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that, being early in the school of make it their first and greatest Christ, they might be fitted for concern. They must early enter the work they had to do on earth, the school of Christ, and be faithand be made ineet to be partak ful in it. ers of the inheritance of the Aged persons will appear to be saints in light." Few, it is be novices in that knowledge, which is lieved, begin the great work of so desirable and important in the preparing for eternity, in old age, near prospect of eternity, if the after they have spent, in sin, al- morning and meridian of their most the whole of their state of days were spent in sin, and if they probation. The remark has of did not turn unto the Lord until tep been made, and, probably, it their natural powers began to fail, is founded in truth,' that the under the weight of years. How characters of men are generally could it be otherwise with them? formed and fixed for eternity, be- How could they expect to have fore they have passed the merid- much knowledge of God or of ian of their days.
themselves, with little pains and Although they, who turn unto short experience? The present the Lord and engage in his sei. is a world of correction and discivice, at the eleventh hour, will, plinė. In various ways, God is through sovereign mercy, be ac- presenting to all, seasonable and cepted; yet they will go out of important instruction ; and they the world, with little experience who are wise are gaining knowlin the things of religion. Their edge, under their advantages. Do knowledge of God and of them- the aged appear in character, or selves will be very small , and as they ought to appear, if, coni. the righteous Judge, who will re- pared with Christians in general, ward men according to their they are mere babes in experi. deeds, will discriminate between mental religion? This, in ordinathem, and those who long denied ry cases, must evince, that they themselves to build up his king were either very late in their at- . dom and to promote his glo- tention to the great business of ry. Christian knowledge is usui life, or that they have attended ally the result of long and dili to it with criminal indifference. gent attention to the things of re But, when we see hoary heads ligion. Regeneration, or the emineat in Christian experience, implantation of grace in the heart, eminent in prayer, and mighty is an instantuneous change ; but in the scriptures, being “ spirita sanctification, or growth in Chris- ual men of full age, who by reatian knowledge and experience, is son of use have their senses exa work of time. It is not effected ercised to discern both good and at once, any more than the infant evil,” we may know it is the rechild grows instantly to a state sult of having been long in the of maturity and manhood. In service of Christ, and of having that divine command recorded in been, in some good measure, the sacred volume, give diligence faithful to God and to their own to make your calling and election souls. It is pleasing to see those, sure, it is necessarily implied, who are old in years, well versed that Christians, in order to aitain in the knowledge of divine things, to any eminence in religion, must and appearing not to have just Vol. III, No. 4.
begun, but to have made great the gospel are familiar to their advances, in the Christian race. minds. Indecision, with resWhen they can converse 'under- pect to the doctrines of grace, is standingly on the character of not honourable in old men. It God, on the depravity
, and'ı reach- neither becomes their hoary ery of the heart, and on the na heads, nor does it comport with uure of the Christian Warfare, their near approach, to the eterthey give evidence of having nal world. profited, by living long in this 4. The aged appear honouraworld, and of their ripening for ble, when the families they have the grave and for heaven. trained up are well instructed in
3. The aged, in order to ap the things of religion. pear with bonour in their stand Children, generally, exbibit ing, must be sound in faith. evidence of the manner in which
An old person, though he may they have been educated by their exbibit some eridence of real re parents. Such parents as walk ligion, does not appear to advan- in the fear of the Lord, and maintage-he does not reflect hon- tain consistency of character beour ou Christ, nor on hinself, if fore their houses, make deep imhe be a novice in the doctrines of pressions on the minds of their the gospel. On the contrary, he children. This will be especialexhibits melancholy proof of his ly true, in those cases where pagreat neglect of God's worl.. rents possessed religion, while The apostle Paul, among many their children were young. IC other directions, charged Titus they have observed religious orto " speak the things which be- der in their houses, and conductcome sound doctrine ; that the ed so as to adorn their Christian aged men be sober, grave, profession, their children, gentemperate, sound in fuith.” A erally, to say the least, are inclinknowledge of the doctrines of ed to treat religion, and religious the gospel is not gained, by the institutions, with outward resstudy of a few hours or a few pect. This will appear when days, but is the fruit of a long parents are old, and even after and careful attention to tie Bible, they have gone the way of all the which is the fountain of light. earth. The hearts of some parTo have a clear view of the ents are frequently filled with scheme of salvation, revealed in grief, that their children are disthe holy scriptures, is a great at- posed to treat them with no more tainment: Considering the long respect, and that they can have opportunities for instruction, en no more influence over them. joyed by the aged, especially such Perhaps after all, they themas have lived under the light of selves, by their own unfaithfulthe gospel, we have reason to ness, and by their unwise treatlook for this attainment in them. inent of their children, have laid They ought to give proof, that the foundation for this grief. they are thoroughly acquainted They are not respected by their with the sacred volume, that they children, because they have neve have thought and conversed er respected themselves, in the much on religion, and that the view of their children.
