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spirit and interest; commit the keeping of their consciences to some man of power in a town, and say yea or nay, for twenty or thirty years together, as the man of influence commands them. They plead duty, but should say interest governs them. The publican is governed by the brewer, the brewer by the corporation, or the mayor, or some little great man. "The fear of offending man bringeth a snare," and leads them to offend God. Such persons seeking the good word of carnal men, "the honour that cometh from man," will cut and trim, bend and be obstinate, speak or be silent, as interest leads them. If a minister of the gospel should depend on such persons to support him in any zealous exertions against sin, these "double minds, unstable in all their ways," will disappoint him.
This time-server, will betray his minister and his master, sell his conscience and the church, for a convenient price; and plead, that he is doing his duty, that he wishes to live in peace, and avoid giving offence, when his soul is governed by these two motives, his worldly gains, and his ease. Let him shun the cross, by keeping his good name amongst bad men, and preserve his profits-this is the one thing needful--this is prudence, peaceableness, respectability," all, in all."
THE Spectator gives us the following anecdote of Mr. Locke. Being invited to dine with the then Lords Halifax, Anglesey, and Shaftsbury, immediately after dinner, instead of conversation, the Cards were called for, when the bad or good success produced the usual passions of gaming. Mr. Locke, retiring to a window, and writing, my Lord Anglesey desired to know what he was writing. "Why, my lords," answered he, "I could not sleep last night for the pleasure and improvement I expected from the conversation of the greatest men of the age.' This so sensibly stung them, that they gladly compounded to throw their cards into the fire, if he would his paper, and so a conversation ensued, fit for such persons. Spect. No. 533.
From this anecdote it appears, that good sense, a liberal education, and a taste for mental improvement, disqualify a person for the enjoyment of the childish tattle of the card-table. Pernicious game! to enjoy which, persons must sacrifice the duty and pleasure of improving their minds by useful conversation, must abuse their precious time, and bury their talents; to engage in peevish debates, petty wrangles, low chatter, and the most silly triumphs. The conversation of such persons at best, is insignificant; often it is composed of envious falsehoods, and profane sarcasms; or of unchaste wit, and false intimations against absent characters; and
sometimes, to make sport and enliven the game, the person who is the greatest liar, and the greatest fool, is the fiddle of the company.
No. CXXVIII.-IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS.
To impute to me the righteousness of Christ, is to reckon or account it to me; or to place it to my account. This is a divine and gracious act. Its consequences to the believer are pardon of all his sins, acceptance with God as righteous, and eternal life. Considering the dignity of the Saviour, the perfection of his character, the nature, extent, and design of his obedience and sufferings, we may well acknowledge every blessing of salvation conferred on us, to be the reward of his righteousness. The spirit of Christ visits the sinner, quickens his dead soul, draws him to Christ for righteousness, enables him to confide in him for justification. The believer's sins were imputed to Christ, placed to his account and punished on him. The righteousness of Christ, that is, the whole of his meritorious obedience and sufferings, are imputed, placed to the account of the believer, and he is justified from all sin, freed from condemnation, and entitled to eternal life, as a reward to Christ and as a free gift to the believer. This is substantial blessedness. This is salvation. God imputes no sin to the believer; lays no sin to his charge; saves him from condemnation, fulfils to him the promises of sanctification, strength and consolation. He pours upon him the spirit of grace and supplication; shields him from the fatal influence of temptation, supports him under his afflictions, engraves on his heart the obligations of grace, gives him a good hope, and, in proportion to his faith, fills him with grateful joy and huinble admiration. His language is," What shall I say to THESE things? If God be for me, who can be against me?"- What shall I render to the Lord?" It is Christ that died: it is God that justifieth." "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile," or deceit in this transaction. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works," for his justification. While he creates him in Christ Jesus unto good works, which justify his faith, and prove it genuine and unfeigned. "Found in Christ," as the debtor in his surety; and covered with the robe of righteousness as his security, his honour and his joy. And, "found in Christ," as the branch in the fruitful vine, partaking of its life, and bearing fruit;— the spirit of grace from Christ to him, forms the bond of union; and by it, Christ is made to him the experimental and immediate source of righteousness and sanctification.
There are three ways by which souls are deceived on the doctrine of imputed righteousness. First, the adversary of men persuades them that God has imputed this righteousness when he has not; and inspires them with a delusive peace, supported by a confidence
in the clearness of their own views, compared with the self-righteous notions of others; by strong emotions of joy, from a conceit of the safety of their state and the partial discharge of a few popular duties.
The second delusion of being justified, arises from the good opinion of the friends and favourite party of the deluded soul. They flattered his highly evangelical notions, while a smooth, soothing minister applauds his contempt of his own righteousness, and leaves his sins, undisturbed in their reign over him.
The third delusion, consists in imputing the righteousness of Christ to himself. With a proud conceit of his own knowledge, a lively imagination of the love of God towards him, produced by selfcomplacency and ignorance of the awful glories of the Mediator's righteousness, he presumptuously concludes he is justified.
These professors are easily distinguished from the real believer in Christ.
With an awful ignorance of the law of God, the evil of sin, and the ruin it involves, they utter the most humble language, and indulge the vilest passions. With the blood and righteousness of Christ on their tongues, they cherish pride, covetousness, malignity or lust, in their hearts. Elated with their own opinions, liberality, or zeal for public duties, they "bridle not their tongues" from deceit and lying, backbiting and slander. They exalt themselves, by misrepresentations of others; and bitterly censure the imaginary sins of their neighbours to conceal their own.
