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and not a meek and lowly, Redeemer! How infinitely distant is the character of this glorious Person from that of Alexander, or that of Cæsar! The character of these men is fitly imaged by the smoke ascending from the bottomless pit; while the aspect of the Saviour is that of the sun, shining in his strength'
But, aside from these considerations, repentance, however reprobated by haughty-minded men, is in itself real good, and essential to all other real good. It is the only possible removal of sin, the worst of all evils, and the source of every other evil. It is the only possible security against the resumption of that guilty, debased, and shameful character. It is the commencement of virtue in the soul, and indispensable to its very existence. It is real dignity in itself, and the beginning of all real dignity. It is plainly the only solid basis of peace of conscience, and well founded self-approbation. By Hume it was seen, so far as he saw it at all, only at a distance; and through the false optics of philosophical pride. It was therefore erroneously seen, understood, and represented. Neither this writer, nor his companions in infidelity, appear to have discerned the distinction between the repentance of a mercenary slave, regretting his faults merely from the expectation of punishment, and the ingenuous contrition of a child sorrowing for his disobedience, loathing his guilt, and returning with a new and better heart to his filial character and duty.
2. We see how groundless the objection of Godwin is to the Scriptures ; viz. That they lay an improper and unwarrantable stress on Faith.
Faith, it is well known, is the great condition of acceptance with God proposed in the Gospel ; as unbelief is of final rejection. To this scheme Godwin objects, as unreasonable and absurd. But if the account here given of this attribute be just, the absurdity will be found to lie, not in the scriptural scheme, but in the objection. It has, if I mistake not, been shown in this Discourse, that without union to God, and cordial obedience to his will, we cannot enjoy rational and enduring good ; and that without evangelical faith, no such union, and no such obedience, can exist. The faith of the Gospel is therefore of all possible importance to man ; of as much importance as his whole well-being, involving every thing which is desirable or useful. Had the Scriptures therefore laid less stress upon this subject, it would have been an unanswerable objection to the religious system which they contain.
The contrary character of distrust, which is plainly the native character of man, is obviously a complete separation of any intelligent being from his Maker. It is impossible that such beings should exercise any of those affections with which alone they can glorify their Creator, or cordially obey him, so long as they distrust his moral character. Equally impossible is it, that they should possess the enjoyment which alone can fill the wishes, or is suited to the nature of an immortal mind. The distrust of a friend makes us unhappy here. The distrust of God would make us miserable for ever!
The faith of the Gospel deserves, then, all the importance which is given to it by the Scriptures. The place which it ought to hold in the estimation of all men is pre-eminent. By every preacher it ought to be insisted on, by every man it ought to be pursued, as of all possible consequence to obedience and salvation. The preacher who does not thus inculcate it is unfaithful; the man who does not acquire it is undope.
THE MEANS OF GRACE.
ORDINARY MEANS OF GRACE.
PROOFS THAT THERE ARE SUCH MEANS.
FOR THOUGH YE HAVE TEN THOUSAND INSTRUCTORS IN CHRIST, YB
HAVE NOT MANY FATHERS: FOR IN CHRIST JESUS I HAVE BE
GOTTEN YOU THROUGH THE GOSPEL.
1 CORINTHIANS IV. 15.
The preceding Sermon finished the observations which I originally proposed to make concerning the Law of God; the inability of man to obey it; and the mears of his restoration to obedience, and to the consequent favour of God.
The next subject, in the order of these Discourses, is The means, in the application of which, men usually obtain faith and repentance, and thus become entitled to eternal life.
Before I begin the discussion of this subject, I request my audience to call to mind the import of the last Discourse, together with others which have been delivered concerning the same subjects. I wish it to be remembered, that, in my view, evangelical faith and repentance are indispensable to the existence of any moral good in the soul of man, and are in all instances the beginning of that good. Particularly, they are the commencement of obedience to the law of God; the foundation of real and enduring happiness to such as are, or have been, sinners; and are, obviously, the immediate duty of all men. He therefore who does not teach these doctrines, omits, in my apprehension, the soul and substance of 1.he Gospel.
With these things premised, I observe, that in this passage of Scripture St. Paul declares himself to have begotten' the Corinthian Christians “in Cbrist,' and thus to bave been a cause of their being regenerated, or born again. That the new birth is the birth here referred to, will pot be disputed. Nor can it be questioned, that St. Paul was, in some manner and degree or other, concerned in effectuating it, without a peremptory denial of his veracity and inspiration. It is further declared by him, that he had begotten them through the Gospel.' It is therefore certain, that the Gospel also was, in some or other manner, or degree, concerned in effectuating the new birth of the Corinthian Christians.
If the apostie, as a minister of the Gospel, was concerned in effectuating the new birth of the Corinthian Christians, it will follow, by unobjectionable analogy, that other ministers are also, in the like manner or degree, concerned in effectuating the regeneration of such as become Christians under their ministry. Further: If the Gospel was thus concerned in the regeneration of the Corinthian Christians, then it is also equally concerned in that of Christians in general.
But if ministers of the Gospel be, in any manner or degree, concerned in producing this change in the moral character of men, they are just so far means of producing it. Of consequence also they are, according to that course of Divine Providence, in which they are thus instrumental, necessary to this change, just so far as they are means of producing it.
It is not here intended, that God could not, if he pleased, produce this change in the human character without these or any other means. Nor is it intended, that in some cases he does not actually thus produce it. It is unquestionably in the power of God to effectuate this change with infinite ease, in any manner which he shall think proper. Nor have we any proof that he has not in many instances renewed men without connecting the renovation with any means whatever. But it is here intended, that this is not the usual course of his spi. ritual providence; and that, in that course, means are really employed to bring men into the heavenly kingdom. It is further intended, that these means are so far necessary, as that, without them, this important end would not, in the ordinary course of providence, be accomplished.
If God has thought proper to conduct his spiritual providence in such a manner as to constitute it a regular and orderly course of events; then our own views of it are to be formed so as to accord with this constitution, and to admit it as a part of the evangelical system. Our conduct also is to be referred and conformed to this constitution. With it we are to expect other things to accord. Particularly, we are to expect salvation for ourselves and others according to this plan, and not according to a different one. Just views of this subject will therefore be easily seen to claim no small importance in the estimation of those who wish to be saved.
In the particular investigation of this subject, I propose,
IV. To answer the principal objections to this scheme of doctrine.
I. I shall attempt to show that there are means of grace.
This position I shall endeavour to establish in the following
1. I allege, as evidence of its truth, the direct declarations of Scripture.
The text is an explicit and forcible declaration of this nature. In this passage the apostle asserts in the most unequivocal manner, that he was a cause, and the Gospel another, of regeneration to the Corinthian Christians : not a cause in the efficient sense, but the instrumental. In other words, he declares that himself and the Gospel were means of their regeneration. It cannot be said here, that the apostle and the Gospel were to these Christians means of edification; or of their advancement in holiness, after they were regenerated. This subject is not even hinted at in the passage. The birth is not any part of the growth, subsequent to itself. To beget, is not nourish, or cause to grow. It is contribute the original existence of the thing begotten, and not to its subse