The Demands of the Law, and the Great Concerns of Salvation

Taken from, The Great Concerns of Salvation
Written by, Thomas Halyburton (1674 – 1712),  one of the ejected ministers

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The great concern of man is suggested by three important inquiries; What have I done? What shall I do to be saved? What shall I render to the Lord?

To the question, What have we done? The Bible answers, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” If it be asked, What shall we do to be saved ? the answer is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” And if it be asked, ” What shall we render to the Lord for all his mercies?” We may reply in the words of the Psalmist, “I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord;” or in the language of the prophet, “He hath showed thee O man, what is good, and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Ministers of the Gospel are principally concerned with the second inquiry. They are to persuade men to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. But as they come not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, the foundation must be laid in a correct view of man’s natural state. Before we offer Christ, we must show your need of him; before we present the offers of mercy, we must describe your misery; before we call you to repentance, we must show your guilt.

On this account your attention is now invited to the words of the apostle, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” This passage contains a general assertion, in which all stand convicted of sin. All, rich and poor, high and low, Jew and Gentile, have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. It is not asserted, that they may sin; and if tempted, may fall; but that they are already involved in guilt.

The original word rendered come short, is emphatic; it properly signifies to fall short of the mark aimed at, or to fall behind in a race, so as to lose the prize. Man, in his first state, had a fair prospect for glory. He had power to run the race ; and the enemy had no ability to prevent his winning the prize. But though man had originally no encumbrances to retard his progress, yet he fell short of the glory of God. He lost the peculiar enjoyment of the Divine favor, of which he had so fair a prospect; and the image of God, which was his glory, together with the advantages by which it was to be attended. The text of Scripture,” All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” expresses the sentiment, That all, who have descended from Adam in the ordinary way, have sinned, and thereby come short of the glory of God. A few propositions will prepare the way for a consideration of this momentous truth.

First. God is the absolute and independent sovereign of the world.

“The Lord Most High is terrible; he is a great king over all the earth,” and he alone is able to manage the affairs of so great a province; for there is none like him, neither are there any works like his works. The excellence of his nature gives him alone a claim to absolute sovereignty,” Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord; thou art great, and thy name is great in might. Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? For to thee doth it appertain, forasmuch as there is none like unto thee.” His right to rule is also founded upon his being the Creator of all things, “The Lord is a great King above all gods. The sea is his own, he made it.” “O Jacob and Israel, thou art my servant; I have formed thee, thou art my servant, O Israel.” In short, his preserving all things, and his manifold mercies to his creatures, give him the best of all claims to absolute dominion. And his infinite wisdom, power, holiness, and justice, not only render him a perfect ruler, but make entire obedience to his authority desirable to all who know their best interests.

Second. God has given laws to all his creatures, by which he governs them.

Not to mention those for the control of the inanimate creation; he has prescribed to men their work. “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.” “For the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King.” We are not in any thing left to our own arbitrary choice. He who has said to the sea, “Hitherto shalt thou come, and no farther,” has likewise so dealt with man. But the holy laws by which on every hand he has limited man, are not like those set to the waves of the sea; for God deals with us in a manner suited to our nature. Reason is given to man; and his limits he cannot pass, without abandoning his highest interest.

Third. The great Lawgiver has annexed rewards and punishments to his laws.

The authority of God cannot be disregarded with impunity. His glory he will not give to another; and therefore his laws are guarded with suitable rewards and punishments.  He was under no obligation to give any reward for obedience, beyond that which flows from obedience.

And this is sufficient; for in keeping his commandments “there is great reward.” But such was his goodness, that he promised to reward obedience with eternal life. Now this reward is greater than obedience deserved, and suited only to the bounty of the giver. On the other hand, a dreadful penalty is annexed to disobedience. God has not made it impossible for us to break his laws, if we choose to do it; –but if we do, the curse is inevitable, “Cursed is every one that continues not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.”

Fourth. These laws have a fourfold property.

“Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, just, and good.” “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold under sin.” The law is holy. It is an exact transcript of the holy will of God. There is nothing in it unworthy of Him, who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity. The law is just. It is given as the rule of justice among men. It renders to God his due, as well as to man. Man has no title to anything, but from this law. Beyond what this grants, nothing can be justly claimed. The law is good. It was made with regard to the welfare of those who live under it; and not to gratify the lusts of the wicked. And with this regard to our good in time and eternity,our duty and interest are made inseparable; and disobedience and punishment are alike inseparable. The law is spiritual. It is not like human laws, which extend only to outward actions; but it is spiritual, reaching to all the thoughts and intents of the heart.

This made the Psalmist exclaim, “I have seen an end of all perfection, but thy commandment is exceeding broad.”

Blessed are the Persecuted for Righteousness’ Sake

Taken from, “Plain Village Sermons on the Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes”
Written by, Henry Alford, (1810 – 1871)

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“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”    –Matt. 5:10-12

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Besides the blessings which are poured into the cup of Christ’s people, on account of those graces which he plants in their hearts…

…there are others coming from the natural and necessary temper of others towards them, and the situation of affairs with respect to them.

Now, they are described as a peculiar, a separated people; as citizens of a kingdom which is situated in another country, and having their affections fixed, and their rule of conduct laid down, not here, but in a place far away. Moreover, it is said that they are not com formed to the world in which they live, that they not only do not run with its inhabitants to that excess of riot and surfeiting; but that they do not, even in things seemingly innocent, suffer their hearts to be bound down to this lower world. Nor is this all: –they are transformed in the image of their minds, they are all united by faith to one living Head –even the Lord Jesus; and are all members of His body. They are begotten anew in Christ, and therefore they have lost their relish and taste for the old and cast off things of this vain world.

What, then, is the consequence? The children of the world, those who are living well contented to enjoy their present life, and caring for nothing beyond, think it strange that there should be those among them, who do not care for the life of which they make so much; and more than this, –they are moved by their holy and constant lives, to envy them, and to endeavor to remove them, if possible, out-of-the-way; for their own evil deeds cannot abide the light of truth and justice which these persons, by their presence, cast upon them. This same motive leads them also to speak evil of the saints of God, and to endeavor to reduce them down to their own level, that they may be able to carry on their bad practices, without the purity of the Christian character even giving warning to them to consider their path, and amend their ways.

And add to all these reasons the enmity natural to the heart of man, against everything that is of God, or belongs to the new nature, of which the members of Christ are partakers, and you will see abundant reason, independently of circumstances, why the servants of God should be held in hatred and contempt by the children of this world. At times these feelings have broken out openly, and they have been subjected to violent persecutions, and loss of goods and life; but in all times the world is of the same mind towards them –therefore the world hates them, because they are not of the world, as He Himself was not of the world.

And this has not been concealed from us by Christ; He has not held us out any prospect of ease and luxury. He has told us plainly, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Nay so far from concealing it from them, He makes it, as in the text, a part of their blessedness, that they are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. We have seen in the other blessings, that they belong to persons and qualities not highly esteemed by the world: but this seems the strangest blessing of the whole, that those should be blessed, who are persecuted –who are forsaken of their nearest friends, and made a gazing stock for all men.

We are naturally fond of the quiet and comfort of society, –of the smiles of our friends, and their confidence, and all the little advantages of friendly intercourse; we are fond of sharing our worldly advantages with those about us, and being counted as peaceful members of society, and respectable persons; we are jealous of our characters, and wish to keep them without stain among men, and our own advantage we consult, and eagerly pursue our own profit.

But here is a man who is cast out from society and comfort, –whose enemies are even those of his own household; who has few, and perhaps those, distant friends –and is left alone in the world: advantage she seems to have none, much less any with whom he can share them; owing to the malice of his adversaries, he is represented as a disturber of peace, and disreputable, his fair character in the eyes of men is blotted by their slanders, –he seems to neglect his own advantage, and seeks but little after that profit which all around him are going after, –he appears like one who has a mark set upon him that men should hate him, and cast him out from their company. One would think his very heart would sink within him, and that he would perish under the accumulated load of slight and injuries. But this is the very person who in the text, is pronounced blessed.

There must then be some upholding power, some mighty inward comfort which must work against the attacks of the enemies from without.

