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God will create a new light for you to read by in the night, as that he will enlighten you without the established means, without prayer, and the word and sacraments. And therefore whenever you are tempted to entertain such hopes, be assured it is a delusion of the devil's, and beware at the peril of your souls, lest the light which you suppose to be in you be darkness : for 6 remember it is written, Woe be unto them, that put “ darkness for light, and light for darkness.” In order to keep clear of this woe, let us wait in the use of the appointed means, and then we may with truth and soberness expect, that Christ will enlighten us with all saving truth, and particularly with a full and practical conviction of that great truth, which I proposed to consider in the second place, viz. That Jesus Christ is the foundation of all acceptance with God the Father.
The same sinfulness which darkened the faculties of the soul, and separated us from God, stirred up his holiness, and justice, and truth against us. Against these attributes we had sinned, and they were become our enemies, and until they received full satisfaction, God the Father would not accept us. He declared under the law that he would accept nothing in atonement but what was perfect, and perfection is not in the sinner. The sacrifices were to be without blemish. This was the standing rule Whatsoever hath a blemish, that 66 shall ye not offer, for it shall not be acceptable 66 for you—and whosoever offereth a peace-offering or “ a free-will offering, it shall be perfect, to be accepted, 6 there shall be no blemish therein.” (Lev. xxii. 20, 21.) This was both to shadow out the absolute perfection of our holy, harmless, and undefiled high-priest, who should by the one offering of himself make a perfect satisfaction for sin, and also to convince the sinner of his utter inability to make any satisfaction: For the sinfulness of his nature, and the sinfulness of his life would render ever thing he could do imperfect and sinful, until he should be accepted in the beloved. Men are not much affected with the sinfulness of their
nature until Christ enlighten them. Sin which first blinded their eyes, by its deceitfulness keeps them blinded. And although the fountaiı of iniquity, the corrupt heart within, is always sending out filthy streams, yet it gives them little uneasiness until the divine light break in, and lay open to view its impurity. Then the sinner finds and confesses, that he is by nature a child of wrath. He freely subscribes to the scripture account of the corruption of mankind, as it is described by Moses and the prophets, and expressly treated of in the 14th and 53d Psalms, upon which St. Paul has given us a comment in the 3d chapter of the Romans, and he sums it up in these emphatical words: “ for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” . .
If any doubt should remain concerning the meaning of these scriptures, our church has removed it in her 9th article, where she determines, that “ original sin 66 standeth not in the following of Adam (as the Pela“ gians do vainly talk) but it is the fault and corrup« tion of the nature of every man, that naturally is en“ gendered of the off-spring of Adam, whereby man is “ very far gone from original righteousness, and is " of his own nature inclined to evil, so that the flesh « lusteth always contrary to the Spirit, and therefore in « every person born into the world it deserveth God's 6 wrath and damnation.” This is a truly scriptural account of man's sinful and guilty state by nature, to which add the sinfulness of his life, and you separate him still farther from God : for what man is he that liveth and sinneth not? And sin is the transgression of the law-and the law is holy, just and good-it is so pure and spiritual, that it cannot overlook the least offence. It must have perfect unerring obedience in thought, word, and deed, or it puts the offender under the curse: for it is written, “ Cursed is every one, « who continueth not in all things that are written in “ the book of the law to do them.” You must continue (without intermission) in all things (not keeping nine commandments and breaking the tenth, not keeping them all outwardly, and breaking them in thought) that are written in the book of the law to do them ; not only to purpose well, and to make good resolutions, but you must also do and execute them, or the law can shew you no mercy. And which of us has kept the law in this perfect manner ? Who can say, that he never offended in thought, word, or deed ? Certainly every mouth must be stopt, and all the world must plead guilty before that righteous judge, who trieth the very hearts and reins.
