« السابقةمتابعة »
It is to the fame thing that I cannot help attributing the practice, that fo univerfally prevailed over the heathen world, before the coming of Chrift, of offering sacrifices, to appeafe the wrath of the deity, fuppofed to be offended. That the cuftom of facrificing prevailed very generally, perhaps univerfally among the heathen nations, at the greateft diftance from, and having no correfpondence with each other, is a certain and unquestionable fact. Neither do I fee to what cause we can ascribe it, unless to one of these two; either an ancient tradition, from the beginning of the world, and fpread with the inhabitants through the feveral parts of it, as they feparated and peopled it; or to the common condition of human nature, which dictated the fame thing to perfons in fuch diftant places.
If the first of thefe fuppofitions is embraced, which indeed I fuppofe to be the truth, it appears that facrifices were appointed by God to man in his fallen ftate, for the pardon of fin, and that they had reference to the great propitiatory facrifice of Chrift upon the cross.
If we prefer the laft fuppofition, it would feem as if the confcioufnels of guilt had uniformly prompted men in all ages and nations, to offer up fome atonement for their of fences. In both cafes, it equally ferves to prove the corruption and finfulness of human nature.
Now, as what hath been faid, plainly proves the impurity of man in his natural flate, fo his mifery and liablenefs to punishment may also be proved; both as a natural confequence of his finfulness, and even more plainly by itfelf. There is not only a confiderable degree of actual mifery in the world, but plain prefages of more to fol. low it in the world to come. Need I take up much time, in enumerating the feveral miferies and calamities incident to human life? Are not oppreffion and injury from one another, poverty, sickness, pain and death, the plain fruits of fin, and vifible tokens of God's difpleafure? Man with fome marks of fuperiority and excellence of nature, is even, by means of his fuperiority, his knowledge, and forefight of his own fufferings, more miferable, than any other of the creatures, that is equally fubject to the ftroke of death.
To the whole, I fhall only fubjoin one confideration more, which is applicable to both parts of the argumentI have often thought, that the natural terror and fear, with which men are possest of the presence of God, or any remarkable token of his power, is nothing else but an indication of guilt, or an apprehension of wrath.
You may fee fome incidents in fcripture, from which it is natural to conclude, that when God makes any vifi. ble manifeftation of his glory, or fends any of his angels or minifters from heaven to earth; thofe who are present, are filled with the utmost dread and terror.
Thus in the relation given of God's appearance upon Mount Sinai, it is faid; "And fo terrible was the fight, "that Mofes faid, I exceedingly fear and quake." See another example, in Ifaiah-" Then faid I, woe is me, "for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips; "for mine eyes have feen the King, the Lord of Hofis." And in the New Teftament, in the apofile John—“ And "when I faw him, I fell at his feet as dead."
And is not this always the cafe, in all ages, that upon any remarkable appearance of an inhabitant of the other world, or even when any fuch thing is falfely apprehended, the inhabitants of this world are filled with extraordinary terror? What is this do you imagine, but confcioufnefs of guilt, and apprehenfion of vengeance?
Innocence has no enemy, and it has nothing to fear. We are all in much the fame cafe with Adam, immedi ately after his firft tranfgreffion; when he heard God's voice in the garden, he was afraid, and fled, and hid himself—We read of no fuch fear poffeffing him, while he retained his innocence, but as foon as he had finned, he began to dread an avenging God.
From all this then, I would conclude, that reafon accords with fcripture, in faying, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God: that man in a natural ftate, is wretched and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
AVING in a former difcourfe, proved, and illuftrated this truth; that all mankind are by nature in a state of fin and mifery, under the bondage of corruption, and liable to the wrath of God I proceed now to the second thing propofed, which was to fhew you, that being brought to a lively fenfe and genuine conviction of this, is the first, and a necessary step to the faving knowledge of God in Christ.
