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offers of salvation. He freely promises forgiveness and acceptance to all who repent, and submit to the terms of life. "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." The more the guilt of sinners has abounded, the more the grace of God can abound in their forgiveness. Those, who have indulged the most virulent enmity against God, and the cause and friends of Christ, may, like penitent Paul, obtain mercy. Those, who have long abused the patience of God, and grown gray in their sins, may, like penitent Manasseh, be received at the eleventh hour. The vilest sinner, upon repentance, may turn the greatness of his guilt into an argument of mercy, and in the language of David say, "Lord, pardon mine iniquity, for it is great." To despair of salvation, therefore, on account of aggravated guilt, is extremely criminal in the most ill deserving sinners. Their despondency is a reproach both to the mercy and faithfulness of God. It is so far from being an expression of real humility, that, on the other hand, it is a real justification of their present impenitency and unbelief. It is a practical declaration, that they would rather it should be owing to past, than to present obstinacy, that they are denied divine mercy. But God has ordered it so in the gospel, that nothing but present opposition to the offers of life, can exclude the most unworthy and guilty sinner from the kingdom of heaven. All things are ready on God's part; and, therefore, let sinners, instead of murmuring and desponding, "hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption."

4. If blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall never be forgiven; then it seriously concerns all sinners

to beware of committing this unpardonable sin. It appears from what has been said, that it is a sin, which may be committed, at this day, as well as in the primitive days of christianity. It consists in ascribing the peculiar operations of the Holy Ghost, to the power and agency of Satan. And though the miraculous gifts of the Spirit have long since ceased; yet his gracious and sanctifying influences still continue. There have been many remarkable seasons of the outpourings of the Spirit, in these latter ages. And should such a season come again, in this land, when the awakening, convincing, converting, and comforting influences of the Spirit, should be very common and very powerful; and should any virulently oppose this good work of the good Spirit, and knowingly ascribe it to the power and delusion of Satan; there is no reason to doubt but they would blaspheme the Holy Ghost, and bring upon themselves unpardonable guilt. It behoves sinners, therefore, to keep at the greatest distance from this fatal sin. Let them avoid all appearances of it, and shun every way of sinning, which leads to it, or stands more nearly connected with it. In particular, let them beware of despising religion; of trifling with the name of God; and of profaning his day, his house, his word and sacred ordinances. The transition is easy from these sins to the sin unto death. Those who have habituated themselves to despise and profane divine objects in general, are in peculiar danger of blaspheming the Holy Ghost in particular, whenever they have an opportunity of seeing his peculiar and powerful operations upon the hearts of men. Let no sinners, therefore, dare to trifle with sacred things; lest they should be left in awful judgment to themselves, to speak a word against the Holy Ghost, which is death without reprieve!




ROMANS vii, 18.

For to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.

IT is a question among expositors, whether the Apostle is here expressing the pious feelings of his own heart; or whether he is here describing the feelings of a person destitute of grace. To determine this point, it seems necessary to examine the context, which is the best way to discover his true meaning. From the seventh to the ninth verse, he describes the exercises of his own mind, before he was awakened from his carnal ease and stupidity. "What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Nay, I had not known sin but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once." This exactly agrees with another description, which he gives of himself, while in the state of nature. "If any man thinketh, that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more. Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews, as touching the law a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless." Such was his character and his opinion of himself, before he knew the grace of God in truth. But after his

conversion, his views and feelings were totally altered. And this change he describes, from the ninth to the eleventh verse. "But when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment which was ordained to life, I found to be unto death. For sin taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew me." What follows in this chapter is a description of himself as a real, though imperfect saint. "Wherefore the law is holy; and the commandment holy, just, and good. Was then that which is good made death unto me? God forbid. But sin, that it might appear sin, working death in me by that which is good; that sin by the commandment might become exceeding sinful. For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, there dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not." Who can doubt, whether the Apostle is here speaking of himself? or whether he is speaking of himself as a real christian? He says, he does not allow of any evil in himself, but sincerely wishes to avoid all sin. This is more than any unrenewed sinner can sincerely say, after he has been awakened to see his own heart. The Apostle, therefore, must be speaking of his own gracious exercises, in these verses. And if this be true, it is easy to understand what he means in the words, which have been selected as the foundation of the ensuing discourse. "To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not." This is the lan

guage of every christian, who can sincerely say, I desire to be perfectly holy; but I find by daily experience, that I fall short of such a desirable attainment. Agreeably, therefore, to the spirit of the text, I shall,

I. Show that saints desire to be perfectly holy. II. Show that they are not perfect in holiness. III. Show wherein their imperfection in holiness consists.

I. I am to show, that saints desire to be perfectly holy.

Holiness is desirable in its own nature, and none can possess the least degree of it, without desiring to possess it in perfection. The truth of this will appear from two things, which are essential to all real saints. One is, that they sincerely love the divine law. The Apostle says, "I delight in the law of God after the inward man." David frequently makes the same declaration. "I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart. O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day. I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold." And he says of every good man, "His delight is in the law of the Lord! and in his law doth he meditate day and night." This is the law of perfection, or at least includes it, which saith to every person, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength; and thy neighbor as thyself." No man can love this law, without desiring that perfect holiness, which it absolutely enjoins. Those, therefore, who sincerely desire to obey the law of God in its full extent, must necessarily desire to be entirely conformed, to the divine will, which is the perfection of holiness.

Besides, saints not only love the law of perfection, but heartily hate every transgression of it. The Apos

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