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obedience, as well as for pardon and reconciliation to him.
You should be daily calling yourself to an account for your daily sins and imperfections ; and daily confessing and lamenting them before God, that you may never have so much as the sins of one day unrepented of.
Though it be impossible that you can be sufficiently humbled before God, under an abasing sense of your great sinfulness, unworthiness, and ingratitude to him; yet remember that “faithful saying, which is worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came to save sinners.”
Do not dishonour the infinite merit of the Redeemer's blood, by being afraid to trust to it for pardon and sanctification. Do not dishonour the infinite compassion of the Divine nature, by calling into question his being as ready to grant as you are to seek pardon and forgiveness of all your sins, how many and great soever they be. Be therefore humbled, but not discouraged. While
sin and imperfection, adore the infinite riches of that grace and love which has opened a fountain for sin and uncleanness.
And, to sum up the whole in a word, you must remember, that it is the essence of a true repentance to turn to God; and, therefore, if you would evidence the sincerity of your repentance, you must give up yourself to God.
You must choose him for your God and portion. You must watch at his gates, and wait at the posts of his doors. You must make religion your
chief business ; and in a life of most active and earnest diligence, expect acceptance through the merits of Christ ; and continued supplies of
grace and strength from his fulness, to bring forth fruits meet for repentance.
That the Lord would carry on his own work in your soul, and lead you on from grace to grace, and from strength to strength, till you arrive where your faith will be turned into vision, and your repentance into eternal praises, is the prayer of,
WHEREIN THE CHARACTERS DESCRIBED IN ROMANS VII.
SIR, I CANNOT but take comfort from your melancholy complaint of the corruptions you are struggling with, and your sense of the vileness and sinfulness of your heart, which makes you groan, being burthened ; because you therein breathe the language of a broken and a contrite spirit, and give me hopes that you are offering to God the sacrifice which he will not despise. 6 You took comfort,” you tell me,
6 from the seventh chapter to the Romans, finding there the like complaints with yours, in so eminent and exalted a christian as the apostle Paul himself; but that prop is knocked from under you, by conversation with some persons of a superior reputation for religion, who assure you that St. Paul is there giving the character of an unconverted person, under a conflict between his corruptions and the alarms of an awakened conscience; and that all those places of scripture are
to be interpreted in the same manner,
represent the like conflict in the soul." Upon which you
desire my sentiments.
In order to a fair and clear decision, it will be proper to take some (very brief) notice of the general scope and design of this epistle, in the first seven chapters. This seems to be summarily proposed in the first chapter, ver. 17. “ Therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” That is, we are justified before God, only by the righteousness of Christ received by faith. We continue in a justified state, by the renewed exercise of faith; and the whole life of a justified person is a life of faith in the Son of God, as well as his whole hope of eternal life is through faith in Christ. This doctrine is proved, by a representation of the atrocious impiety and wickedness of the whole gentile world ; that even they who make the highest pretences to innocence, and who judge and censure others for such horrid impieties, as are commonly practised among them, are all inexcusable and self-condemned, on account of the wickedness
perpetrated and indulged by themselves ; being all of them such violators of the law and light of nature, as will leave them without excuse in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ. This is plainly the apostle's argument, from the 18th verse of the first chapter, to the 17th verse of the second chapter. Whence it follows, that the gentile world cannot possibly have any claim to justification, by their own personal obedience; nor any
but by the righteousness of Christ received by faith.
The apostle next proceeds to show, that the jew has no better plea to make for his acceptance with God, on account of his own personal righteousness, than the gentile; though he rests in the law, and makes his boast of God, knows his will, and approves the things that are most excellent. For he also, in his highest natural attainments, breaks the law, dishonours God, and, at the best, performs but an external obedience, and reaches not to the spirituality which the law requires. The jew has indeed much every way the advantage, in point of external privilege: but in point of justifying righteousness, he cannot be said to be better than the gentile; no, in no wise. This is the argument from the 17th verse of the second, to the 9th verse of the third chapter : in which verse, and those following, the apostle sums up the argument in these remarkable words, which fully justify my interpretation of his scope and design: : “ For we have before proved both jews and gentiles, that they are all under sin. As it is written, There is none righteous; no, not one,” &c. “ That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." From these premises, he draws this conclusion : “ Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh living be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets ; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and
all them that believe : for there is no difference.—Being justified freely by his through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Rom. iii. 2022. 24. 28. Which was the point to be proved.
But here may arise a question : What law is it that the apostle excludes from having any hand in our justification ? To which is answered: All the law that
was obligatory both upon jews and gentiles. For they were both obnoxious to wrath, by their violation of the respective laws they were under ; had “all sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” And God deals with them all alike. He will justify them all by their faith in Jesus Christ; and no otherwise ; and thereby show, that he is not the God of the jews only, but of the gentiles also.
Having thus concluded his first argument, and proved, from the guilt and impotence both of jew and gentile, that no man can be justified by the law of nature, by the law which was given to the jews, nor any other way, but by the righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ; the apostle proceeds to prove the same thing from Abraham's faith being imputed to him for righteousness; and from David's describing the blessedness of the man, to whom God imputeth righteousness without works, throughout the fourth chapter.
He then begins the fifth chapter, by describing the glorious privileges of those who are thus justified by faith ; and ends it by showing in what manner we partake of the righteousness of Christ, for our justification ; that is, in the same manner as we are par
; takers of the sin and guilt of Adam, to our condemnation. As Adam's sin was imputed to all whom he represented, unto their condemnation ; so the righteousness of Christ is imputed to all whom he represented, and who believe in him unto justification of life. “ As by one man's disobedience many were made sinners ; so by the obedience of one, many shall be made righteous."
After a solemn caution unto all, not to turn the grace of God into wantonness, and not to continue in sin that grace may abound; and after enforcing this