Far leading and essential doctrines of would
the writer of these
ON THE DOCTRINE
thoughts be from intimating, that the great and important business it is in the power of parents to of life, until his sun is seen to be effect, in their children, a saving almost setting! Who can serichange. This is the work of ously reflect on the prospects of God. Notwithstanding this, by such a person, and refrain from, consistency of conduct, and by tears? How miserably he has persevering in it, they may gain spent the precious moments of a surprising and happy influence his life ! moments which can over then How pleasing and never be recalled! He is on the interesting is the account, which verge of the eternal world, and the scriptures give us, of Joseph's yet unprepared to meet his God: going with his children to his Let the aged, who may have opfather Jacob for a blessing! That portunity, seriously weigh these transaction may be considered as thoughts; and may “the Lord witnessing for the pious patri- give them understanding in all arch, that his hoary head was things.”
H. found in the way of righteous. ness. Joseph would not have taken such a step, if he had not believed, that his venerable father walked with God.
In a Series of Letters to a Friend. It is an honour to grow old,
Concluded froin page 118. and wear out, in the service of Christ. If, therefore, we may
LETTER V. charitably believe, that an aged objections to the Scripture Doctrine of person has long been running
the Atonement considered. the Christian race; that his in DEAR SIR, firmities have not come upon
1r is objected,“ that the comhim, in consequence of the in- mutation of iniquity and holiness dulgence of sinful appetites, but between Christ and believers, in the service of God, his grey which those, “reputed orthodor, hairs, his trembling limbs, and his maintain, is subversive of all rafaltering voice, at once demand tional ideas of divine justice.” our reverence and respect. The But this is only a strong assermost abandoned persons can hard- tion without proof. No other ly refrain from rising up, and kind of commutation is contendcalling him blessed. On the ed for than that, which; by the other hand, what spectacle, in consent of the parties concerned, tbis world, can be more affecting transfers, not the acts orthe merthan an old man, whose“ bones its of righteousness and sin, but are full of the sins of his youth," the rights or burdens annexed to whose infirmities have been hast- each respectively ; or than that, ened and increased by his irreg- which takes place between ular life ; whose prayers and debtor and his sponsor; which is blessing are never sought by his thought not inconsistent with rachildren and posterity ; whose tional ideas of justice. But to inheart has become callous under fict the curse of the law, and give the instructions of the gospel, the wages of sin to Christ, when and the warning dispensations of it is supposed not to be due for providence; who has neglected any sin in him, or imputed to
him; and to justify one who is special favours were indeed obpersonally unrighteous, and has tained by the merits of Christ : no righteousness imputed, seems but they are farther acts or gifts indeed subversive of rational of grace after the gift of faith, ideas of justice, and inconsistent and such as are not promised or with the charaeter of a righteous vouchsafed to all alike. The Judge.
promises will be fulfilled to all, It is further objected, that “the who are interested in the rightimputation of Christ's righteous. eousness of Christ. But God ness to a believer would effectu- grants unpromised favours to ally exclude, after the gift of faith, some of them, in distinction from all possibility of farther grace to others. He has a right to disthe children of men.”
pense the blessings of his grace, I answer. 1. God's bestowing in what manner and measure he on us blessings to which he has pleases. freely given us a title, is as much It is farther argued, “ if an act of grace, as if we had no sinners have a sinless rightprevious title to them.
