Alleine's "Alarm To The Unconverted."
THERE are two principal modes of persuading men to repent
and believe the Gospel. The one consists in representing to them the "love of
God," in setting before them all the blessings which that love is ready to
bestow- and in winning them over by its alluring influence, to a cordial and
practical submission to the divine will. The other consists in giving them a
plain and honest exhibition of the "terror of the Lord," in pointing out to
them the wrath of the Almighty against those who commit sin, in pressing upon
their attention the dreadful consequences of continuing to be "enemies to him
in their minds and by wicked works;" and thus creating such alarm in them as to
make them abandon their evil ways, and "flee for refuge to lay hold upon the
hope set before them" in the Gospel.
To this latter mode of persuasion there are some who have such a strong aversion, that every person who employs it is proscribed by them, as one by whom the nature of religion is misrepresented and its influence impaired. He is a gloomy fanatic, whose imagination delights to brood over the images of misery and despair. Or he is a merciless bigot, who has no regard to the comfort of his fellow-men, but takes pleasure in torturing them with unnecessary alarm, respecting their present condition and future prospects. Or he is a candidate for low popularity - appealing to the coarsest feelings and the most stupid prejudices of the vulgar, that he may excite their astonishment, and attract their admiration. Or he is an enemy to good taste - sacrificing all that is gracious in sentiment, and gentle in language, to a passion for the dark and horrific. In short, there is scarcely an epithet of ridicule, or of reprobation, which is not applied to the minister who employs the terror of the Lord to persuade men. And while the objection to this particular mode of addressing sinners is chiefly insisteded on by those who have no faith in Christianity, or no serious regard for what Christianity teaches, it is also countenanced and urged by not a few who have experienced the power of genuine godliness, and are evidently walking in the ways of salvation.
We are willing enough to concede, that it is wrong to be always, or too frequently, dwelling on the terror of the Lord. We concede, also, that there are terms which it is neither scriptural nor proper to make use of in discussing this subject. We concede, moreover, that there may be a danger of hurting weak and delicate minds, if care be not taken to unfold it with prudence, and to place it in its proper connexion. But these concessions will apply to any other subject as well as to that which is now before us. It is not right to be perpetually insisting on any single topic, however interesting in itself, or however important in its influence. There is no doctrine within the compass of religion which may not be spoken of, and enforced in language, as pernicious as it is inappropriate and incorrect. And great indiscretion may be committed, and very injurious effects may be produced, by certain modes of explaining even the most pleasing and acceptable discoveries of the Gospel. Granting, however, that the exceptions I have alluded to were peculiar to the more awful of its statements, that forms no sufficient reason for inducing those who are concerned in expounding Christianity, either to withhold these statements altogether, or to present them with a tame and compromising aspect, or to introduce them to notice in such a way as to indicate that they are of inferior moment, and should command little respect. We hold that they are of unspeakable consequence; that they deserve the most serious consideration; that they should not merely be brought forward, but brought forward unmodified and undisguised; that they should be made to bear, with as much as possible of their native character and tendency, on the minds of those to whom they are delivered; that the persons to whom they are offensive in this shape may trace that dislike to them which they are so ready to manifest, in some cases to infidelity, and in other cases to ignorance; that those who fly from the preaching of such ministers, and neglect the writings of such authors, as give them a distinct and prominent place in their discussions, show neither faith, nor wisdom, nor consistency; and that to persuade men by the terror of the Lord is at once a rational, a scriptural, a useful, and a necessary method of inculcating the Gospel, and of procuring for it its true converts, and its legitimate triumphs. We hold all this, and we shall endeavour to maintain it in the sequel of this Essay.
In the first place, the terror of the Lord constitutes an obvious and essential part of divine truth.
Were the doctrine which asserts it a mere fiction, the creature of an extravagant fancy, or the invention of an interested priesthood, we should deem it both foolish and criminal, to give it any place in a serious discourse which was intended to influence either the creed or the conduct of mankind. Were it nothing more than a probable conjecture, we might mention it, indeed, and leave it to its own weight; but we should not consider ourselves entitled to speak of it, and to press it, at the risk of giving offence to those whom we were attempting to edify. Were it only the result of a process of speculative reasoning, though we might take advantage of it in perfect consistency .with what is uniformly done in other matters of far less importance, still, even in that case, we should not assert it with any dogmatism, or insist upon it with much pertinacity. But it falls under none of those descriptions. It possesses, in the estimation of every one who believes the Bible, the character of unquestionable truth. No man can deny it, without being prepared to deny every other statement which revelation contains: for no language can be plainer, or more explicit, than the language in which it is aflirmed and proclaimed. It is as clearly:and indubitably the doctrine of Scripture, that God is holy and just, as that he is good and compassionate - that he hates the workers of iniquity, as that he loves those who fear and serve him - that he has ordained a hell, as that he has prepared a heaven - that, on the day of judgment, he will pronounce a sentence of condemnation on the wicked, as that he will pronounce a sentence of acquittal on the righteous - that the former shall go away into everlasting punishment, as that the latter shall go away into life eternal - that the anguish of the condemned sinner is absolutely certain and inconceivably great, as that the felicity of the glorified saint rests upon the promise of unchangeable -faithfulness, and mocks at all our efforts to describe or imagine it.
There are some things in Scripture which are not very plainly unfolded; and there are other things whieh seem to be incidentally noticed, and to be placed in luther. a detached and isolated station. But this doctrine, of the terror of the Lord is none of them. It stands forth in most distinct and intelligible statement.. It meets us at every step of our progress through the sacred record. We have not gone beyond the third chapter of the book of Genesis, till we see it embodied in the fact of our first parents being driven out of Paradise, and of the very "ground being cursed for their sake." When we come to the conclusion of the. Apocalypse, we are required to carry it along with us in that awful warning, that if we take away from the word of. the book of this prophesy, God shall take away our part out of the book of life." And from the beginning to the end of this inspired Volume, it is held out to us in every variety of form that it can be made to assume - in that of simple declaration - of formal threatening - of actual infliction - of literal phraseology - of figurative representation - of individual experience - of every thing that can instruct, and rouse, and impress the mind; and it is presented in relation to objects of the most interesting nature and of the highest consequence - to the character of the Supreme Being - to the manifestation of his glory - to his government of the universe - to the conduct and the destinies of his apostate creatures - to the achievements ofhis only-begotten Son - to the fate of this world, with all its countless generations - to the vast scene of retribution and eternity.
