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I do not; and the evil that I would not do, that do I. The apostle James declares, in many things we all offend. And the apostle John solemnly affirms, If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
K. But surely there is an essential difference between having an evil nature, and being a gross offender.
M. i humbly conceive that in the sight of God, there is no difference: And my opinion is based upon scripture testimony; I cannot believe the apostle Paul was guilty of any gross offence, and yet he pronounced himself the chief of sinners.
K. Yes; he thus characterizes himself while he persecuted the church of God.
M. I beg your pardon, Sir; this declaration was subsequent to his commencement of the apostolic career; and he did not say I was, but I am the chief of sinners. Perhaps he could with safety make this confession, for knowing more of his own heart than of the heart of any other person, he proclaims himself according to his own knowledge of its desperate wickedness. The apostle James warmly questions, “Know ye not, brethren, that whoso keepeth the whole law, and yet offendeth in one point, is guilty of all.* Pray, Sir, can any one in this world be more than guilty of all ?
K. I suppose not, Sir.
M. Are there any who do not offend in one point; is there any individual sojourning in this habitation of clay, if we except the head of every man, is there I say, hath there even been any one who liveth and sinneth not?
K. I believe not.
M. Where then, I beseech you, is the difference ; I speak as it relates to our standing in the sight of God. Sir, there is no difference, all mankind are guilty of the breach of every commandment of
• A popular preacher expatiating upon this passage, “ He that offend. eth in one point is guilty of all,” sensibly and pertinently observed, “That a little reflection would evince the propriety and strict justice of the testimony contained in the text.” The mind of man, said the ingenious divine, “is ever open to the all-searching eye of Him, who breathed into our first parent the breath of life, and taking congnizance of the thoughts of the heart, he determines the degree of innate turpitude, and he is certain that the soul which produces one crime, contains in its bosom the seeds of every other transgression, lacking nothing but opportunity to exhibit a prolific growth of every evil."
God; the law condemneth every man, and every mouth must be stopped, every tongue must plead guilty in the presence of God.
But, as all without discrimination are condemned by the law, so by the grace of God, all, without distinction are acquitted. That grace which bringeth salvation is the complete discharge of every individual, for thus runs the divine testimony: He, Jesus, was made under the law to redeem them who were under the law, by being made a curse for them. Whatever therefore the divine vengeance threatened for the breach of the holy law, Jesus Christ in the place and character of the law-breaker, fully suffered. He suffered the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.
Observe, my dear Sir, it was that the unjust might be brought to God, that Jesus suffered; and should they not through his sufferings be brought home to God, the end of Christ's sufferings would not be answered.
K. Is there nothing in the will of the creature? Surely there is in the sacred records abundantly sufficient to convince refractory sinners, that no one can be happy in what Jesus Christ is, and has done, who will not come unto him for life; and indeed it is irrational to suppose that an individual can be made happy in opposition to his own will.
M. It is a righteous truth; no one can be made happy without his own consent. Man has a will, and a very refractory will too, he is uniformly opposed to the plan of deliverance, accomplished by Jesus Christ.. But you will please to observe, the man Christ Jesus, the God-man, is also a free agent, and it is expressly affirmed in the divine word, that it is the will of God that all men should bé saved and consequently come unto him for life-true the same word asserts, they will not come unto him. But as it is possible man may change, and impossible that God can change; as God is of one mind and cannot be turned, and as man being a changeable creature may be turned, not indeed against his will; God, for the purpose of accomplishing his own will, which if he be Omnifotent he must obtain, will in the day of his power, render the creature now so refractory perfectly willing.
I know that both God and man have each a will, and I know that the poles are not more opposite than those different wills. God and man will make every effort in their power to obtain their respective wishes, and if the power of God should be found greater than the power of devils and men united, then God will obtain his
will, and the consequence will be, that every creature in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and in the sea, shall with cheerful, willing hearts, ascribe glory to the Lamb, and flocking to him for life, as doves to their own windows, they shall say, O Lord, other Lords beside thee have had dominion over us, but by thee only will we make mention of thy name.
Nor will this declaration be the result of restraint, their hearts, their whole willing hearts will be upon their lips. Hence we see the absurdity of those people who are ever exclaiming, what, will God save people whether they will or not? Will he force them to be saved ? Indeed were God to usher them into heaven with their refractory dispositions, misery would attend them even there; heaven would not be to them the abode of felicity. But all hearts are in the hands of God, and he can fashion the will to his own irreversible purposes. This he can do even without the knowledge of the creature, and he can make every thought, every passion subservient to his sacred and well digested plans.
