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whether or no you should this moment diately preceding my text, he brings sevrenounce all competitors, and give him eral quotations from the Old Testament the chief room of your hearts. May I writings, which give a very strong and hope you are resolved ? Happy you, melancholy representation of the corrupthrice happy, if you be so! Now you tion and depravity of the human kind. begin to live, your former unworthy be- But lest the Jews should allege that these, havior shall all be forgiven; and that and other passages of the like nature, compassionate Redeemer, who procured were only descriptive of the Gentile nations, sparing mercy for you even when you de- and could not justly be extended to them, spised him, and, by his gracious interposi- whom God had chosen from the rest of tion, hath kept you alive till this hour, the world, and set apart for himself as his will not reject your penitent, believing peculiar inheritance; he judged it proper souls, but will accept your esteem and love, to remind them, that the sacred books, though late; and, in return, will bestow from which he had taken the above descripupon you all the enriching benefits of his tion, were primarily addressed to the Jews, purchase. But if any of you shall justify and designed for their instruction and use; your former contempt, and resolve to per- We know, says he, that what things sosist in it, I must declare the righteous sen- ever the law saith, it saith to them who tence of God; and I shall do it in the are under the law; consequently these words of John the Baptist (John iii. 36.) quotations, which are all expressly con“ He that believeth not the Son, shall not tained in the law, may and ought to be see life; but the wrath of God abideth on considered as a just representation of the him." Let my counsel therefore be ac- state of those to whom that law or revelaceptable unto you. " Seek the Lord while tion was given. And he further adds, that he is yet to be found, and call upon him they were inserted in Scripture for this while he is near. Kiss the Son, lest he very purpose, that the plea of innocence be angry, and ye perish from the way; for being taken away from the Jews as well if once his wrath be kindled but a little, as from the Gentiles, every mouth might then shall it be found that they," and they be stopped, and thus all the world might only,“ are blessed who put their trust in become guilty before God. From which
words, as they stand connected with the apostle's reasoning, we learn, in the
First place, That it is extremely diffi
cult to bring men to a proper sense and SERMON VI.
acknowledgment of their guilt and misery.
I hope none will be so unreasonable as THH LAW'S SUBJECTS.
to require a labored proof of this observaROMANS III. 19.—Now we know, that what things tion; for you will easily perceive that I
soever the law saith, it saith to them who are can have no other witnesses to produce under the law; that every mouth may be but yourselves. I affirm that it is so upon stopped, and all the world may become guilty the authority of Scripture; and can only before GOD
appeal to your own hearts for the truth of THE great design of this epistle is to it. Besides, none will deny this who are lead men to Christ, as the only refuge for already convinced of their guilt and misperishing sinners: and because none will ery; for this is an essential property of value a remedy but they who feel their real conviction, that the deeper it is, it disease, and wish for health, the apostle renders the person still more sensible of therefore, in the two foregoing chapters, the natural hardness of his heart; so that examines the condition both of Gentiles nothing grieves him so much, as that he and Jews; under which denominations, cannot grieve more for sinping against the whole posterity of Adam are included; God: And they who are of an opposite and proves by plain, undeniable facts, that character, who boast, " That they are rich, all, without exception, are guilty before and increased with goods, and standing in God, and consequently, that all stand in need of nothing;” such persons, I say, need of a Saviour. In the verses imme- prove the truth of this observation, by
demanding a proof of it, and are them- | has got beneath him some empty forms of selves examples of the thing they deny. duty, upon which he leans, and confidently
I know it is an easy matter to bring presumes that all shall be well with him. men to a general acknowledgment that I have frequently observed, that no they are sinners. Many are ready enough sermons are so tasteless to many hearers to confess this much, who, at the same as those which treat of the Saviour: they time, have a very good opinion of their can listen to other subjects; but when we state : for though they cannot lay claim talk of Jesus Christ, and of that great to perfect innocence, yet they look upon salvation "which angels desire to look their guilt as a very trivial thing, and im- into," they dismiss their attention, and agine that their vices are more than over- perhaps make a shift to sleep in their balanced by the virtues they are possessed seats; when, God knows, were they aware of; and thus, “ being ignorant of God's of the thousandth part of their danger, righteousness," or of that righteousness they would find it difficult enough to sleep which is necessary to justify a sinner in on their beds. Did we really see ourselves the sight of God, "they go about to estab- in a just light, could we divest ourselves, lish their own righteousness, and will not for a little, of our pride and prejudice, submit themselves unto the righteousness till we got one serious and impartial view of God.''
