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of evil; whether he can avoid all uncharitable and unprofitable conversation, with all the sins of omission; and, lastly, whether he can supply the numberless defects which he still finds in himself. Let him not be discouraged by one or two experiments, but repeat the trial again and again ; and the longer he tries, the more deeply will he be convinced of his utter helplessness in all these respects.
20. Indeed this is so evident a truth, that well nigh all the children of God, scattered abroad, however they differ in other points, yet generally agree in this; that although we may,“by the Spirit, mortify the deeds of the body;" resist and conquer both outward and inward sin ; although we may weaken our enemies day by day ;-yet we cannot drive them out. By all the grace which is given at justification, we cannot extirpate them. Though we watch and pray ever so much, we cannot wholly cleanse either our hearts or hands. Most sure we cannot till it shall please our Lord to speak to our hearts again, to speak the second time, Be clean: and then only the leprosy is cleansed. Then only, the evil root, the carnal mind, is destroyed; and inbred sin subsists no more. But if there be no such second change, if there be no instantaneous deliverance after justification, if there be none but a gradual work of God, (that there is a gradual work none denies,) then we must be content, as well as we can, to remain full of sin till death; and, if so, must remain guilty till death, continually descrving punishment. For it is impossible the guilt, or desert of punishment, should be removed from us, as long as all this sin remains in our heart, and cleaves to our words and actions. Nay, in rigorous justice, all we think, and speak, and act, continually increases it.
II. 1. In this sense we are to repent, after we are justified. And till we do so, we can go no farther. For, till we are sensible of our disease, it admits of no cure. But, supposing we do thus repent, then are we called to “believe the gospel.”
2. And this also is to be understood in a peculiar sense, different from that wherein we believed in order to justification. Believe the glad tidings of great salvation, which God hath prepared for all people. Believe that he who is “the brightness of his Father's glory, the express image of his person,” is “ able to save unto the uttermost all that come unto God through him.”. He is able to save you from all the sin that still remains in your heart. He is able to save you fronı all the sin that cleaves to all your words and actions. He is able to save you from sins of omission, and to supply whatever is wanting in you. It is true, this is impossible with man; but with God-man all things are possible. For what can be too hard for Him, who hath “all power in heaven and in earth ?" Indeed his bare power to do this is not a sufficient foundation for our faith that he will do it, that he will thus exert his power, unless he hath promised it. But this he has done: he has promised it over and over, in the strongest terms. He has given us these "exceeding great and precious promises," both in the Old and the New Testament. So we read in the law, in the most ancient part of the oracles of God, “ The Lord thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” Deut. xxx, 6. So in the Psalms, “He shall redeem Israel (the Israel of God) from all his sins.” So in the prophet: “Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall
be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols will [ cleanse you. And I will put my Spirit within you,
shall keep my judgments and do them. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses, Ezek. xxxvi, 25, &c. So likewise in the New Testament: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he hath visited and redeemed his people, and hath raised up a horn of salvation for us to perform the oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would ant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, should serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life,” Luke i, 68, &c.
3. You have therefore good reason to believe, he is not only able, but willing to do this; to cleanse you from all your filthiness of flesh and spirit; to save you
from all your uncleannesses.” This is the hing which you now long for; this is the faith which you now particularly need, namely, that the Great Physician, the Lover of my soul, is willing to make me clean. But is he willing to do this to morrow or to day? Let him answer for himself. “To day, if ye will hear" my s voice, harden not your hearts.” If you put it off till to morrow, you harden your hearts; you refuse to hear his voice. Believe therefore that he is willing to save you to day. He is willing to save you now. “Behold, now is the accepted time.” He now saith, “ Be thou clean!" Only believe; and you also will immediately find, " All things are possible to him that believeth.”
4. Continue to believe in Him that loved thee, and gave himself for thee; that bore all thy sins in his own body on the tree; and he saveth thee from all condemnation, by his blood continually applied. Thus it is that we continue in a justified state. And when we go on from faith to faith,” when we have faith to be cleansed from indwelling sin, to be saved from all our uncleannesses, we are likewise saved from all that guilt, that desert of punishment, which we felt before. So that then we may say, not only,
“Every moment, Lord, I want
The merit of thy death;" but, likewise, in the full assurance of faith,
“Every moment, Lord, I have
The merit of thy death!" For, by that faith in his life, death, and intercession for us, renewed from moment to moment, we are every whit clean, and there is not only now no condemnation for us, but no such desert of punishment as was before, the Lord cleansing both our hearts and lives.
