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the law is not obeyed by external observance without the heart.-He has not kept the law. It condemns him in every sentence. He can echo the words of the Psalmist, “Behold thou desirest truth in the inward parts?" "My heart is smitten and withered like grass, so that I forget to eat my bread." Sometimes the intellect is distracted, and he may again repeat the words of David.— "While I suffer thy terrors, I am disturbed." Say, my friends, have you not seen this picture? Have not your minds been agitated, like the troubled sea? Often, such are the effects by the divine Spirit.
V. The Spirit of God convinces man of his opposition to divine sovereignty, to providence, and the government of God.
By the sovereignty of God, I do not mean any supposed arbitrary proceedings, which do not rest on reason and wisdom for their basis. By the sovereignty of God, I intend that independence of wisdom by which he does all his pleasure, and gives not account of any of his matters. Nothing more is or can be intended by any rational christian, than that wisdom of power by which God made and governs the world. He made one star to differ from another in glory. One is beautiful to the naked eye; another can be seen only by a powerful telescope. Angels are more glorious than men. Men differ in genius, in science, in felicity, and honor. One is enlight
ened and sanctified, and seems to walk with angels, on the thresh hold of heaven. One is rich and riots in pleasure. Another is poor, and ignorant, and vicious, a brother of dragons, and a child of wrath. One is a savage; another is a saint. The kingdom of God ruleth over all, and of the same lump forms one vessel to honor and another to dishonor.—"Not so," exclaims the aspiring heart of man. find fault?"
"Why doth he yet "I know thee to be "Thy ways are
a hard master." not equal."
In the days of Naaman many lepers were in Israel; yet none were selected by God to be heal ed but this great man. In the time of Elijah many widows were in Israel, the holy land, inhabited by the people of God; yet to none of these was the prophet sent to supply with provision and to relieve from distress; but he was sent to a widow of Zarephath, a pagan region, north from the confines of Israel. When Jesus Christ exhibited these facts, to illustrate the sovereignty of God, and to justify himself, for not performing his usual miracles at Nazareth, the people were provoked to to madness, drove him from the synagogue, and would have hurled him from the precipice which was near their city.
In his sovereign wisdom, God chose Jocob and rejected Esau.Nor am I unwilling to gratify the opponents of the doctrine, by extending this choice to the descend
men of their opposition to the gospel.
ants of Jacob and Esau, for this instead of confining it to one solitary instance, is multiplying the displays of Divine sovereignty to myriads, and millions, and millions of examples. Their wisdom and prudence in such a construction of accomplished. "Propitiation" for
the history, I could never divine. With whom did God take counsel when he passed by all the sages of the law, all the military Chief tains, and from the pastures of Bethlehem, elevated David to the throne of Israel?
While living in pleasure, and regardless of religious truth, a man supposes himself friendly to the divine government, and reconciled to the sovereignty of God; but when "the spirit of God comes" "sin revives" "for by the law is the knowledge of sin." When the holy Spirit strives, man for the first time, perhaps, discovers his alienation from God. He finds himself unwilling, that the purpose of God should be executed, that he should do all his pleasure, that his counsel should stand. He knows, that he does not cordially
The gospel is glad tidings. It is so received by all, who feel rightly or act well. The gospel presents a redemption already
sin has been made. The blood of atonement has been accepted; yet wicked men, bent on establishing a righteousness of their own, refuse this invaluable favor. From such immense obligations; from such entire and absolute dependance, the heart revolts. "What shall I do to inherit eternal life; how shall I render myself worthy the favor of God; how shall I claim the glory of heaven," is the enquiry of the heart.
That the gospel is not acceptable to the wicked is overwhelmingly evident from the incontrovertible facts, that a great portion of the world have rejected the gospel, and where it is most clearly unfolded, only a small portion, cordially embrace its doctrines, or cbey its precepis. The lowest condition of gospel mercy is repentance. All the self love, all the pride, all the obstinacy of the depraved heart, rise up against this duty.— To repent is to be humble. In repenting the man judges and condemns himself. What can be more abhorrent to the heart. Enlightened by the spirit of God, the man discovers this self complacency and self-dependance, this
say, "Not my will, but thine be done." He does not rejoice that God reigns, that he is himself dependent, as the staff in the hand of him, who walketh with it.He is not willing that God should make rich and make poor, that he should choose some to life and leave others in the shadow of death. He complains, he resists, he struggles, like a prisoner in reluctance to repent and trust in chains; like him he is dependent. the mercy of God, this unwillingVI. The Spirit of God convinces ness to be indebted to God him
With all the grace which it reveals the gospel requires men to be holy themselves. To be saved they must be conformed to the Savior. Like him they must deny themselves, be humble and meek, devout and charitable; yet all this will not be admitted as the meritorious cause of their salvation. However, profitable as servants, they have been, they have done no more than their duty, they have conferred no favor.Here, again, the heart complains. "It is a vain thing to call upon God." The conscience, enlightened by the divine Spirit, perceives this restless, complaining temper. The gospel requires obedience; yet demands acceptance as a free gift; it rejects mere external services, requiring faith and holiness of heart; it offers reward of grace and not of debt.
self for pardon and salvation. and cordially obey hirn as a mas. ter. Many are shocked at the sug gestion, that they are the enemies of God. But when the Spirit of God enlightens the conscience, their opinion is changed. Con. templating the divine Being, his holiness, and justice, and power, the man discovers the contrariety of character, the opposition of moral feelings, and that he could not be happy in his immediate presence. Carefully considering the employments of heaven, he is conscious, they would be irksome and tedious. Distinctly, recol. lecting, who constitutes the society of heaven, saints and angels, he is sure, they would not be the companions of his choice. From such friends, he turns away, having no sympathy in the topics of their converse, no harmony with their dispositions. Mingling in such society, engaging in such employment, under the eye of the holy God, would never rouse his active powers, never awaken the raptures of his heart, never swell the highest notes of his song.