If we examine the nature of the blessing, we shall find that such does indeed exist: theirs is the kingdom of heaven. They are the sons of a king, waiting for their inheritance; nay, it is already theirs, they are counted in the Church, who is the body and spouse of that King, –even of Christ. He came down upon earth to purchase the Church to Himself; He stayed with her awhile here below; and He is gone up into heaven to prepare the heavenly mansions to receive her in.

Meanwhile He has left her on earth deprived of His bodily presence, but living on His precious promises, fed with His spiritual flesh and blood, to try her faithfulness to Him. She is espoused, betrothed, given in marriage to Christ, the King of heaven; and in her all His faithful ones, so that already, signed and sealed with a sure promise, the kingdom of heaven is theirs. And He has sent down to His earthly bride this memorable sentence, “To him that overcome will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne.” Earthly power, riches, or kingdoms, belong not to the servants of Christ; yet however poor, however despised they are, they are princes in disguise: even now their royalty shews itself in an exalted and heavenly mind, in affections raised above the earth, in subduing their stubborn wills, and bringing every thought into subjection unto the righteous law within them: and they have their attendants too, –the ministering spirits who are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation; the angels of the Lord tarry round about them that fear Him, and if our eyes could be opened, and we could see the goodly company of heavenly guards which surround the head of the faithful servant of God, –if we could behold him in his most forsaken moment, when all are turned against him, thronged with bright ministers of joy and defense, we should see that not even Solomon in all his glory was attended like one of these.

When men revile them, and taunt them with lifting themselves above their neighbors, and cut them to the heart with bitter reproaches, they can hear the sweet voice of the heavenly Bridegroom saying to His Church, “Behold, thou art all fair My love, there is no spot in thee.” When the sons of the earth deprive them of their possessions, they can hear the same voice saying, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And when they are put under severer trials than these, which are hard for flesh and blood to bear, cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover bonds and imprisonment; when their flesh and their heart fail, He who is the strength of their heart and their portion forever, is a very present help for them; and His golden words, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life,” disarm all their tortures, and fix their eyes on Him who is waiting to receive their souls.

Thus great, thus exalted, is the blessing of those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. And there is yet more of it behind. “Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” If a cup of cold water given in Christ’s name shall not lose its reward, surely those who suffer for Him, and are made outcasts for His sake, shall have great and worthy reward in His kingdom. It is one of the marks of God’s people, to have respect unto the recompense of the reward;” to be fully assured that works done in Christ and for His name’s sake shall not be forgotten; but are all recorded before Him. There is no surer sign of a humble spirit and one subjected to the will of God, than a clear and practical view of the nature of our Christian reward for works done in Christ.

While some vainly suppose that our own works can effect our salvation; and some on the other hand seem almost to forget that such a thing as the Christian reward is mentioned in Scripture; he who loves Christ by faith, fully assured of his union with Christ and salvation in Him, is also fully assured that not the meanest work done in His name shall be unrewarded; for he has the word, the eternal unalterable word of his Savior for it; and long as the seal on that bond of the Scripture remains, –long as those words remain which though heaven and earth pass away, shall not pass away, –so long shall the work and labor of love of Christ’s justified people not be forgotten, but be surely and gloriously rewarded. To those who are in Christ sin is not imputed: being received into Him their sins are canceled by His satisfaction; and therefore all that they do and suffer for, and in Him, is accepted by God the Father, and will be rewarded by Him. “Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven.”

But there is another source of comfort still; indeed they seem inexhaustible and never-ending to those who are united to Christ. “So persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”

Ye that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, lift up your eyes and look on the stars, and see if you can tell their number and names. Far more in number is the company who are gone before you from affliction like yours, to glory brighter than the brightest of those heavenly bodies. Once, and once only, are we told that any of them descended and were seen by men, –and then, even our Lord Himself put on for a moment the brightness of His glory to meet them; when He was transfigured on the mount, Moses and Elias, two of those that were persecuted for righteousness’ sake, appeared in glory and talked with Him: and the Apostles trembled as they entered into the cloud which surrounded them –so bright and so heavenly was their appearance. But, as we advance in this divine subject, grounds of support and joy seem to thicken upon us, and the seed-time of persecution and tears appears, indeed, to lead to a rich harvest of rejoicing; –“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, –that when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”

Our profession is, to have been buried with Him by baptism into death; if therefore, we find ourselves made partakers visibly of His sufferings we, see accomplished in us what every Christian desires –likeness to Him; and the visible sign and participation of His death is openly shown forth in us. “If we be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye –for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified.”