5. By the same faith we feel the power of Christ every moment resting upon us, whereby alone we are what we are; whereby we are enabled to continue in spiritual life, and without which, notwithstanding all our present holiness, we should be devils the next moment. But as long as we retain our faith in him, we“ draw water out of the wells of salvation." Leaning on our beloved, even Christ in us the hope of glory, who dwelleth in our hearts by faith, who likewise is ever interceding for us at the right hand of God, we receive help from him to think, and speak, and act whạt is acceptable in his sight. Thus does he“ prevent” them that believe, in all their “ doings, and further them with his continual help,” so that all their designs, conversations, and actions are "begun, continued, and ended in him.” Thus doth he “cleanse the thoughts of their hearts, by the inspiration of his Holy Spirit, that they may perfectly love him, and worthily magnify his holy
6. Thus it is, that in the children of God, repentance and faith exactly answer each other. By repentance, we feel the sin remaining in our hearts, and cleaving to our words and actions : by faith we receive the power of God in Christ, purifying our hearts, and cleansing our hands. By repentance we are still sensible that we deserve punishment for all our tempers, and words, and actions : by faith we are conscious, that our Advocate with the Father is continually pleading for us, and thereby continually turning aside all condemnation and punishment from us. By repentance we have an abiding conviction, that there is no help in us: by faith we receive not only mercy, “but grace to help in" every “time of need.” Repentance disclaims the very possibility of any other help: faith accepts all the help we stand in need of, from him that hath all power in heaven and earth. Repentance says,
“Without him I can do nothing :” Faith says, “I can do all things through Christ strengthening me.” Through him I can not only overcome, but expel, all the enemies of my soul. Through him I can "love the Lord my God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength;" yea, and " walk in holiness and righteousness before him all the days of my life.”
III. 1. From what has been said, we may easily learn the mischievousness of that opinion, that we are wholly sanctified when we are justified ; that our hearts are then cleansed from all sin. It is true, we are then delivered, as was observed before, from the dominion of outward sin ; and, at the same time, the power of inward sin is so broken, that we need no longer follow, or be led by it: but it is by no means true, that inward sin is then totally destroyed ; that the root of pride, self will, anger, love of the world, is then taken out of the heart; or that the carnal mind, and the heart bent to backsliding, are entirely extirpated. And to suppose the contrary, is not, as some may think, an innocent, harmless mistake. No: it does immense harm : it entirely blocks up the way to any farther change: for it is manifest, “ They that are whole do not need a physician, but they that are sick.” If, therefore, we think we are quite made whole already, there is no room to seek any farther healing. On this supposition it is absurd to expect a farther deliverance from sin, whether gradual or instantaneous.
2. On the contrary, a deep conviction that we are not yet whole ; that our hearts are not fully purified; that there is yet in us a
carnal mind,” which is still in its nature “enmity against God;" that a whole body of sin remains in our heart, weakened indeed, but not destroyed; shows, beyond all possibility of doubt, the absolute necessity of a farther change. We allow, that at the very moment of justification, we are born again: in that instant we experience that inward change, from “ darkness into marvellous light;" from the image of the brute and the devil, into the image of God;
from the earthly, sensual, devilish mind, to the mind which was in Christ Jesus. But are then entirely changed? Are we wholly transformed into the image of himn that created us ? Far from it: we still retain a depth of sin: and it is the consciousness of this, which constrains us to groan for a full deliverance, to him that is mighty to save. Hence it is, that those believers who are not convinced of the deep corruption of their hearts, or but slightly, and as it were notionally convinced, have little concern about entire sanctification. They may possibly hold the opinion, that such a thing is to be, either at death, or some time, they know not when, before it. But they have no great uneasiness for the want of it, and no great hunger or thirst after it. They cannot, until they know themselves better, until they repent in the sense above described, until God unveils the inbred monster's face, and shows them the real state of their souls. Then only, when they feel the burden, will they groan for deliverance from it. Then, and not till then, will they cry out, in the agony of their soul,
“ Break off the yoke of inbred sin,
And fully set my spirit free!
