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which my mind had been exercised, since I had perused a little book on the subject of grace, and had overheard the conversation between the brothers.
He prevented my adding more, by saying, I know very well that author's writings, and can easily conceive how his reasonings may have operated upon your mind. But a moment's reflection, under God the spirit's teaching, will be enough to refute doctrines of such a tendency.
"To suppose that the gift of God's grace. depends upon' man's merit, is to invert the very order of things, and make the creature the first mover in his salvation : which is in direct opposition to the whole tenor of scripture. This, if true, would destroy God's foreknowledge.
• To imagine that our acceptance or refusal of grace is the result of our own pleasure, is to rob God of another of his glorious perfections of character: for it is in effect saying, that man is more powerful than his Maker, in that what God wills, man may defeat. And this takes from God his omnipotence.
To fancy that our improvement, or misimprovement of grace, will render it effectual, or the contrary, is committing another breach on the divine attributes; for this is reducing the
covenant of grace to a covenant of works. And hence, after all God hath said and promised, concerning the freedom, and fulness, and sovereignty of his salvation, in this case, the event of it would depend on the merit of the creature. And this is taking from God both his wisdom and his glory.
* And to believe, after what God the Father hath given, and God the Son hath accomplished, for the salvation of his people in a covenant way, that souls renewed by God the Holy Ghost, and called with an holy calling, may yet finally perish; this is bringing down redemption' work to so precarious and uncertain an issue, as must leave it altogether undetermined whether a single believer shall be saved, or not. And this throws to the ground the distinguishing character of God's immutability.
I will very readily grant, (continued the Interpreter,) that grace is brought forward into many sharp and trying dispensations in the lives of the faithful. God is certainly exercising the gifts of his Holy Spirit which he bestows upon them, by temptation and troubles, and a variety of providences. And in fact, such must be the case. For unexercised grace would otherwise find no scope to mani. fest itself. But for any one to imagine from hence, that our acceptance with God depends upon the event of those exercises, would be to make the present life a life of probation and trial, as some injudicious teachers have taught their people, and to render the Redeemer's merits and death still questionable, whether it would become available for the sinner's justification before God.
Blessed be the divine benignity, things are not so! It is our mercy that the finished and complete salvation of the Lord Jesus doth not rest upon so uncertain a tenure. An everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure,! can never leave the issue of it doubtful. What Paul saith, when resting the whole stress of the sinner's hope for acceptance before God upon the justifying merits of Christ Jesus, may be equally applied to the case of every
behiever: 'I do not, (says he,) frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.'
My heart rejoiced in the consolation. God be adored, I cried, who hath brought me to this place, and hath given you, (taking the Interpreter by the hand as I said it,) the tongue of the learned, to know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary*,' I see now the
* Isaiah li. 8.
fallacy of those arguments, in that book, by which my mind hath been exercised with distress.
THE PICTURE ROOM.
AFTER this conversation, the Interpreter led me, and the few pilgrims also who were standing at that time around him, into the Picture Room, to explain to us a beautiful representation of the Jewish passover.
. Perhaps, (said the good man of the house, it may never have struck you, that so infinitely important a point in the salvation of sinners is the precious death of the Lord Jesus, that the Holy Ghost caused it to be shadowed out, by various representations in his church, according as the several objects intended to be accomplished by it, required.
See here, (said he, pointing to the first compartment in the painting) the passing over the houses of the Israelites, by the destroying angel. Here are no bolts, no bars, to their win: dows. But behold that blood on the lintel, and on the two side-posts ; this became the security. Now this represents the deliverance of
the sinner from divine visitation for sin. Hence the Lord Jesus is said to have delivered us from the wrath to come.'
• But it is not enough to deliver from the wrath to come, if that had been all that the Lord Jesus had accomplished by redemption ; our nature, though rescued from merited punishment, would still have continued polluted and defiled, without an expiation : and, consequently, incapable of drawing nigh to God. See here, therefore, (cried the Interpreter, pointing to the second compartment in the painting, the great doctrine of atonement, represented in the death of the lamb. And this doctrine is again more fully typified by the sinoffering on the day of atonement. Levit. iv. :
Neither is that.all. Our deliverance from wrath, and the expiation of our souls from sin, though exempting from merited punishment, and cleansing away the guilt of our nature, yet could not qualify for the enjoyment of happi-ness, without a change of heart. Hence, therefore, the regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, as essential to prepare the mind for divine communications here, and glory hereafter, became an interesting point in the doctrine of salvation. And this was represented in the Jewish church by the typical purifica