of our natural condition, this would renPride is the hereditary disease of our der a Saviour so necessary, that we should natures: we derive it from our first pa- never be at rest till we had secured his rents; and though it is subdued in all friendship: But as our Lord himself hath who are sanctified, yet still it lives within told us "they that are whole have no need them, and is always the last part of the of the physician, but they that are sick." old man that dies. Nay, it is apt to grow I shall therefore proceed to show, in the upon the ruin of other sins, as we see in Sccond place, That all men, without exthat noted instance of the Pharisee, who, ception, are guilty before God; and that under the specious pretext of thanking whoever attends to the Scriptures of truth, God for his grace, went up into the tem- or gives ear to the testimony of his own ple merely to give vent to his self-admi. conscience, may soon discover such plain ration: “God," said he, “I thank thee convincing evidence of guilt, as is sufficient that I am not as other men are, extor- to stop his mouth, and to render him tioners, unjust, adulterers; I fast twice a speechless and self-condemned in the week, Í pay tithes of all that I possess." presence of a just and holy God. This Wbat he said might be true; nay, our proposition is perfectly consistent with the Lord seems plainly to admit that it was former; for the difficulty of bringing men so : yet he tells us, that this vainglorious to a right sense and acknowledgment of creature carried nothing away with him their guilt and misery, doth not arise from but his self-conceit: he returned to his any want of evidence, but is purely owing own house without the blessing of God; to their own inattention and pride. The “For every one that exalteth himself sad truth is clear as noonday; but they shall be abased; whereas he that humbleth shut their eyes, and will not see it. himself shall be exalted.'
As the testimony of Scripture is full This, my brethren, is one main cause and explicit, so the short abstract conwhy the preaching of the gospel hath so tained in the foregoing verses speaks upon little effect. Could we bring men to a this head with the utmost possible preci. sense of their guilt and misery, they would sion. « There is none righteous, no, not gladly listen to the tidings of a Šaviour. one. There is none that understandeth, But this is difficult work indeed. We can there is none that seeketh after God. scarcely persuade the most profligate They are all gone out of the way, they wretch to think himself in danger, till are together become unprofitable, there is God lay his hand upon him, and set death none that doeth good, no, not one. Their before his eyes. Judge, then, how hard throat is an open sepulchre; with their a task it must be, to convince the more tongues they have used deceit; the poison close and reserved sinner! who probably of asps is under their lips: whose mouth
is full of cursing and bitterness. Their sent calamitous state of mankind, in a feet are swift to shed blood. Dertsuction consistency with these perfections, upon and misery are in their ways; and the any other supposition than this, that "all way of peace have they not known. There have sinned,” and thereby incurred his is no fear of God before their eyes." And righteous displeasure. So that you sec these things, the apostle informs us, were there is no penury of witnesses upon this written not merely to stop the mouths of head. The Scriptures expressly declare some notorious offenders, who proclaim that all are sinners; the most eminent their sins as Sodom, and hide them not; saints under both dispensations have atbut that every mouth might be stopped, tested the truth of this assertion; and the and all the world become guilty before many awful tokens of the divine displeaGod. Accordingly, at the 23d verse of sure, which we daily behold and feel, renthis chapter, he concludes upon the
whole der it absurd to suppose the contrary. evidence in the following words: “For all But there is yet another witness behind, have sinned, and come short of the glory whose testimony can be liable to no objecof God.”
tion; a witness which every man will find This truth hath been attested by the within his own breast; I mean Conscience, most eminent saints that ever lived upon to which I now appeal for the truth of earth. “Behold I was shapen in iniquity," this matter. And here I shall renew the said David, " and in sin did my mother question which Solomon proposed many conceive me;
and therefore he pleads in ages ago : “Who can say, I have made another place, "Enter not into judgment my heart clean, I am pure from my sins ? " with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight Can you discover nothing amiss in your shall no man living be justified." “We temper and practice? Do they in all are all as an unclean thing," said the pro- points agree with the rule of God's word ? phet Isaiah, “and all our righteousnesses Dare any of you appeal to the justice of are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a God for acquittal ? and claim happiness as carried us away.” Neither have the O man! has thou no need at all of pardonsaints under the New Testament dispen- ing mercy ? Wilt thou give it under thy sation been any whit behind them in hand, that thou shalt never plead the penitent acknowledgments of their guilt. merits of a Saviour for thy justification ? Paul styles himself “the chief of sinners;' that at the hour of death, or in the day of and the beloved disciple declares, in ex- judgment, thou shalt never once implore press terms, that all pretensions to inno- his help, nor cry for mercy, but stand upon cence are not only false but blasphemous: the foundation of thy personal righteous“If we say that we have no sin, we de ness before his impartial tribunal ? Or ceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." rather, my brethren, are you not conscious Nay,"if we say that we have not sinned, of innumerable instances of guilt, wherein we make God a liar, and his word is not you have acted in direct opposition, not in us."-1 John i. 8, 9.