So much, in short, is Scripture pervaded by it, in one way or another, that were we to abstract it from every page and passage in which it occurs, we should mutilate the record of our faith to an extent far beyond what those who have not examined the subject would be ready to suppose, and render it, both in appearance and in reality, quite a different thing from that revelation which we have actually received from heaven. And if this be the case, surely it is too much to demand of those who teach Christianity, that they shall not announce the terror of the Lord at all; or that, if they do touch upon that topic, it shall be but rarely and slightly, and with as little as possible of what renders it alarming to the profligate, and painful to the unbelieving. The simple circumstance, that it is a part of revealed truth, is sufficient to justify us - in making it a part of our ministrations. The prominence that is given to it in the Bible, intimates that it is not only a reality, but a reality of great moment; and that, in fairness, it ought to be set forth without modification and without scruple. And if in declaring any portion of the counsel of God, it be allowable to employ the same diction, or diction as emphatic as that in which his own word has expressed it, it is but seldom indeed that those who are acquainted with Scripture language will have reason to complain of the teachers of Christianity, for the strength and the plainness of their speech, when they are denouncing the terror of the Lord.
But while we thus intrench ourselves behind the proposition, that the terror of the Lord constitutes an obvious and essential part of divine truth, we have to maintain, in the second place, that it is necessary for understanding the nature, and appreciating the value, of the Gospel; and that, without bringing it fully into view, we could not even attach any definite meaning to the terms which are used by the sacred writers, when they are unfolding its character and its consequences.
The Gospel scheme is a scheme of deliverance. Its purpose is to rescue men from certain evils in which they are involved as transgressors of the divine law. And it proposes to accomplish that purpose by a magnificent apparatus of means, which is minutely detailed to us, and held out as equally admirable and efficient; But it is perfectly evident, that till we look to the nature and extent of the evils which are to be removed, we can have no correct idea of the fitness or efficacy of the methods by which their removal is to be effected. We cannot perceive these ourselves; we cannot make them obvious to others; and we cannot successfully recommend the plan, to which they are alleged to belong, to the adoption, the respect, or the acquiescence of those for whose benefit it is intended. And, even though we could give some demonstration of its wisdom or produce some assurance that it is well calculated to promote the object for which it was devised, still, how is it possible to have any clear and impressive notion of its importance, its necessity, and its value, unless there be some adeqdate conceptions of the danger and the misery from which it is designed to save its votaries?
Suppose that the Gospel were expounded to those who are yet unacquainted with it, and that it were expounded in such a way as to exclude from the exposition all that refers to Gods hatred of sin indignation against transgressors - and the penalties with which he is to visit rebellion and disobedience; what meaning, in that case, I would ask, could they attach to its leading and fundamental tenets? What suitableness could they perceive in its most important provisions? What powerful reason could they discover for the earnestness with which it is addressed to the world, and for the gratitude and joy which it claims from those to whom it is communicated? Or suppose the promulgation of it to be accompanied with a statement of the, evils from which it is to deliver them, but these evils to be so reduced in magnitude, and so veiled in soft and ambiguous phrases as to excite no emotions of alarm; still, I would ask, could they recognise any just accordance between the end to be attained, and the means by which its attainment is to be wrought out? Could they see any thing like necessity or expediency in the incarnation of the Son of God, and in all the shame and agonies of his cross? And could they be prepared for contemplating that, and all the other mysterious operations to which the Almighty has had recourse in the dispensation of the Gospel, with feelings, of wonder and adoration, bearing any resemblance to those with which it, is spoken of by the Apostles who were commissioned to teach it?
But let the Gospel be preached and expounded as it is really found in the inspired record; let there be no concealment of the terror of the Lord; let that be proclaimed, without qualification or reserve; let there be a faithful picture given of the malignity of sin - of the avenging justice of God with respect to it - of the destruction with which its impenitent servants shall be finally overwhelmed,. - and then every one must see, that in these there is something like an adequate cause for that extraordinary interposition of the Godhead, which is developed in the Scriptures; that they afford a rational account of the counsels of the Almighty Father - of the humiliation and sufferings of his beloved Son - of the condescension, and strivings, and gifts of his Holy Spirit; that they fully and satisfactorily explained all the strong and impassioned language in which the Gospel speaks of the divine mercy, and of the manner in which it has been manifested, and of the obligations which it imposes upon every one to whom it is offered; or by whom it has been experienced.
We have supposed the Gospel to be expounded without any distinct or forcible declaration of the terror of the Lord; and we appeal to those who are conversant with its plan, whether it could, in that ease, be understood or admired by any that are not previously acquainted with it. But really such a supposition could not be realised. We may safely challenge the most skilful and ingenious of metaphysical divines, to give any exposition of the Gospel which does not expressly contain, or necessarily imply, a declaration of the evils which it professes to abolish. They may speak of many things which it comprehends, without adverting to these, and no inconsistency may strike us; but the inconsistency will immediately appear, when they attempt to state any of its peculiar and characteristic doctrines; and they will find an insuperable difficulty in giving us a connected view of these doctrines, independently of, or detached from, the doctrine of mans miserable condition as a sinner, and of his hopeless condition as an impenitent and unbelieving sinner. They may dilate on the goodness of God; but that is not the Gospel and has no necessary connection with it; for man could have experienced God's goodness just as such as he does at present, if he had acted so as to render the Gospel unnecessary; and his goodness must be the theme of admiration and praise among all those sinless beings to whose character and circumstances the Gospel has no adaptation: and, after all, the goodness of God; which is magnified in the Gospel, is magnified on account of the greatness of those calamities from which it emancipates, as well as on account of the greatness of those benefits which it confers on its objects. They may illustrate and recommend the precepts of morality; but neither do these constitute the Gospel: they would have been binding on the consciences and the conduct of mankind, although no such dispensation as the Gospel had ever been revealed: and, after all, the precepts of morality, as taught in the Gospel, are enforced by motives that refer to the miseries out of which the Gospel brings us, and sanctioned by penalties whose awfulness the Gospel rather aggravates than diminishes. They may expatiate on the glory and the blessedness of the heavenly world; but heaven is not, any more than the other particulars we have alluded to, a distinctive blessing of the Gospel, - it is the place to which man was destined if he had never fallen from his primeval innocence, and the Gospel has no proper application to a state of innocence: and, after all, heaven as exhibited in the Gospel, is an object of hope to guilty creatures who have been first redeemed from hell; its sainted inhabitants rejoice in having been "washed from sins," and saved from condemnation,-. and while the Gospel promises its felicity to all.who believe in the Saviour, and obey his will, it fails not at the same time to declare, that those who are of a contrary character shall be excluded from its happy mansions, and doomed to woe unutterable and unending.