If you offend them by faithful and kind reproof, they will sacrifice the peace of the church, and the usefulness of a minister, to their self-will and persevering resentment. Living in the element of misrepresentation, with a conscience seared by the indulgence of criminal tempers, and an hypocritical familiarity with the blood and righteousness of Christ, " as a cloke to their sins," they," hate him that REPROVETH in the gate" of Zion. Touch their unsanctified temper, their dishonesty, their purse-proud conversation, their frands in trade, their love of power, their arbitrary and oppressive conduct, and they are your implacable enemies. They readily pass over sins in their own favourites; they forgive sin against God, his church, and his ministers; but if you offend them, expect “judgment without mercy."
Taking their own opinion, as the standard of right and wrong, they must not be tried or judged by the word of God. If they quote scripture, it is to censure others, and justify themselves. They acknowledge the fall of man as a doctrine; but do not humbly and penitently feel themselves "GUILTY BEFORE GOD." They talk largely of their EXPERIENCE, which consists of the exercise of the natural passions in support of self preference, instead of holy affections, "the fruits of the Spirit."
Their "faith, which is dead, being alone," is not associated with
humility, with godly sorrow, and with holy dispositions. They are, therefore, not justified by faith, but by self-love, self-deceit, presumption, flattery, and self-applause.
The Scripture doth not say, "blessed is the man, to whom his flatterers impute no iniquity;" "blessed is the man to whom his own party imputeth righteousness;" nor, "blessed is the man who imputeth the righteousness of Christ to himself;" but "blessed is the man to whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity:"-" To whom THE LORD imputeth righteousness!" This man having, in deep humiliation, unfeigned repentance, felt himself guilty, "GUILTY BEFORE GOD," and "come to Christ for righteousness and strength," his justification is real, complete, and permanent. To such, Jehovah has imputed the righteousness, and imparted the spirit, of Christ; and says, "Thee have I seen RIGHTEOUS BEFORE ME!" Thus, he who compasses himself about with sparks of his own kindling," deceives his own soul, grieves the righteous, hardens the wicked, and makes them "blaspheme the name of Christ," and slander his truth and his people. This shall they have at the hands of the Lord, and soon too, without "repentance unto life:" they shall lie down in sorrow. But" mark the righteous man; behold the upright; for the END of that man is peace!" Yes! "Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the UPRIGHT IN HEART."
The hypocritical professor may dream of his blessed state; but the real believer is blessed in his state, his principles, his disposition, his duties and trials, in his end and in his prospects! "O the blessedness of the man, to whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile," to cover, excuse, and indulge it!
It is awful to hear men in words, like the foolish virgins, cry, "Lord! Lord!" and in temper and conduct say, "our souls and bodies-our tongues and property are our own," who is Lord over us?"-I will-and I will not,-is law to them.
The same persons will lament the corruptions of their hearts and their sinful nature,-to be flattered for their self-knowledge and humility. For if you reprove or contradict them, or oppose their ambition-their resentment will soon prove their reigning pride, and self-deception. And whilst one of them "groans, being in bondage" to reigning pride and self-will, without knowing it; another talks of the wickedness of his heart, as if he were speaking of the freckles on his face."
They use the humble language of the publican, "God be merciful to me a sinner;"-or the language of the Church of England. "We have erred and strayed from thy ways, like lost sheep; there is no health in us; but thou, O God, have mercy on us, miserable
sinners." Thousands in the Established Church; and many among the dissenters at their prayer-meetings, repeat these very words for twenty years, who have never received the mercy they seem to implore; because, in fact, they are very humble in WORDS and very proud in SPIRIT. They cry," thy will be done;" and resolve to follow their own. They cry for mercy to pardon sin, save them from hell and conduct them to heaven; but do not desire mercy to subdue their sins. Their natural passions may be roused by a sermon, they may weep under it, admire the discourse, extol the preacher,-hear, pray, converse and sing, as with "the tongues of (good) men and of angels," until their will is crossed!-their favourite sin touched!then, they would treat their ministers as Herod did the faithful John Baptist. "He first heard him gladly, and did many things;' but afterwards beheaded him! Or as the Galatians treated the Apostle Paul; they "would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him," but when he attacked their favourite errors and sins, they" counted him an enemy, because he told them the truth."
These professors, as the late Mr. Andrew Fuller remarked, exclaim against the devil and self-righteousness; as if these were the only enemies of the christian: but the evil into which they fall, is antinomianism: that is, any kind of doctrinal or practical opposition to the law of God.
The word antinomianism is derived from two Greek words, anti, against, and nomos, the law; against the law. And we mean by an antinomian one, who, whilst he professes to believe in Christ as a SAVIOUR,-neglects obedience to Christ as his LORD. I do not mean by this that the moral law, or the ten commands, is the only rule of life; this is to be sought in the whole revealed will of God.
There are persons whose religion consists in railing against the self-righteous, and such as boast of their goodness. They are ready to say, “thank God! I am not as these Pharisees."
But mark them-they are as perpetually boasting of their FAITH, as Pharisees of their works. They boast of their clear and evangelical sentiments; and are proud of the humble WORDS they use, in reproaching themselves as vile sinners,-lost sinners,-the chief of sinners, the greatest sinners out of hell. If they subscribe liberally towards the support of the gospel, you are sure to hear of it, from themselves or their flatterers. They wish their works to SHINE before men to exalt themselves. Their liberality is the price of "a NAME to live," as pious, zealous, christians, while yet they are dead. As these persons pride themselves in the doctrine of election, and imputed righteousness, they are sure to elect themselves and others that appear to think favourably of them. They give each other the appellations of believers, children of God, saints, and the converted. They impute Christ's righteousness to themselves, and to each other, and deceive themselves, by presuming on the safety of their STATE, as they term it. A smooth sermon which does not touch a beloved sin, which reigns in their dis