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast in the Lord.

If you live united to Christ, you have trials and severe ones too; it is equally true in all times, that those who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Let not the neglect, the scorn, the taunts of men, turn you aside from the steady serving of God and cleaving unto Christ. Be not ashamed of His name in the presence of men: what are their taunts and scorn to you? You are kings; surely it is not for you to tremble at these poor foolish slaves of worldly thought –surely it is not for God’s ransomed ones and the heirs of glory, to tremble at the presence of an ignorant scoffer of this world.

Look forward but a few years, and where are all their taunts and bitter words, and scornful looks?  Whenever you feel tempted to deny or to compromise Christ, look straight to that day when you hope to awake up after His likeness; look to the great day of recognition and account, and as you wish to be acknowledged by Him at that day, so now let your acknowledgement of Him be. And if you fall into persecution, if ungodly companions ridicule you or hinder your faith; for this you are all the more blessed –for you will be, by a visible likeness, shewing forth your Savior, “you will be by their persecution driven to cling closer to Him, to commune with Him more in prayer, to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Him.

One word more.

God knows whether I be now speaking to any who have been, or are, the persecutors of the children of God –who by deed, word, look, or thought, have attempted to hinder the faith and progress in holiness, of a neighbor. If have been destroying the sheep of Christ whom He bought with His blood. And, as one of those appointed to watch over His fold, I solemnly tell you in His name, that “it had been better for you never to have been born.” “Whosoever offends (they are His own words) one of these little ones that believe on Me, it were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and that he were cast into the sea.” You may well tremble before that king whom you have so grievously angered.

Turn then to the Lord and to His people, with weeping, and mourning, and praying, if perchance, this thought of your heart may be forgiven you. Far better is the state of those you persecute and despise, than your own; with all your scoffs and reproaches they are happier than you –they have no hurt from without, and what is more, they have no worm gnawing within. Here I leave the comparison, for I tremble to think of you, if I look forward any further. May God give you a better mind, even the spirit of true repentance. Oh shame and sorrow, that we should have to turn in a Christian Church to address such as these! When will the Lord come and purify His temple, and present us to His Father, an acceptable people, a pure and blessed Church?

Pray, my brethren, for that glorious time, when the number of the elect shall be accomplished, and those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake now, shall have entered on the possession of the kingdom!

In Loving Memory of Emily Chubbuck, er, “Fanny Forester”

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It may be true that to take care of self is the first law of nature.
But to deny one’s self is one of the first lessons of grace.

An unsung Christian hero…

…by the name of Emily Chubbuck, who the world knows today as Fanny Forester, was born in the US to some very poor parents in the year, 1817. However, she grew up to be a young woman of taste and genius, who burst into sudden and great celebrity as a brilliant writer in the periodical literature of the day under the pen name of Fanny Forester.

After a childhood of constant and oppressive struggle, she found herself at length as an object of admiration and envy throughout the country. The world was all before her; she had the world by the tail. Indeed, Fanny Forester’s troubles were over and her fortune made; she has reached the literary throne at last, and could now sit as a queen in the highest circles of American society.

But the fashionable world of American glitterati had no sooner recognized and accepted their favorite than rumors began to spread, muffled at first, but later breaking out in clear tones and distinct articulation, that their chosen heroine had consented to become the wife of Adoniram Judson, a Baptist missionary, now far advanced in life, and to plunge with him into the darkest heart of heathendom, there to burn her life-lamp down to the socket, learning a barbarous language, taming a cruel race, and contending with a pestilential climate, all that she might make known the love of Jesus to an uncivilized and idolatrous nation. To Burma she went, and there bore her Savior’s will till life could hold out no longer, and then she came home to die.

“The woman is mad!” –rang from end to end of America echoing and re-echoing through the marts of trade and the Salons of fashion , –“The woman is mad!” But Fanny Forester herself taught the word God beside her husband. Like the liberated Hebrews in the wilderness who had consecrated what they borrowed from the Egyptians to the service of the Lord. Fanny wrote and published an essay on “The Madness of the Missionary Enterprise,” in which she effectively turned the money-making and pleasure-loving world of her own people upside down.

