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5. In the last place, you may see the reason why every truly good man, the more he groweth in religion, the more he groweth in humility. Growth in religion im. plies, or carries in it, a growing discovery of the glory of God, as it shines in his works, his word, his ordinances, his providence. This necessarily leads to self-abasement. Ohow contrary to religion is pride! But, above all others, how absurd, criminal, intolerable, is spiritual pride? what a proof of self-ignorance, as well as forgetfulness of God! The first views of a penitent are fixed on the enormities of his life; but when these are, in some measure, fubdu. ed, additional discoveries of the glory of God bring forth the latent corruptions of his heart. What affecting com. plaints does that eminent, zealous, faithful minister of Christ, the apostle Paul, make in the following well known passage, Rom. vii. 18. “ For I know that in me (that is,
in my felh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is pre" fent with me; but how to perform that which is good, I “ find not.” And verse 23, 24.
And verse 23, 24. “ But I fee another law “ in my members, warring against the law of my mind, " and bringing me into captivity to the law of fin, which " is in my meinbers. O wretched man that I am! who “ shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” Nay, the clearest views which a believer can take of the riches of divine mercy through a Redeemer, though they afford unspeakable confolation in God, tend also deeply to humble him, under a sense of his own unworthiness. The doctrine of the cross is not more refreshing to the broken in heart, than it is abasing to the proud; for it was chosen of God for this very purpose, “ that no flesh should glory • in his presence.”
On the whole, my brethren, as you cannot live under the direction of a better habitual principle, so you cannot prepare for any act of folemn worship more properly, than by deep humility. To improve this disposition, let me intreat you to make a serious and impartial search into the fins you have been guilty of, in heart and conversation, by omillion or commiflion ; by neglecting your duty to God, or the ill performance of his worship, in public, in family, or in fecret; by neglecting your duty to your neighbour, to yourselves, to your relations; or doing that which is wrong, by indulging, in any measure, the “ luft " of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life.” To conclude all, you will never have a more satisfying evidence, that your acts of worthip, ordinary or more solemn, have been acceptable to God, than if they serve to clothe you with humility, and make you adopt and relish the words of Job in the text: “I have heard of thee by the “ hearing of the ear; but now nine eye leeth thee. Where. s fore I ablior myself, and repent in dust and aihes."
MAN IN HIS NATURAL STATE.
Rey. iii. 17.
Because thou sayest I am rich, and incrcased with goods, and
have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
N order to preach the Gospel with success, it is necef
sary that we should begin, by establiling the great and fundamental truths, on which all the rest are built, and to which they constantly refer. Nay, it is necessary, that we should often look back to these, and see that we be not off the foundation, or that it be not weakly, or imperfectly laid. Of this fort, I take the guilt, misery and weakness of our nature to be; and therefore have chosen the words now read, as the subject of discourse, in which the spirit of God reproves the self-sufficiency, and self, righteousnefs of the church of Laolicea.
Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, &c. I suppose you will all ealily understand, that the words are figurative, and are spoken entirely with a view to the fpiritual state of that church. In this light, let us consider what is precisely their meaning.
We may either suppose, that this charge is brought against the church of Laodicea, because there were many there, under the profession of the Gospel, who were, notwithstanding, still in a natural and unrenewed state
ftrangers to the power of religion; of which, their being thus unhumbled, and insensible of their guilt and misery, was the evidence; and for which the remedy is prescribed in the following words : “ I counfel thee to buy of me “gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white “ raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame “ of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes " with eye salve, that thou mayest see.”
Or we may suppose, that this reproof was in a great measure applicable to them all, in general; believers and unbelievers; the best of them being exceedingly prone to trust in themselves that they were righteous ; instead of that humble dependance on the merit and grace of their Redeemer, which ought not only to be the refuge of the finner, but the confidence of the faint. And there is no question, that this is a proper caution to professing Christians in every age, to beware of splitting on the rock of felf-sufficiency.
But as this disposition reigns in the heart of every one, that is yet at a distance from God-is the foundation of their security and impenitence, and is what they must be brought off from, before they can be reconciled to God; it is for their benefit, that I chiefly design this discourse, though it may also be useful, and shall be in part, applied to the children of God. It is an affecting thought, when pursued to its consequences; yet alas ! it is unquestionably true, that in every assembly, such as this, of professing Christians, there are not a few, who are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, under the wrath of God, and liable to the condemning sentence of his law; and at the same time, that the far greatest part of them are ignorant of it, and know not, that they are wretched, and poor, and blind, and naked.
In discoursing farther upon this subject, therefore I shall
I. Endeavor to prove and illustrate this truth : that all mankind are by nature in a state of sia and misery, under the bondage of corruption, and liable to the wrath eGod.
II. I shall briefly Ahew you, that being brought to a lively sense, and genuine conviction of this, is the first, and a necessary step, to the saving knowledge of God, in Chrift-And in the last place, shall make some practical improvement of the subject.
I. In the first place then, I am to prove and illustrate this truth; that all mankind are by nature in a state of fin and misery, under the bondage of corruption, and lia. ble to the wrath of God. What is said in this passage of the Laodiceans, is universally true, of the posterity of Adam. Unless an inward and essential change has been wrought upon them by the grace of God, they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. It is also true of them, as well as the Laodiceans, that they know it nots but vainly presume themselves to be rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing. If these two things are jointly true of many of you my hearers, there is nothing in which you can have so great a concern: therefore, let me earnestly beseech your most serious attention, to what shall be said : as the success of this conviction is necessary, to your understanding or profitting by any other part of divine truth, as I shall afterwards fhew you.
The proof of the truth here asserted, can be only of two kinds. 1. From scripture, which is the testimony of God declaring it. 2. From the visible state of the world, and our own experience finding it to be fo.
1. That all mankind are by naiure in a state of sin and misery, appears from the express, and repeated testi. mony of the word of God. And this testiniony we have, not only in particular passages, carrying the truth, but in the strain and spirit of the whole, and the several difpensations of Divine Providence there recorded, which are all of them, built upou this supposition, and intended to remedy this universal evil.
See what God declares : Gen. vi. 5.“ And God saw .“ that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and " that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was
only evil continually.” And again, “the imagination