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human intellect, though of the very highest order, and cultivated by the most extensive learning, to conduct the mind to the perception and enjoyment of vital religion. Johnson was through life impressed by a conviction of the importance of religion, not only in its bearing on existing circumstances, but especially on the soul's interests throughout eternity. He had never been led, like many illustrious for mental pre-eminence, and literary acquirements, into the labyrinths of scepticism and infidelity. He was a very firm believer in the truth of Christianity, and, so far as light was possessed by him, his hopes of salvation rested
But still the experience of his last moments proves, that, powerful as his mind confessedly was, and willing as he ever had been to discover the truth, something further was needed to conduct him, like Saul of Tarsus, to the full and saving knowledge of Christ, and to give him hopes and consolations suited to a dying hour; to enlighten and spiritualize the mind, and to lead it into all truth. This requirement is common to our race, “ The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God : for they are foolishness unto him : neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. ii. 14. But an exigency thus great is provided for in that merciful arrangement by which the Holy Ghost, the third person in the adorable Trinity, becomes the teacher and enlightener of the heart. It is the invariable doctrine of the Scriptures, that we need the agency of this Divine Spirit, and that by His gracious operation we become “wise unto salvation,” perceiving our need of Jesus, and understanding his ability and willingness
“ It is expedient for you,” said Jesus Christ, “ that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you; and when he is come he will guide you into all truth ; He will take of the things that are mine and show them unto you.” John xvi. 7-14. But the Holy Spirit not only enlightens the mind, but changes the heart. All genuine conversion is ascribed to Him. On that memorable occasion, on which, under the first sermon preached after our Saviour's Advent to glory, three thousand souls were converted, the apostle Peter ascribed the astounding effect to its right cause : “ This is that which was spoken by the prophet
And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” “ Verily, verily, I say unto you," was the Saviour's emphatic declaration, “ye must be born again,” John iii. 3 ; and, in the following verses, every one who is the subject of this new birth is described as being “ born of the Spirit,” whose sanctifying agency on the heart of man is compared to water. He disposes the heart to accept the
atonement of the Lord Jesus, as the ground on which sin is forgiven. But he does more than this: he claims the heart for God; and, using the very sufferings and death by which that atonement was made as the motive by which this claim is urged, He enlists the warm affections of the once-alienated nature in favour of a holy God, and the subject of His grace becomes 6a new creature.” 2 Cor. v. 17. Nothing is more obviously characteristic of this great change, and seems more clearly to distinguish the converted man from the unconverted, than deep humiliation and abasement of spirit. Every ground of confidence arising from a man's own righteousness is entirely given up, and all his hope is placed on the foundation laid in the Gospel. He ceases to glory in self, and all his language is, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of Jesus Christ.” Gal. vi. 14. It was under the instruction of this Spirit, that Johnson was led to say to Dr. Brocklesby, “Believe a dying man, there is no salvation but in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.” It was the same divine grace which stripped him of the self-righteousness of a long life, and brought him, at the close of it, to be as a trembling penitent at the foot of the cross, crying, with all the energy of an awakened mind, “ God be merciful to me a sinner !"
May those readers of these pages who have been led by divine
grace to fix their hopes on that Saviour, who “is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth,” (Rom. X. 4) be established more and more in this wholesome and salutary doctrine. And may those, who, like the remarkable character brought under review, have been hitherto resting on their own works for salvation, awake immediately to a sense at once of their error and of their duty; and, in entire dependance on the power of divine grace, make an unreserved surrender of every
false and delusive confidence; and, ere it be too late, lay hold of that perfect and finished obedience and sacrifice, through which, and through which only, God “can be just, and at the same time the justifier of every one which believeth in Him.”
J. F. SHAW, BOOKSELLER, SOOTHAMPTON KOW, LONDON.
J. & W.Rider, Printers, Bartholomew Close, London.
THE TWO DECISIONS.
