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daunted front, and challenge the strictest scrutiny over every thought, and word, and action; if there be such an obedience found as can give life, 'verily righteousness shall be by the Law*.' But if both scripture and experience have con, cluded all under sin, if all have sinned and come short of the glory of God; and by the deeds of the Law, no flesh can be justified in His sight :' then it will be found, that the moral sermon of the Great Author of Christianity on the mount, as well as the moral system of the great Jew, ish lawgiver in the wilderness, were both designed to act as the schoolmaster to bring unto Christt;' and, that He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.'
Pause, therefore, one moment, and examine how the account stands between God and your conscience. In the present season of lightness and inattention, a multitude of occurrences of frailty, and sometimes what deserves a harsher name, pass away in the stream of time, noiseless and inaudible, and are soon swallowed up ia the gulph of oblivion. But in that hour, when the Lord will jay judgment to the line and righteousness to the plummet,' if you and I have no better righteousness than our own
# Gal. iii. 21. | Gal. üii. 24. * Rom. x. 4.
to trust in, no Surety to stand in our stead, no Advocate to plead our cause ; an effect infinitely more awful than that which loosed the loins of the impious monarch we read of will take place, when weighed in the balance and, found wanting*
I knew not what to reply, and therefore remained silent. The poor man, bidding me farewell, left me to ruminate on the solemn inquiry : How should man be just with GOD+?'
The effect wrought in my mind by reason of the poor man's observations, was not unsimi. lar in permanency, though producing very opposite sensations in point of pleasure, to what the poet hath described of our first father's feels ings, in the garden of Eden, on the close of the angel's relation concerning divine things
The Angel ended, and in Adam's ear
I felt the same force, but not the same sweet. ness, from what he said. It was a harsh sound, and the vibration long dwelt upon my ear, 'How shall man be just with GOD?' It
Dan. v. 6. † Job ix, 2.
followed me to what Job calls the visions of the night* ;' and even then, like the spectre which he saw, the same expostulating voice seemed to cry, "How shall man be just with GOD ?'
The stern demand rang through all the chambers of the conscience, as if a thousand voices had concurred to proclaim the utter impossibility of answering the question, in the very moment of proposing it. And as an echo reverberates from broken walls, so the sound of conviction returned from my broken heart ; by the deeds of the Law no flesh can be justi. fied in his sightti'
It is with some degree of grateful recollection, that I look back upon this part of my
history; and bless God, while I trace his divine hand, graciously interposing by the instrumentality of this poor man, to rescue me from the dangerous path of delusion, into which I had turned, when seeking justification by the deeds of the law. I can now enter into a participation of David's experience upon a similar occasion, and feel somewhat of that spirit which he felt in the instance of the wife of the Car. melite, when under a deep conviction of that sin-preventing providence, he cried out, Blessa
Job. iv, + Rom. iii. 20.
ed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me; and blessed by thy advice, and blessed be thou*. ' -In like manner I find cause to bless God in the review of this in. stance as the Author, the poor man as the instrument, and his advice as the mean, which the Lord was pleased to commission, for the emancipation of my mind from a self-confidence, which, if cherished, must have ultimately ended in my eternal ruin.
And my reader will I hope forgive me if I interrupt the progress of the history for a moment, only 'to remind him, that unless the mind be brought under similar conclusions respectfng the unalterable and unaccommodating right of God's demands, wo unto him that striveth with his Maker! We may fancy what we please, and frame a standard of our own, for God to go by, according to our notions of the fitness of things; as if an arraigned culprit at the bar should stand up and prescribe laws to his judge! but it would be well to consider, before it be too late, the very solemn tone of decision in which scripture hath settled the point, which leaves the subject at once determined and without appeal. • Behold, he putteth no trust in His Saints ; even His Angels
* 1 Sam. xxv. 32,
He chargeth with folly. What then is man, that he should be clean? And he which is born of a a woman that he should be righteous* ?'
There is an interpretation, which I have since learnt, to the text of the prophet, Micah, vi. and ver. 8; which the moral preacher discoursed upon, very different from his ; and which I bless God the Spirit for teaching me, To do justice, and love mercy, and walk humbly with GOD.' The Prophet himself, in the very words as they stand, declares that these separate acts are with GOD, in their performance. And without all possible dispute, the first and highest instances of all duties must have a priority of reference towards Him. Hence, there.fore, I do justice with God, when from a clear conviction that I have broken his righteous laws, and as such stand exposed to the penalty due to the breach of them, I confess, that I merit nothing from his Almighty hand, but « indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish. I love mercy, in the fullest and truest sense of loving mercy, when I acknowledge upon my bended knees and in the most heartfelt rejoicing, that it is of the Lord's mercies that I am not consumed, because his compassions fail . not.' And I defy any one to walk more humbly
* Job iv. 18. xv. 14.