In these, and similar instances, many things may be advanced out of the Gospel, in the way of instruction, which do not bring directly into view the terror of the Lord, though, as we have seen, it is not difficult to show that even these points cannot be fully and faithfully explained without the help of that argument. But take the Gospel as a theme of redemption, which is its true and proper character; consider it as a divine contrivance for the accomplishment of that end; - let all its facts, and positions, and commandments, and promises, and tbreatenings, and blessings be regarded in their genuine connection with the great system into which they enter, either as constituent parts or as useful appendages; and the terror of the Lord, in one shape or another, will present itself to your observation, and demand your homage. It is that from which there is a divine interposition to deliver you: - or it is that which you are entreated to embrace the means and the opportunity of escaping: - or it is that, by which you are to be aided in taking a just and comprehensive survey of the attributes and administration of God : or it is that which is to subdue in your hearts the power of. sinful propensities, and to arrest in your lives, the, progress of sinful habits: - or it is that, which is to shut you up to the faith of him who bore, "the chastisement of your peace, that by his stripes you might be healed" - or it is that which is to awaken and cherish your feelings of gratitude for the visitation of divine pity in the behalf of your ruined souls: - or it is that which is to supply a subject for your song of praise, when in the land of celestial bliss you look back on the perils out of which you were rescued, and burst forth into halleluiaha to Him who saved you from them: - or it is that which, in the righteous judgment of Omnipotence, shall fall upon every one who sins; and repents not - who lives in rebellion against God, and dies without faith in the Saviour who will not be persuaded by the frowns of offended heaven to depart from the iniquity of his ways, and makes a mock of thos messengers of the truth who warn him of his danger, and tell him that he must return to God, or that he must perish for ever.
And how can it be otherwise? The Gospel is founded on the principle of God's immaculate holiness and retributive justice, and on the fact that man, as a transgressor of God's law, has become subject to its penalty, and its whole scope and tendency, as a scheme proceeding from his Maker, is to bring him out of that state of guilt and wretchedness into which he is plunged, and, as a scheme proposed to himself for his acquiescence and adoption, to prevail upon him to cling to the offered deliverance, and to employ the means by which it may effectually and finally become his. And if this be a correct description of the Gospel, how can it be faithfully preached, how can it be fully comprehended, how can it be sufficiently prized, and how can it be cordially accepted, or joyfully embraced, or steadfastly retained, unless those to whom it is addressed have been made to face God's utter and irreconcilable hostility to sin - unless they are aware of their guilt, and the condemnation inseparably attached to it - unless they are made to know and to feel what "a fearful. thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God" - unless they not only receive at first, but continue to entertain strong impressions of the dreadful consequences of disobedience, impenitence, and unbelief - and unless, therefore, - in all our explanations and enforcements of Christianity, we give a prominent place, and a loud voice, to the terror of the Lord. To judge of the worth and efficacy of any medicinal prescription, we must be apprised of the nature and effects of the disease which it is intended to cure, and that the patient may be induced to follow the one, he must. be convinced that he labours under the other, and that unless he submits to the proposed remedy, he must lay his account with protracted illness, or with speedy dissolution. A city of refuge is but an empty name, except we associate with it the idea of some danger, that cannot otherwise be avoided; the circumstances and the imminence of the danger must be known, in order to ascertain how far the refuge which is provided is requisite or sufficient; and he who is invited to flee to it, will not see much meaning in the invitation, or any occasion for his complying with it, unless he be satisfied that the danger exists, that it is not less alarming than it is real, and that without immediate recourse to the place of security which is appointed for him, he must be inevitably overwhelmed and lost.
In like manner, it is in vain to aim at, or to expect any thorough understanding of the Gospel scheme, or any heartfelt recognition of its value, or any eager ambition for its blessings, or any humble and practical submission to its authority, so long as there is no adequate effort made to convince men of the loathsomeness, the misery, and mortal tendency of the disease of sin, for which the Gospel is the instituted remedy - so long as there is but a feeble representation, or no representation at all, of the awful and incalculable perils to which moral guilt exposes its victims, and from which the Gospel is ordained to be as a city of refuge - so long as we do not bring forward with decision, and proclaim with freedom, the terror of the Lord, which the Gospel has been compassionately revealed at once to turn away from the sinner, and to, make an instrument of his conversion to God.
Nor is it to be forgotten, that even those terms which arc employed in speaking of Christianity, and our use of which is never objected to, have no meaning but what they derive from the "terror of the Lord." Christianity is distinguished by Mercy: but what is mercy? Mercy is the exercise of goodness towards those who are in circumstances of danger and misery. Take away these circumstances, or keep them out of sight, and you deprive the word "mercy" of its true import, and render it wholly inapplicable to the case of man. But let his danger and, misery be acknowledged - let them be unfolded in all their certainty and extent - let those consequences which must ensue, if they are not averted, be exhibited without disguise ; - and then mercy becomes a significant and appropriate word, and we are able not only to perceive its meaning, but insome measure, to scan its vastness, and to rejoice in its triumphs, as these are displayed in the Gospel. Christianity is a plan of Salvation; and salvation is a word which evey one repeats with pleasure and delight. But ean any one repeat it with understanding aud with a proper sense of what renders it an object of complacency, or a source of joy, who thinks not of the terror of the Lord? - It is impossible: for salvation, irrespective of those evils in deliverance from which it mainly or altogether consists, is but a sound to which no precise idea is annexed. You exult in the salvation of the Gospel; but is not your exultation groundless, and absurd, and delusive, unless your attention has been directed to the calamities out of which it rescues you; and will not your exultation be rational and lively, in proportion to the clearness and the interest with which you have realized these calamities in your imagination? Beyond all controversy, this must be the case. And then how often, and how gladly is the term Gospel itself employed! But what does this term signify? It signifies good tidings. And what are these tidings, and in what respect are they good? They are tidings which assure us of God's pity, and of his sending his Son into the worrld for our benefit; and they are good tidings; because they tell us that we who believe in the name of Christ, shall be delivered from the guilt which had shut against us the gates of heaven, and made us-" children of wrath, and heirs of hell :" and we can only welcome them with becoming gratitude, and give them a reception as lasting as it is sincere, by being deeply impressed with the tremendous nature and everlasting duration of that punishment, from which they intimate our deliverance.
It is therefore in conformity to the very purpose and constitution of Christianity, that we persuade by the terror of the Lord. Every prejudice that is cherished, and every opposition that is made, to this mode of persuasion, amounts to an impeachment of that wisdom by which the Christian scheme is envisaged and arranged. And its ministers may not only plead their right, but also plead the necessity that is laid upon them by the very nature of the system with which they are put in trust, to declare freely, and frequently, and earnestly, that there is no misery that of having "departed from the living God that as sinners, men lie helpless under the burden of his righteous displeasure - and if they do not repent, his wrath will finally "come upon them to the uttermost."
