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For when we were yet without strength, in due time

Christ died for the Ungodly.

JOHN vi. 44.

No Man can come to me, except the Father, which hati

sent me, draw hiin.

WE

of his

E have now had a view of the total corruption

of man's nature, and that load of wrath which lies on him, that gulph of misery he is plunged into, in his natural state. But there is one part of his misery that deserves particular consideration; namely, his utter inability to recover himself, the knowledge of which is necessary for the due humiliation of a sinner. What I design here is, only to propose a few things, whereby to convince the unregenerate man of this his inability ; that he may see an absolute need of Christ, and of the power

grace. As a man that is fallen into a pit cannot be supposed to help himself out of it, but by one of two ways; either by doing all himself alonė, or taking hold of, and improving the helpoffered him by others; so an unconverted man cannot be supposed to help himself out of that state, but either

way

of the law, or covenant of works, by doing all himself without Christ, or else in the way of the gospel, or covenant of grace, by exerting his own strength to lay hold

upon, and to make use of the help offered him by a Saviour. But, alas! the unconverted man is dead in the

in the

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thing out of an unclean ?” Job xiv. 4. And dost think, by sin, to help thyself out of sin and misery? Thy obedience must also be perfect in parts. It mus as broad as the whole law of God ; if thou lackest thing, thou art undone ; for the law denounceth the c on him that continueth not in every thing written the Gal. iii. 10. Thou must give internal and external dience to the whole law; keep all the command: heart and life. If thou breakest any one of them, that insure thy ruin. A vain thought, or idle word, will shut thee up under the curse. (3.) It must be perfe respect of degrees, as was the obedience of Adam, he stood in his innocence. This the law requires, will accept of no less, Mat. xxü. 37. « Thou shalt the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all soul, and with all thy mind." If one degree of that required by the law, be wanting ; if each part of thy ol ence be not screwed up to the greatest height comm ed; that want is a breach of the law, and so leaves still under the curse. One may bring as many bucke water, to a house that is on fire, as he is able to carry, yet it may be consumed ; and will be so, if he bring as many as will quench the fire. Even so, although shouldst do what thou art able, in keeping the comma if thou fail in the least degree of obedience which the enjoins, thou art certainly ruined for ever; unless take hold of Christ, renouncing all thy righteousne filthy rags. See Rom. x. 5. Gal. ii. 10.-Lastli must be perpetual, as the man Christ's obedience who always did the things that pleased the Father; for tenor of the law is, “ Cursed is he that continueth ni all things written in the law, to do them.” Hence, the Adam's obedience was for a while absolutely perfect; because at length he tripped in one point, viz. in e the forbidden fruit, he fell under the curse of the law one should live a dutiful subject to his prince, till the of his days, and then conspire against him, he mus for his treason. Even so, though thou shouldst, al time of thy live in perfect obedience to the la God, and only at the hour of death entertain a thought, or pronounce an idle word, that idle word, or thoạght, would blot out all thy former righteousness

ruin thee ; namely, in this way, in which thou art seeking to recover thyself.

Now such is the obedience thou must perform, if thou wouldst recover thyself in the way of the law. But though thou shouldst thus obey, the law stakes thee down in the state of wrath, till another demand of it be satisfied, viz.

SECONDLY, Thou must pay what thou owest. It is undeniable thou art a sinner; and, whatever thou mayest be in time to come, justice must be satisfied for thy sin already committed. The honour of the law inust be maintained, by thy suffering the denounced wrath. It may be thou hast changed thy course of life, or art now resolved to do it; and set about the keeping of the commands of God; but, what hast thou done, or what wilt thou do, with the old debt? Your obedience to God, though it were perfect, is a debt due to him, for the time wherein it is performed; and can no more satisfy for former sins, than a tenant's paying the current year's rent, can satisfy the master for all bygones. Can the paying of new debts acquit a man from old accounts ? Này, deceive not yourselves, you will find these laid up in store with God, and sealed up among

his treasures, Deut. xxxii. 34. It remains then, that either thou must bear that wrath, to which, for thy sin, thou art liable, according to the law; or else, thou must acknowledge thou canst not bear it, and thereupon have recourse to the surety, the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me now ask thee, Art thou able to satisfy the justice of God? Canst thou pay thy own debt? Surely not; for, seeing he is an infinite God, whom thou hast offended, the punishment, being suited to the quality of the offence, must be infinite. But so it is, thy punishment or sufferings for sin cannot be infinite in value, seeing thou art a finite creature; therefore, they must be infinite in duration or continuance; that is, they must be eternal. And so all thy sufferings in this world are but an earnest of what thou must suffer in the world to come.