The missionary cleared herself and her cause, and in doing so, left the imputation of mad man lying on the other side with the world.

The “Perfect Storm” and the Preciousness of Jesus

Steven Kern column

There lived a good Christian fisherman in the village of St. Monance, on the coast of Fife.

His name was Andrew Davidson, and he was the owner and captain of a fishing boat called The Rose in June. The herring season came, and Andrew Davidson and his little crew prepared to go to sea. He had but lately been married, and, before leaving home, he knelt down with his young wife, and asked God to keep her safely while he was away; but she noticed, and her heart sunk within her at the thought, that he said not a word about his own safety.

On Monday, 15th December, 1872, the boats started to their grounds, and soon thereafter a strong easterly wind began to blow, which increased to a gale by midnight, at which time the sea was running very high. The gale was accompanied by torrents of rain, and lasted with extreme severity till Tuesday. The most of the St. Monance boats made for Elie harbor, which they reached with great difficulty and danger. An anxious crowd of women and children, made up of the families of the absent fishermen, gathered on the beach and along the shore. Every eye was strained across the waters to catch the first glimpse of the returning boats.

One by one they struggled in, and shouts of joy and thankfulness arose from one and another as a husband, a brother, a father, or a son sprang ashore. But The Rose in June did not come.

Driven by the storm, and dashed upon the rocks, she had become a total wreck. Turned bottom upwards, her crew of six men clung to her sides with desperate energy. No other boat was near to help or save them, and, all around, the wild waves were rolling and roaring, threatening every moment to tear each man from his hold and dash him to pieces on the sharp rocks. Andrew Davidson thought of Jesus in that hour of peril, and, in the face of certain death, that thought did for him what nothing else in the world could have done –it made him happy.

It may have been that he remembered then how Paul and Silas glorified God in the prison of Philippi, for he shouted, loud and clear above the storm, – “Now, boys, let’s sing a hymn of praise to God!” and at once he began and sang this verse, —

“Jesus, lover of my soul,
Let me to Thy bosom fly,
While the nearer waters roll,
While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, 0 my Savior, hide,
Till the storm of life be past ;
Safe into the haven guide,
O! receive my soul at last.”

The voices could be heard by those on the shore above the noise of the tempest and the tumult of the waters. Ere the hymn was closed, one of the fishermen became unconscious, and the boat was caught by an immense wave, and carried on the top of it to a considerable distance at a fearful rate. When it left her, she was struck on the broadside by a heavy sea, and thrown on her beam ends, after which, another sea made a breach right over her, and carried away Skipper Davidson, who left this world and entered heaven with a song of praise on his lips.

A sad silence fell upon the men who had been trying to join in that song of praise. For awhile no one spoke. At last, John Allan, the mate of the little vessel, who was also a believer in Jesus, exclaimed, –“Come, my lads,let us go on with the hymn that our skipper is now finishing in heaven.” And then those brave men, rocking on their wrecked boat, with the waves dashing, and the wild winds wailing around them, sang on till they had finished the hymn.

Just as they were finishing these last words, another huge wave burst over the boat, and the young mate was carried away to join his friend and shipmate in that blessed world–

“Where, anchored safe, his weary soul
Shall find eternal rest,
And not a wave of trouble roll
Across his peaceful breast.”

The rest of the crew of that wrecked boat escaped with their lives. But they never forgot the scene they had witnessed during that terrible storm. And no sermon ever preached about the preciousness of Jesus could make such an impression on their minds as was made by that memorable scene. They felt, deep down into their very souls, that the truth in Jesus is the best of all truth, because it satisfies us and makes us happy.

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Written by, William Adamson

THE ATONEMENT: Why it means WE ARE NOT SUPERMAN

Taken and adapted from, The Necessity of the Atonement and the Consistency Between that and Free Grace, in Forgiveness.
Written by, Jonathan Edwards

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If we could have atoned, by any means, for our own sins…

…it must have been either by our repentance and reformation, or by enduring a punishment, less in degree or duration, than that which is threatened in the law as the wages of sin. No other way for us to atone for our own sins appears to be conceivable. But if we attend to the subject, we shall find that we can make no proper atonement in either of these ways.

