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« mere sinner" is described as “awakened," and as “ viewing himself merely as a guilty sinner.” At the same time, however, he is supposed to be destitute of all "holy affection.” It may be questioned whether this account of things be consistent with itself; or whether
mere sinner” ever (views himself merely as a guilty sinner;" for such views include a just sense of the evil of sin, and of his own utter unworthiness of the divine favour, which no “mere sinner” ever possessed. But passing this, whatever be his “ awakenings,” and whatever the load of "guilt that lies upon his conscience, seeing he is allowed to be destitute of all holy affection,” he must be in fact no other than a hardhearted enemy to true religion. He has not a grain of regard to God's name, nor concern for having offended him; nor the least degree of attachment to the atonement of Christ, on account of its securing his honour; in a word, his whole affection centers in himself. This character wants “relief.” And what is it that will relieve him? Pardon and acceptance with God, through the atonement of Jesus? If so, he needs neither to climb to heaven, nor to descend into the deep: the word is nigh him. But this is not what he wants : for he sees no form, nor comeliness in Him; nor beauty that he should DESIRE HIM. Is it to be saved from his sins ? No: It is to be saved in them. It is to obtain ease to his troubled conscience, and exemption from the dread of divine wrath ; without relinquishing his self-righteous lusts, and submitting to the righteousness of God. And is it true that such a character
stands in need of “relief?” He may think he does, and may labour hard to obtain it: but surely he needs to be wounded instead of healed, and killed rather than made alive. Nay, in such a state of mind, is it possible that he should be "relieved ” by the gospel as it is in Jesus? Rather is it not self-evident that to relieve him we must assimilate our doctrine to his inclinations? It were as absurd to suppose that a hard-hearted sinner should be relieved by the true gospel, as that the whole should find relief in a physician.
Thirdly, The hard-hearted sinner is not only to be “relieved” by the assurance of “pardon and acceptance with God;" but this is supposed to be derived“ directly from the atonement.” If by this were meant merely for the sake of the atonement, it were unobjectionable: but the meaning is, that the mere sinner is pardoned without repentance, or any “holy affection to Christ.” There must be no consciousness of any thing of the kind previous to forgiveness ; for then it would not be “ direct, but through the medium of a good opinion of his own heart, or character.” And does Mr. M. really believe in all this? What then will he make of the concurrent language of the old and new testament? Let the wicked FORSAKE HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man his THOUGHTS, and let him RETURN UNTO THE LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardonPreaching the baptism of REPENT ANCE FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS_REPENT therefore and be con
VERTED, that your SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUTTo turn them from the POWER OF SATAN UNTO GOD, that they might receive the FORGIVENESS OF SINS.* What can be made of this language ? Shall we say, It is the voice of the law, directing a sinner what he must do in order to be accepted by his own obedience? An ingenious mind will seldom be at a loss for something to say: but let us take heed lest we be found perverting the scriptures in support of an hypothesis. If there be any meaning in language, it is manifest that these exhortations are addressed to sinners as the means not of legal, but of evangelical justification, justification of which the forgiveness of sins is an essential branch.
From the foregoing, and many such passages, it is evident, that when we are said to be justified by faith, it is such a faith as involves repentance ; equally so as when we are said to be forgiven on repentance, it is such repentance as involves be. lieving
Nay, more, If Mr. M. believes as above, what can be made of his own writings? How are we to understand his note in page 92, containing a brief but judicious answer to Mr. John Barclay ? He there proves that no man is pardoned or accepted of God till he sustain a different character from that which belongs to him merely as a sinner: that
* Isai. lv. 6–8. Luke lii. 3. Acts üi. 19. xxvi. 18.
+ See Mr. M.'s Simple Truth, pp. 21-26.
is, till he is a believer; and that “The assurance “ of a man's own justification is not founded merely “ upon the direct testimony of God, but also upon “ the testimony of his own conscience, bearing him “ witness in the Holy Spirit that he believes the
gospel testimony.” Mr. Barclay might reply to him as he does to others. He might say, concern. ing the awakened sinner, that on Mr. M.'s prin. ciples, “Though Christ died for sinners, for the
ungodly: yet he does not believe that Christ's • death will be of any benefit to him as a mere sinner, but as possessed of faith : nor does he expect any satisfaction as to the salvation of his soul purely and directly from the atonement; but through the medium of a better opinion of hi self, a consciousness that he is a believer. This sentiment, if he is really concerned about the salvation of his soul, must set him upon attempts that he may obtain this faith, in order to be jus• tified, and all his endeavours, prayers, and religious exercises will be directed to that ende? If Mr. M. answer this objection, he will answer
After all, there is a way of deriving relief as “ mere sinners, directly from the atonement:" but this is what a mere sinner, in Mr. M.'s sense of the terms, never does. They are believing sinners only, sinners possessed of "holy affection” to Christ, who are thus rendered dead to every thing in themselves, and alive to him. By Mr. M.'s reasoning, it should seem as though impenitent and
unhumbled sinners not only derived their comfort in this way; but as if they were the only persons that did so! To derive relief as mere sinners directly from the atonement, it is not necessary that we should possess no holy affection towards Christ; but that whatever we possess, we make nothing of it as a ground of acceptance, counting all things but loss and dung, that we may win and be found in him. And this manner of deriving relief is not peculiar to the time of our first believing; but belongs to a life of faith on the Son of God.
Finally, It is supposed that the including of holy affection in the nature of faith, and rendering it necessary to acceptance with God, (no matter under what consideration) must of necessity lead the sinner from Christ, to rely on something good in himself. It is true, that if any holiness in us were required as a ground of acceptance with God, it would be so; and the same would be true of the requirement of a faith without holiness, provided it were required to this end. That faith, whatever be its nature, is required, and is necessary to precede justification, Mr. M. will not deny. He denies its being necessary as that on account of which we are justified, and so do I: but whatever be the place which it occupies, it is allowed to be necessary. Now if the necessity of a holy faith be more favourable to self-righteousness, than of one which has nothing holy in it, it must be either because it is of the nature of holiness, rather than of unholiness, so to operate; or because the depravity of the heart