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NO QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED BEFORE
COMING TO CARIST.
May God keep us from attempting to work out our own salvation by the law; may we be kept from attempting to deprive the law of iis justice, the gospel of its grace, and both of their chief glory.
Men dote upon establishing a righteousness of their own to bring them to Christ; and think it is presumptuous or licentious doctrine, that Christ may be theirs, and they receive him, considered simply as ungodly and enemies. But such are abominably injurious to the faith of Jesus Christ, and to the exceeding bounty of his grace, which saves from sin, without respect of any thing in the creature, that He himself may have the praise of the glory of his own grace.
Let no man look for sanctification before he is justified ; that is, let no man be discouraged from coming to Christ, because he finds not in himself that godly sorrow for sin, that ability to repent, that disposition of heart which he desires to have. We must first be in Christ, before we are new creatures. And this is a common fault among us; we would fain have something before we come: We think God's pardons are not free, but we must bring something in our hand. You know the proclamation runs thus-Buy without money ; that is, come without any excellency at all; because we are commanded to come and take of the water of life freely. Therefore do not say, I have a sinful disposition and an hard heart, and cannot mourn for sin as I should ; therefore I will stay till that be done. It is all one as if thou shouldst say, I must go to the physician; but I will have my wounds well, and my disease healed first, and when that is done, I will go to the physician. What is the end of thy going to him, but to have thy disease healed ? I say it is the same folly. The end of going to Christ is, that this very hardness of thy heart may be taken away—that this very deadness of thy spirit may be removed ; that thou mayest be enlivened, quickened, healed ; that thou mayest hate sin ;-for he is thy physician :-look not for it beforehand : thou must first be in Christ, before thou canst be a new creature.
DANGER OF DELAY.
--But the deceit is short, is fruitless. The amazed spirit is about to dislodge. Who shall speak its terror and dismay, when he cries out in the bitterness of his soul, “ What capacity has a diseased man—what time has a dying manwhat disposition has a sinful man to acquire good principles, to unlearn false notions, to renounce bad practices, to establish right habits, to begin to love God, to begin to hate sin ? How is the stupendous concern of salvation to be worked out by a mind incompetent to the most ordinary concerns ?”
The infinite importance of what he has to do --the goading conviction that it must be donethe utter inability of doing good—the dreadful combination in his mind of both the necessity and incapacity—the despair of crowding the concerns of an age into a moment—the impossibility
of beginning a repentance which should have been completed-of setting about a peace which should have been concluded-of sueing for a pardon which should have been obtained ;—all these complicated concerns, without strength, without time, without hope, with a clouded memory, a disjointed reason, a wounded spirit, undefined terrors, remembered sins, anticipated punishment, an angry God, an accusing conscience-altogether, intolerably augment the sufferings of a body which stands in little need of the insupportable burden of a distracted mind to aggravate its torments.
DANGER OF THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS.
THERE is no man's case so dangerous as his whom Satan hath persuaded that his own righteousness shall present him pure and blameless in the sight of God. If we could say, we were not guilty of any thing at all in our consciences, (we know ourselves far from this innocency-we cannot say we know nothing by ourselves—but if we could,) should we therefore plead not guilty before the presence of our Judge, that sees further into our hearts than we ourselves can do ? If our hands did never offer violence to our brethren, a bloody thought doth prove us murderers before him : If we had never opened our mouth to utter any scandalous, offensive, or hurtful word, the cry of our secret cogitations is heard in the ear of God: If we did not commit the sins which daily and hourly, either in deed, word, or thought we do commit; yet in the good things which we do, how many defects are there intermingled! God, in that which is done, respecteth the mind and intention of the doer. Cut off then all those things wherein we have regarded our own glory-those things which men do to please men, and to satisfy our own liking—those things which we do for any by-respect, not sincerely and purely for the love of God; and a small score will serve for the number of our righteous deeds. Let the holiest and best things we do be considered, we are never better affected unto God than when we pray; yet when we pray, ho affections many times distracted! How little reverence do we show unto the grand Majesty of God, unto whom we speak! How little remorse of our own miseries! How little taste of the sweet influence of his tender mercies do we feel! Are we not as unwilling many times to begin, and as glad to make an end; as if in saying, Call upon me, he had set us a very burdensome task ?
THE RESPONSIBILITY ATTACHED TO SUPE
It is doubtless an honour to be favoured with many talents; but he on whom they have been conferred, does well to recollect the benevolent purposes for which they have been given, and the heavy load of duty which they impose. Are any blessed, then, with mental energies capable of ministering, in various ways, to the good of others ? Let them know that perverted intellect and genius, reduce men to the nearest possible resemblance to infernal spirits. I would not have the moral responsibility of a Voltaire, or a Hume, or a Byron, resting on me, for thousands of worlds! On the other hand, when talents of a superior description are properly directed, and warmly engaged on the side of truth and religion, they prove essential blessings to the world. Wealth, too, is a talent, in its capabilities of a very high order. He who possesses it, without knowing how to use it for the glory of God and the good of men, has need to take care lest it prove a curse to him at last.
ON UNITING TALENTS WITH RELIGION.
GREAT talents are the gifts of God, and are, therefore, highly to be valued; but the pride with which they too often inspire their possessors, is extremely dangerous. It would be much better for you to be poor and ignorant, and satisfied with those around you, than to have superior abilities, and to look down with scorn on those whose merits and talents you think inferior to your own. Your qualifications, however extraordinary, are not your own work; and if you pervert them, they will only turn to your own condemnation, and double your guilt in the sight of God. Think less of your learning, your wit, your taste, your science, and your attractions, and pray to God to add humility, and all the Christian virtues, to your character; for, without these, your brightest talents can only serve to dazzle the world, but will avail nothing to your own salvation.