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miserable. Yet is annihilation the terror of the living, and not the dead; for were it even possible that this heavenly spark, derived from Almighty God, could be extinguished, we should not then be miserable; true we should not be happy, but we should not be sensible we were unhappy.
But the thought is big with horror, and I am persuaded it is the adversary's last effort. When he can no longer make us miseraable in the fear of future torment, when he finds us assured of a happy existence beyond the grave, nothing remains to him but to appal our souls, by the frightful idea of non-existence; or if he cannot succeed in this terrifying impression, to diminish our bliss, by the melancholy supposition that in the world of spirits, our dearest connexions will remain unknown. Not that this arch-deceiver has the least knowledge of future events, but he knows what promotes our happiness in the present state, and as his business is to bruise the Saviour's heel; he will of course take the most effectual method to afflict us. Indeed, when we know that every horrid suggestion, originates with the enemy to our peace, it is a prime step toward destroying his power. May we therefore never be ignorant of Satan's devices, nor suffer him thus to afflict our souls.
But it is time I attend the multitude, which are waiting to hear what God the Lord will say unto them. O, may the common Father of our spirits, speak to their hearts this day by my mouth! O, may be, in speaking to them, speak to me !
And permit me here to close this very long letter, by praying that your mind may be cheered by the benignant smiles of your Redeemer.
May no passions baleful in their kind find entrance there;
But when with Christian ardour you repair
To meet your Saviour, and your God in pray'r,
May your pure spirit warm'd by sacred fire,
I AM AM now, my friend, to present you with as methodical an account of a sermon, I have delivered, as my memory will permit. You may read my text in the 16th chapter of the Evangelist Mark, and the 16th verse of that chapter-Thus it is worded:
"He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
Never did audience give more attention, while I undertook to point out the folly of urging the necessity of believing, before the individual called upon to believe, was informed what he was to believe. The gospel was first to be preached, and the assent of the mind was required as a consequence. This led to the introduction of our text. "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature" which produced an inquiry into the precise meaning of the term gospel, since salvation was affirmed to be a consequence of the belief of this gospel. A number of sacred passages occurred, expressive of the sovereign grace contained in the gospel, and it appeared, that this grace was first preached to man in the garden of Eden. "And the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head.” From hence we traced it through many a luminous path, to Calvary's bloody brow, where we heard the Saviour of sinners, the head of every man, most solemnly and affectingly declare-" It is finished."
When addressing the people, I thus proceeded: These passages, my dear hearers, constitute a glorious and complete delineation of what the Redeemer hath accomplished for the family of man, of which the word gospel may be termed the aggregate, and it is this blessed, this everlasting gospel, which the Prince of Peace commanded his disciples to preach to every creature.
The Apostle to the Gentiles assures us, that this dispensation of the gospel, this ministry of reconciliation was committed unto him. "To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses." The prophet Isaiah also testifieth: "That when all we like sheep went astray, every one to his own way, the Lord laid on him (Jesus) the iniqui
ties of us all. That he was wounded for our transgressions, that he was bruised for our iniquities, that the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and that with his stripes we are healed."
Such are the sacred testimonies of our God; such is the gospel which the immediate disciples of our Lord were commanded to preach to every creature. And we are now to consider,
What the believers of this gospel are saved from, or what we are to understand by that salvation, the believers of this gospel were made partakers of?
And first, as guilt is the parent of terror, and every man who cometh into the world is born in sin, and brought forth in iniquity, in ignorance of that truth, which is made manifest by the preaching of the gospel; the moment the sinner hears this gospel, and gives credit to the divine report; that moment he is saved from those terrors of the Lord, which induced the Apostles to persuade men to believe the truth,-from those tremendous fears, with which the sad conviction of his being a sinner, and God an avenger of sin, tormented his benighted mind.
And although he still acknowledges himself a sinner, and God an avenger of sin, an implacable enemy to every transgression, yet is he saved from tormenting fear, in consequence of believing, that "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing unto them their trespasses: having made Jesus to be sin for them, that they may be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Does the sinner tremble at the sentence, "Cursed be every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the Law, to do them, and that from a full conviction that he is a lawbreaker, and that God is true." The moment he believes the gospel declaration, that Jesus was made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, he is saved from this hell in his bosom.
