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the evil of his nature, we do say, in prescribing works, we supersede that the likelihood of the regenera- | faith. The very desire after convertion of the latter, is infinitely greater sion, pre-supposes faith. If a man than that of the former. We admit do not believe in the coming wrath, tbat, if a man reform his life under he can have no wish for a change that the idea that the reform is merito- is to secure him against the outbreak rious, he may possibly be no nearer of that wrath; and in exhorting him conversion ; but if he attempt to unto an immediate and undeferred reform, simply as a condition or fighting against sin, we exhort him preliminary, he shall, surely, be to bring his faith into practice. How thereby brought unto greater fitness then can it be said, that we take for the reception of grace; and yet the away from justification, or rather grace when it comes, if it come, shall from salvation, the character of being have lost none of its characteristics, wholly through faith? but still be grace the very freest and We have but one more remark to the most undeserved. This is all that offer in reply to the objections that we plead for. He who prays, and may be urged against our statement. at the same time wrestles against You think it a matter of prime imsin, seems to us in a fairer way of portance, and so it is, that men should conversion, than he who prays and be taught their own nothingness and at the same time still continues in incapacity. You further think, that sin. We can, therefore, find no in- | an immediate call upon them to refringement of the truth that salva- form themselves, implies the possestion is God's work, in the prescrip- sion of ability, and is therefore caltion that he who wishes to have his culated to lead them away from the heart renewed, should labour to re- doctrine of man's moral nothingform his heart.
We are directly at issue with Again, salvation is a thing of faith, you on this point. We hold that a and not of works. If, however, we practical proof, will always vastly place works at its very outset, do carry it over a theoretical ; and the inwe not deteriorate somewhat from dividual who goes out into the arena the power and necessity of faith ? of life, and makes an effort in his own Quite the reverse. We are address- strength to overthrow evil, will be ing ourselves to the unconverted man, an hundred fold better taught the who professes a wish to become con- moral decripitude of man, by the verted, and we prescribe to him, re- little progress that he makes, or the formation of conduct. If he follow defeat that he sustains, than another the prescription, and if he give might who sits down in his closet and seeks and main to repress the outward to ascertain his native insufficiency workings of evil, what sustains him? by throwing his power into a balance, I reply, faith, and nothing but faith. or computing it by a process of maHe has faith, first of all, in the ne- thematical calculation. By such a cessity of regeneration ; he has faith, step in the prescribed reform, a man secondly, in the truth, that if salva- will learn more and more his need of tion is near, there must be a keeping assistance. This, again, will increase of judgment and a doing of justice. his earnestness in prayer, and thus, All then that he does, when he places instead of making him self-confident, himself vigorously to the external re- it will teach him his own inability, formation, is to prove that he has and lead him, more than any other, faith. It is not, therefore, true, that to the seeking of God's Spirit.
But we see not that the statements from the corruptions of practice, may we have advanced, require to be further never be wrought into a godly resecured against misrepresentations. pentance, and never lay hold on the We have shown you that they are in mercies of the atonement. every sense scriptural, harmonizing It is a great thing in preaching to with the directions and the doctrines of give men a direction they can instantly the Bible; and we conclude, therefore, follow. Nothing else leaves them that the counsel which should be given inexcusable; and we fear that not to the unconverted man, visited with unfrequently, after a long course of a desire of conversion, is just that of faithful and laborious preaching, the our text, modified so as to meet his great mass of a congregation remain profession or his circumstances, but as far off from God as at first, and still constructed on the well ascer- that, from a want of distinctness of tained principle, that a reformed life preaching as far as the duties of the is a mighty advance towards a re- unconverted are concerned.
We newed heart. We go all lengths press home upon you the necessity with the assertion, that the only re- of prayer, repentance, and faith. But formation which is of worth in God's it is idle to deny that prayer, sight, is that which springs from re- pentance, and faith all pre-suppose generation; but we oppose ourselves that some step has been already taken, to the mistake, that there is no re- and some superhuman help already formation which may precede rege- attained ; and thus, through not beneration, or which may be available ginning at a sufficiently low point, as preparing men for the reception we gain no hold on hundreds and of grace.