seems hard to the aspiring heart; the gracious gospel seems not a gospel of grace; but a system of hard sayings. Hence so many Laborers in the vineyard of the Lord find their message rejected, and utter the melancholy complaint, "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"
VII. The Spirit of God convinces men of their aversion to the glories of heaven.
No doubt men, generally believe, that they desire and long for the joys of heaven; that they take delight in the goodness of God; that they love him as a father,
He flies from such a place.Whither shall he go? Whither turn himself for help and comfort? What shall he do? Gladly would he remain in this world; gladly world he enjoy his immortality in this vale of tears; but here, he cannot stay. The sentence has been pronounced; the wages of sin is death; his moments are flying, his sands are falling; the king of terrors is approaching; his grave is opening.
Looking forward, he exclaims, Mahometan Paradise, a region of "Who can dwell with devouring perpetual spring, of flowery gar
fire, with everlasting burnings?" He clings to life, his cup of anguish is full; no sorrow is like his sorrow. Now, if ever, he bows, he yields himself a willing captive of Sin revived; and
divine mercy. he dies.
1. We see why men prefer false doctrines to true, a system of error to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The first process in the influence of truth is painful. The first effect of truth is to turn the attention of man to himself, to his own heart, his own moral character. Truth draws the curtain from the naked heart. The lamp of divine truth illumines the dark caverns of the mind, makes manifest its wicked dispositions. The man is disappointed concerning himself; he sinks in his own estimation; he is not so good, so secure, as he had believed himself to be. This is painful, humbling, distressing; he turns away; he recoils from such a view, he wishes for "another gospel." The gospel of Christ requires holiness; it does not accommodate itself to our wish es or passions; but error is indefinitely various; assumes every hue; may be adapted to every taste, to every complexion of human character. God may be represent ed as all mercy, and a holy life a course of pleasant indulgencies.-Heaven may be described as a
dens, and melodious song. The burning lake, whose fires will never be quenched, may he represented, as a transient discipline, or its name and existence* may be de nied, as the dismal creations, the unreal phantoms, of a disturbed imagination. With such pictures what eye, never suffused with the tears of repentance, would not be pleased? Who, that yet rolls sin, as a sweet morsel under his tongue, would not be better pleased with the imaginary gospel, than the real; with the opinions of men, than with the revelation from God? Where then is the wonder that the Teacher of false principles should be more popular, more caressed, more admired, and better rewarded, than he who announces the humbling gospel of Jesus, and calls on men to repent, and trust in a crucified Savior for eternal life; men prefer what gives them present pleasure; false religion has this effect; it produces a spirit of repose and slumber, tho' in the end it will be more terrible than the fiery serpents of the Arabian desert. Still would they submit to the convictions of the Holy Spirit, tho' alarmed and distressed for a moment, they might be enlightened and sanctified, comforted and delighted; the very gospel of Christ would become their support, their hope, their joy, their glory.
*See Balfour's Inquiry.
2. The subject leads us to distinguish between mere terrors of conscience, and conviction of sin by the spirit of God. This is an error not uncommon men imag ine they have exper enced the influences of the Holy Spirit in a remarkable manner; because they have been alarmed, and their af fections powerfully moved. For a time they were concerned; they were distressed; they wept, and refused to be comforted. It may reasonably be expected, that where the doctrine of future punishment is believed, that pathetic and terrible descriptions of its miseries, that terrible events of Providence, or even the self reproach of daring sin, will produce such effects on a feeling heart and a tender conscience; but here may be nothing spiritual, nothing religious, any more than in the tears of a tragedy, or the terrors of an earthquake. Yet many individuals, and perhaps some whole sects, on account of such animal affections, believe that they have in a remarkable degree the influences of the Holy Spirit. Hence are adopted all the modes of excite ment, which art or enthusiasm can invent, alarming the fears, rousing the terrors, inflaming the passions, and bewildering the imagination, by affecting tones, by violent vociferation, by terrific descriptions of the moving scene, round a dying bed, or the pomp and splendors of the great day, the descending Judge, the sounding trump, the rising dead, & all the horrors of ever
lasting burnings. By such address_ es anxiety and fear are awakened; but is the judgement informed? The passions are moved; but is the conscience convinced? The heart is palsied with terror; but is the understanding enlightened. The winds blow and the rocks are rent; but do you hear one whisper of the Holy Spirit?
Truth is the medium of divine operations; the Holy Spirit breathes in the gentle voice of gospel doctrine, convincing the soul of sin; because the Savior is rejected, his laws disobeyed.Hence may we learn to distinguish between the disturbance of the passions, and the convictions of the conscience by the Holy Spirit. Mere excitement passes away, like the brook of a summer's shower, having produced only a temporary reformation, resulting from ag itation and distress. The Divine Spirit is permanent in his effects, as the shining of the sun, increasing like the river of the distant mountains, conveying comfort, cheerfulness, joy and glory.
We learn from the subject, why so many persons deny the doctrine of man's depravity; why so many never view themselves so wicked, as this subject represents them to be.
The Spirit of God has not convinced them; his light has not ilminds. Having lumined their some information from various other sources, they confess, they are not precisely what they ought to be, that they are not what they