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CHAPTER XXI,

I DO NOT FRUSTRATE THE GRACE OF GOD : FOR IF RIGHT

EOUSNESS COME BY THE LAW, THEN CHRIST IS DEAD IN VAIN,'Gal. ii. 21.

"IF I YET PLEASED MEN, I SHOULD NOT BE THE SERVANT

OF CHRIST.'-Gal. i. 10.

6

THY WISDOM AND THY KNOWLEDGE, IT HATH PERVERTED

THEE.'—Isaiah xlvii. 10.

On the following morning, as the Rector of Drayford was about to take leave of Mr. Henry Conroy, at whose house he had slept, Mr. Forbes was announced. He expressed himself pleased that he had arrived in time to pay his respects, and hinted that he had hoped to have had a further discussion, in a more private way, on the subjects alluded to during the preceding evening.

You think then, that they were treated of rather too publicly, I conclude," said the old Rector, smiling

“ I think it hardly advisable or safe to discuss such deep and mysterious points of religion in a mixed company; indeed I am of opinion that the less such subjects are entered upon the better, unless it be under circumstances like the present.”

“I would, however, my dear Sir, before we enter on the subject proposed, just observe, that you scarcely state the case fairly in supposing me to deliver my sentiments in a mixed company; for I hope I am not often found except where the society is at least professedly Christian, in our sense of the word. And with respect to your objection to such deep and mysterious points being brought forward, I must be allowed to say, that if they are deep and mysterious, they are, nevertheless, doctrines which have been revealed to babes, although denied to the wise and prudent;—and doctrines also which I boldly venture to affirm, are intended to be the strength and rejoicing of every ransomed sinner's heart. I am aware, and I deplore it, that in this day of dim and clouded light, any topic of religious interest is preferred to the plain and simple gospel of Christ Jesus. - We have Christian duties, Christian feelings, Christian obediences, Christian charity, Christian exertions, we have, in fact, the whole circle of the things which accompany salvation,' - but salvation itself,

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and Christ, the key-stone, the foundation, the Alpha and Omega, are by some marvellous over-sight, almost passed over in silence.”

“But, my dear Sir, would you not have the practice of a Christian, as well as his creed, brought into constant view ? and is not the work of Christ in us as important and as worthy of consideration as what He has done for us? It seems to me that I should ill discharge my duty to my parishioners, if I preached to them only the pardon offered to sinners, and neglected to show them the way in which Christ purifies them from sin. And I certainly think it quite necessary to demand some evidence of their belonging to the Saviour ?”

I very cordially agree with you, my dear brother, in requiring the evidence you demand; but I question whether the subjects of conversation alluded to, would lead to the result desired. I am of opinion that they would not. Nothing can be of such importance to us as this inquiry, 'Do I belong to Christ?' But I cannot think that the question is likely to be satisfactorily solved by trying ourselves by the standard commonly set up, and therefore I object to the making our own feelings and our own conduct the principal topic for conversation; it can lead to no good, the creature is altogether too

depraved to admit of his ever attaining peace by the law, he can never come to any correct conclusion but that of the apostle Paul, 'I find then a law, that when I would do good, evil is present with me;'or,-if he is not miserably deceived by his own treacherous heart,- O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death ? 'While, if he is self-deceived, he is only inflating himself the more by dwelling on powers and qualities, which, in fact, have no existence in the corrupt nature of man. I consider it to be one of Satan's chief devices, to endeavour to lull the soul into a fatal notion of its own ability to render a sincere though imperfect obedience;' it is his aim to persuade us, that although we cannot keep the law fully, we certainly have it in our power to go a considerable way towards answering its requirements; and, deceived by this specious reasoning, so flattering to the pride of man, we imagine ourselves capable of fulfilling the conditions upon which salvation is offered,' (to use the unscriptural jargon of the present day,) and trust to the Redeemer's mediation to complete the work for us. Many, very many, I fear, who are now thinking that they have prophesied in Christ's name, and in his name 'done many wonderful works,' will find in the end, that the Lord does not acknowledge them as his. If the real believer is betrayed into so lamentable an error, he is unable to find any peace; hence we are so frequently distressed by seeing the children of God, -while their views remain dark,-so cast down, and so fearful. But their Master does not suffer them always to remain in an unenlightened state. He

his truth into their minds sooner or later. I have just been looking over some passages of Hooker with Mr. Conroy, and must shew you how beautifully and how clearly he expresses this; ‘Howsoever men, when they sit at ease, may vainly tickle their hearts with the vain conceit of I know not what proportionable correspondence between their merits and their reward, which, in the trance of their high speculations, they dream that God hath measured, weighed, and laid up, as it were, in store for them; yet we see by daily experience, in many of them, that when the hour of death approaches, when they secretly hear themselves summoned forthwith to appear, and stand before the bar of that Judge, whose brightness causeth the eyes of the angels themselves to dazzle; all these idle imaginations do then begin to hide their faces. To name merits then, is to lay their souls upon the rack; the memory of their own deeds is loathsome to them, they forsake all things

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