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which breathe nothing but assurance of víctory....“ Comfort
ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, say unto her, her iniquity is pardoned....her warfare is accomplished....she hath received of the Lord's hand, double for all her sins,” Isa, xl. 1, 2.
In so perfect a manner, hath the Lord God of Israel visited and redeemed his people.
This doctrine exposes their mistake, who fancy the excellency of the gospel consists in ascertaining a future state of rewards and
punishments, and promising the aids of grace to succeed our good endeavours. Did the gospel contain no more than this, it must still prove insufficient to make obedience to the precepts of Christ either delightful, or practicable. Because from our very constitution, we all pant after present gratifications, and are seduced to depart from our duty, by the prospect of present pleasures....which if. religion will not afford, we shall continue to despise it, however it may be our future interest not to do so. We shall delay giving up ourselves to the service of the Lord, till a. time of sickness or old age, whilst we conclude so much more may be enjoyed from forbidden pleasures at present, than we shall receive from obedience. This is, in fact, the grand prejudice against religion in the hearts
of the young and lively, the prosperous and noble. A prejudice insurmountable, so long as religion is represented to them, principally as precept on God's part, and obedience on ours....promising no higher joys to us here, than self-applause for having done well, and hope on that ground, such as it is, of being finally happy in heaven. For what in their eyes
who for present joy, is all this, com. pared with brilliant assemblies, and sensual delights, or the great privileges of wealth, power, and titles? Do not these things noto. riously captivate men of all ranks and ages, till they find in religion an immediate spring of better gratification? But this cannot be consciousness of our own virtues, because in the best, their virtues bear no proportion to their faults, as all know who are not blinded with pride. Neither can it be in the expectation of happiness beyond the grave, because our fears will be stronger than our hopes, till we are filled with peace and joy, as the primitive christians were in believing.
Some object therefore, most excellent, and to an high degree at present beneficial, is needful; the possession of which will at once extinguish all cager desire of forbidden joys, by affording better itself. Exactly such an object is the Lord....not considered as a law
giver, but as a friend and father....as emptying himself of his original glory, and becoming poor, that we through his poverty might be made rich for ever....dying for us on the cross, and now reigning omnipotent on his eternal throne, giving to his faithful people assurance of perfect happiness with himself in heaven.....Here is enough to make us exult.....Beauty in the object surpassing all the eyes ever saw.... benefits flowing from it in never-ceasing streams, above all the ear ever heard....and delight in the increasing knowledge of both, beyond all the heart of man can conceive.
As such an object, the Redeemer proposed himself; and his apostles afterwards in this light set forth his glory. Witness his own declaration to one of the vilest of women, which had instantly such an effect upon her, that she commended him to the whole city, after she had believed in him herself. “Jesus said unto her, he that drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water which I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life,” John iv. 14. On another occasion, when the Jews were going to stone him, enraged at his making himself equal with God, behold, he asserts with a double asseveration, the present and eternal benefits inseparable from true faith in his name. “Verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life,” John v. 24. Paul, Peter, and John, repeatedly assert the redemption of the people of God to be thus perfect. To the christians at Corinth the great apostle writes and tells them, “ All things are yours, whether the world, or life, or death, things present, or things to come, all is yours, and ye are Christ's, and Christ is God's,” i Cor. iii.- 32. St. Peter, teaching the very same doctrine, represents the new birth, as infallibly connected with everlasting salvation, 1 Peter i. And St. John affirms it when he says, “Behold, now are we the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” 1 John iii.
Such a complete redemption of sinful creatures, is a work in mercy and in grandeur worthy of God....a gift engaging the heart, from gratitude and admiration, to rejoice in paying obedience to him....a gift enabling every possessor of it, to challenge the whole world to produce an equal good....so far from leaving its possessor to envy the forbidden pleasures of the licentious, that it constrains him to wish for their present happiness....that it might please God, they should become partakers of the nobler delight, which springs up in his own heart, from the knowledge of redemption.
It is evidently then a mistake of dangerous consequence, to suppose that rules for moral practice, or the revelation of a future state of rewards and punishments, constitute the principal excellency of the gospel....because the observance of these rules, which is to be rewarded, cannot be accomplished without some previous manifestation of the love of God, great enough to allure and captivate: for men must be won by love, not by terror. But commands to sacrifice our dearest lusts, to hate our own lives, and forsake all, under the heaviest penalties, do not make us love the sovereign power, which dictates in this man
And to tell us we are only in a state of probation, where all depends upon ourselves, has no tendency to inspire unreserved confidence in the Lord our God; or to make us worship him with alacrity, sing of him, and praise his name. This can be produced only by the discovery of his abundant mercy, and the unsearchable riches of his grace towards