only to the written law, but to the inward This further appears from the various sense and authority of your own minds; kinds of misery which abound in the world, doing what ye knew was displeasing to especially death, from which none
from which none of God; and that, not by the mere force of Adam's posterity are exempted. These sudden temptation, but coolly and delibdo necessarily suppose guilt; for it is not erately, in the face of those arguments agreeable to the justice of God to afflict which ought, in all reason, to have reand punish innocent creatures. Now, this strained you from them? I think I may mean of conviction is so plain and obvious, venture to affirm, that there is not one that a man must do great violence to his person here present who is not able to reason before he can resist the evidence it recollect several instances of this kind; affords. Goodness and justice are attri- and if our own blind and partial hearts do butes which are universally considered as now condemn us,* alas ! how shall we most essential to the Supreme Being; and justify ourselves at the bar of that God yet it is impossible to account for the pre- who is greater than our hearts, and
knoweth all things ?” This leads me to smallest deviation subjects the transobserve, in the
gressor to the justice of God, and to all Third place, That one great end of the the fatal effects of his indignation, both in law is, to humble the pride of men; that, this life and in that which is to come. from a conviction of their guilty and mis- Now, this being the case, it is easy to erable estate by nature, they may, as it discern the subserviency of the law to the were, be compelled, by a happy necessity, gospel; or, in cther words, the use of the to flee for relief to the gospel method of law to lead men to the Saviour. The law salvation through Christ.
discovers sin, and at the same time deThis important truth is directly as- mands an unsinning obdience. None of serted by the apostle, in my text, and fre us can plead innocence, and the law adquently repeated in other parts of his mits of no excuse for guilt; nay, it is not writings. Nay, the principal scope of only silent as to the doctrine of forgivethis epistle is, to call off tlie Jews from ess, which might leave some
room for any dependence upon their own righteous conjecture and hope, but in plain and awness, by giving them a fair representation ful words pronounces the sentence of of the spirituality, extent, and rigor of death, and dooms to irremediable punishthe law; that, finding themselves unable ment all the workers of iniquity without either to answer its demands, or to endure exception. Thus the sinner is “bound its curse, they might thankfully embrace hand and foot," as it were, “and cast into the Lord Jesus Christ, who is indeed prison;" his mouth is stopped, and noth" the end of the law for righteousness to ing remains for him but either to continue every one that believeth.” And the sub- in misery, and bear the curse of God for serviency of the law to the gospel, or the ever; or else to appeal from the law to use of the law to lead men to the Saviour, the gospel, and to claim the benefit of will evidently appear, if we consider, that indemnity which Christ hath pur
That the law demands nothing less than chased with his blood, and freely offers a perfect, unsinning obedience to all its pre- to all who, condemning themselves, and cepts. It makes no manner of allowance renouncing their own righteousness, flee to for the infirmities of men; for “whosoever him as their hope and city of refuge. shall keep the whole law, and yet offend From all which we may conclude, in the in one point," in the eye of the Lawgiver, Fourth and last place, That every apol“is guilty of all.” It declares what is due ogizing sinner who opens his mouth in his to God by his creatures, and insists upon own vindication, doth impiously give God the payment of it even to the uttermost the lie, and exclude himself from the offarthing. In the law, strictly considered, fers of his mercy and grace; whereas the there is no provision or promise of pardon humble, self-condemning sinner lies, so to the guilty; on the contrary, it denounces to speak, in the very road of mercy, and condemnation and wrath against all trans- shall, through faith in Christ Jesus, obgressors of what kind soever; for thus it tain salvation with eternal glory. is written, “ Cursed is every one who con- This inference is so just and obvious, tinueth not in all things which are written that it scarcely needs any illustration. in the book of the law to do them." It For if “ all are sinners," and if this be is not enough to do some things which are one great end of the law, to bring men to commanded; we must do them all: nor a sense and acknowledgment of their guilt, is it even sufficient that we do all things that they may be compelled to flee to for a season; we must also continue in Christ Jesus for relief; what foolish, them, otherwise we forfeit the divine self-destroying creatures must those be, friendship, and become liable to the wrath who, in despite of the clearest evidence, of an infinitely just and omnipotent God. and in flat contradiction to the only meThis is the genuine voice of the law, “Do thod of deliverance and hope, will offer to and live; " but the soul that sinneth babble in their own defence ?