In the third place, when we use the terror of the Lord to persuade men, we accommodate ourselves to the principles of human. nature, and act precisely as man does, who is desirous to save another from what is evil or pernicious. Our conduct is rationat in the best and strictest sense of that word.
Man, in his original contituton, is made susceptible of the emotion of fear. He has an instinctive aversion to pain and injury, of every kind, and in every degree. So that when subjected to affliction, whatever it may be, he naturally tries to get it removed; and when threatened with it, he as naturaly tries to turn it away from him. It is true, indeed that he often pursues with a :fatal eagerness, what is fraught with the most serious rnischief but it is only because the mischief is concealed from his view, or because he flatters himself that it may be ultimately escaped. Let it be distinctly presented to him, as attached to the course which he is tofollowing, and let him be convinced that it will infallibly result from his perseverance in that course, and his fear will be awakened, he will shrink from what is certainly to involve him in suffering, and he will stop short in the carreer to which he can see no other termination. It is on this principle that human laws uniformly proceed, in the various sanctions which they annex to disobedience and crime. It is to this principle that every system of mere morality we are acquainted with, more or less appeals, in its endeavours to guard the virtuous against the assaults of temptation, and to reclaim the viscious from their unworthy habits, And it is on the same principle that our admonitions are regulated, when as parents, or teachers, or neighbours or friends, we warn those, in whom we take an interest, against every step that might prove hurtful or destructive to their welfare. We know, that in human nature, there is a dislike to evil in its every form. We know that every man is afraid of it when he sees it coming upon him.. We know that there is scarcely an individual of whose conduct a large proportion is nct actuated by such feelings. And we know that in the attempts that are made to restrain the wickedness of the bad, and to preserve the integrity of the good, whether these attempts are combined with the authority of a ruler, or with the kindness of a friend, or with the prudence of a sage, the constitutional dread of evil, which is common to the good and to the bad, is intentionally, perpetually, and, in a certain measure, successfully addressed.
Now, when we employ the terror of the Lord to persuade men, we do nothing more than what is universally done in cases of a similar kind; we act in precisely the same manner in which those very persons act, by whom our mode of procedure is objected to and condemned. We believe that sinners are under the curse of God's law, which they have broken. We believe that their condition, in this respect, is full of peril and of misery; and, we believe, that if they continue in sin, and reject the method which infinite mercy has provided for their redemption, their ruin is inevitable, and their condemnation aggravated. Believing all this to be true, we state it to sinners, we state it explicitly; we state it repeatedly and urgently, and thus endeavour to stir up in them that fearful apprehension of suffering which their Maker has implated in their nature, and which is every day and every hour, operated upon, for the puirpose of producing effects similar to these at which we aim - of persuading them to renounce that which is pernicious to them, and to adopt the means by which their safety may be secured. And when we make such a statement, we do nothing that is new and unprecedented in the treatment of rational beings. We make no experiment on their minds, which any man can allege to be unusual, as certain persons allege it to be - harsh and offensive; We merely comply with a practice which has been observed in all countried, and in all circumstances, from the beginning of the worls till now. We follow the rule prescribed by the great Creator of our moral frame - the rule which is invariably conformed- to the illiterate and the learned, the old and the young - the wicked and the holy - the rule to whose propriety and influence the experience of all mankind bears its strong and undisputed testimony.
This, indeed, would not justify us in using the terror of the Lord, if the terror of the Lord were a mere phantom. - But we are not to be considered as contending with those who deny the wrath of the Almighty against sin, and the future punishment of sinners. Their denial of these is only a branch of their denial of Christianity at large; and we are not at present pleading for the truth of Christianity; we are taking for granted the truth of that system, and are defending a particular mode of giving to it its full effect on such as stand in need of it. And since there is a penalty affixed to the breach of God's commandments, we are maintaining it to be rational, as well as useful, to set that penalty distinctly in the view of sinners, and to alarm them with the prospect of its infliction.
Neither would we be justified in what we argue for, were there any thing in the terror of the Lord so different from other evils; as to render it improper to address the fears of men in the former case while it is allowed to be proper in the latter. But the only difference that we can perceive, is all on our side of the question. The terror of the Lord is on the same footing with all other evils, in so far as both contain what men are unwilling to endure, and anxious to escape from and avoid. And in this simple view, an appeal to the fears of men is equally rational as to both. If, however, such an appeal is rational as to both, it must be at least a worthier exercise of reason to make the appeal, where that deliverance which is to be accomplished is more important in its nature and in its issue. And surely, if it be rational to excite alarm in your minds, when warning you against violating the law of man, who " kill the body, and after that hath no more that he can do," it must be rational to deter you from iniquity and impenitence, as the subjects of that God, who has not only declared that he hates the workers of iniquity and that except they repent they must perish, but who is mighty as He is just, and "who, after he has killed the body, can cast both soul and body into hell fire for ever."
Nor is it correct to say, that, when we speak of the terror of the Lord, and address ourselves to the fears of men, we act inconsistently vith the peculiar character of the gospel. We are far from being dissatisfied with the attributes of peace, love, comfort, compassion, being ascribed to it as its distinguishing attributes, and as constituting its imperishable claim to our most grateful and affectionate regards. We glory in it as a dispensation of the richest grace; as breathing the very spirit of good will; as abounding in consolation; as cherishing the hope that is full of immortality, as pointing to the regions of everlasting rest. But we must not forget, that the Gospel is revealed to creatures, who are to be prevailed upon of the blessings which it offers, by acceding to the terms which it prescribes; and that though it has said nothing as to the way in which that object was to be gained we should have thought ourselves warranted, in presenting God's highest gift to the children of man, to employ all the means, which, by his own apointrnent, were adapted to the structure of their moral nature, and calculated, in that view, to assist its securing their acquiescence and submission. And we must not forget, that while it would have been our duty, on this account, to urge the Gospel on the reception of sinners, by touching upon their aversion, and making all their fears alive, to the pain and misery consequent on their rejection of it, even though the Gospel had not directed us to do so, we are in truth but conforming to the mode of proceeding which the Gospel itself avowedly and unceasingly employs, when calling upon men to become what it proposes to make them - believing and penitent, holy and happy. And this, by the way, we consider to be one great proof of its divine original. It has nothing romantic or utopian in it - either in the objects to which it points, or in the methods by which it seeks to attain them. -It is accommodated to men - not as fancy, or speculation, or partial views would make him - but as he is really known and seen to be - both as to the nature with which he is endowed, and the situation in which he is placed. It exhibits the plan which has been contrived for his pardon and redemption as a sinful and ruined creature. And there is not an original principle or sensibility of his mind which it does not take advantage of to mould him into a Christian, - to accomplish his salvation, and to secure his eternal felicity. As he has an inherent desire for good, it presents to him the most desirable good that he can enjoy. As he has an instinctive abhorrence of suffering, it holds out to all that is most painful in his circumstances, and alarming in his prospects, as a rebel against Almighty God. And when it is pouring upon him the promises and invitations of that divine mercy which has provided for his recovery, and thus applies itself to one department of his nature, it applies itself with no less emphasis to another department of his nature, by proclaiming the warnings and the threatonings of that divine vengeance which must finally overtake him, if he perseveres in his apostacy.
