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On the other hand, it must be allowed that sin dwelleth even in the true convert; and he may possibly fall into the same evil, in which he once habitually indulged with little remorse.
But in this case he is filled with anguish; he deeply abases himself before God, confesses his guilt, deprecates deserved wrath, submits to sharp correction, craves forgiveness, and
prays to be restored to the joy of God's salvation, " and upheld by his free spirit.” Even in these respects “ all things are become new.”
In short, the proposition is universal: and the true believer, in all things acts from new motives, by a new rule, and to accomplish far other purposes, than he formerly had in view. But the more particular examination of the subject must be left to your private meditations, while we conclude at present with a brief application.
There are persons professing to be Christians, who avowedly disregard this subject; and if we speak of regeneration or the new creature, are ready to answer, " How can these things be?” or perhaps to retort an indiscriminate charge of enthusiasm. But do you intend to answer your Judge in this manner? Do you expect to enter heaven, by disproving the truth of his most solemn and repeated declarations? Is your judgment the standard of truth? Can nothing be needful to salvation, which you do not experience? Il God be indeed glorious in holiness: if the society and joys of heaven be holy, and if man be unholy, an entire change must, in the very nature of things, take place, before he can possibly delight in God, or enjoy hea. ven, were there no other obstacle to his salvation.
Let me therefore earnestly beseech you to reconsider the subject: let me prevail with you to search the scriptures, and to beg of God to shew you the true meaning of them; and to grant, that if these things be indeed true and needful, you may know them by your own happy experience.
Again, some religious people profess to know that their sins are forgiven, and others are anxious to obtain this assurance. If then it be asked, how can any inan be thus certain in this matter? I answer, by a consciousness, that “ he is in Christ a new creature, “ that old things are passed away, and all things are “ become new.” When our Lord forgave the sins of the paralytick, he enabled him to carry his bed; this proved his sins forgiven, both to himself and others. And in like manner, when we know that, in consequence of having applied to Christ for salvation, we abhor all sin, love the ways of God, and delight in pious company; we have a witness in ourselves, and the testimony of God in his word, that we partake of the gift of righteousness by faith. The clearer this evidence of our new creation appears, the fuller ground of assurance we possess: we are therefore ex. horted, “ to give all diligence to make our calling and “ election sure:” but, without this, all impressions and supposed revelations, declaring our sins to be par. doned, are manifest delusions; for they contradict the express testimony of God in his holy word.
Too many profess the gospel, who give no evidence of this gracious change, and stumble others by their unholy lives: but the text at once cuts off such men's pretensions; and the reproach ought to rest on them. selves, and not on the holy doctrines which they disgrace.
But, as “the path of the just shineth more and
more unto the perfect day," I would earnestly and affectionately caution the serious enquirer, not to un. dervalue feeble beginnings; but to take encouragement from them to press forward, in the diligent use of the means of grace; that the change may be rendered more evident, and that he may “ abound in “ hope by the power of the holy Ghost.”'
Let discouraged souls likewise, who feel sin to be their burden, grief, and terror, and who are ready to say to the Saviour, “ Lord, to whom shall I go? thou "hast the words of eternal life:" let such fainting, and feeble minded believers, learn to derive encouragement from their very fears, jealousies, sighs, groans, and tears, because “ of the sin that dwelleth in them;" and “ because they cannot do the things that they
would:” for these are, without doubt, effects and evidences of the new creation.
Finally, my brethren, if you can rejoice in the assurance, that you are partakers of these inestimable benefits; shew your gratitude to God, by endeavouring to communicate the same blessings to your fellow sinners: knowing that his mercy and grace are sufficient for them also; that he makes use of reconciled enemies, as instruments in reconciling others also to himself
; and that he preserves them in life especially for this most gracious purpose.
PSALM ii. 12.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the
way, when his wrath is kindled but a little: blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
WHATEVER were the immediate occasion of this psalm, it evidently contains a most remarkable prophecy concerning Christ, and the divine vengeance to be inflicted on those who opposed the establishment of his kingdom. The Jews were the peculiar objects of the threatened indignation; and they are also the witnesses of the authenticity of those scriptures, in which the prophecy is contained: for by them the old Testament has been preserved; and they now unanimously attest that the psalm before us was written' at least a thousand years before Jesus of Nazareth was born.
It may therefore, be useful in the first place to call your attention, to this remarkable prophecy of things already accomplished, or hastening to an accomplishment.-"Why do the heathen rage, and the people * imagine a vain thing! The kings of the earth stand
up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the “Lord, and against his anointed,” Let us hear the apostles' application of this passage: “for of a truth
against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anoint“ed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gen“ tiles and the people of Israel, were gathered toge
ther, to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel de“ termined before to be done."* These concluding words are well worthy of our notice: as they illustrate the plan of divine providence in the government of the world. We are apt to wonder that wicked men should be permitted to triumph as they often do: not considering that the Lord employs even rebels to fulfit his righteous purposes; and that, contrary to their own intention, they are made the executioners of his vengeance, or used as his chastening rod. Even atheists and infidels, yea, the haughtiest and most selfwilled of his enemies, are permitted to prosper, till they have inflicted condign punishment on sinners, perhaps less criminal than themselves, and then they are consigned to more tremendous vengeance. - Nay, the Lord even makes use of wicked men to accomplish his designs of mercy to the church. Thus the Jewish rulers and priests, with Herod, Pilate, and the people of Israel, though before at enmity with each other, combined together against the Saviour of the world: they thought evil against him and his church, " but the Lord meant it for goodt.” And they could
* Acts, iv. 25-28.
t Gen. 1. 20.