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ye cannot, by your own strength, continue in a course of faith and Christian obedience.”

It is the truth and certainty of this declaration which it will be my business in the present sermon to establish; and this may be best effected, by explaining, first, the necessity which we are under of receiving some such help from God, in order to enable us to serve and please Him : secondly, by bringing forward the estimony of many parts of Scripture to the reality of this gracious and needful assistance: and, thirdly, [which may take away those objections which the pride and wisdom of the world have urged against the doctrine in question ;] to explain the manner in which, from our own experience and from the word of God, we may conceive such assistance to influence our hearts and understanding

And, first, the necessity of such a help as this may be plainly perceived by all who consider the weakness and corruption of man's nature, the power of evil habits, the inconstancy of human resolution, and the malice and activity of those spiritual enemies who tempt us to sin and ruin. That the nature of man is in itself inclined to evil, is a truth, which the wisest and best of the heathen themselves have had sufficient light to acknowledge and deplore; and many of them had still retained some faint memory of that unhappy transgression of our

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earliest parents ; by which sin entered into the world, and death by sin ; and whence corruption and weakness are derived to the whole race and posterity of Adam ; inasmuch as whatsoever is born of the flesh is flesh, and liable to corruption.

Nor, indeed, can we fail to perceive, by our own observation of what passes within us, that we are at all times more ready to sin than to do good; that, in the common language of the world, the notions of self-denial and pain are always joined to those of active goodness; and that while we talk of conquering sin, we confess, by that very expression, that we are naturally sinful. Accordingly, when Scripture speaks of our natural state, and of the manner in which Christ has redeemed us from it, it represents our condition not only as miserable but helpless. “When we were yet without strength,” saith St. Paul, “ in due time Christ died for the ungodly."! When mankind were utterly unable to recover themselves from that state of misery and sin, “ in the fulness of time ”2— at the time, that is, which God saw to be most convenient - He sent His Son into the world to die for sinners; and, by that Spirit which raised Him from the dead, to enable us to mortify our lusts, and to rise to newness of life. So that our natural weakness is of itself sufficient to render this grace of the Most High peculiarly necessary to every man. 1 Romans, v. 6.

2 Galatians, iv. 4.

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But this is not the whole ; since, besides this natural weakness, there is a weakness of our own acquiring, which, without God's help, , must render our attempts to please Him, as useless as to run a race in chains. We have all of us, by indulging our evil nature, formed habits of sin ; we are accustomed to do evil ; and custom, by the language of the world itself, is allowed to be a second nature, which must make repentance as impossible, as for the blackamoor to change his skin, or the leopard to wash away his spots.

And, thirdly, we must add, to these impediments, the inconstancy and fickleness of man's resolution. Suppose that, upon hearing the terrible threatenings of God's word against sin, a sinner should, of himself, entertain a purpose to break off his wicked courses, yet do we not perceive, by our own sad experience, how soon such good resolutions pass away, when the feelings which produced them are gone by? When we are not tempted, we are bold and hopeful: but when dangers arise, or when the objects of our desire are present, how soon do our good purposes become like the morning cloud, and as the early dew which passeth away! So we needs must confess with the prophet Jeremiah, “Oh, Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps !”

And, besides this weakness of our nature, this strength of habit and inconstancy of resolution, we have a powerful enemy in the Devil ; who is very malicious and active to promote our ruin by keeping us still in this slavery. We are not only weak within, but strongly assaulted out'wardly; we wrestle not only with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, and spiritual wickednesses. The powers of hell are joined for our destruction ; and we have, therefore, need of an extraordinary strength and assistance to enable us to contend with such powerful adversaries. And our comfort is that God offers His grace to us; and that, as God Himself made answer to Paul, He is sufficient for all our wants and dangers. Greater is He that is in us, than he that is in the world: the Spirit of God is infinitely stronger than even he who goeth about like “a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

For it is to this grace and help of God, that the Scripture constantly ascribes our regeneration and sanctification, and perseverance in holiness. We are said to be born again of the Spirit ; to be sanctified by the renewing of the Holy Ghost; to be led by the Spirit of God, through the Spirit to mortify the deeds of the flesh; to do all things through Christ strengthening us ; and to be kept, by the power of God, through

11 St. Peter, v. 8.

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faith, unto salvation. All which most plainly expresses that help of Christ, whereby we become good ; and are enabled to do any thing that is good; and are preserved in a good

As the Scripture everywhere attributes sin to our own corrupt hearts, and to the malice and instigation of the Devil ; so does it constantly ascribe all the good which we do to the help of God's Holy Spirit : or, which is the same thing, to the grace of Christ. For the Spirit of God is called the Spirit of Christ ; and often Christ Himself. “ If any man,” saith St. Paul, “ have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His ; and if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin.” It is proved, then, both from reason, and from Scripture ; that, except by God's grace, we can bring forth no fruit of holiness; and that “ without Christ we can do nothing.'

And, if we are asked, in the third place, after what manner the Spirit of God and of His Christ produces this blessed effect on our souls; -we reply, that it is by diverting our attention to such outward objects, or means of knowledge, as may enable us to see the things which belong to our peace, and to be sensible of our real interests; and by recalling to our memory such of our own good resolutions, or such awakening passages of Scripture, as may best keep us in those good

1 Romans, viii. 9, 10.

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