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cease not day nor night to celebrate his praises, and to partake of the fulness of his love.
Consider, I beseech you, the folly and guilt of neglecting and contemning the inestimable blessings of salvation which are proffered to us. God hath called us into his holy church, in which the merits of his Son are applied to us for the forgiveness of our sins; the powerful grace of his Holy Spirit dispensed to purify us from all iniquity, and to establish us in holiness and virtue; and everlasting life proffered as the prize of our high calling in Jesus Christ. When we may attain a destiny thus glorious, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light, shall we continue under the dominion of sin, and choose the miserable destiny of sinpers? Shall the intercession of the Son of God be in vain exerted for us—the Holy Spirit in vain proffer his powerful aids and consolations-everlasting life in vain solicit our acceptance and excite our exertions? If so, better had it been for us never to have known the way of righteousnessnever to have been called to God's
mercy. Health and prosperity affording the means of sensual enjoyment, may now appear to sanction the policy of that choice which may have devoted us to the world; but sickness and death are monitors that will come-unwelcome as they may be, come they will—and they are monitors that will speakmonitors which we must hear. In the dark and agonizing hours when sickness and death assail us, oh! how much, how much shall we need the support and the consolation which no human arm, no human voice can supply-the support and consolation that come only from the living God! Alas, alas! in the days of health and prosperity we des
pised his warnings, we rejected his merciful invitations, we would none of his counsel; and our perplexed and fearful spirits are left, solitary, unsustained, to look back on a life of folly and of sin, whereby we have forfeited our title as children of God and heirs of heaven, and made ourselves the bond-slaves of Satan and the heirs of hell.
But if to secure the privileges of our Christian calling be our supreme concern-if truly repenting of our sins, and depending on the merits and grace of the Saviour, and faithfully using all the means of divine instruction and grace, we seek supremely to love and to serve him who hath called us with our high, and holy, and heavenly calling—then we shall enjoy here a happiness which no changes can subvert, no afflictions blast; and which even death, the universal spoiler, cannot wrest from us; for death will then be stripped of his terrors, and welcomed as the messenger that leads us to the consummation of the privileges of our Christian calling, in the eternal vision and enjoyment of God-infinite truth, supreme good, exhaustless felicity.
THE GRACE OF GOD REQUIRING HUMAN CO-OPERATION.
PHILIPPIANS Üj. 12, 13.
Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is
God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
To the man who seriously reflects on his spiritual character, on his condition as a candidate for immortality, the important inquiry will frequently occur-How am I to attain the salvation of my soul? In this momentous concern, am I to rely solely on my own endeavours ? or are my own endeavours to be entirely superseded by the efficacious
grace of God? My text resolves these inquiries—“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in
you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.'
The concurrence of human agency with divine grace is the important doctrine here established.
On this doctrine the following views may be presented :
1. There are two opposite opinions on the subject of human agency and divine grace, which are both erroneous.
2. The correct doctrine embraces a portion of both these opinions.
3. This doctrine is perfectly agreeable to reason, and may be vindicated from all objections.
4. Its practical infuence is highly important.
1. On the subject of human agency and divine grace in the work of salvation there are two opposite opinions, and both erroneous.
The first opinion ascribes every thing to human agency, and discards divine grace.
The advocates of this opinion lay the foundation of their reasonings in support of it, in the nature of virtue. In what consists, say they, the essence of human virtue, but in the free choice of the human wil?? If man is irresistibly impelled by some superior power to a certain course of action, where is its merit or demerit? If he is thus bound by the iron chains of necessity, where is his freedom ! And if controlled in his choice, where is his virtue! To be capable of merit or demerit-to be the subject of reward or punishment-man must be perfectly free; he must be the master of his own actions—free to refuse the good, or to choose the evil. In the work of his salvation he therefore must freely determine for himself, and must be controlled by no superior power; or he becomes a mere machine, incapable of virtue, unworthy of reward, and not justly obnoxious to punishment. Thus far the advocates for human agency argue correctly. Their reasonings are founded on the eonstitution of the human mind-on the immutable nature of virtue which exists only in free agents capable of determining their own actions and on the nature of rewards and punishments which are applicable only to those who, impelled by no resistless impulse, have chosen the good, or pursued the evil. But when the advocates of human agency in the work of salvation advance farther—when they attribute to man that native clearness of perception which, without any superior illumination, discerns in every case the nature and excellence of divine truth, and the nice and correct suggestions of duty--when they attribute to man that strength of will which enables him, unassisted by supernatural aids, to subdue the corrupt passions of his heart, and to resist the temptations of the world--they advance an opinion unscriptural, irrational, and contrary to universal experience. This doctrine, which attributes the exclusive agency to man in the work of his salvation, is one of the erroneous extremes on this subject. And that it is thus erroneous will appear, if we follow, as far as their legitimate reasoning extends, the advocates of the other extreme-of the doctrine of the resistless power of divine grace.
Is noť man, say the advocates of this doctrine, a corrupt being? Do not the proofs of this corruption appear in the prevalence of his sinful propensities-in the ease and frequency with which temptation seduces him into sin-in the long series of crimes which darken his history-and in all the institutions of civil society which, remotely or immediately, are founded on human imperfection and depravity? And is it possible, say they, that a depraved creature, the very essence of whose dépravity consists in the ardour with which he cherishes it, can rise, prompted by no superior impulse, to the exalted heights of virtue, or, unassisted, maintain his high station? Is not man, say they, a des pendent being ? and if his bodily health and his temporal mercies come from an almighty hand, is it not reasonable to conclude that his spiritual health and his eternal mercies must boast of a divine origin? If man can work out his salvation independently of supernatural aid, where is the Vol. III.