On this, I fhall not need to spend much time, as it is fo exceedingly plain, both in itself, and from what hath been already faid-It is however neceffary to fet it clearly before you, in order to lay a foundation for the improvement of the subject.
If the doctrine of Chrift, and of him crucified, proceeds upon the fuppofition of our finful and miferable condition by nature; then surely, it can neither be valued, embraced, nor improved; and indeed, I think hardly underflood, by those who know not this their natural state.
What Chrift hath done, and promifes to do in our behalf, is defigned as a remedy for our diftreffed condition; and therefore, till the diftrefs is known, the remedy will be fet at nought. If a phyfician fhould offer his care and fkill for the recovery of a man, who efteemed himself in perfect health, would he not deride the propofal, fo long as he continued in that opinion? If any man fhould offer a charitable fupply of clothes and food, to one who imagined himfelf immenfely rich, and gloried in his riches; would he not look upon it as the groffeft infult?
Juft fo is the gofpel treated, by all fuch as fee not their mifery. What is the fubftance of the gofpel? To you 'O men, I call, and my voice is to the fons of men. 'Behold! I preach to you Chrift crucified, a Saviour
fuited to your neceffities, able to fave to the uttermost 'all that come to God through him. He is well fitted to 'be a mediator, between you and your offended Maker. He hath offered himfelf up, a facrifice to the juftice of God for your fins, by the merit of which, you may be faved from deferved and impending ruin. He offers 'himself as a guide, to direct your feet in the way of peace -to ftand by you in the difficulties and dangers to which you are expofed, and to give you by his com'municated ftrength, a complete victory over all your 'enemies.'
What reply doth the unconvinced finner make to all this? Why he faith, I know nothing of this mifery you fuppofe, wherefore then a Saviour? I fee no fin, what neceffity then, for an atonement? I fear no wrath, ⚫ therefore will feek for no Interceffor. therefore I will have no guide. I know of no enemies, ⚫ and therefore, will not enter into contention with a fhadow, or flee when no man purfueth.'
My eyes are open,
Thefe, my brethren, are either directly, or implicitly, the thoughts of men, in a fecure and unconvinced ftate; and while they are fo, they can fee no form nor comeliness in the Saviour, nor any beauty, that they fhould defire him.
It is otherwife with the broken in fpirit. He fees his own vilenefs and unworthinefs, and therefore cannot
lift his eyes to God, but through the atoning blood of Chrift. He fears the avenger of blood, and therefore flees to the city of refuge-The meflage of the gofpel is to him indeed glad tidings of great joy, and he counts it a faithful faying and worthy of all acceptation.
The juftice of this reprefentation you may fee, from what our Saviour himself fays of the end of his coming. "They that be whole need not a phyfician, but they that "are fick: But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will "have mercy and not facrifice; for I am not come to call "the righteous, but finners to repentance."
See alfo the terms of his invitation. "Come unto me "all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give "you reft."
Appetite, and knowledge of neceffity, is firft required, or fuppofed, to the beftowing of Gofpel bieffings-" Ho! "every one that thirfteth, come ye to the waters."
I fhall only add, that we find by the inftances recorded in fcripture, of fuch as were converted by the preaching of the gofpel; that their converfion took its rife from conviction of fin-" Now when they heard this, they were "pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter, and to the "reft of the apoftles, men and brethren, what fhall we " do?" See alfo the inftance of the jailor-" Then he "called for a light, and fprang in, and came trembling, "and fell down before Paul and Silas: And brought them "out, and faid firs, what muft I do to be faved?"
Repentance unto life, and the return of the finner to God, proceeds from the fame caufe, in every age. Who are the perfons who believingly apply to Chrift for the pardon of their fins, but those who fee they are undone without him? Who are the perfons in whofe eyes he is most precious, and who maintain the most habitual dependance upon him? Are they not those who have been most effectually humbled, and fee their own infufficiency for any thing that is good?
From all this I conclude, that none can come to Chrift by faith, but those who see themselves to be wretched, and miserable, and blind, and naked.