We could not make atonement for our sins by repentance and reformation. Repentance and reformation are a mere return to our duty, which we ought never to have forsaken or intermitted. Suppose a soldier deserts the service into which he is enlisted,and at the most critical period not only forsakes his general and the cause of his country, but joins the enemy and exerts himself to his utmost in his cause, and in direct opposition to that of his country; yet after twelve months spent in this manner, he repents and returns to his duty and his former service: will this repentance and reformation atone for his desertion and rebellion? Will his repentance and return, without punishment, support the authority of the law against desertion and rebellion, and deter others from the like conduct equally as the punishment of the delinquent according to law? It cannot be pretended. Such a treatment of the soldier would express no indignation or displeasure of the general at the conduct of the soldier: it would by no means convince the army or the world, that it was a most heinous crime to desert and join the standard of the enemy.

Just so in the case under consideration: the language of forgiving sinners barely on their repentance is, that he who sins shall repent; that the curse of the law is repentance; that he who repents shall suffer, and that he deserves no further punishment. But this would be so far from an effectual tendency to discourage and restrain from sin, that it would greatly encourage to the commission and indulgence of it; as all that sinners would have to fear, on this supposition, would be not the wrath of God, not any thing terrible, but the greatest blessing to which any man in this life can attain, repentance. If this were the condition of forgiving sinners,not only no measures would be taken to support the divine law, but none to vindicate the character of God himself, or to shew that he acts a consistent part, and agreeably to his own law; or that he is a friend to virtue and an enemy to vice. On the other hand, he would rather appear as a friend to sin and vice, or indifferent concerning them.

What would you think of a prince who should make a law against murder, and should threaten it with a punishment properly severe; yet should declare that none who should be guilty of that crime or should repent, and should be punished? Or if he did not positively declare this, yet should in fact suffer all murderers who repented of their murders, to pass with impunity? Undoubtedly you would conclude that he was either a very weak or a very wicked prince; either that he was unable to protect his subjects, or that he had no real regard to their lives or safety, whether in their individual or collective capacity.

Neither could we make atonement by any suffering short of the full punishment of sin. Because the very idea of atonement is something done, which to the purpose of supporting the authority of the law, the dignity and consistency of divine government and conduct, is fully equivalent to the curse of the law, and on the ground of which, the sinner may be saved from that curse. But no sufferings endured by the sinner himself, short of the curse of the law,can be to these purposes equivalent to that curse; anymore than a less number or quantity can be found equal to a greater. Indeed a lessor degree or duration of suffering endured by Christ the Son of God, may, on account of the infinite dignity and glory of his person, be an equivalent to the curse of the law endured by the sinner: as it would be a far more striking demonstration of a king’s displeasure, to inflict, in an ignominious manner, on the body of his own son, forty stripes save one; than to punish some obscure subject with death.

But when the person is the same, it is absurd to suppose that a less degree or duration of pain can be equal to a greater, or can equally strike terror into the minds of spectators, and make them fear and no more do any such wickedness. Deut. 13:11. Besides; if a less degree or duration of punishment, inflicted on the sinner, would answer all the purposes of supporting the authority of the divine law, etc., equally as that punishment which is threatened in the law; it follows that the punishment which is threatened in the law is too great, is unjust, is cruel and oppressive: which cannot be as long as God is a just being. Thus it clearly appears, that we could never have atoned for our own sins. If therefore atonement be made at all, it must be made by some other person: and since as we before argued, Christ the Son of God hath been appointed to this work, we may be sure, that it could be done by no other person of inferior dignity.

CONVERSION: And those things from which we turn

Taken and adapted from, “An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners”
Written by Joseph Alleine (1634-1668), An English Nonconformist Pastor

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The objects from which we turn in conversion are, sin, Satan, the world, and our own righteousness.

