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A volume of Sermons, by Dr. Chalmers, of Glasgow.
Introduction to the study and knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, by Thomas Hartwell Horne, A. M. 3 vols. 8vo. Illustrated by maps and fac similes of Biblical manuscripts.
The Principles of Christian Evidence illustrated, by an ex amination of arguments subversive of Natural Theology and the Internal Evidence of Christianity, advanced by Dr. T. Chalmers, in his “Evidence and Authority of the Christian Revelation.” By Duncan Mearns, D. D. Professor of Theology, Aberdeen.
Improved edition of Schmidius' Concordance to the Greek New Testament. From the Glasgow University press, 2 vols. 8vo.
Memoirs of the Life of John Wesley, by Robert Southey, 2 vols.
Mrs. H. More's “Coelebs," has been translated into French and German.
A weekly Journal has commenced printing in Sierra Leone.
The publication of President Dwight's Theology is completed, in 5 vols. 8vo. · New Haven.
Sermons on Practical Subjects, by William Barlass. New York.
A Textuary, or Guide to Preachers in the selection of texts. Unon an entirely new plan. By T. M. Harris, D. D. Cambridge.
Essays on the distinguishing traits of Christian Character. By Gardiner Spring, A. M. Pastor of the Brick Presbyterian Church in the city of New York. Boston, 2d edition.
Family Lectures. By Mrs. N. Sproat. Boston.
Hints towards an Essay on the Pursuit of Happiness, by Benjamin L. Oliver, Jr. Cambridge.
A Discourse delivered before the New Jerusalem Church in Boston, on Christmas Day, 1818. Cambridge.
The unexpected length of some articles in the present number, has rendered it necessary, in order to retain the Intelligence, to exceed the prescribed number of pages. This excess will occasion a corresponding deficiency in some future pumber.
NEW SERIES—No. 2.
For March and April, 1819.
WHAT ARE THE GROUNDS OF ACCEPTANCE WITH GOD ?
Ir is of vast importance to the right conduct of life and to the security of our immortal interests, that we form just conceptions of the nature of religion, and particularly of the grounds of acceptance with God. This is not to be numbered among the speculative themes, on which men may safely differ. It enters essentially into practice, and an error respecting it may be fatal. Yet, important as it is, perhaps there is none, on which there is a greater tendency to self-deceit, or a more active propensity to substitute something of our own for the unerring word of God. Notwithstanding the explicit declarations of scripture, which they admit indeed to be the truth, it is extremely difficult to persuade men, that " without holiness no man shall see the Lord;" that sin in all its nature and influence is odious in the sight of Heaven, and unrepented and unforsaken will inevitably be punished. No less difficult is it to impress men with the conviction of the indispensable and indissoluble connexion of religion with morality ; that it is not a profession, not a transport, or a prayer, but the prevailing habit of the soul, proved by the fruits of virtue ; by a pure, humble, and useful life : that piely especially does not consist in crying " Lord, save us, or we perish”-going to God, in the time of danger, when we have no other refuge ; but repairiug to him daily, in our safety and amidst our blessings, so that when danger presses, or sorrow, or death invades, devotion may not be a novelty,
New Series-vol, I.
we may not be found strangers at the mercy-seat, or compelled to cry out in ignorance and alarm, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
Yet, various and unequivocal as are the instructions of the gospel, accordant as they are with the best conceptions we can form of the character of God, and the nature of men and virtue, it is astonishing to what extent this subject has been inisunderstood and perverted in some systems of theology, and in the crude notions of multitudes, who still profess to follow Jesus Christ for their guide. What now, let us inquire, are his words? “ Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and pharisees," that is, unless it be something better than the profession, or the outward garb of holiness, " ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. What is the character, to which this blessedness is promised ?
“Whoso doeth the will of my Father, who is in heaven.” “For, the hour cometh, when all who are in their graves shall bear the voice of the Son of God, and shall come forth; they that have done good to the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation." His apostles uniformly speak the same language. “ In every nation,” saith Peter, « he that feareth God, and worketh righteousness, shall be accepted of him." “ To them, who by patient continuance in well doing, seek for glory, honour and immortality, eternal life; but to them, who do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, tribulation and wrath, indignation and anguish, upon every soul of man, that doeth evil."
Indeed we must extract a large portion of the old and new Testaments, should we adduce only the plainest passages which teach, that the way of acceptance with God is an holy life; that our future condition will depend upon present character; in other words, that “God will render to every man according to his deeds;" that though after we have done all, we are but unprofitable servants, and our goodness cannot extend to him, yet through his mercy in Jesus Christ it shall be accepted; that, on the other hand, though our sins cannot hurt the impassible God, they are displeasing in bis sight, and that the equity of his government, the sanctity of his laws, and especially the moral goodof his universe, demand, that they should receive a punishment proportioned to their extent; from which nothing in the whole course of divine providence or grace, in the compassion of God or the mediation of Christ shall save the sinner, but only deep and humble penitence, approving its sincerity to the searcher of hearts in ihe future obedience of the life.
