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the revelation of Christ: which is amply discovered to us by our Saviour, in the words of the Text, who certainly best knew himself che intent of his coming into the world; and He came, he assures us, to seek and to save that which was loft ; to recover and restore lost finners: and to admit them to grace and pardon, on their true repentance and return to God. His revelation therefore is founded upon, and neceffarily supposes, the depravity of nature, and the irregularity of practice ; as it is immediately calculated to remedy the former, and to provide a sufficient atonement for the latter. Look upon it, in any other view, and it becomes a thorough contradiction.
For, 'were human nature perfect ; and were it posible to pay an unerring obedience to the law of consummate righteousness : did virtue continually attend our steps ; uprightness and integrity ever wait upon our doings: did no vices defile, no guilt alarm, no transgressions bear testimony against us, there would be no room for penitence or pardon: we could never want the grace of forgiveness, as unconscious of offence ; and might, with some shew of justice, demand the Deity's attention, and lay claiın to the rewards of his kingdom. The religion of Christ upon this view, would be vain and inefficacious : and the names of Saviour, Redeemer, and Restorer, G
would be sounds without meaning, and words without sense.
But in truth, This hath never been the case with mankind : Ever since the fall of our first parents, time and corruption, depravity, and offence have gone on hand in hand: and the history of every period fully satisfies us, that human nature hath been in every period, the same ; ever alike prone to fin, ever alike tainted with guilt : every imagination of the thoughts of man's heart in the language of the facred volumes, of man's Heart, when not restrained: by the grace of God) hath been only evil continually. And tho'che preference hath in every respect been given to virtue ; tho' Philosophers have taught; tho' education from infancy hath exerted its power; nay, tho' the Most High hath revealed his holy will, under the most tremendous fanctions ; yet the malady hath ftill remained unremoved: and to this day we too feele, ingly lament the prevalence of paffions, and the degeneracy of our nature.
The wisdom of philosophy, tho' conscious of the evil, could neither assert the true cause, nor assign the adequate remedy. Virtue, they al-low'd, they constantly maintain'd, was infinitely preferable to vice, was the only road to true happiness here; was that alone which could recommend to God; if indeed there was a God, who regarded human affairs. But filent
was their voice, and unavailing their knowledge, when the heart oppressed with guilt fought to them for relief: when erring virtue, burden'din conscience, and desirous of comfort, applied for ease to the one, and solid grounds for the other. They could neither assure fuch of pardon for past offences ; nor by any means enable them to walk blameless for the future. Fluctuating in doubt themselves, they left others equally fluctuating; and the best hopes, they could dare to entertain, arose from some uncertain and dark expectations of a mercy, whereto they were strangers : even doubting whether such mercy existed at all; or if it existed, on what foundation they could prefume to expect it.
To remove this uneasy solicitude ; to relieve these urging necessities; and to make the fullest and plainest discovery of diviné mercy, reconciliation, and peace; the Son of God affumed human nature, and entered upon his blessed mi. nistry ; the grand intent of which, was early discovered to Joseph, by the angel, who informed him, Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he Jhall fave his people from their fins. Accordingly, that Prince of Peace no sooner made his public appearance, than Pardon and Life were offer'd from his gracious lips: to Penitence and Faith. The burden'd foul, the heart oppress’d, the stricken conscience fought him, and he remov'd the burden, gave them comfort, gave them
reft. Come unto me, all ye that travel, and are heavy-laden, was his royal and acceptable proclamation. That he came to seek and to save those who were lost ; lost to their God, loft to themselves, lost to future blessedness ; that he came not to call the righteous, but finners to repentance; that he came to search for and restore the wandering sheep to the fold ; to embrace with fatherly compassion, the returning prodigal ; that his grand business was the ransom of Mankind, the rescue of Sinners, the redemption of Transgreffors, he continually witnessed by every word and by every action. But above all, he gave testimony to the great, the consolatory truth, when, good and tender shepherd, he laid down his life for his sheep; when, as the prophet Isaiah finely expresses it, he was wounded for our transgrespons ; when the chastisement of our peace
was upon him; when he was oppressed, and was | afflieted ; when he poured out his soul unto death; and the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all *.
Under this gracious dispensation, we have no longer any cause of doubt, distress, or despair: no longer, as in the heathen world, need we wander in the wretched wild of perplexing uncertainty; oppressed with the consciousness of guilt, which we fear can obtain no pardon, or unacquainted wherewith to come before the Lord, or what sacrifice to offer as an atonement See the whole 53d Chapter.
for the fin of our souls. Happy for us, tho' our guilt be complicated, and our offences numerous; we may be assur'd of forgiveness, thro' His sufficient merits, who liv'd, who died, who rose again to save us. Whosoever cometh to him, he hath himself declared, he will in no wise cast out : he never rejects the petition of the contrite and the humble : with Him, real penitence and prayer never yet sued in vain : None ever trusted in him, and was confounded : nor did he ever despise any that called upon him *
And to perfect his heavenly purpose, not only pardon is freely bestowed upon the penitent, but grace is given to affift, and the spirit of his love never withheld from those, who wish, by fu. ture obedience, to win his regard, and to witness their fincere sense of their former misery, and present happiness. For we must never fail to remark, at all times, in testimony of the complete wisdom and excellence of the Christian dispensation, that tho' it holds out to the penitent believer the most substantial consolation, in full and free forgiveness; yet that forgiveness is ever suspended on the condition of future gratitude and obedience : a deficiency in which, will infallibly cancel all former grants of mercy. And thus while, with the most beautiful propriety, it affords the wish'd, the only valuable,