We turn from sin. When a man is converted, he is forever at enmity with sin; yes, with all sin, but most of all with his own sins, and especially with his bosom sin. Sin is now the object of his indignation. His sins swell his sorrows. It is sin that pierces him and wounds him; he feels it like a thorn in his side, like a prick in his eyes: he groans and struggles under it, and not formally, but feelingly cries out, “0 wretched man!” He is not impatient of any burden so much as of his sin. If God should give him his choice, he would choose any affliction so he might be rid of sin; he feels it like the cutting gravel in his shoes, pricking and paining him as he goes.

Before conversion, he had light thoughts of sin; he cherished it in his bosom, as Uriah his lamb; he nourished it up, and it grew up together with him; it did eat, as it were, of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was to him as a daughter. But when God opens his eyes by conversion, he throws it away with abhorrence, as a man would a loathsome toad, which in the dark he had hugged fast in his bosom, and thought it had been some pretty and harmless bird. When a man is savingly changed, he is deeply convinced not only of the danger but the defilement of sin; and O, how earnest is he with God to be purified! He loathes himself for his sins. He runs to Christ, and casts himself into the fountain set open for sin and for uncleanness. If he fall, he has no rest till he flees to the word, and washes in the infinite fountain, laboring to cleanse himself from all filthiness both of flesh and spirit.

The sound convert is heartily engaged against sin; he struggles with it, he wars against it; he is too often foiled, but he will never yield the cause, nor lay down the weapons, while he has breath in his body; he will make no peace; he will give no quarter. He can forgive his other enemies; he can pity them, and pray for them; but here he is implacable, here he is set upon extermination; he hunts as it were for the precious life; his eye shall not pity, his hand shall not spare, though it be a right hand or a right eye. Be it a gainful sin, most delightful to his nature or the support of his esteem with worldly friends, yet he will rather throw his gain down the kennel, see his credit fail, or the flower of pleasure wither in his hand, than he will allow himself in any known way of sin. He will grant no indulgence, he will give no toleration; he draws upon sin wherever he meets it, and frowns upon it with this unwelcome salute, “Have I found you, 0 mine enemy?”

Have you pondered these things in thy heart? Hast you searched the book within you, to see if these things be so? If not, read it again, and make thy conscience speak, whether or not it be thus with you.

Hast you crucified thy flesh with its affections and lusts; and not only confessed, but forsaken thy sins, all sin in thy fervent desires, and the ordinary practice of every deliberate and willful sin in thy life? If not, you art yet unconverted. Does not conscience fly in your face as you read, and tell you that you livest in a way of lying for thy advantage; that you used deceit in your calling; that there is some way of secret wantonness that you live in? Why then, do not deceive thyself; you are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.

Does not your unbridled tongue, your indulgence of appetite, your wicked company, your neglect of prayer, of reading and hearing the word, now witness against you, and say, ” We are your works, and we will follow you;” or, if I have not hit you right, does not the monitor within tell you, there is such or such a way that you know to be evil, that yet for some carnal respect you do tolerate yourself in? If this be your case, you are to this day unregenerate, and must be changed or condemned.

We turn from Satan.

Conversion binds the strong man, spoils his armor, casts out his goods, turns men from the power of Satan unto God. Before, the devil could no sooner hold up his finger to the sinner to call him to his wicked company, sinful games, and filthy delights, but presently he followed, like an ox to the slaughter, and a fool to the correction of the stocks; as the bird that hastens to the prey, and knows not that it is for his life. No sooner could Satan bid him lie, but presently he had it on his tongue. No sooner could Satan offer a wanton object, but he was stung with lust. If the devil says, “Away with these family duties,” be sure they shall be rarely enough performed in his house. If the devil says, “Away with this strictness, this preciseness,” he will keep far enough from it: if he tells him, “There is no need of these closet-duties,” he will go from day-to-day and scarcely perform them. But since he is converted he serves another Master, and takes quite another course: he goes and comes at Christ’s bidding. Satan may sometimes catch his foot in a trap, but he will no longer be a willing captive; he watches against the snares and baits of Satan, and studies to be acquainted with his devices; he is very suspicious of his plots, and is very jealous in what comes across him, lest Satan should have some design upon him; he ” wrestles against principalities and powers;” he entertains the messenger of Satan as men do the messenger of death; he keeps his eye upon his enemy, and watches in his duties, lest Satan should get an advantage.