Doth he not do this day by day, when he graciously bringeth in his elect ; those among the many called, who are chosen as vessels of mercy, before ordained to exhibit the praises of Him, who hath called them out of darkness, into his marvellous light. Whenever the spirit of God takes hold of such a chosen vessel, does it not find in this individual a disposition which is enmity against God, ignorant of God, living in open opposition to him, and his salvation, doing all in his power to frustrate the grace of God, and either serving the adversary to promote himself, his pleasurable, his ambitious, his vindictive, his covetous, or his righteous self, or else, perhaps, serving God for the lucre of gain.
How was it with the apostle Paul, when he was taken hold of by the spirit of God? Was he not filled with wrath ? Never was vessel filled with more, he was exceeding mad; could he have obtained his will, he would have cut off from the face of the earth, all who called upon the name of Jesus, and that with as much pleasure as he consented to the death of Stephen, when he held the garments of those who stoned him to death. · A will more refractory than that of this young Pharisee, who in all his conduct said, as plain as conduct could say, (and it is acknowledged that actions speak much louder than words,) he would not have that man, the man of God's right hand, to reign over him.
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Yet this man, this Saul, on his way to Damascus was selected by divine power, and placed by the interference of sovereign grace, in the way of that just one, whose paths shine more and more unto the perfect day. But, permit me to ask, was there any violence done to his will ? Far, very far from it. He preached Jesus with as much eagerness, affection, and devotional ardour, as he had previously persecuted all those who called upon the name of the Redeemer. He renounced all his own righteousness as willingly and with as much heartfelt sincerity, as he had before laboured to build it
Listen to his own testimony in his epistle to the Philippians, chapter iii. “But what things were gain to me, those I count 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."
Yet, I repeat, in all this process force is not exercised, the will is not violated. Indeed force is useless, when the God in whom we live, move, and have a being, worketh in our hearts both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
Man then is always a free will agent, he always acts according to his own pleasure; and he will always pursue what at the time appears to him best calculated to promote his interest. God has only to manifest himself, to make his ways appear as they really are, ways of pleasantness, and his paths peace; and the redeemed spirit will very cheerfully choose that which is good.
I am aware that life and death were heretofore exhibited to a certain people, and that they made a shocking choice, but it was be. cause the spirit of God did not exert his omnipotent power upon their minds. | Mankind under the influence of their own passions, will always choose darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil. But when God opens the eyes of their understanding, to behold the excellency of his blessed self, then neither their will nor any other faculty of their minds, can ever more be opposed to the will of God.
If the contrariety at present predominating in the human mind, could be imagined sufficiently powerful to counteract the benevolent designs of the everlasting Father, or in other words, if the evil will of man could prevail over the benign purposes of God, then indeed the God of this world should be considered as the supreme being, and we should all have reason for mourning, lamentation, and woe. For he is our adversary, seeking to devour.
Thus, Sir, we stand between two powerful beings, the prince of peace, and the prince of the power of the air. The former we are assured, by every thing we know of him, either in his word or his works, his name or his nature, is determined to save the family of man, and rescuing them from the power of their adversary, to bring them into the presence of their rightful Lord and Master, where are pleasures for evermore. The latter is determined by fraud and violence, and every infernal art, to oppose this peaceful Prince, and to retain by the force of his dark machinations, as many of the children of Adam under his dominion, as he can by his iniquitous wiles ensnare: and this not with a design to contribute to their happiness, but that he may do them all possible injury, and inflict upon them every species of torment. Nor did the enmity of this arch fiend originate in hatred to the human race ; he is rather stimulated by the knowledge that we are the objects of the divine favour, and that nothing will bring more dishonour to Christ Jesus, than our destruction. He is aware that the Divine Nature hath bowed the heavens, and descended to the depths of humiliation, and that clothed in humanity he has paid a price, all price beyond, as a ransom for mankind.
And truth to say, if the adversary can finally pluck the purchase of a Saviour's blood out of his hands who died to redeem the chil. dren of men, he will indeed obtain an astonishing victory, a victory not only over the child born unto us, but over the Wonderful Coun. sellor, the Prince of Peace, the Everlasting Father, the Mighty Gol.
K. Is it then of no consequence what we are and what we do?
M. Not in this respect I assure you, Sir. All that we can do, on *the behalf of the Prince of Peace, will never add to his strength, will never give him power to obtain a victory over our adversary. It is not with him, as with France, however willing Louis XVI. may be to deliver us from the power of Britain, he is not able to accomplish this business without our assistance ; I confess it would be abundantly more glorious for him if he could, and our obligation would be incalculably enhanced : but as he cannot, it becomes absolutely necessary that we unite with him in making the strong. est exertions.
Not thus our Divine Redeemer, in the great, the stupendous work of salvation ; of the people, there were none with him. His own arm wrought salvation for us, and the honour of his own name,