To Mr. D. Charles
I. HOW THE CONVINCED OF SIN MAY OBTAIN PEACE.
Aug. 21, 1782
Labour therefore that sin may appear sin, may appear to you attended with all possible evil and guilt; and, at the same time, labour that Christ and His salvation may appear to be what they indeed are, sufficient to remove all guilt. Consider what God is in all his divine majesty and glory; to attempt to describe him is to debase him exceedingly: well, but the righteousness and salvation provided for sinners, is in every way equal to the infinity of God himself. His righteousness is equal to himself; but His righteousness is also ours, if we are his people; for He is ďJehovah our righteousness.Ē Hide not your sins, but bring them forth and view them in all their guilt and aggravation. At the same time set this divine righteousness in opposition to them all; and accept of no peace but what proceeds from a discovery of it to your soul in the midst of darkness and misery. And will not this sight bring you peace? Yes, it will bring you peace which no sin, no guilt can ever disturb a peace that passeth all understanding! If this righteousness is ours, all is safe. God, whom we have so offended, is perfectly reconciled; and we are as much at peace with him as Christ himself is.
Until we have this view of Christís sufficiency, we cannot cheerfully and without suspicion of consequences, commit our souls, so guilty and so depraved, to his custody; and till we are made willing to live contentedly every day, as guilty and helpless to the last degree, upon his merits and grace only for life and salvation, we shall not be able to obtain peace, much less joy in the Holy Ghost; but we shall continually find, if attentive to the workings of our own hearts, causes more than sufficient to distress our minds and cast our souls into the lowest depths.
To believe Christís ability to save us may appear a very easy thing to those to whom sin hath not appeared sin. The reason is, they being strangers to sin, are strangers also to the cost of redemption from it. But those who are truly convinced of sin find it a very difficult matter: and they experimentally know how hard, of all things hard, it is to believe that Christ is able to deliver them from it. The Spirit only can assist them on this point; and it costs them much searching of Scripture, much prayer for the Spiritís enlightening influences, before they gain any settled, confirmed and abiding belief of this truth. The reason is, because the remonstrances of conscience, the accusations of Satan, the natural unbelief of the heart, a secret leaning to self-righteousness, together with the whole body of sin, variously and for ever oppose it.
We often find within us a doubting of Christís willingness, when there seems to be a persuasion of his power and ability. But I am apt to think, that we shall find, by attending more to, and knowing more of, the workings of our hearts, that we doubt the former, because we do not sufficiently believe the latter. Let us therefore above all other things study the Person of Christ, and endeavor to get a deeper insight into the mystery of godliness; and we shall find that our peace and comfort will increase with our knowledge, and that true godliness will be effectually promoted. All peace that proceeds not from this source is carnal security; and all appearance of godliness is only the form without any life and power.
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