We turn from the world.

Before a man has true faith, he is overcome of the world; either he bows down to mammon, or idolizes his reputation, or is a “lover of pleasure more than a lover of God.” Here is the root of man’s misery by the fall; he is turned aside to the creature, and gives that esteem, confidence, and affection to the creature, that is due to God alone,

0 miserable man, what a deformed monster has sin made you! God made you “little lower than the angels;” sin, little better than the devils. The world, that was formed to serve you, is come to rule you—the deceitful harlot has bewitched you with her enchantments, and made you bow down and serve her.

But converting grace sets all in order again, and puts God on the throne, and the world at his footstool; Christ in the heart, and the world under the feet. So Paul, “I am crucified to the world, and the world to me,” Before this change, all the cry-was, “Who will show us any worldly good?” but now he prays, ” Lord, lift you up the light of thy countenance upon me,” and take the corn and wine whoso will. Before, his heart’s delight and content were in the world; then the song was, “Soul, take thy ease, eat, drink, and be merry; you hast much goods laid up for many years;” but now all this is withered, and there is no comeliness, that we should desire it; and he tunes up with the sweet Psalmist of Israel: “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance; the lines are fallen to me in a fair place, and I have a goodly heritage.” He blesses himself, and boasts himself in God. Nothing else can give him content. He has written vanity and vexation upon all his worldly enjoyments, and loss and dung upon all human excellencies. He has life and immortality now in pursuit. He pants for grace and glory, and has a crown incorruptible in view. His heart is set in him to seek the Lord. He first seeks the kingdom of heaven and the righteousness thereof, and religion is no longer a matter by the by with him, but his main care.

Before, the world had the sway with him; he would do more for gain than godliness—more to please his friend, or his flesh, than the God that made him; and God must stand by till the world was first served. But now all must stand by; he hates father and mother, and life, and all, in comparison of Christ. Well, then, pause a little, and look within. Doth not this nearly concern you? You pretend for Christ, but does not the world sway you? Do you not take more real delight and content in the world than in him? Do you not find thyself better at ease when the world goes to thy mind, and you art compassed with carnal delights, than when retired to prayer and meditation in thy closet, or attending upon God’s word and worship? No surer evidence of an unconverted state, than to have the things of the world uppermost in our aim, love, and estimation.

With the sound convert, Christ has the supremacy. How dear is his name to him! How precious is his favor! The name of Jesus is engraven on his heart. Gal. 4: 19. Honor is but air, and laughter is but madness, and mammon is fallen like Dagon before the ark, with hands and head broken off on the threshold, when once Christ is savingly revealed. Here is the pearl of great price to the true convert; here is his treasure; here is his hope. This is his glory, “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” 0, it is sweeter to him to be able to say, Christ is mine, than if he could say, the kingdom is mine.

We turn from our own righteousness.

Before conversion, man seeks to cover himself with his own fig-leaves, and to make himself whole with his own duties. He is apt to trust in himself, and set up his own righteousness, and to reckon his counters for gold, and not submit to the righteousness of God. But conversion changes his mind; now he counts his own righteousness as filthy rags. He casts it off, as a man would the dirty tatters of a beggar. Now he is brought to poverty of spirit, complains of and condemns himself, and all his inventory is, “poor, and miserable, and wretched, and blind, and naked.” He sees a world of iniquity in his holy things, and calls his once-idolized righteousness but filth and loss; and would not for a thousand worlds be found in it. Now he begins to set a high price upon Christ’s righteousness: he sees the need of Christ in every duty, to justify his person, and sanctify his performances; he cannot live without him; he cannot pray without him. Christ must go with him, or else he cannot come into the presence of God; he leans upon Christ, and so bows. Himself in the house of his God; he sets himself down for a lost undone man without him; his life is hid in Christ, as the root of a tree spreads in the earth for stability and nutriment. Before, the news of Christ was a stale and tasteless thing; but now, how sweet is Christ. Augustine could not relish his before so much admired Cicero, because he could not find in his writings the name of Christ. How emphatically cries he, “0 most sweet, most loving, most kind, most dear, most precious, most desired, most lovely, most fair!”

In a word, the voice of the convert is with the martyr, “None but Christ.”