Now, sinner, if thou canst answer these demands, thou mayest recover thyself in the way of the law. But, art thou not conscious of thy inability to do any

of these things, much more to do them all ? Yet, if thou do not all, thou. dost nothing. Turn then to what course of life thou wilts

thou art still in a state of wrath. Screw up thy obedience to the greatest height thou canst; suffer what God lays upon thee, yea add, if thou wilt, to the burden, and walk under all, without the least impatience ; yet all this will not satisfy the demands of the law; and, therefore, thou art still a ruined creature. Alas ! sinner, what art thou doing, while thou strivest to help thyself; but dost not receive and unite with Jesus Christ? Thou art labouring in the fire, wearying thyself for very vanity ; labouring to enter into heaven by the door, which Adam's sin so bolted, as neither he, nor any of his lost posterity, can ever enter by it. Dost thou not see the flaming sword of justice keeping thee off from the tree of life? Dost thou not hear the law denouncing a curse on thee for all thou art doing; even for thy obedience, thy prayers, thy tears, thy reformation of life, &c. because, being under the law's dominion, thy best works are not so good as it requires them to be, under the pain of the curse ? Believe it, Sirs, if

you live and die out of Christ, without being actually united to him as the second Adam, a life-giving Spirit, and without coming under the covert of his atoning blood; though ye should do the utmost that any man on earth can do, in keeping the commands of God, ye shall never see the face of God in peace. If you should from this moment bid an eternal farewel to this world's joy, and all the affairs thereof, and henceforth busy yourselves with nothing but the salvation of your souls; if you should go into some wilderness, live upon the grass of the field, and be companions to dragons and owls; if you should retire to some dark cavern of the earth, and weep there for your sins, until you have wept yourselves blind; yea, wept out all the moisture of your body; if ye should confess with your tongue, until it cleave to the roof of your mouth; pray, till your knees

grow hard as horns; fast, till your body become like a skeleton ; and, after all this, give it to be burnt, the word is gone out of the Lord's mouth in righteousness, and cannot return; you should perish for ever, notwith. standing of all this, as not being in Christ, John xiv. 6. “ No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Acts iv. 12.-“ Neither is there salvation in any other." Mark.xvi

. 16% He that believeth not, shall be damned."

Object. But God is a merciful God, and he knows we are not able to answer his demands; we hope, therefore, to be saved, if we do as well as we can, and keep the commands as well as we are able. Ans. (1.) Though thou art able to do many things, thou art not able to do one thing aright; thou canst do nothing acceptable to God, being out of Christ, John xv. 5. Without me, ye can do nothing. An unrenewed man, as thou art, can do nothing but sin ; as we have already evinced. Thy best actions are sin, and so they increase thy debt to justice; how then can it be expected they should lessen it? (2.) If God should offer to save men upon condition that they did all they could do, in obedience to his commands, we have ground to think, that these who would betake themselves to that

way should never be saved. For, where is the man that does as well as he can? Who sees not many false steps he has made, which he might have evited? There are so many things to be done, so many temptations to carry us out of the road of duty, and our nature is so very apt to be set on fire of hell, that we would surely fail, even in some point, that is within the compass of our natural abilities. But, (3.) Though thou shouldst do all thou art able to do, in vain dost thou hope to be saved in that way. What word of God is this hope of thine founded on? It is neither founded on law nor gospel ; and, therefore, it is but a delusion. It is not founded on the gospel; for the gospel leads the soul out of itself, to Jesus Christ for all; and it establisheth the law, Rom. iii. 31. whereas this hope of yours cannot be established, but on the ruin of the law, which God will magnify and make honourable. And hence it appears that it is not founded on the law neither. When God set Adam a-working for happiness to himself and his posterity, perfect obedience was the condition required of him; and a curse was denounced in case of disobedience. The law being broken by him, he and his posterity were subjected to the penalty, for sin committed ; and withal still bound to perfect obedience : For it is absurd to think, that man's sinning and suffering for his sin should free him from his duty of obedience to his Creator. When Christ came in the room of the elect, to purchase their salvation, the same were the terms. Justice had the elect underarrest;if he minds to deliverthem, the termsare known.

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