Is he in bondage to the fear of death? and is he, by this king of terrors, bound in chains of darkness? The moment he hears and believes the glad tidings of the gospel, viz. that "Jesus hath abolished death," that moment he is saved from this bondage. Is he conscious of the blindness of his mind, and fearfully apprehensive he shall die for lack of knowledge? No sooner does he hear the elucidating word, which bringeth salvation, "By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities;" in unison with, "All we like sheep have gone astray, but the Lord laid on him the iniquities of us all," together with, "He is
made of God unto us, wisdom;" no sooner does the sinner believe these gospel truths, than he is saved.
Is the sinner miserable, from the knowledge of his unrighteousness, when he is told, the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven? he is saved from this misery the moment he hears and believes that the name whereby the Redeemer shall be called, is "the Lord our righteousness." Is he convinced that without holiness no man can see the Lord, and that if he regards iniquity in his heart, the Lord will not hear him? Is his soul distressed in consequence thereof? Does he feel the sentence of death in himself, from the consideration of these testimonies being true, as God is true?
When the gospel is preached to him, assuring him that Jesus is made unto him sanctification, that this great High Priest wears on his head, for us, holiness to the Lord, and that we are authorized to view that head, thus adorned, as our head, hearing that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God ;-when these divine gospel truths are heard and believed, he is completely saved from condemnation or damnation. Should he be told that "if he loves the world, or the things of the world, the love of the Father is not in him ;" and should he conceive that the Father and the Lord Jesus are one, and, should it be added, "if any man love not the Lord Jesus, let him be accursed;" suppose, I say, these passages in sacred writ, should come home to him with damning power; when he learns in the same sacred records, that Jesus was made a "curse for him ;" when he hears his Redeemer say, "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world;"—the instant these salutary truths are by this man believed, he is saved from all that misery by which he was tormented.
Thus are we saved," if we keep in memory what we have heard, except we have believed in vain," for it follows of course, that this salvation is always proportioned to the strength of our faith.
But upon this occasion, I hold it to be indispensably necessary, to dwell for a few moments upon a consideration which is generally passed over in silence. The difference between that salvation purposed by God, as the Father, before all worlds, before the birth of time, carried on by the Son in time, and fully completed, when he cried with a loud voice, it is finished, and gave up the ghost; and that salvation commenced and carried on by that spirit, which taketh of the things of Jesus, respecting the above finished salvation, and showeth them unto us, giving us peace and joy in believing.
The former is like him in whom it is found, the same yesterday, to-day, and forever. The latter is like the fluctuating being in whom it is found, always ebbing and flowing. Now the mountain stands strong and can never be removed. Anon we ask, hath the Lord forgotten to be gracious?
The first salvation is complete with respect to quantity and quality. Jesus who hath purchased and restored the whole of Adam's lapsed posterity hath done all, for all, so that He who sent him to seek, and to save that which was lost, and to destroy the works of the Devil, says, this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
For us, as we believe but in part, and are saved but in part, we are sometimes found staggering at the promises through unbelief, and we frequently ask, how can these things be? Jesus upbraided his immediate disciples, for their unbelief and hardness of heart, and it is but in proportion as we believe, that we are in this sense saved.
We make a strange jumble when we blend these two salvations together, for it indisputably follows, that we are saved not by Christ Jesus our Lord, but by ourselves, and what is more extraordinary still, by believing what is not true, until we make it true by believing.
For example, should news be brought that General Washington had gained a complete victory over the enemy; that he had driven them from our borders, this news would from some obtain credence; as many as believed this report, whatever were their previous fears respecting the enemy, would by this report, be entirely exempted therefrom; saved therefrom. Were they under constant alarm at the approach of every warlike ship, did their fears oblige them to fly upon every alarm, they are now no longer driven about, they are
saved from terror.
But, is it their believing this report which saves them from the enemy? Certainly not; for if this news be not true, they are not saved, although they have believed they were, and if it be true, they are saved from the power of the enemy, although not from their fears respecting this enemy, whether they believe it or not. So with regard to the things which make for our eternal peace. Is it our believing which bruised the serpent's head? No, it was the woman's seed that bruised the serpent's head. Is it our believing that saved us from the power of the adversary? No, it was because the seed of the woman bruised the head of the adversary, that we are saved from his power; for his head being bruised, his power to destroy was by that means taken away.