From what the Christian revelation teaches us on this subject, it is more than probable that God, in the management of all His rational creatures, recognises the principle of fear, and employs the motives that correspond with it. And, indeed, wherever freedom of choice and conduct is possessed, and outward circumstances are to have any weight in regulating that freedom, we can scarcely imagine it to be otherwise. It would appear, that the very highest order of beings, of whom we have any intimation, are aware of the consequences of rebellion against their Maker. These consequences have been awfully presented to them, in the ruin which befel their guilty compeers, who were banished from heaven, and are "reserved in chains of darkness to the judgement of the great day." And we cannot properly conceive that the miserable fate of these apostate angels should not impress those holy spirits, who have kept their first estate, with a deep and affecting sense of the evils to which they also must be subjected, if they break their allegiance to their almighty King; and operate, to a certain extent, in securing that attachment, and that obedience to him from which all their honour and happiness are derived. But, with regard to man, it is manifest that he never was so situated as to be kept ignorant of suffering in its connection with sinning, or insensible to the fear of enduring, in consequence of deserving it. While yet existing in all the incorruptness and purity of his primeval state - as free from unholy inclinations as from actual sin - with the image of the immaculate God unsullied and undefaced in his soul - even then the terror of the Lord was sounded in his ears; and, though he was doubtless bound to obedience by the cords of love, yet his hand was at the same time warded off from the fruit of the forbidden tree, by that frightful denunciation, "In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die."
And as this was done to prevent man from falling into moral guilt, and into the destruction which it merited, so the Gospel most rationally, wisely, and consistently does the same thing, in the character of a dispensation suited to man, as having actually become guilty, and thus destroyed himself; and does it with the gracious design of persuading him to accept of emancipation from that misery against which the original threatening was intended to guard him. The terror that was spoken to him in paradise, may be still more legitimately spoken to him in this sinful wilderness. If it be wise to awaken his fear of. a conditional punishment, when in heart and life he was perfectly innocent, it cannot but be equally wise to bring into operation the same species of influence, now that he has lost his innocence, - is under the sentence of condemnation, and has a mind so hardened and perverse, as unquestionably to need a far more powerful and awakening application to bring him back to God, than was deemed requisite at first to preserve him in his hitherto willing and unbroken allegiance. And he that formed the machinery of the first covenant, also formed the machinery of the second covenant. In both He suited his measures to the intellectual and moral nature which he had conferred upon mankind. And they who employ the terror of the Lord, act in keeping with the soundest principles of reason, as these have been not only acknowledged in the universal practice of man, but settled by the authority, and recognized in the administration of "the only wise God"
In the fourth place, we have the example of the inspired teachers of religion to justify us in having recourse to the terror of the Lord.
The Prophets whom God anciently commissioned to call nations or individuals to repentance, dwelt with much emphasis on God's abhorrence of sin, and on the desolating judgments with which he would visit those who obstinately persisted in it. They never hesitated to bring forward that topic on all such occasions; and, in bringing it forward, they never seem to have had any doubt of its importance and legitimacy, or any fear of giving offence, or of doing harm, to those upon whom it was enforced. On the contrary, they introduced it without scruple; they often placed it in the very front of their messages; they clothed it in the strongest language; they connected it with the most impressive illustrations; and whether the wicked, whom they endeavoured to reclaim by it, listened with forbearance or with obduracy, they left it sounding in their ears, and striking upon their hearts, in all its native and appalling energy. True, they spoke of God's pardoning mercy - of his willingness to save - of the tenderness of that compassion which he felt for his ungrateful and disobedient people; and these they failed not to present to them in a manner the most affecting and attractive. But in every communication which they made to men, the thunders of divine indignation, and divine threatening either preceded, or followed, - or accompanied the "still small voice" of mercy which heaven had directed them to breathe. And in all their official intercourse with those whom they were appointed to warn or to instruct, we observe the boldest, the most unqualified, and the most deeply-coloured representations of God's wrath against impenitent transgressors, both in this world and in the world to come.
The same thing is unequivocally seen in the conduct of the Apostles, which is still more to our purpose. We do not admit, indeed, that they administered a dispensation substantially different from that which was administered by the prophets. It was the same dispensation which employed the services of the one and of the other. But by the time that it came into the hands of the former, it had assumed a milder shape, and had a more distinct character of love impressed upon it, than what it bore when the latter were ordained to support and to promulgate it. And yet even with them the terror of the Lord is a subject of frequent recurrence, of indispensable moment, of earnest and unceasing inculcation. They were busily, and delightfully, and divinely occupied in publishing the glad tidings of salvation - in declaring the purposes and the plans of Gods saving grace - in "preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ" - in diffusing the balm of heavenly consolation - in recommending the charity which "thinketh no evil." -in unfolding the glories of a blessed immortality. But, in the midst of all these soothing and animating themes, do we ever find them forgetting to ply the consciences of sinners with arguments drawn from God's punitive justice - from the ruinous effects of disobedience - from the nature, the certainty; and the duration of that penalty which gives its holy sanction to the Law that they had broken? Of this subject, terrific as it is, in every view that be taken of it, and discordant as it appears to be with the general tenor of their message. - of this subject they are never unmindful. They never blink it in its sternest and most forbidding form. -They never seem to think it incompatible with their office as ministers -of the God of love, and of the Prince of Peace, to enlarge upon it. - They set it forth -without the least attempt to break down the ruggedness of its aspect, or to veil one of those features of severity and dreadfulness, which so many make a pretext for excluding it from among the objects of their serious contemplation. They treat it with unshrinking and uncompromising fidelity - presenting it to our eye, and pressing it on our observation, in all its true and terrible magnitude - clothing it in language so plain, and in figures so striking, that - but for the authority of the Bible, our use of them would not be tolerated either by the tasteful or the pious - and avowing it to be a principle on which they deliberately and systematically act as faithful ministers of God's word, that "knowing the terror of the Lord, they persuade men."
