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would have experienced no more sorrow, no more darkness; that every weight would have been taken away for ever; that all would be sunshine, peace, and joy. And perhaps for a time you found it thus. But at length clouds have arisen; the light has been obscured, and to a degree you are again walking in darkness; a darkness, not in itself so thick and horrible as that which formerly enveloped you ; but, a darkness the more gloomy and distressing, because it is contrasted with the glorious light which you so lately have enjoyed, and which you had hoped to enjoy for ever without diminution or interruption. And whence has this change proceeded ? From an increasing experience of the corruption and depravity of your heart. Freed from the burden of a guilty conscience, you are now groaning under the weight of a depraved nature. You thought that sin, when pardoned, would have given you no more trouble : that freed from condemnation, you would have been freed from corruption also. But to your surprise and grief, you now find that you were mistaken. Sin, which for a time seemed to be dead, has revived; and though dethroned, still threatens and strives to resume its empire. Old propensities and former habits, which appeared to be subdued, again plead for their wonted gratifications; and notwithstanding past conflicts
and past triumphs, you still find “a law in your members, warring against the law of your mind, and bringing you into captivity to the law of sin, which is in your members.” Dismayed and confounded at discovering so much evil, when you had fondly hoped that all evil had been almost extirpated, you are perhaps greatly cast down. You are tempted at times to distrust the faithfulness and power of Jesus Christ, or to question your own sincerity, and your consequent interest in his promises. You are ready to say, I am indeed a child of God, Why am I. thus?" Or you adopt the language of St. Paul, “ wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death ?” My brethren, let the words of the Apostle which immediately follow this complaint, show you what to do. “I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.” * It is through Jesus that you must look for deliverance from this body of death. Those who labour as you are labouring, under a feeling sense of remaining sin, are equally included in the invitation in the text. “ Come unto me and I will give you rest." This increasing experience of the corruption of your hearts, and of the strength and power of sin in your soul, is designed for your spiritual good. It is one of the means which the Holy Spirit employs
* Romans, vii. 24., 25.
for more effectually mortifying your pride; for weaning you from self and from the world; for exciting your prayers; and for making Christ more precious in your eyes. Its object and tendency are to lead you to have less confidence in the flesh, and to rejoice more simply and truly in Jesus Christ. “ Come to Him, and He will give you rest.”? Pray to Him for His help and support in this arduous conflict. Cast your burden upon Him, and plead your cause before Him. Pray to Him, that for His name's sake He would subdue your iniquities; and that because you are his servant and soldier, He would give you the victory. He will now hear your prayers.
In due time He will answer them. He will allay the conflict of contending passions. He will say to the winds, and to the waves, “ Be still;" and there will be a great calm. He will disperse the clouds. He will lighten your darkness. He will give you rest and peace, and you shall go on your way rejoicing.
THE SIN AND GUILT OF NOT OBEYING THE
1 PETER, iy. 17.
What shall the end be of them that obey not
the Gospel of God?
St. Peter here proposes a very important question, which, without referring to its immediate connection with the context, we shall do well to lay deeply and seriously to heart. All men living, to whom the Gospel comes, either do obey it, or do not obey it.. With respect to the former, those who obey the Gospel, we know what will become of them :
: we know what their end will be. It will be happy, it will be glorious. All their afflictions will work out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But what shall the end be of those that obey not the Gospel of God? What will become of them? The Apostle, having put the question, leaves his readers to answer it. It is in fact
a question which is addressed to our own reason and conscience, and which furnishes its own reply. It is, as if the Apostle had said unto us, “ Weigh well the wickedness “ of these persons. Consider what they are “ doing, and what they deserve. Compare “ these things with what is written in Scrip“ ture; and then judge how great will be “ the punishment, which at length will as“ suredly overtake them.” To assist you then in coming to a right judgement on this important subject, I shall endeavour to set before you two things :
I. The Sin here specified.
I. The Sin here specified is not obeying the Gospel of God. The Gospel of God is that gracious message which God hath sent to us by his Son Jesus Christ. To obey the Gospel is to receive this message as coming from God; to comply with the terms, and to follow the directions contained in it. On the other hand, not to obey the Gospel, is to do the very reverse of this. It is to treat the message with indifference and neglect; to reject the terms, and refuse compliance with the directions which it sets before us. This then is the Sin here specified. But to give you clearer notions of this Sin, I will describe to you some different sorts of persons, who are guilty of it.