look to future reformation for something that may counterbalance his guilt, and avert the punishment he has reason to expect. Without revelation, he has no other medium by which to obtain forgive. ness : and, if this revelation be neglected or despised, he will not see the absurdity of his conduct; his deceptive hope will keep pace with his diligence; and, if divine goodness do not interpose, never perceive his mistake till too late to prevent it.