Free eousness, which is properly their grace is the source and founda- own, they would have no sins to tion of all gospel blessings, which confess and be forgiven. The we receive through the mediation confession or forgiveness of one, of Christ.
to whom no sin can be justly im2. The imputed righteousness puted, seems a contradiction.” of Christ entitles the believer to
They who have a the promise of eternal life. If sinless righteousness imputed to we had a perfect inherent rights them, to entitle them to justificaeousness, we could have no title tion, or the rights and privileges to eternal life otherwise, than by of the righteous, are yet in theme a divine promise. Now eternal selves sinful. The sin is not life and the blessings of the cove imputed to them to condemna. nant of grace are promised to be- tion, for there is no condemnalievers, as all allow. But whether tion to them, who are in Christ ; these promises be made to them, yet pardoned sins are sins as as çlothed in the imputed right- hateful as any, and imputed eousness of Christ, or not; it is righteousness is not infused into certain, that God, according to the person, who is justified by it. his sovereign will, bestows his While sin dwells in us, we ought grace and blessings more on to be humbly sensible, that we some, than on others, who are are sinners, to acknowledge it, equally interested in Christ and ask forgiveness, to hate our in the promises of salvation. He sins, and turn from them. Ifit exercises his free and sovereign is the duty of all men, to love God grace in granting to some be- and keep his commandments , lievers much greater outward then it is the duty of all, who favours and privileges, greater have sin in them, to hate their measures of the gifts and graces sins, and turn from them to of the holy Spirit, than he grants God, and to a right temper and to others; and their glory, hon- practice. Their being pardoned our, and happiness in heaven will and sanctified would not release be distinguishingly great. These them from the duties of repent
ance, but rather lay them under ishments, from which Christ hath stronger obligations to them. redeemed them, though they
But though the righteousness deserve and receive corrective of Christ, imputed to a believer, punishments for their violations gives him as good a plea for ac of God's gracious covenant. But quittance and justification in the these are not inflicted, to satisfy court of the Supreme Judge, as a the justice and the law of God; perfect personal righteousness for they are justified, and their would have given ; yet it is to sins are not imputed to them, as be carefully remembered, that, subjecting them to the curse. according to the gospel constitu- But they are inflicted, as salutary tion, none, to whom the gospel is chastisements, designed for their sent, are savingly united to Christ, good. They are inficted by or have an interest in his imputed God, not as the just Judge in vinrighteousness, but penitent believ. dictive justice ; but as the disETS. Accordingly, perseverance cipline of a wise father, who, while in repentance and faith, continu- he visits them with the rod, takes ance in the word of Christ, as his not his loving kindness from true disciples, begging forgive- them. Though these visitations ness for his sake, and keeping his are an evidence, that their inhecommandments, are necessary to rent righteousness is not perfect; our abiding in him. We cannot yet they are no proof, that they continue in a justified state, un have not an interest in the perfect less we continue penitent believ- righteousness of Christ. ers, cleansing ourselves from all But it may be asked, “What filthiness of flesh and spirit, per more ampie security of our salfecting holiness in the fear of vation can be desired, than the God. Though no inherent qual- goodness and promise of God ? ifications in us are to be regard. Why should we want to have our ed, as our justifying righteous title to salvation supported by his Dess, since it is only by the right. justice, on the ground of a full eousness of Christ, that we are and perfect, though imputed justified ; yet without inherent righteousness.” holiness we cannot be pardoned, I answer. There is no firmer justified, and saved through his title, than a divine promise gives; redemption.
and they, who are so selfish, as to It is farther argued ; " if be- desire only to be satisfied that lievers had a righteousness prop- they shall be saved, would be as erly their own, they would nei. willing to be justified without a ther deserve, nor receive any real righteousness, as with it ; that is, punishments.”
justified unjustly. But they, who I answer. If God's giving have a regard for the honour of them an interest in the right. God, as a just Judge, will not be eousness of Christ renders it satisfied with that doctrine, which their own, then this righteous- represents God, as justifying Dess, though not of their own those, who are not righteous, and working, is so their own, as to en- have no righteousness imputed to title them to the rights and priv- them. They like that doctrine ileges of righteous persons. Nor better, which teaches that rightare they liable to vindictive pun- eousness is imputed to believers,