power of godliness. It is therefore possible, those, to whom the objection refers, do not truly possess
the grace and piety for which the public give them credit. Their conduct, in this instance at least,
exposes their profession to a challenge, and ought, to excite them to a very serious examination,
whether they be in the faith.
2. But admitting them to be really pious; and that they plead "a conscience void of offence, declaring, that
in the integrity of their hearts, and innocency of their hands, they have done this thing;
that they put a different construction upon the divine law, and, although they knew they approached
very near, yet they were not aware of being actually guilty of Incest." To this apology,
as it respects themselves, they can only be told, that their
declaration is received with great candor and admitted with much charity; but the validity of their plea
must be left to the searcher of hearts. He knows - what their motives were; - what their opportunities for obtaining
better information - their solemn warnings against the crime, and - their struggles, in the first instance, against convictions:
these are all before him, and with him they must remain.
The community is no judge of motives. Actions claim the public attention, and censure fixes upon conduct alone. It is upon their example
the objection is founded; it is because they have done this thing - it is because they have married a sister in law.
3. Conceding them to be truly pious, and without the least suspicion or imputation to the contrary, yet
what commendation can their piety add to a transaction which is actually evil? What influence,
as it respects others, ought their example to produce? - THEY are indeed preserved in Jesus Christ,
and have the infallible promise of being kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation. Their
sanctification is a sure benefit of the covenant of grace, and they will, agreeably to their predestination,
be certainly conformed to the image of the Son of God, Rom. viii. 29. And finally be
presented to himself, not having spot or wrinkle. Indeed this life, that precious benefit commences; when
they are born again, they then begin to live by faith, and delight in the law of God, after the inward man.
Yet perfection in degrees is not attained here; there is another law in their members warring