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ly real character is connected with the latter, and how little it is influenced by the former.
Secondly; a necessary consequence of the above, is the representing of the religious state of every man, as very much dependent on his bodily constitution. Accordingly it has been observed, how soon an inward assurance of pardon is obtained by many persons, in whom, either before or afterwards, there is not to be discovered any mortification of the wayward passions of their nature; while others, in whom no drawback from religious rectitude is found, are for whole years, and sometimes during their lives, rendered miserable by the want of the personal assurance in question. The former description of persons alluded to, are apt to be thrown off their guard, and rendered an easy prey to temptation; while the latter endure much needless sorrow, and sometimes abandon themselves to despair; or what is worse, dismiss religion from their thoughts.
Thirdly; the assurance in question, does not an. swer the purpose of a settled security of mind; being subject to ebbs as well as floods, as is confessed generally by the persons who are believed to have received it. This may easily be accounted for, on the principle which occasions paroxysms of animal agitation, under circumstances either of great joy or of great grief, in the relations of the present life. The cause of all of these affections remaining the same, the sensibilities of the subject of them are alternately lively or the contrary.
Fourthly; The opinion has very often encouraged total insensibility to religious duty; and in some instances, habitual indulgence in gross sin: the no. tion being entertained, that sensibilities formerly experienced cannot be lost for ever, and will cer. tainly return before the last moment of life. Many have lived and died under this delusion. The doc. trine of the perseverance of the saints, and that of testing the religious state by animal sensibility, are not always connected in the same minds. It is here
thought, that there is inconsistency in disjoining them: but however this may be, it may fairly be objected to the one, that it is so liable to be made to sustain the other.
It would be a mistaking of the opinion of him who now writes, to suppose him advocating a theory harren of satisfaction, as to the important point of our prospects in another state of being. He supposes, that innumerable passages of scrip: ture, and indeed, that the very essence of the gospel, legible in its name, give a ground of hope abundantly sufficient for a sincere, and at the same time humble mind. But he knows of no test, be: sides that of the fruits of the Spirit, in the heart and in the life. It is true, that in proportion to the ex. perience of deficiency, there will be a drawback from the encouragement of confidence here re. cognized. One way only remains of getting over this discouragement: and it is by “ forgetting the things which are behind, and reaching forward to the things which are before.”* The idea of a shorter way is delusive; however it may please with the prospect of present repose. And even this may not be stable; being constantly liable to vicissi. tudes from changes in the humours of the body, and even in the temperature of the atmosphere.
It has happened to the present author, to have known many persons, who have lived habitually some in gross sin, and others with faults of different kinds, inconsistent with the Christian calling --whom he has believed to have been confirmed in the exceptionable properties of their characters, by continually hankering after a certain feeling; the supposed delights of which were more captivating to their imaginations, than the taking up of the cross, in daily conflict with whatever drew their affections from moral purity. Not only so, he has known sincere and virtuous persons disposed to
• Philipp. iij. 13.
tolerate in professors very great delinquences, be., lieving them to be compatible with grace; merely on the credit of occasional influences of the same animal sensibility: whereas in others, a much higher grade of inward and outward rectitude, and a regular discharge of devotional duties, would pass with the same pious persons for mere legal righteousness; or a splendid species of sinfulness, not at all consistent with a state of acceptance with God.
In consideration of the above, the author does not hesitate to conclude, with Mr. Baxter—" Expect not that your assurance shall be perfect in this life: for till all grace be perfect, this cannot be perfect:"* and again--"If we be imperfect and our faith imperfect, and all our endeavours and graces imperfect, then our assurance must needs be imperfect also.”+ It is evident, that Mr. Baxter uses the term assurance, in the sense of a persuasion of mind, not immediately infused into it, but resulting from a right state of the affections. In propor tion to this, he would doubtless have acknowledge ed an approach to the perfection of assurance, not reached. With what propriety the word is applied by him to a state of mind admitting degrees, is a matter not here inquired into: but it is believed, that there is no authority for such an application in the Scriptures.
* Practical Works, vol. i. p..876. + Vol. ii. p. 876.
Division of the Subject.-Section 1. Of the Divinity of Christ.
-Introductory Chapters of St. Matthew and St. Luke, Introduction of the Gospel of St. John.Commission in Matthew, xxix, 19.-References to Texts.-Fathers, Section II. Of the Propitiatory Sacrifice.- Meaning opened And proved. --Reconciliation.-Fathers.--Section III. Of the Extent of the Benefit.-General Sense of Scripture. -Beginning of the contrary Doctrine.-The Sense of the Church.--Section IV. Of An Improved Version," (so called.)-Design of this section. --First two Chapters of St. Matthew.--First two Chapters of St. Luke. --Beginning of St. John.-Other Passages.- Propitiatory Sacrifice. -Exploded Passage of St. Luke.-General Remarks on
the Version and on Unitarianism.-Newcome vindicated. It is designed to treat of this subject, in the form in which it is presented in that clause of the creed, wherein the catecumen confesses I believe “ secondly, in God the Son, who hath redeemed me and all mankind." The sentiments to be delivered will arrange themselves under the heads of—The Saviour's Divinity–His Propitiatory Sacrifice. The Extent of it, and-Remarks on “An Improved Version” (so called) of the New Testament.
SECTION I. OF THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. Three of the four gospels begin with express ac. knowledgments of it: St. Matthew and St. Luke affirming the miraculous conception, and St. John af. firming pre-existent dignity, in terms evidently hav.
* See Lecture II.
ing a bearing on a well known heresy of his day; but on principles which make them equally contradictory to the maintainers of the simple humanity of the Saviour.
They endeavour to invalidate the testimonies of St. Matthew and St. Luke by alleging, that from the seventeenth verse of the first chapter of the former, to the end of the second chapter, and from the fifth verse of the first two chapters of the latter to the end of the second chapter, are interpolations. In the first case they say, that two very early sects, called “Nazarenes” and “ Ebionites,” who were few in number and of short duration, and who denied the divinity, had a gospel without the passage in question. In the latter case they say, that Marcion- a well known heretick-possessed a copy of the gospel without the two chapters. The facts are not denied on the other side; but are accounted for by a reference to the errours, which such muti. lations were calculated to favour. These sects were never acknowledged, as making a part of the primitive Church: and as to Marcion in particular, he was a learned man, who, being excommunicated for immorality, became the head of a sect. Among their blasphemies, was that of their denial, that the world was created by a wise and benevolent being. That all the copies handed down include the passages alluded to, is not denied: so that they are set aside, at the expense of giving up the only true evi. dence of scripture—the testimony of the Church. Other objections are made; but they turn on alleged dissonances, which may be reconciled; but not within the present limits.
Concerning the introduction to the gospel of St. John, it is alleged, that Christ is intitled “The Word,” by way of metonymy, God having revealed his word by him—That “In the beginning,” refers to the commencement of the evangelical dispensation—That “The word was with God,” is