But we can appeal to a greater than the prophets, or the apostles. The terror of the Lord was proclaimed by Jesus Christ himself. - He was predicted as one "anointed to preach good tidings to the meek, to bind up the broken-hearted, to comfort all that mourn;" and this amiable and endearing character he fully realized, in the whole of his deportment. He spoke comfortably to his people, and, compassionately to his enemies; and the tender mercy which adorned his active life, shone forthwith all its sweetness, and with all its power, in the purpose and the circumstances of his agonizing death. - But was he all along silent as to the anger of God against the wicked? Did he refrain from givinghis -testimony to the severity of divine justice, and to the fearfulness of being subjected to - its pressure? Did he withhold warnings, and rebukes, and upbraidings, from the presumptuous guilt, and the persevering impenitence, and the hardened unbelief that he was doomed to witness among the Jews? Or, when constrained to lift up his voice in the accents of alarm, did he conceal or palliate any part of the truth respecting the "perdition of ungodly men ;" or did he adopt a style and a manner accommodated to the polished taste of critics, the grave doubts of philosophers, or the fine feelings of sentimentalists? No: it would have been strange, indeed, if he who was out to save sinners by the sacrifice of himself, and who, in his sacrificial offering, gave the most emphatic demonstration that can be conceived, of God's abhorrence of sin, and of the terrors of the "second death," had said nothing explicitly, and nothing strongly on, these points, to the unholy and untowed generation among whom he dwelt, and taught, and laboured. This would have been strange, indeed but this strange thing did not happen. Our blessed Saviour, to whom we are not seldom referred aa a pattern of. gracious and kindly preaching, ceased not from the commencement to the termination of His ministry upon earth, to address himself to the fears and apprehensions of the human heart. And in doing to, he made use of statements as strong, of figures as bold, -and of terms as unmeasured, as any that have ever been employed by his apostles under the New Testament, or by his prophets under the Old.
It is true, all these messengers were inspired; and in many respects they might exercise a freedom which it would be improper or imprudent in theordinary teachers of religion to use. This remark, however will not apply to the present case. For when.we say, that they employed the terror of the Lord to persuade men, we do not so much refer to their mode of delivering the truth, as to the particular topics of which they treated. And if they felt it dutiful and necessary to expatiate upon that wrath which has been revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men, it cannot be undutiful or unnecessary in us to follow the same course, and to enforce the same doctrine. That God whose terror we proclaim, is the same that he was in their day. The Gospel which we preach is the same. The nature and the heart of man, with which we have to do, are the same. All the circumstances which could ever at any former period affect the case, continue as they were from the beginning. And nothing can be adduced to show, that we should contradict the example of Christ, and of his prophets, and of his apostles, who invariably tried to persuade men by the terror of the Lord; or that, we should not like them declare, that God "will by no means clear the guilty" that "the wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God - that the power of his anger, as well as the extent of his love, "passeth knowledge that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, will fall upon every soul of man that doth evil that hypocrites such as the Scribes and Pharisees were, cannot "escape the damnation of hell - that those who are not prepared for heaven, who are unprofitable, or who do iniquity, "shall be cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth - .that "the wrath of God abideth upon them that believe not- that "except sinners repent, they shall all perishthat, on the last day, the wicked shall rise to "everlasting shame and contempt- that they "shall not stand in the judgment, nor mingle in the congregation of the righteous- that they shall cry to the mountains and rocks to fall on them, and hide them from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb - that they shall have that sentence pronounced upon them, which calls them accursed, bids them depart from the only source of happiness, and sends them into the place of punishment, prepared for the devil and his angels- that they shall be cast into a lake which burneth with fire and brimstone- and that the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever.
These declarations are, indeed, of terrible import, and may well cause the stoutest heart to tremble. But they are declarations which are dictated by, and fraught with, mercy. And this is their fifth consideration, which we advance in favour of the mode of persuading men by the terror of the Lord.
They are not our best friends, who always speak to us the things that are smoothest and most agreeable, and who most scrupulously abstain from what is offensive to our feelings. It is no proof of true kindness, to consult our present repose at the expence of our ultimate safety - to conceal from us what it is most important that we should know, merely to prevent a temporary agitation or inconvenience - to attend to our false delicacy, or our short-sighted prejudices, and, at the same time, to neglect what may contribute to our highest and most enduring interests. And it indicates no want of affectionate regard, to say or to do what may wound our minds in the mean time, with painful recollections, or with distressing anticipations, when these are requisite for securing to us an invaluable and permanent benefit; or to deprive us of what is dearest to our hearts, when the deprivation is to make room for objects which have an infinitely higher claim on our attachment, as being infinitely more conducive to our welfare and happiness. On the contrary, it is evident, that those who act the former part, are, either by intention or through mistake, our real enemies, and that those who act the latter part are benefactors to us, of the most geuine and enlightened description.
The application of these remarks to the subject under discussion is obvious. It is not for the mere purpose of alarming sinners, nor is it for the generous purpose of harrowing up their feelings, that we hold out to them the terror of the Lord. We should deem it, cruel, thus to sport with their comfort, as we should deem it impious, thus to trifle with a part of revealed truth. The object we have in view is to promote their welfare - to effectuate their salvation - to prevail - upon them to -" flee from the wrath to come," and to "turn to the strong-hold, as prisoners of hope." Having such an interesting -and precious - object in view, we have recourse to the means which, by the divine blessing, promise to be effectual for its attainment. And one of the moat important of these means, according to the dictates of reason, the authority of Scripture, and the lessons of experience, is to be found in the faithful exposition of those sad and ruinous consequences, in which sin is sure to involve its unrepenting votaries.
It would be very easy for us to avoid the topic altogether, or to strip it of all which renders it most formidable and forbidding, to whisper smooth sayings into the ear of the careless worldling, or the hardened transgressor - to say " Peace, peace, to them when there is no peace" - to descant on the beauties of virtue, when they are making no effort to escape from the penalties of ungodliness and vice.To paint to them the joys of heaven, when we see them hastening, with bold and headlong steps, down to the abodes of hell - to deal most gently with their consciences, so gently that they shall scarcely feel it, when they are evidently wrapped up in self-righteousues. Or cased in indifference, or covered with the adamant of a profligate infidelity - to speak so lightly of sin, and so little of the tribulation that awaits it, as to make them more than half-contented with their spiritual condition, when yet that condition is full of guilt and peril - to indulge them with such a "lovely song about the goodness of God, as to charm away all their fear of his displeasure, though they have been living in contempt of his goodness, and in defiance of His displeasure, and have not repented of it - and to nourish in them the pleasing but delusive dream, that all is well with their souls estate, while it is plain that they have no vital faith in the Saviour and are living "without God in the world," as "vessels of wrath fitted for destruction." It would be very easy to do all this; such no doubt it is a sort of treatment which would meet with much acceptance -from those who have an antipathy to the use of terror, and would procure for us the reputation of meekness and mildness, as ministers of the Gospel. But not to speak of the want of fidelity, and of wisdom, and of consistency, which such a mode of management would evince, we may well ask, whether it would not decisively betray, a complete destitution of that mercy, which every minister of the Gospel should feel for the perishing sinners that be is called to address - whether, if the Bible be indeed true, it is not the most deliberate and destructive cruelty that could be practised upon them by their bitterest foes - whether, it would not be better and safer for them to be away from all instruction whatever, than to be thus exposed to the ignorant and mistaken lenity of teachers who lay such a flattering unction to their souls, and who "heal their hurt so slightly."