This treatment of mankind according to their characters ; according to their improvement or abuse of gifts and opportuni
ties, their obedience or violation of God's commands, unequivocally declared, seems perfectly compatible with the noblest views we can form of the divine character; with the discipline we should expect, as most suited to rational and accountable ereatures, and as exerting by its sanctions, its promises and threatenings, the most salutary influence on the peace and virtue of the world. Yet reasonable as it is, and plainly as it is taught, there are not a few, who cherish other grounds of hope, and it is to be feared, encourage themselves “in sin, that grace may abound.”
There are particularly two sentiments, contradictory indeed to each other, but equally opposed to the truth, and leading, it is believed, to the same pernicious and corrupting results : the one, grounded on mistaken views of the mercy of God in his Son, supposes that all men shall be saved without distinction of good or bad, and with no other punishment than they may suffer in the present life, having their sins freely pardoned through the mediation of Christ; the other, drawn from equally false conceptions of the divine grace in converting the most abandoned sinner, builds the hope of salvation on something wholly independent of ourselves, and granted only to God's elect, according to his uncontrollable and inexplicable sovereignty.
The danger of sentiments like these is great, both to the individuals who adopt them, and to the community in which they prevail. It is great, as might be expected, in exact proportion to their departure from the unerring standard of inspired truth. Whenever a man has learnt to persuade himself that he can attain eternal happiness on any other conditions than obedience, he has lost the strongest security to his virtue, and society their strongest security that he will not be a pestilent member. If he can believe, that through the mercy of God and the all-embracing mediation of Christ, his soul shall be safe, whatever sins he may have committed in the body; or that, though God hateth sin, he selects the most abandoned sinners as the monuments of his free regenerating grace ; on either of these grounds, his moral purity is in danger. For even should he admit, and with such believers it is sometimes triumphantly declared, as granting to them a more exclusive privilege, -that "strait is the gate and few there be that are saved," yet such is the presumption, and did it not seem a solecism in terms, such is the spiritual pride of many self-deceived offenders, that they would fain persuade themselves, that they are of the chosen few; and that having no righteousness of their own, (which indeed may be literally true, and which they seem to value as an essential qualification) they will be clothed upon with the righteousness of Christ, and share the triumphs of the great salvation.
But we have not so learned Christ; nor dare we rest our hopes on a baseless fabric. Such sentiments, we regard as among the pewersions of pure christianity, most injurious in all their influence upon public and private morals; and, we believe that whoever with such a faith shall violate God's law, will find to his anguish the falseness of his dependance, and in the solemn revelations of eternity will mourn, when it is too late, his departure from the way, the truth, and the life.
With regard to the first error, to which we have reference, it might be sufficient to urge, that the doctrine of future pun. ishments as well as of rewards, of misery to the wicked as well as of happiness to the good, is forced upon the mind by every just view of the character and government of God, and by the survey of his unequal providence in the world, as seen in the frequent suffering of the good and in the apparent prosperity of the wicked. Much indeed may be urged, and jusily, of the present sufferings of sin ; of the pangs of conscience, of the degradation and contempt, and oiher temporal disadvantages, to which it subjects men. Much may be urged, and justly, of the influence of conscious guilt in spoiling our best enjoyments ; spreading a dark cloud over every object, and taking from the sinner the comfort of even his innocent pleasures. Who will question, that in a most important sevse, “ there is no peace to the wicked”-no pleasure, in what fraud, or violence, or hy. pocrisy may procure ? But this is far from reaching the extent of their demerits. Upbraiding conscience is silenced by the clamour of passion, and hardened by the habit of transgression. The vast proportion of habitual sinners do not reflect, and therefore do not suffer the pangs of compunction. It belongs to their unhappy character, that they proceed from worse 10 worse, and soon learn to give themselves up to commit all iniquity with greediness. The sentiment therefore, that their sin is adequately punished by its own miserable reflections in the present world, supposes a tenderness of conscience, an acuteness of moral sensibility, which the sinner does not possess; a kind of punishment, of which habitual transgression bas rendered him utterly unsusceptible.
It may still further be urged against this sentiment, that it involves a very partial and inadequate view of the moral government of God; that it makes a very slight distinction between the virtuous and the wicked, while it leaves vice without its most solemn and effectual restraint. For what forbids our ap