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God, he must be under condemnation, or exposed to the fearful threatenings which God has denounced against every soul of man that violates one of the least of his commandments. In addition to this danger, there exists in man a natural unwillingness to forsake sin; a disinclination to seek holiness; a determination to do his own will, rather than the will of God. Such a state of mind renders thë sinner utterly unfit to do any thing toward his own salvation. There is no natural goodness left, which will ever incline him, of his own accord, to seek the salvation of his own soul, or on which the divine Spirit can operate, and find a mind ready to welcome his teaching and constraining influence. Man, as a sinner, is thus separated from God, alienated from him in whom alone happiness is to be found; preferring the things of time to those of eternity; and desirous to pamper and adorn the body, rather than to save the soul; he is living without God and
. without hope in the world, and when not restrained by a gracious and overruling providence, guilty of crimes injurious to himself and to society.
Had the inquiry, however, only referred to man's lost and ruined condition; had it only included a full and humbling view of what man is, unpardoned and unsanctified; and the prospect which is before him, of unchanging and never-ending misery ; it had been indeed an ungracious and an unprofitable inquiry. . And it is really so to the man who, having proceeded only a little way in his pursuit of religious knowledge, stops and refuses to continue his search. He sees enough to convince him that there is some danger in sinning against God; his con
science has become so far enlightened, by an acquaintance with the word of God, that he is uneasy. when he is guilty of plain violations of the divine law; but the conviction of danger is not sufficiently. strong to induce him earnestly and truly to seek deliverance from punishment. He knows just enough to make him unhappy. Whereas, if he knew or believed that he was hourly exposing himself to God's displeasure; that every day's continuance in sin increased his danger, and that in a moment he might be hurried beyond the reach of safety; if he believed these things, could he stop short in his inquiries? would he not be constrained to ask the question, “What must I do to be saved ?" To a sinner, really awakened by the Spirit of God, to see his sinful, helpless, and hopeless condition, no inquiry can be more interesting, or more necessary to be answered. If a gleam of hope is to cheer his mind, he must be indebted for it to the assurance on the highest and the best authority, that there is a way of deliverance.
The present inquiry is then of importance, because it refers to the way of salvation.
The great design of God in giving us the Bible was, that we might be made acquainted with his divine plan of delivering sinners from misery. The glad tidings of mercy through a Redeemer, are as old as the first promise which God gave to fallen man. That promise contained the rough draught of the deed of mercy, and all the gracious declarations which succeeded it, were, not so much additions, as clearer exhibitions of the same glorious
truth, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. The
access to God was also made known by sacrifice from the days of Abel. All the sacrifices of the Mosaic dispensation were to exhibit by deeds, as well as by words, that without shedding of blood there could be no remission of sin.. Every worshipper was to be reminded, that his blood deserved to be shed; and even then atonement would not have been made for the soul. If the blood of animals was accepted by the Divine Being, it could not be through any virtue or efficacy in them, but because the worshippers presented them in faith ; believing that God, in his appointed time, would send the promised Messiah, who would by one offering give divine efficacy to every sacrifice that had through thousands of years been offered in faith.
This is plainly declared in the New Testament.* There also it will be found, that the obscurity and imperfections of the former dispensations are removed; the predictions and promises are fulfilled ; the dignity of the Redeemer is declared ; the completeness of his atonement is plainly set forth; the divine approval of the work of Christ is displayed in his resurrection, ascension, and exaltation to the mediatorial throne. The numerous and invaluable blessings of the great salvation are also described, and the way by which sinners may obtain them, without money and without price, is plainly pointed out. The answer to the important question respect
Heb. is. and x, chapters.
ing salvation is, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” And that no one might plead ignorance as to the nature of this faith in the Son of God, the transforming effects of it on the first believers are frequently and minutely mentioned. Not merely are the outward results stated, with which men might be conversant, but those also which no eye could see but the eye of God. These are invariably spoken of as resulting from faith in Christ, and as: constituting that distinction which has existed to the present day, between believers and unbelievers,
friends and enemies of God, children of God and children of Satan. : The invitations which are addressed to sinners by the Divine Being; their freeness and their fulness; the inestimable blessings which are proposed for the acceptance of those who believe in Christ, and the certainty which accompanies every promise of the Divine Being, form so many encouragements to the awakened sinner to draw near to God.. The question here is not, who are worthy to enjoy the divine favour, but who need it, and who are willing to accept of his mercy, as he has been pleased to make it known. No one is rejected because he is a greater sinner than other men, but because he himself rejects salvation. No individuals are singled out in the invitations of mercy, and told that they have claims upon it superior to others, because they possess certain natural or acquired excellencies. Neither are some pronounced too vile for the Divine compassion to reach, but the language is, “ Whosoever will, may come and take of the water of life freely."
Again, the inquiry is important, because it is connected with a proper performance of the duties of the present life.
It is not too much to assert, that no duty towards God or towards man, can be performed aright, unless true religion is known and loved ; unless, in short, there be the existence and exercise of those motives which constrain to a habitual and universal obedience to all the divine commands, and which never can be possessed without faith in the Son of God. There may be many worldly reasons which induce individuals to be outwardly moral, and in general attentive to domestic and social duties; but it is only love to God that can lead men to perform them, from a desire to honour the Divine Being. Nay, there are many duties which will be entirely overlooked, if this holy principle does not exist.
Whatever station in life the inquirer may occupy -whatever relationship he bears to those around him, it may be asserted, that his present inquiry is intimately connected with a proper discharge of the duties of life. As a father or a son, as a master or a servant, he can find directions in the word of God fitted for his guidance in the path of duty. It is true that directions are not given for every conceivable circumstance of human life; but there is the grand outline which every truly conscientious inquirer may readily fill up. The principles of action are not only stated, but are rendered operative; and in all cases the throne of grace can be approached,