THERE is not a more fatal, nor a more deep-laid, delusion than that by which the principles applicable to the case of a man entering into judgment with his fellow-men are transferred to the far-different case of a man's standing in judgment before God. In no one exercise of mind are men more frequently employed than in forming and declaring their judgment in reference to their fellow-members in society. The work of thus deciding is that in which they all share, and on which, perhaps, there is not a day of their lives wherein they do not feel themselves called upon to expend some measure of attention and understanding. There is a certain standard of estimation, which is employed for this purpose,-a very
extended scale of reputation, which will take in all the varieties of human character; the lower extremity of which is occupied by the dishonest, and the perfidious, and the outcast from general respect : but, on the higher extremity of it, we behold men to whom are awarded, by the universal voice, all the honours of a proud and unsullied excellence; with respect to whom, as we hear of their uprightness and liberality, their hearts alive to every impulse of sympathy, and their manner sweetened by the delicacy of genuine kindness, we do not wonder that they carry with them the admiration of their fellow-inen. Nor is it a matter of surprise if, while men gaze on so fine a specimen of human nature, they should not merely pronounce an honourable sentence at the tribunal of human judgment, but that they should be tempted to conceive of those who look so bright and faultless in the eye of man, that they look as bright and faultless in the eye of God, and that they are in every way meet for his presence and friendship in eternity,
But if there be any emphasis in that declaration, “I am God, and not man," or any delusion in conceiving of him (as in his Word it is declared to be possible that men may conceive of him) that he is “altogether like unto ourselves," may not all that ready circulation of praise and of acknowledgment, which obtains in society, carry along with it an influence as ruinous as it is bewitching ? Is it not possible, that on the applause of man there may be reared a most treacherous selfcomplacency? May not a false confidence before God be built on this sandy foundation ?
There is reason to fear, that it is precisely this ill-supported confidence which shuts out from many a heart the humiliating doctrines of the Gospel. There is an imagination that, because we are so well able to stand our ground before the judgment of the world, we shall be equally well able to stand our ground before the judgment-seat at the great day; and hence we bring ourselves beneath the rebuke of him who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins of the children of men.
“ Thou sayest, I am rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked," Rev. iii. 17. Hence it is that we sometimes meet with men of character and estimation in society, who, surrounded with the gratulations of their neighbourhood, find the debasing views of humanity, which are set before us in the New Testament, to be beyond their comprehension,—who are utterly in the dark as to the truth and justice of such representations, and with whom, therefore, the voice of God is rendered inaudible by the voice and the testimony of men. They see not themselves in the character of vileness and guilt, which he ascribes to them as being “dead in trespasses and sins," (Eph. ii. 1); as being “born in sin, and shapen in iniquity," Ps. li. 5); and as having “all sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Rom. iii. 23). They are blind to the principle which the patriarch Job expressed, when he said, “If I wash myself with snow-water, and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me into the ditch, and my own clothes shall abhor me: for he is not a man as I am that I should answer him, and that we should come together in judgment; neither is there any daysman between us that might lay his hand upon us both,” Job ix. 30–33. They perceive not that they may not be able to answer God, though they may be able to meet every reproach, and to hold out the lofty vindication against every charge which any of their fellows may prefer. And thus it is that many live in the habitual neglect of a salvation which they cannot see that they require, and spend their days in an insidious security, from which nothing but the voice of the last messenger, as he summons them into another world, shall awaken them.
But if we compare the judgment of God with that of men, we cannot fail to observe that there is a distinction between the two, founded upon the claims which God has a right to prefer against us, when contrasted with the claims of our fellow-creatures upon us. My neighbours have no right to complain, if I give io every man his due; or, in other words, if I anı true to all my promises, and faithful to all my engagements, and if what I claim, as justice to myself, I most scrupulously render to others, when they are in like circumstances with myself. Now let me do all this, and I earn among my fellows the character of a man of honour and of equity. And, again, I may give to others more than their own. I may have a heart constitutionally framed to the feeling and exercise of compassion. I may scatter on every side of me the treasures of beneficence. With a bosom open to every impulse of pity, with an eye lighted up by the smile of courteousness, and with a ready ear to all that is offered in the shape of complaint or supplication, I may not go beyond the demands of others, but I may go greatly beyond all that they have a right to demand. Yet after I have done all this, and men are filled with delight and admiration, and they have awarded to me the tribute of their most honourable testimony, the footing on which I stand with God still remains to be attended to, and the mighty account still lies uncancelled between the creature and the Creator,-between the man wno, in reference to his neighbour, can say, “ I give every one his due, and out of my own I expatiate in acts of tenderness and generosity among them,” and the God who gave the means of doing this, and whose claims, as the Creator over those whom he has formed, may lie altogether unheeded :—the constant Benefactor may not be loved; the constant Preserver may not be depended on; the legitimate Sovereign may not be obeyed; nor the unseen Spirit, who pervades all, and upholds all, “ be worshipped in spirit and truth."
When the spirit returns to him who sitteth on the throne,when the question is put, amid all the multitude of your doings in the world, what have you done unto me? --when the rightful ascendancy of his claims over every movement of the creature is made manifest by “ him that judgeth righteously,"when the high, but just, requirement of all things being done for his glory,—of the entire heart being consecrated, in every one of its regards, to himself supremely,—of the whole man being set apart to his service, and every compromise being done away with between the world on the one hand, and that Being on the other who is jealous of his honour,-how shall we fare in that great day of examination, if it be found that this has not been the tendency of our nature at all ? And when he, who is not a man,” shall thus enter into judgment with us, how shall we be able to stand ?