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Contemplate, then, what is placed before us: heaven. Understand what heaven is: a state of happiness after death, exceeding what, without experience, it is possible for us to conceive, and unlimited in duration. This is a reward, infinitely beyond any thing we can pretend to, as of right, as merited, as due. If some distinction between us and others, between the comparatively good and the bad, might be expected on these grourds, not such a reward as this, even were our services, I mean the services of sincere men, perfect. But such services as ours, in truth, are such services as, in fact, we perform, so poor, so deficient, so broken, so mixed with alloy, so imperfect both in principle and execution, what have they to look for upon their own foundation? When, therefore, the scriptures speak to us of a redeemer, a mediator, an intercessor for us; when they display and magnify the exceeding great mercies of God, as set forth in the salvation of man, according to any mode whatever, which he might be pleased to appoint, and therefore in that mode, which the
gospel holds forth, they teach us no other doctrine than that, to which the actual deficiencies of our duty, and a just consciousness and acknowledgment of these deficiencies must naturally carry our own minds. What we feel in ourselves corresponds with what we read in scripture.
THE EFFICACY OF THE DEATH OF CHRIST CON,
SISTENT WITH THE NECESSITY OF A GOOD LIFE: THE ONE BEING THE CAUSE, THE OTHER THE CONDITION OF SALVATION.
ROM. vi. I.
What shall we say then ? shall we continue in. sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.
HE same scriptures, which represent the death of Christ, as having that which belongs to the death of no other person, namely, an efficacy in procuring the salvation of man, are also constant and uniform in representing the necessity of our own endeavours, of our own good works for the same purpose. They go further. They foresaw that in stating, and still more, when they went about to extol and magnify, the death of Christ, as instrumental to salvation, they were laying a foundation for the opinion, that men's own works, their own virtue, their personal endeavours were superseded and dispensed with. In proportion as the sacrifice of the death of Christ was effectual, in the same proportion were these less necessary: if the death of Christ was sufficient, if redemption was complete, then were these not necessary at all. They foresaw that some would draw this consequence from their doctrine, and they provided against it. It is observable, that the same consequence might be deduced from the goodness of God in any way of representing it: not only in the particular and peculiar way, in which it is represented in the redemption of the world by Jesus Christ, but in any other way. St. Paul, for one, was sensible of this; and, therefore, when he speaks of the goodness of God, even in general terms, he takes care to point out the only true turn which ought to be given to it in our thoughts« Despisest thou the riches of his goodness and
forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” as if he had said, — With thee, I perceive, that the consideration of the goodness of God leads to the allowing of thyself in sin: this is not to know what that consideration ought in truth to lead to: it ought to lead thee to repentance, and to no other conclusion.
Again; When the Apostle had been speaking of the righteousness of God displayed by the wickedness of man; he was not unaware of the misconstruction, to which this representation was liable, and which it had, in fact, experienced: which misconstruction he states thus-mm“ We be slanderously reported, and
, some affirm, that we say, let us do evil that good may come.' This insinuation, however, he regards as nothing less than an unfair and wilful perversion of his words, and of the words of other christian teachers: therefore he says concerning those, who did thus pervert them, « their condemnation is just :” they