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"God, I thank thee that I am not as other men." This was the language of the proud Pharisee. God be merciful to me a sinner." This language of the publican is fitted to the mouth of fallen creatures That we may speak this language in sincerity, it is necessary to know how worthless and how weak we are.

Some will make a very bad improvement of the most humbling and salutary truths. If we are so unable, they will say, to do any thing truly good, or any thing that may entitle us to expect what is good from God, we cannot be greatly blamed for not doing what we cannot do. Who would blame a man because he cannot fly like birds, when nature has refused him wings. And who will blame men for their inability to do any thing that can please God, when he does not think fit to give us strength in our natural constitution, or to give us grace by his Spirit, to do what is pleasing in his sight?

The answer to this question is too easy. God is certainly not a hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and gathering where he has not strewed; but we are wasteful and wicked servants, who have, by our apostacy from God, disabled and indisposed ourselves for his service. God is so far from being obliged to accommodate his laws to the powers left us in our failen state, that he is obliged, if we may speak so, to the very reverse. is holy by a necessity inherent in his nature,


and therefore he cannot but require service from us, which we cannot perform. If he could be pleased with any thing, that in our fallen state, we can do, he must be pleased with sin, and must forfeit all the glory of his name, as the Holy One of Israel, who is of purer eyes than to behold sin, or to look upon iniquity.

If you ask why he does not confer upon all sinners such a measure of help, that they may be enabled to merit something still better from him by the good improvement of what they have, I would ask you two or there questions in return. What claim have all men upon God for that grace which you think he ought to bestow upon them, and what reason have you to think, that if all men were put in possession of that little strength, which you think they might improve to such advantage, they would make use of it to the end for which it was given them?

What claim have fallen men to that grace which you think would be so useful to them? Have they not justly incurred the curse of God? Is there unrighteousness in him who says, "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them ?" But if this curse is not only deserved, but incurred, if men are by nature children of wrath, the wonder is not that all men are not made partakers of some measure of grace, sufficient, if well im

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proved, to procure more grace, but that any son of man was ever made a partaker of that grace which seems to be entirely excluded by the curse. Is not God impartial in his reveng ing justice? Why then are not all men punished as well as devils, according to their doings? Say not, that the sin of fallen angels was worse than the sin of man, and therefore they deserved more grievous punishment How do you know that their first sin was as much worse than yours as you suppose? But let it be supposed a hundred times more criminal than the sin of man, impartial justice demands that the lesser, as well as the greater criminal, should be punished according to his demerit. no less just that he who deserves the lash should be scourged, than that he who deserves the gibbet should be hanged. Now we must learn from the sentence of the law what the sin of man deserved. We deserved death no less than devils, although devils, who were our tempters, might deserve a more horrible death. To say, therefore, that God dealt hardly with fallen man, because he has not been pleased to bestow some degree of grace upon him, is, in effect, to allege that he is not good because he is righteous; that he uses us harshly because he will not deny himself; that if he is not altogether such as ourselves, he is the less to be respected by us, because he prefers his own dignity to the interest of those criminals who have treated his laws with disdain.

But how do you know, that if all men had received a small stock of grace, they would have improved it to such good purposes as you allege? We received in our father Adam a perfect ability for the doing of God's commandments, and rectitude of disposition for the proper improvement of our powers. What use did we make of our powers? God. made man upright, but he sought out many inventions. How do you know you could make a better use of your little stock of holiness, opposed by the mighty power of your natural corruption, than Adam did of the complete holiness of his nature, unopposed by any tendency to sin?

God hath bestowed upon us very precious gifts in the faculties and powers of our souls. Many talents are allotted to us, of which we might make great use for our advancement in understanding and virtue. But are there any of us that make such use as might be made of them? If there are, have we not reason to acknowledge that our improvement of our talents is no less a gift from God than the talents themselves?

God bestows sanctifying grace upon all true believers, and they "keep themselves that the wicked one touch them not " But whence is it that they keep themselves? Not by their own power, but by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in them. Leave them to themselves, and the grace which they have recei


ved will die out, and leave them involved in destruction and perdition.

I might ask further of those who would have God to bestow a little stock of grace upon all men, that by the good improvement of it, they might entitle themselves to more, how they are to entitle themselves to more by the improvement of what they have. There are only two conceivable ways of entitling themselves to more by the improvement of what they have; either by merit of some kind in what they do, or by a promise annexed to the performance of certain conditions. The former of these ways is hopeless, for who can merit any thing at God's hand? "Who hath first given unto him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again ?" The second is no less hopeless; for all the promises made to sinful men are yea and amen in Christ. And there is no other possible way of making them yea and amen, when the curse of God must stand in full force to every sinner, till he is made a partaker of the salvation of Christ. Is it possible that the curse of the law can bind us over to condemnation, and that we at the same time should be qualified to procure to ourselves the favor of God, by the performance of certain conditions, however easy in the performance? Either the curse or the promise must, in that case, be made of no effect. On the whole, it appears that if it is the

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