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excuse will ye make? That ye are sufficiently righteous, or can make yourselves so, by attendance on prayer, works, and ordinances ? And will that suffice ? O what enmity to Christ this implies, that one should labour so much to get past Christ, and to get to heaven without him! But it cannot be ; for “none cometh to the Father but by him ;” and all shall perish that trust in any other way. The New Testament contains not a promise of salvation to those who will not trust in him. Or will ject, when exhorted to trust in Christ will ye object your great unworthiness, and plead your guilty, vile, undone state, as an excuse? But this is the very state that needs salvation, and those the very persons on whom the Saviour calls. Will the drowning mariner refuse help, because he is in himself helpless, and ready to perish? or the beggar refuse an alms, because he is so wretchedly poor? or the convict refuse a pardon, because condemned, and worthy of death? Surely in these cases, the need only enhances the value of relief, and excites a greater vehemence of desire to realize it.
And shall your need--the guilt of sin, or the depravity of nature,-drive you from Christ, when it was this lost state of human
nature that rendered his appointment as a Saviour needful in the purposes of eternity? Those Ephesians spoken of in the text, were once dead in sin, conformed to this world, under the influence of the prince of the power of the air, and the very children of wrath; yet after that they heard the word of truth, they trusted in Christ, and were saved. So also may ye, notwithstanding past iniquities, if ye are now fully disposed.
But perhaps you are not fully disposed, and would rather defer acts of trust till a more convenient season-until that worldly business be settled, or yonder pleasure enjoyed; or until ye feel more compunction and grief for sin. But let me tell you plainly, your souls are perishing ; every moment you sink deeper and deeper, so long as you have no hold of Christ. You have already sunk far, and are nigh—very nigh, it may beto perdition's inextricable depths. Nothing will save you but trusting in Christ; and to that ye are, even now, earnestly invited and besought. How, we ask-how can you justify yourselves, for refusing to Christ the fullest confidence of your souls in the matter of salvation ? Is it because you want evidence of his power or willingness to save sinners, that you continue to distrust
him? or because you are diffident about the reality of an interest in Christ, as it is called ? But how shall interest be realized without faith? Who can show to unbelief an interest in the Saviour? Or, may we not come to Christ by faith, believing and trusting him for interest, instead of vainly expecting signs, and wonders, and manifestations, to establish a sort of assurance, which is not of faith, but is sought for, to precede and give it being ? Here, however, instead of dealing with minute objections, there is need, we must tell such persons, of the Spirit, to convince them of sin; of sin, because they believe not in Christ with entire cordiality; of the great predominant sin of fallen man,a distrust, and alienation, and suspicion of the Lord, notwithstanding the most amazing manifestations of his grace and love. And they who are truly penitent for their past alienation, will show their penitence by turning from it, in order to confide.
But for what would you have us to trust in Christ? Just for what you need, and that is all_salvation ! With respect to what is past, give entire credit to the inspired record, which shows what he did, and how he died for sinners, and rose again for our justification. Here is a Saviour that laid down
his glory and his life for sinful men ; and still carries on the administration of grace in heaven. Now, believe in the sufficiency of his righteousness, and of his atonement to obtain for you the mercy of pardon, and the grace of a justified state. It were a great matter to seriously believe this ! But if this is believed, be persuaded, that God will, and does accept you for the sake of Christ. Have this confidence in his
grace; dismiss unworthy thoughts of the Divine character; and open all the heart to peace and grateful love ;-reconciled to God through faith in the death of his Son. If you thus come to God by Christ, presenting his redemption-work as your only, yet sufficient plea, you need not stand in doubt.
Nor let it be said, that in pressing this matter so particularly, we are reducing the Gospel to a single idea : we only assert, that in Christian character there must be some leading grace in exercise; and that grace we reckon to be a confiding trust. And in this way, obtaining the peace of a justified state, there is much remains to be done. You need many things after being delivered from condemnation; you want wisdom, you want holiness, you want consolation, you want strength. You are called
to labour in a wide field of duty for the glory of God; an evil world tempts you to abandon the way of life, and the work of righteousness. Satan lies in wait to ply you with his fiery darts, or beguile you with deceitful promise of present pleasure in sin. Your own heart is prone to evil, and you cannot depend on its fidelity to any purpose of good, or any engagement to be the Lord's. In a word, you are insufficient of yourself to think a good thought.
Now, in these circumstances, have present and perpetual recourse to Christ, and that in all the offices to which he is anointed of the Father; and trust in him for the grace of all. As a King, confide in his
to remedy your weakness, and enrich
liberally with proofs of his princely beneficence ;-as a Prophet, trust in him for wisdom, illumination, and conduct;—as a Priest, trust in him as offering for you the blood of atonement, and making intercession for your sins ;-as a Physician, trust in him for saving health, and though symptoms of former maladies should break out afresh, or new soul-complaints should alarm and distress the spirit, never despair of help, nor call in question the skill and promise of Jesus to perfect that which concerns you. Wait on him, tell him all, use appointed means, and