How differently would you act in cases of incalculably less moment ! If you saw a man walking heedlessly to the brink of a precipice, and just ready to tumble over it, would you allow him to move onward, till you. had uttered a few gentle words on the safety and propriety of retracing his steps? Or would not the impulse of common humanity prompt you to send forth such a note of alarm, even at the risk of shocking his feelings, as might arrest him in a moment, and save him from the dismal fate to which he had made such a near approach? And when we behold sinners standing thoughtlessly and madly on the precipice of guilt, with but one short step between them,and the abyss of endless woe, can we fail, if we have any pity for them, instantly to address ourselves to their instinctive horror at destruction, and, by the voice of warning, to make them start back from the yawning gulph into which a moments delay might have plunged them, and seek for their security and "established going" in "the true and living way?" .Had you a child whose life depended on the amputation of a limb, and if he refused to undergo the operation, on account of the pain and inconvenience it would cost him, would you deem it sufficient to confine your efforts to the method of mild entreaty and promised reward? Or would not you, without hesitation, command his ready assent, and fix his wavering resolution, by telling him of his danger, and assuring him that he must either submit or die? And when we see a fellow creature persisting in a sinful habit, which threatens to prove the ruin of his immortal spirit, are not we called upon, by our sentiments of compassion, to point out to him the, fatal effects of persevering in his deliquency, and to say to him, in the language of our Saviour, who seems to have had a similar illustration in his eye when he said, "If thy hand offend thee, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched; where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched." Suppose that in passing the house of your friend at the dead hour of midnight, were to see the flames bursting from it with a fury which threatened immediate destruction to all its unconscious inhabitants - how would you proceed? Would you knock as if you were unwilling to disturb their rest? Would you think of practicing such nice and delicate management, while the fire was extending its ravages through the whole dwelling, and its inmates were still unaware of the impending ruin? Or rather, would not your first and whole endeavour be to rouse them from their sleep? Mind, for this purpose, would not you be regardless of any momentary agitation they might suffer? And would not you knock again and again, and louder and louder still, till their slumbers were broken, and their eyes awake to the peril that surrounded them?
And when we see men buried in the sleep of spiritual death, dwelling at ease in " the tents of wickedness," and the fire of divine vengeance already kindling, as it were, on their devoted habitations, will mercy to their souls permit us to lose a moment in trying to rescue them from the perdition that is fast gathering around them? Will it not constrain us to thunder in their ear the terror of the Lord, that they may be roused from their lethargy, and made to tremble for the visitation of divine wrath that is coming upon them? Will not we be constrained by its power to forget all minor considerations, and to send, if possible, into their very hearts such a knell of warning, as that they may rise, and flee for their life, and take refuge with Hun who alone can save them from "dwelling with the devouring flames, and lying down in the everlasting burnings" of Jehovah's fury? This is true mercy; and it is the mercy that we exercise when, in such circumstances, we employ the terror of the Lord to persuade men. We remind them of the "fiery indignation that is to consume" them, if they continue to be "adversaries" of God. We point to the miserable conclusion of that course of iniquity or licentiousness which they are running. We thus, by appealing to one of the most powerful and influential principles of their nature, endeavour to stop them in their guilty- career. We sing to them of mercy and of judgment and we say to them, in the spirit of the one and in the prospect of the other, "Turn ye, turn ye; for why will ye die ?"
The argument, then, appears to be quite conclusive in favour of our using the terror of the Lord to persuade men. But we shall be told, notwithstanding, that the terror of the Lord will never make a Christian, and neither it will. We know of no single consideration whatever, be it as important and as powerful as it may, which, by itself will make a Christian, and we are very far from ascribing to the operation of fear alone, or to any representations, however awful and impressive, of the effects of sin, such a mighty and complete result as a saving conversion to God. We do not think that a man will apply to a physician, or follow his prescription, who has no belief in the reality, no feeling of the malignity, and no appmhension for the consequences, of his disease. And just as little do we think that such a belief, and such a feeling, and such an apprehension, will produce one cordial movement towards the physician, or any submission to his advice, unless there is a previous conviction that he possesses skill sufficient to effectuate a cure, that be is willing to exert it for that end, and that a proper application will be attended with the desired success. All that we maintain in the present case is, that of different means to be employed in prevailing upon a sinner to embrace the Gospel, neither the least important, nor the least efficacious is that which consists in affecting him with the dread of divine wrath and of future punishment. We do not even say that he must first of all be alarmed at the perils in which he is involved, before any change can be produced. We do not thus limit the operations of God's Spirit to any specific plan. His modes of procedure are various; and sometimes it is one circumstance, and sometimes another, which he makes effectual for bringing a transgressor to think seriously of his spiritual condition, and to turn to the Lord. Bnt we maintain that, in the natural order of things, the sinner must be roused to a sense of his danger, before he can be persuaded. to close with an overture of salvation And with whatever view the process originates, at some period or other it necessarily implies that he sees himself as a sinner, condemned of God, and liable to the pains of hell; and without this it never can be said to be completed, or put beyond the suspicion of being a mere delusion of the fancy, or of the feelings. It may have been an affecting display of the love of God, or of the compassion of Christ, which originally moved his heart, and led him to "mind the things which belong to his peace;" but let the influence of these motives be analysed, and the subsequent stages of his progress examined, and it will be found that the love of God, and the compassion of Christ, gathered a great and essential portion of their constraining power, from the miseries of that state out of which they are exerted to redeem him; and that every step of his practical acquiescence in the plan of redemption, was quickened by the consideration of the awful consequences of unforgiven sin, as exhibited in the word of God, which of course he took for his directory, and the death of Jesus, to which, of course he looked for his deliverance.
