« PreviousContinue »
revolt from the gospel, much more than all the formal assaults of its avowed enemies. And deism is often defended upon this very principle, that the stress laid upon articles of faith in the bible, proves a public mischief, by drawing off men's attention from personal virtue, and teaching low, disparaging ideas of its worth. Thus a zeal for morality and virtue, which are of indispensable necessity, may be, and very often is, so misguided, as to prove fatal to the soul. For whether men will hear, or spurn it from them as an imposition, Christ is "the way, the truth, and the life....no man cometh to the Father but by him," John xiv. 6. “He that hath not the Son, hath not life,” i John v. 12. though his virtues may be extolled, even as a pattern for imitation.
any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be anathema, ma. ranatha," 1 Cor. xvi. 22.
Know then the true standard, by which you must try the spirits....every preacher you hear, and every religious book you read. It should not satisfy you, that virtue is earnestly inculcated, and obedience to the commandments of God pressed home, from considerations of his authority, and a judgment to come....for much more than this is required. You ought to esteem the performance deplo
rably defective, and the preacher no fellowlabourer with the prophets and apostles, un. less he displays the Horn of Salvation....unless every idol in the human heart, which usurps his place, be thrown down....and all the proud pretensions of self-sufficient moralists, and self-conceited pharisees, be exposed.. If a christian preacher or writer treats of morality and virtue in such a light, that no Jew or Turk would find any offence in his work, is there not cause to charge gross ignorance on the preacher or writer with respect to Christ? If topics which Jews or Turkswould themselves use, are chiefly used by us to enforce moral practice, what advantage does the gospel afford in this grand point? They who can hear, or read such discourses without grief of heart, from love to God and man, are strangers to what the scripture teaches of the glory of Christ's religion; and, were they to cease professing it, would suffer, it should seem, no great loss in their spiritual state,
ALL the prophets, who with one mouth have spoken of Christ, speak of him as raised up, “ that his people should be saved from their enemies, and out of the hands of all who hate them.” We are born in captivity, and after we recover spiritual liberty, our enemies assault us all our days. Some of these enemies, being invisible, are little regarded, or known by the world. Consequently, when they hear of a Horn of Salvation, raised up to deliver sinners out of their hands, they know not how to conceive the meaning of such expressions, much more to believe their truth. For if they live in peace, quietness, prosperity, reputation, and a good opinion of themselves, they cannot understand there is any better condition on earth, nor desire deliverance.
Thus pride and ignorance hiding our condition from us, we presume we are safe, when our real circumstances are deplorably ruin
The friendly light of God's word and Spirit are sent to discover this gross delusion. They shew us where we are, what we are, and what we want. That we are a race of
sinners, in base and voluntary subjection to satan, the world, and the flesh, condemned by the righteous law of God, and every mo. ment liable to the arrest of the king of ter.
Each of these foes, as soon as their
power is understood, will be found unconquerable by any might of our own....of consequence deserving eminently the name of enemies.... compared with whom, all we naturally dread, as hostile to us, will seem as nothing. These enemies are sin, the law, satan, the world, the Aesh, and death. But as the law is the strength of sin; as sin is only committed through the instigation of satan, the world, or the flesh; and death ensues as the penalty of sin ; deliverance from the power of these enemies, necessarily includes victory over sin, a victory everlasting. These enemies, there. fore, we shall particularly consider, and the way in which Christ saves his people out of their hands.
The first enemy is the law. Man receiving from God a reasonable soul, with all he possesses, is absolutely dependent upon him, and necessarily obliged to obey his will in whatever instance it is made known. The penalty on failing to pay this most rightful homage, is death, the loss of the favour of God, and the misery of his displeasure. Thus the angels in heaven, by one act of disobedience, lost all their glory, and are wretched beyond expression. Thus Adam in paradise, by one offence destroyed himself and his posterity. The same law, with the same sanction, God published in ten commandments, accompa. nied with all the terrible ensigns of his Al, mighty power, to more than a million of his subjects assembled at the foot of mount Sinai ; engraving it afterwards with his own finger on two tables of stone. This law, though in itself holy, and just, and good, tak. ing occasion from our sin, slays us. It is become our great accuser and dreadful ad. versary. It is against us in every attempt wę naturally make to escape from its eternal condemnation. It is contrary to us, breathing out righteous vengeance against our persons, as offensive to an holy God, and guilty before him....spurning all our prayers, our tears, and our amendment, as no more compensation for violating its command, than the mur. derer's tears, or better behaviour, are for his enormous offence.