We are as persuaded as thousands, but send them from the we can be of a demonstrated truth, sanctuary with an increased stock of and because it is orthodox doctrine, speculative divinity, but with no well that it does not lie with man to give defined practical course, on which up the radical iniquity of an alienated they have the power of immediately heart; and also we take as orthodox entering. doctrine, that it does lie with man We think, however, that none of to curb the iniquity of an unholy you can escape from this present dislife ; and it is to this that we would course. We have been definite enough set ourselves earnestly and strenu- and personal enough. No man can ously. You might as soon handle the depart and say, he sees not what there sun, and read the stars, as change the is for him to do, unless he can say, he heart. But there may be a bold and knows of nothing in his conduct which uncompromising effort to overtake the requires to be amended. If you all wickedness of the life; and what we wish to be saved, then, at once, we contend for is, that the man who is set you all at work. You need grace making this effort, under the impres--regeneration-conversion! As far sion that he may thereby be clearing as the east is from the west, high as away obstacles to the reception of the the heavens are from the earth, are Spirit-for which all the while he is those sublime and mysterious things diligently praying-we contend that removed from the purchase or persuch a man is just in the position the formance of men; nevertheless we Bible describes, as not far from the summon you to activity. We require kingdom of heaven; whilst another of you an outward reformation, if you who will talk most orthodoxly of the cannot give yourselves an inward. corruptions of nature, and yet not keep We will hear nothing of the false and sophistical speech, “I cannot rege- 1 of you that you be neglectful of none nerate myself, and therefore I must of those means of grace which God wait till God is pleased to regenerate has ordained. Prayer must be atme." We tell you what you cannot tempted. You must at least pray do, you may prevent. God stands that you may pray. The Bible must at the door, and knocks. Do you be studied. If there are whole chapexpect to hear him amid that din of ters that ye understand not, there conflicting passions ? Then hush ye may be verses and lines that ye do. that din of conflicting passions. The And though we invite not to the holy Holy Spirit is ready to enter and table of the Lord, those who are living dwell in your soul's chamber. Do in unrestrained sin, yet if a man be Tou expect the divine guest to reside striving against evil, we invite, yea, amidst the fumes and vapours of a entreat him to approach. The Sacradominant sensuality? Then bridle was instituted as a channel that sensuality: The Redeemer has through which the required help might lifted up the cross, and calls you to
We obey as well by use of look to him, and be saved. Do you instituted means, as by the correction expect to behold him in the haunts of of habits of unrighteousness. If the dissipation, or the heights of ambition, precept, “ Keep ye judgment and do or the hoards of avarice? Then aban- justice,” is fulfilled, we shall have a don your haunts of dissipation, come good hope in respect to every one of down from heights of ambition, and quit you, that “ the salvation which is your hoards of avarice. Each man has near” would actually be brought his besetting sin, and therefore each home, “and the righteousness which man has a prescribed duty. If he is at hand” be effectually applied.--hope for conversion, the whole rests Amen. with external reform. We require
DELIVERED BY THE REV. R. B. EXTON,
AT ST. PETER's, WALWORTH, ON SUNDAY EVENING, DECEMBER 23, 1832,
Isaiah li. 6.-" Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: the
heavens shall ranish away like smoke, and the earth shall war old like a garment, and they that duell therein shall die in like munner: but my salvation shull be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.”
Isalah is very properly styled the A perusal of a few of the chapters Evangelical Prophet, because of his preceding this, will shew with what reclear testimony to the coming of the gular propriety the inspired teacher Messiah, his kingdom, and his office. has introduced the advent of the Indeed, a great portion of his pro- Messiah to the afflicted church and pbecies relating to Christ are given people of God. Israel was then as if from the lips of the Redeemer groaning under the Babylonish caphimself. Such is the nature of the tivity, the punishment which God passage which I take for my text. had permitted to fall on his chosen
people for their idolatry and impeni- plicable to our own case; and as a tence. The prophet, after assuring prophecy when applied to the state of them of their deliverance by the the Jews at the time the prophet hand of Cyrus, whom he calls the uttered or wrote them. But, for the anointed of God, for this especial clearer arrangement of our subject, purpose, comforts them with the we must first consider them as adfarther promise, that the tyrants by dressed to the people of Israel. whom they were then sorely op- This chapter, the 51st of Isaiah's pressed and held in slavery, should, prophecy, opens with an exhortation in their turn, feel the weight of Di- to the Israelites, founded upon, and vine vengeance, for the merciless appealing to, their own knowledge of manner in which they had exercised what Jehovah had done for them as the power given them for a season a distinct people, in the calling of over God's heritage. And we may Abraham, and entering into covenant learn from every history of the dis- with him. Hearken to me, ye that pensations of Divine Providence, that follow after righteousness, ye that the Almighty will avenge himself of seek the Lord : look unto the rock the instruments even of his own just whence ye are hewn, and to the hole judgments, if they exceed their com- of the pit whence ye are digged. mission: and it is very often seen Look unto Abraham your father, and that He chooses the reprobate to be unto Sarah that bare you: for I called the executioners of his justice, that him alone, and blessed him, and inthey may, if possible, become more creased him.” This they are required obnoxious to bis wrath, by the greater to make the ground of their confiindulgence of those evil passions dence in the future protection of the which have already made them hate- Almighty. And I would ask, by the sul in his sight.
