justice of God seems to hold out to it, this want is provided for in the Gospel. And it is equally impossible, to have a true perception of the character of God, as being utterly repugnant to sin, without feeling the need of amendment; and in opposition to every obstacle, which the impotency of man holds out to it, this want is also provided for in the Gospel. There we behold the amplest securities for the peace of the guilty. But there do we also behold securities equally ample for their progress, and their perfection in holiness. Insomuch, that in every genuine disciple of the New Testament, we not only see one who, delivered from the burden of his fears, rejoices in hope of a coming glory—but we see one who, set free from the bondage of corruption, and animated by a new love and a new desire, is honest in the purposes, and strenuous in the efforts, and abundant in the works of obedience. He feels the instigations of sin, and in this respect he differs from an angel. But he follows not the instigations of sin, and in this respect he differs from a natural or unconverted man. He

may experience the motions of the flesh-but

he walks not after the flesh. So that in him

we may view the picture of a man, struggling with effect against his earth-born propensities, and yet hateful to himself for the very existence of them-holier than any of the people around him, and yet humbler than them all realizing, from time to time, a positive increase to the grace and excellency of his character, and yet becoming more tenderly conscious every day of its remaining deformities-gradually expanding in attainment, as well as in desire, towards the light and the liberty of heaven, and yet groaning under a yoke from which death alone will fully emancipate him.


When time and space have restrained an author of sermons from entering on what may be called the ethics of Christianity—it is the more incumbent on him to avouch of the doctrine of the gospel, that while it provides directly for the peace of a sinner, it provides no less directly and efficiently for the purity of his practice-that faith in this doctrine never terminates in itself, but is a mean to holiness as an end--and that he who truly accepts of Christ, as the alone foundation of his meritorious acceptance before God, is stimulated, by the circumstances of his new condition, to breathe holy purposes, and to abound in holy performances. He is created anew unto good works. He is made the workmanship of God

in Christ Jesus.

The anxious enforcement of one great lesson on the part of a writer, generally proceeds


from the desire to effect a full and adequate conveyance, into the mind of another, of some truth which has filled his own mind, by a sense of its importance; and, in offering this volume to the public, the author is far from being insensible to the literary defects that from this cause may be charged upon it. He knows, in particular, that throughout these discourses there is a frequent recurrence of the same idea, though generally expressed in different language, and with some new speciality, either in its bearing or in its illustration. And he further knows, that the habit of expatiating on one topic may be indulged to such a length, as to satiate the reader, and that, to a degree, far beyond the limits of his forbearance,

And yet, if a writer be conscious that, to gain a reception for his favourite doctrine, he must combat with certain elements of

opposition, in the taste, or the pride, or the indo

[ocr errors]

lence, of those whom he is addressing, this will only serve to make him the more importunate, and so to betray him still farther into the fault of redundancy. If the lesson he is urging be of an intellectual character, he will labour to bring it home, as nearly as possible, to the understanding. If it be a moral lesson, he will labour to bring it home, as nearly as possible, to the heart. It is difficult, and it were hard to say in how far it would be right, to restrain this propensity in the pulpit, where the high matters of salvation are addressed to a multitude of individuals, who bring before the minister every possible variety of taste and of capacity; and it is no less difficult, when the compositions of the pulpit are transferred to the press, to detach from them a peculiarity by which their whole texture may be pervaded, and thus to free them from what may be counted by many to

« VorigeDoorgaan »