It was not the terror which came upon the jailor of Philippi, that made him a believer; but it was terror which led him to cry out, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved;" and if he had not been alarmed by the extraordinary events which had just happened, and had not been forced by his alarm to put the question, there is no reason to suppose that be would ever have been rescued from the etate of supineness and unbelief in which the apostles found him. Neither was it the mere evils of his condition, which made the Prodigal in the parable into real penitent: but if no sense of present wretchedness, and no fear of coming sorrows, had pressed upon his mind, we have no ground for thinking that he would ever have "come to himself," or remembered, with a mixture of regret and desire, the comforts and the security of the home which he had foolishly abandoned. If he was encouraged to return, by what he knew of the kindness and compassion of that father to whom he had been so ungrateful, we can have no doubt that his homeward steps we accelerated by the vivid recollection of what he endured when famine withered his strength, and of what he dreaded when death was staring him in the face. And at the delightful moment when he felt himself safe and happy under the roof of paternal afFection, we belie the dictates of nature, and the very language of the narrative, if we do not believe that former suffering and former terror, increased the raptures that now filled his bosom, and that his heart responded to all that was implied in the eclamation of his exulting parent, "This, my son was lost, and he is found; he was dead, and is alive again."
It is not to be denied, that some stout-hearted sinners, who have withstood all the denunciations of divine anger, and have sat Sabbath after Sabbath, and year after year, unmoved under the ministry of terror, have at length yielded to a more gentle application, and bowed their stubborn necks to the yoke of him who is meek and lowly. But as little is it to be denied, that others to whom the message of peace and reconciliation has been long addressed in vain - who have hardened themselves against abounding grace - and who seemed to become mere indifferent the more that they were urged - and besought by the, mercies of God, have at last been roused from their death-like repose by the terror of the Lord, - and impelled to ask after the way of escape; and constrained to accept of those offers of pardon, which had formerly been heard with listlessness, or rejected with disdain. These cases show that different individuals require different treatment, in order to their being effectually stimulated to a serious concern abeut their salvation; and, therefore, that both modes of persuasion should be employed. Both modes have been actually employed; and it is impossible to ascertain how far the agency of terror has been a preparation for the agency of mercy in the one instance, or how far the agency of mercy has been a preparation for the agency of terror in the other. We cannot entertain a doubt, that it was their combined operation which finally, by the blessing of the Spirit, led the sinner to take refuge in the sanctuary of the Gospel - to cast himself into the arms of redeeming power - and to cleave to the appointed Saviour, as his all for time, and his all for eternity. And we are convinced that those teachers of religion act the wisest, the most faithfull, and the most compassionate part, who neglent neither of hese two engines of persuasion, in their addresses to the consciences and hearts of sinners but who say at one time, -"hear; and your souls shall live," and at another time, "every soul which shall not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people" - who not only give the exhortation of the apostle, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out," but also the warning of our Lord, " Except ye repent, ye shall all perish" - who, while they affirm that "he that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved," have the courage to add, "he that believeth not shall be damned" - who having intimated, that when "the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven," he will "come to be glorified in his saints, and admired of all them that believe," do not omit to declare, that he will come "in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and; obey not the Gospel."
But it may be said, that though there can be no objection to the terror of the Lord being proclaimed to the unbelieving and the profligate - though there may be an obvious necessity for sounding an "alarm to the unconverted" - there can be no propriety in urging such a topic on the attention of real and eperienced Christians. And certainly these do not need to have it urged on them for the same purpose which is intended to serve with those who are still in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity." But they should be at least forbearing, when they consider the pitiable case of their thoughtless and perishing fellow-mortals. They should not murmur that appropriate means of recovery are applied to souls, whjch are just as precious as theirs. They shquld be contented to hear occasionally what the Lord may bless to others, as he has already blessed it to them, for bringing them "from darkness to light, and from Satan unto God." And a little consideration may convince them, that it may redound even to their own advantage to be sometimes called to meditate on the terror of the Lord. It will show them, in a clearer light, the value of that Gospel which has revealed to them the method of deliverance from guilt and misery. It will give them a more just and consistent view of the attributes of that God, whom they are required to fear as well as to love. It will fill them with a higher esteem for the character, and with a stronger faith in the merit, of that saviour by whom their deliverance was effected, at such an expense of suffering and of blood. It will serve to keep them humble, by reminding them of the pit out of which they have been digged, and the rock out of which they have been hewn - of the punishment which they deserved, and of the grace to which alone they were indebted for pardon. It will fasten such a revolting association upon sin, as to render it more and more an object of their hatred and of their avoidance. It will give more warmth, and more activity, to that compassion which they aught to feel for their brethren, who are yet the slaves of the world, of sin, and death, and whose case they might be apt to forget, or to remember but coldly, in the midst of their own privileges and their own safety. And it will raise to a more joyful and exalted strain that hymn of gratitude which they sing to the Redeemer of their souls, in this the house of their pilgrimage, and which shall be sung in a yet loftier mode, and with a yet holier rapture, by all the glorified saints in heaven, through everlasting ages.
That have we endeavoured to prepare the way for the unprejudiced perusal of Mr. Alleine's powerful. and impressive work, -"An Alarm to Unconverted Sinners," by vindicating that mode of persuading men, to which those have recourse who bring forward "the terror of the Lord." In this attempt, we trust that we have in a great measure succeeded. But it is fair to state, that Mr. Allein's Treatise is not wholly oocupied with his appeal to the fears of transgressors. A great part of it is taken up with the, discussions of collateral topics - such as the nature of conversion, marks of conversion, directions for conversion, in which all are deeply interested; and by our Authors treatment of which all may be edified. This volume also contains a solution of several practical and important cases of conscience; the satisfatory solution of which is well fitted to give light and direction in the difficulties and duties of the Christian life. We do not pretend to vouch for every one of his sentiments. There is occasionally something overcharged in his statements. And, as we did not approve of all his modes of expression, we have endeavoured to expunge whatever was vulgar and offensive in his language, and render it more acceptable to the cultivated taste, without impairing, in any degree, the force of his expression or diluting the strength, and energy, and faithfulness of his addresses to sinners. Altogether, it is the production of a mind deeply impressed with the importance of its subject, unusually conversant in the doctrine and phraseology of Scripture, more studious to affect the heart than to please the taste of the reader, vigorous in its conceptions - of evangelical truth, and in its powers of moral suasion, and well calculated, under God, to "turn the dieobedient to the wisdom of the just." Richard Baxter gives it a great testimony, when he calls it "a masculine birth," and says that he "takes it for an honour to commend it to the world." It has been much read - it has proved singularly useful - and we hope that it will continue to be an instrument of much substantial good to the church and to world.
Edinburgh May 1823.
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