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pendence, and to cast themselves upon the sovereign grace of God for pardon and eternal life.
2. If good men cannot merit any favor at the hands of God, then the more they grow in grace, the more sensible they will be of their unworthiness of the least mercy.
The more they grow in grace, the more sensible they are of their great imperfection in holiness, and of the great criminality of their imperfection, which seems to increase their humiliation and self-abasement before God. Good men have always found this to be true by their own experience. Job never perhaps grew in grace faster than while he was under the chastening hand of God. And in that situation he had peculiar views of his own unworthiness, notwithstanding all his past love and obedience and submission to God. He says to him, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." David declares, “ I have seen an end of all perfection ; but thy commandment is exceeding broad.” Ezra said, “O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee." But Paul expresses himself the most strikingly upon this subject. He says, “I am less than the least of all saints." The reason of this was, not because he had the least grace, but because he had the most guilt. So he tells us himself. “I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me, was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all.” The more righteous he was, the more he renounced his own righteousness; the more good works he did, the more he renounced his good works; and the nearer he approached to perfect obedience, the further he was from claiming the least merit on account of it. Though he knew that he had more holiness than other saints, yet he was convinced that he had more guilt, and consequently he was less than the least of all saints, in respect to any merit in the sight of God. His demerit absorbed all his merit. He had no claim upon divine justice, but relied alone upon divine mercy. Grace enables good men to see and lament their imperfection and unworthiness, but not to see and boast of their meritorious services. And it will have this effect upon them, not only through this life, but through the boundless ages of eternity. Perfect holiness in heaven will produce a deep sense of perfect unworthiness and ill desert.
3. If good men cannot merit anything at the hand of God, then the doctrine of their final perseverance in grace has no
tendency to make them negligent in duty. Many are very much opposed to the sentiment of Calvinists, that all real saints will never finally fall from grace, but certainly persevere in holiness until they reach the kingdom of heaven. Though this doctrine be plainly revealed in the Bible, and is capable of being fully proved, yet many objections have been raised against it, and among others, the most plausible is, that it tends to licentiousness. The opposers of the doctrine say, that it leads those who embrace it, to neglect their duty, and to imagine their salvation is secure, though they continue to live and die in such negligence. This is not true of good men; for the more goodness they have, the more they are sensible of their great imperfection and ill desert in the sight of God; and the more absolutely they renounce all self-righteousness and self-dependence, in point of justification before God; and the more sincerely and ardently they desire to make advances in a holy and devout life. Though Paul believed the doctrine of
. the final perseverance of saints, yet it served to encourage and quicken him in duty rather than to neglect it. “ Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended : but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." All sincere believers feel as Paul did, and their belief of finally persevering in holiness, tends to make them more holy, instead of less; to make them more watchful, instead of less; and to make them more, instead of less, strict in their obedience to the divine commands. There is no doubt that unrenewed persons, who entertain a false hope of salvation, may abuse the doctrine of the final perseverance of saints to licentiousness, and to fall away from what they once thought was grace in their hearts. It is not strange, therefore, that those who deny the necessity of regeneration, and maintain the doctrine of justification by works, should imagine that the doctrine of the final perseverance of saints tends to licentiousness. For all unholy, unrenewed persons, do love to live in disobedience to God rather than in obedience to him, and choose to be saved in sin rather than from it.
4. If Christians cannot merit any good at the hands of God; then the more obedient they are, the more they feel their need of pardoning mercy, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. For the more they serve God, the more they feel their obligations to serve him; and the more sensible they are of their short-comings in duty, and of their ill-desert on account of their criminal imperfection. Instead of boasting of their
good works, they mourn and lament their daily disobedience, which leads them to trust more and more in the atoning blood of Christ for pardoning mercy at the hands of God. This Paul freely and fully acknowledges to be true concerning himself, notwithstanding all his proficiency in holiness and obedience. Speaking in the name of his fellow Christians he says, “We are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church ; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” The longer Christians live in this world, and the more they grow in grace and are constant in the dis-. charge of duty, the more they renounce all dependence on their own righteousness; and the more absolutely they rely alone upon
the atonement of Christ for forgiving grace: or the more sensibly and constantly they live by faith in Jesus Christ.
5. If real Christians, who are the dutiful and obedient servants of God, dare not depend upon anything they do, to recommend them to the mercy of God; then it is great presumption for sinners to rely upon anything they do, to recommend them to the divine acceptance. All their internal desires and external conduct flow from a carnal mind, which is enmity to God, and therefore highly displeasing to him. If the prayer of the upright, which is his delight, cannot recommend him to pardoning mercy, how much less can the prayer of the wicked, which is an abomination, recommend him to the divine favor ? If the good works of good men cannot merit any favor at the hand of God, then surely the sinful works of sinners cannot recommend them to that sovereign mercy, which they hate and oppose. The impenitent are extremely apt to trust in themselves that they are righteous, and that their conduct is pleasing to God, and that they stand higher in his favor than the penitent. This Christ illustrated in a striking manner, by the parable of the Pharisee and publican. The Pharisee boasted
in his self-righteousness, and despised the poor penitent publican. But the publican, who renounced his own righteousness, and cast himself upon mere unpromised mercy, obtained pardon and acceptance, while the self-righteous, boasting Pharisee was condemned and rejected. Sinners labor in vain and spend their strength for nought, so long as they seek to recommend themselves to God, by their good nature, or by their good works, or by their selfish, insincere, and unsubmissive prayers. They must freely and sincerely renounce all their self-righteousness and self-dependence, before they can accept of mere sovereign mercy upon the self-denying terms of the gospel. The lofty looks of man must be humbled, and the haughtiness of men must be bowed down, before God can be exalted in showing
This subject, therefore, now calls upon selfrighteous sinners in particular, to look into their own hearts to see how they appear in the eyes of a holy God. Though their external conduct shines in the eyes of the world, and in their own eyes; yet their hearts appear infinitely odious and criminal in the sight of a sin-hating God. A clear sight of the plague of your own hearts will prove death to all your selfrighteous hopes, and lay you prostrate at the foot of sovereign mercy. Christ has told you, that "every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." According as you comply, or refuse to comply with this condition of mercy, you will go down to your houses justified, or condemned.
"THEN they that gladly received his word, were baptized."-Acts, ii. 41.
Just before Christ ascended to heaven, he called his eleven disciples together, and “commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.” They obeyed this com
' mand, and retired to Jerusalem, where they abode together, and spent their time in prayers and supplications for the promised presence and influence of the Father, until the day of Pentecost, when “they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and in Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia, about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." While this mixed multitude was in this peculiar situation, the apostle Peter rose up and addressed them in a very pertinent, pathetic, and impressive manner. He charged them with the guilt of crucifying Jesus of Nazareth ; assured them that he was risen from the dead, and had ascended up to heaven, where he would reign until he had made his enemies his footstool. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then