Till I am wholly lost in thee !" 3. We may learn from hence, secondly, that a deep conviction of our demerit, after we are accepted, (which, in one sense, may be termed guilt,) is absolutely necessary, in order to our seeing the true value of the atoning blood ; in order to our feeling that we need this as much, after we are justified, as ever we did before. Without this conviction we cannot but account the blood of the covenant as a common thing, something of which we have not now any great need, seeing all our past sins are blotted out. Yea, but if both our hearts and lives are thus unclean, there is a kind of guilt which we are contracting every moment, and which, of consequence, would every moment expose us to fresh condemnation, but that
“ He ever lives above,
For us to intercede,
His precious blood to plead.” It is this repentance, and the faith intimately connected with it, which are expressed in those strong lines,
“I sin in every breath I draw,
On earth, as angels do above :
Till I am perfected in love." 4. We may observe, thirdly, a deep conviction of our utter helplessness, of our total inability to retain any thing we have received, much more to deliver ourselves from the world of iniquity remaining both in our hearts and lives, teaches us truly to live upon Christ by faith, not only as our Priest, but as our King. Hereby we are brought to "magnify him,” indeed; to“ give him all the glory of his grace ;' to make him a whole Christ, an entire Saviour; and truly " to set the crown upon his head.” These excellent words, as they have frequently been used, have little or no meaning; but they are fulfilled in a strong and deep sense, when we thus, as it were, go out of ourselves, in order to be swallowed up in him; when we sink into nothing, that he
may be all in all. Then, his almighty grace having abolished "every high thing which exalted itself against him,” every temper, and thought, and word, and work, " is brought to the obedience of Christ."
Londonderry, April 24, 1767.
SERMON XV.The Great Assize. Preached at the assizes held before the honourable Sir Edward Clive, knight, one of the judges of his majesty's court of common pleas, in St. Paul's church, Bedford, on Friday, March 10, 1758 ; published at the request of William Coles Esq., high sheriff of the county, and others.
“ We shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ,” Rom. xiv, 10.
1. How many circumstances concur to raise the awfulness of the present solemnity !—The general concourse of people of every age, sex, rank, and condition of life, willingly or unwillingly gathered together, not only from the neighbouring, but from distant parts; criminals, speedily to be brought forth, and having no way to escape ; officers, waiting in their various posts, to execute the orders which shall be given; and the representative of our gracious sovereign, whom we so highly reverence and honour. The occasion likewise of this assembly, adds not a little to the solemnity of it: to hear and determine causes of every kind, some of which are of the most important nature; on which depends no less than life or death, death that uncovers the face of eternity! It was, doubtless, in order to increase the serious sense of these things, and not in the minds of the vulgar only, that the wisdom of our forefathers did not disdain to appoint even several minute circumstances of this solemnity. For these also, by means of the eye or ear, may more deeply affect the heart: and when viewed in this light, trumpets, staves, apparel, are no longer trifling or insignificant, but subservient, in their kind and degree, to the most valuable ends of society.
2. But, as awful as this solemnity is, one far more awful is at hand. For yet a little while, and, "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ." “ For, as I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” And in that day, “ every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”
3. Had all men a deep sense of this, how effectually would it secure the interests of society! For what more forcible motive can be conceived to the practice of genuine morality, to a steady pursuit of solid virtue, and a uniform walking in justice, mercy, and truth? What could strengthen our hands in all that is good, and deter us from all evil, like a strong conviction of this, “ The Judge standeth at the door;" and we are shortly to stand before him ?
4. It may not therefore be improper, or unsuitable to the design of the present assembly, to consider,
I. The chief circumstances which will precede our standing before the judgment seat of Christ :
II. The judgment itself: and,
I. Let us, in the first place, consider the chief circumstances which will precede our standing before the judgment seat of Christ.
And, 1st, “God will show signs in the earth beneath,” Acts ii, 19; particularly he will “ arise to shake terribly the earth.' “ The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage," Isa. xxiv, 20. “There shall be earthquakes,” xara comis, (not in divers only, but) " in all places ;" not in one only, or a few, but in