way, upon what surer foundation can After this prophecy of their deli- confidence be placed, than upon exverance, and of God's punishment of perience? If we are smarting under their oppressors, Isaiah goes on to the reproof of a tried friend, who declare the greater and final deliver though we have displeased him, has ance of the church of God by the nevertheless given us assurance that coming of a Redeemer, mighty to he will not withhold his practical save; by the destruction of idolatry, kindness, but will hereafter succour which was the besetting sin of the and serve us; surely our experience Israelites, and their heaviest provo- of the past would inspire confidence cation of the Almighty; and by shew- in regard to the future, notwithstanding them that the 'reign of the Mes- ing that we are alienated from his siah should be endless and universal. present favour by our own offending. He spake as he was moved by that This was precisely the state of Israel Spirit which Christ promised to send at this time. They had rebelled to his Apostles after he should have against their God—they were ascended into heaven ; and, therefore, groaning under the weight of his he speaks in our text and elsewhere, displeasure-but in his judgments as in the person of Christ, although God remembereth mercy. He sent he prophesied more than 700 years his prophet to announce to them his before our Lord's Advent.
returning favour; and in order to We may consider these words, inspire them with confidence, he therefore, as if delivered from the strengthens his promises by calling lips of our Saviour himself, and ap- to their remembrance his past loving
kindness. And his promise upon the from the minds of the Jews in partipresent occasion relates to that upon cular, that confidence in temporal which their hearts must dwell with dominion as a nation, and that rethe fondest hope in the season of their liance upon temporal prosperity as exile and captivity. “ The Lord individuals, which almost, if not altoshall comfort Zion : he will comfort gether, formed the bond of their reliall her waste places ; and he will gion. They are, therefore, called make her wilderness like Eden, and upon in the most solemn manner to her desert like the garden of the attend to the instructions of divine Lord. Joy and gladness shall be wisdom : “ Hearken unto me, O my found therein, thanksgiving, and the people ; and give ear unto me, O my voice of melody."
nation : for a law shall proceed from What can be more beautiful than me, and I will make my judgment to the prospect here displayed? What rest for a light of the people. My more refreshing to the hearts of a righteousness is near; my salvation people pining in bondage and misery? | is gone forth. Lift up your eyes to But the natural beauties of the scene the heavens, and look upon the earth which is here touched into life by the beneath: the heavens shall vanish prophet's wand, are only used to be- away like smoke?” — And what is guile the Israelites, if I may so speak, there in all your worldly possessions, into a perception—a sense of the spi- or in all your high imaginations, that ritual glories, with which Zion was
can compare with these ? “ And the about to be illuminated through the earth shall wax old like a garment!" tender mercy of their God, when the -Yet this is the foundation on which Day Spring from on high should visit all your hopes are established.them, to give light to them that sit in “ And they that dwell therein shall die darkness and in the shadow of death, in like manner!"—Where then is your to guide their feet in the way of stay? If the visible heavens, and the peace. For to this end was the reve- earth, and life, shall become as things lation of the Messiah made, that all of nought, why trust ye to the weak flesh might see the salvation of God; and beggarly elements which ministhat the foreknowledge of the Re- ter only vanity and corruption? But deemer's Advent might act like his I leave you not comfortless—although personal presence; might be a light the heavens shall vanish away like to lighten the Gentiles, and be the smoke, and the earth shall wax old glory of his people Israel : a glory like a garment, and they that dwell dawning upon the eye of faith when therein shall die in like manner; yet raised in penitence and supplication have I provided for you a better and amid the sorrows of banishment and an enduring substance—an inheritthe tortures of sickening bondage-a ance that fadeth not away--a home glory which should lay open to their from which sorrow and sighing shall vision other scenes than those which fee for ever; where the wicked cease the eye had seen, of which the ear from troubling, and the weary are at had heard, or the heart of man rest; where the prisoners rest toconceived — a glory which should gether, and no man hear the voice of bring life and immortality to light, the oppressor. “For my salvationand place in view the many, the defence, the deliverance, the remany mansions of a blissful eter- fuge I have wrought for you-shall nity. For the revelation of a be for ever; and my righteousness Messiah was calculated to abolish 'shall not be abolished.” Thus much