What can shall surely die.” It knoweth no middle you propose by this conduct, O sinners! sentence between these two; it doth not God puts it to your choice, as it were, whisper ono word of mercy; but the at what court you would be tried,
whether you will plead at the tribunal of the world with the doctrine of repentance; justice or of mercy? If you penitently in like manner, the Holy Spirit prepares acknowledge your guilt, and cry for mer the heart for the reception of the same cy through the great Mediator, he is in glorious Redeemer, by such painful and finitely more willing to bestow it upon humbling convictions, as to render him you, than you can be to ask it of him; but both necessary and desirable to the soul : you proudly insist in your own vindica- And therefore it ought to be matter of
you extenuate your guilt, or de- joy and thankfulness to the sinner, when pend upon any thing in yourselves for God smites his heart with a sense of sin; pardon and acceptance, you thereby incur of such sickness, it may be truly said, the rigor of the law; you "shall have“ This sickness is not unto death, but for judgment without mercy,” and “Jesus the glory of God.” Hereby, as it were, Christ can profit you nothing."
he dislodges his enemies, and empties the Be persuaded, then, my dear friends, soul of every other guest, that he may as the proper improrement of all that has come and fill it with his own gracious prebeen said, “ to humble yourselves present. sence. ly under the mighty hand of God, that Lift up your heads, then, O trembling you may be exalted in due time." See sinners ! look forward but a very little and acknowledge your guilt and unworthi- way, and you may see to the end of that that
you may not be finally condemn. dark valley through which you are now ed with thie world ; and beg of God that passing. This road became necessary afhe may search and try you, and make you ter man's apostasy; and it is the kind. thoroughly acquainted with your real con-ness, not the anger, of your heavenly Fadition; that, finding yourselves "wretched, ther, that hath brought you into it. Had and miserable, and poor, and blind, and your destruction been pleasing to him, he naked," you may repair, without delay, to would have suffered you to walk, without that all-sufficient Saviour, “whose blood disturbance, in the broad way that leads cleanseth from all sin,” and of who is to destruction : but by alarming your fears, made of God, unto all who believe on him, he plainly intends to prevent your ruin; wisdom and righteousness, and sanctifica- and the present taste he hath given you of tion, and redemption."
the bitterness of sin, is graciously meant to As for you upon whom the law hath al. divorce your hearts from the love of it, ready had its effect, who are weary and and to render the remedy wbich he offers, heavy laden with the burden of sin, be more welcome and precious in your esteem. not discouraged ; the seeds of consolation --For, let it be observed, as a further are sown in your griefs; this weeping ground of encouragement, that the gospelnight shall ere long be succeeded by a joy call is particularly addressed to persons ful morning; and “ upon you who” thus of this character: “ Come unto me,” says “fear his name, shall the Sun of right- the blessed Jesus, "all ye that labor and eousness” shortly " arise with healing in are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." his wings;" for this gracious temper is And herein he exactly fulfils the appoint. the peculiar work of the Spirit of God; it ment of his Father, and acts in the most is he who brings the light into the soul, perfect conformity to the commission he whereby its natural deformity is seen; it received from him; of which we have a is he who casts down those proud imagi- fair copy, (Isaiah lxi
. at the beginning :) nations which exalt themselves against “ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, God, and hide from the sinner his poverty because the Lord hath anointed me to and wretchedness: and it is this divine preach good tidings to the week; he hath Spirit, who, by the ministry of the law, re- sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to moves those false grounds of hope upon proclaim liberty to the captives, and the which the sinner was accustomed to lean, opening of the prison to them that are and obligeth him to ask that interesting bound.". From this passage it plainly apquestion, " What shall I do to be saved ? pears, that humble, convinced souls are As John Baptist prepared the way for his peculiar charge: he is the physician, Christ's public appearance, by rousing not of the whole, but of the sick ; not of