Now God has already past the decree against a sinful nature, and against a sinful life. « The soul that “ sinneth it shall die.” God is faithful and just to fulfil his decrees-he is almighty to execute them and what can man do under a state of guilt and condemnation to reverse them? Two things are requisite, each of which are as much out of his power as to create a world. He must first change his own nature, which is like the Ethiopian's changing his skin, and he must be renewed in the spirit of his mind with every sweet and holy temper. And then this change wrought by himself must make a full satisfaction to the holiness of God for his past pollution, to the justice of God for the violation of his laws, and to the truth of God, that he may be true, and yet remit the threatened punishment. But alas! man has neither will nor power to change his nature: who can say I have made my heart clean-I am pure from my sin ? No man can truly say, I have done it: : for it is God's work. To create a clean heart, is as great an act, as to create the heart at first; and accordingly we find the prophet praying to God for it 66 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right “ spirit within me.” And until God create a clean heart, how can any thing clean proceed from it? Who in an impure nature can do à pure action ? Who under the curse of the law, and under the sentence of condemnation, can perform a meritorious service ? Who by his own works can attain such perfect unspotted righteousness, that God the Father will accept him in virtue of
it? The scripture hath determined that there is none righteous, no not one, and that by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified ; and our church has determined the same in her articles and homilies, affirming that we are accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and not for our own works or deservings.
· A great part of the mistakes in religion arises from men's not attending to these truths. They have not a deep conviction of their lost estate by nature, which occasions their not seeing in its proper light the necessity of their recovery by grace. The malady of a sinful heart is not painful enough to make them apply to
the sovereign physician: nor is the burden of a sinful - life heavy enough to persuade them to seek the confort of this scripture- Come unto me, all ye that are “ weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” But when conscience alarms them, when guilt terrifies, and they read the sentence of condemnation past upon them in the law, then helpless and miserable in themselves, with transports of joy will they receive the glad tidings of the gospel, which discovers to them how they may be reconciled to an offended God. To such per. sons, whose eyes the Lord has opened to see their guilt and their misery, the gospel sets forth Jesus Christ as the sole foundation of their acceptance. We are said to be accepted in the Beloved, who came in our nature to work out that perfect righteousness for us, which infinite holiness, and justice, and truth required, and which we could not by our own power attain ; but by the merits of his obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection, he is able to clothe us with the immaculate robe of his righteousness, in which we shall be presented before God the Father without spot of sin unto salvation.
It must be always remembered, that our Saviour was God and man united in one Christ; by which union whatever he did and suffered for us became truly divine and infinite. Jesus shed his blood, and the scripture says it was the blood of God, Jesus died for us, and
the scripture says, that God laid down his life. In what sense can these expressions be understood, unless the Godhead and manhood were united in one person? This fundamental doctrine of God's being in Christ reconciling the world unto himself must never be forgot ten, when we are speaking of the merits of Christ's actions and sufferings. Our nature was impure and corrupt, the imaginations of our hearts were only evil continually. Christ came in a pure spotless nature, separate from sinners, that whatever he did for them might appear without blemish before God the Father. He began his ministry with resisting the devil and all his temptations, to atone for our yielding to them; for us he conquered, and from his conquest, grace is derived to the faithful to resist all his temptations. Then he obeyed the law ; its purity, its spirituality, its extensiveness, could find in him no transgression in thought, word, or deed. Its highest demands were answered: for according to its utmost rigour, “ he con6 tinued in all things that are written in the book of the 6 law to do them.” And thus he redeemed us from the curse of the law, and as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Then he humbled him. self to suffer what we ought to have suffered for our disobedience. The holy innocent Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows throughout the scene of his þitter passion. See him on the eve of the crucifixion in the garden, alone, prostrate upon the cold ground, in an extreme sharp night, and lo! at the sight of that load which he was going to take upon him, a preternatural sweat flows through his raiment, and falls to the ground in great drops. Oh cursed sin ! .with what an holy hatred ought we to crucify thee, since the prose pect only of the number and guilt of our sins, and the wrath and vengeance of the Father due to them, forced our blessed Lord to sweat as it were' great drops of blood falling to the ground. Being apprehended, he came as a free, ready victim to bear those sufferings, of