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no good thing." On these accounts he In this your Christianity doth consist, loathes himself in his own sight, not par. and on this your justification depends. tially or occasionally only, for having acted This is the sum of your conversion, and a wrong part, which he supposes that by the very soul of the new creature. Other prudence he might have avoided, but uni- things are only preparatives to this, or versally as a degenerate and corrupted fruits that grow out of it. Christ is the being. He can find nothing to be proud end and fulfilling of the law, the substance of, nothing that he can call his own, but of the gospel, the way to the Father, the guilt, disorder, and weakness. And under help, the hope, the life of the believer. If this conviction, he falls down before God, you know not him, you know nothing; if saying with Job, “I have heard of thee by you possess not him, you have nothing; the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye and if you be out of HIM, you can do noseeth thee, wherefore I abhor myself in thing that hath a promise of salvation. O dust and ashes."
then fly to him as your refuge and sanctuThis is that self-loathing which I now ary, and commit your souls into his hands, call upon you to exercise. And the ne- that he may purify and form them for cessity of it is apparent; for until you himself. Plead in the language of David, are brought thus low in your own estima- |(Psal. li. 2.) “Wash me thoroughly from tion, you will never esteem the Lord Je- mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sus Christ, who alone can save you from sin. Purge me with hysop, and I shall be the wrath to come. Who is it that values clean ; wash me, and I shall be whiter a physician while he feels no disease, and than snow.” And look by faith for the hath no fears of death ? Will any fly to accomplishment of that promise, (Ezekiel Christ for refuge, who is not sensible that xxxvi. 25.) “ Then will I sprinkle clean he stands in need of such a Saviour ? No; water upon you, and ye shall be clean ; they only who are perishing in their own from all your filthiness, and from all your apprehensions will welcome the tidings of idols, will I cleanse yon." Amen. a Redeemer, and look to him, as the stung Israelites looked to the brazen serpent, lying prostrate at his feet, and resigning themselves wholly to his disposal and gov
SERMON LXVI. ernment.
Let me then conclude with exhorting you to repair to that fountain which is CHOICE BETWEEN INIQUITY AND AFFLICTION, opened for sin and for uncleanness, to that
JOB XXXVI. 21.-"Take heed; regard not iniquity; blood which can cleanse you from all sin. This is the proper use and improvement of all that hath been said. Here is a remedy for all your diseases, a full supply THESE words were addressed to Job, who for all your wants
. Here you will find from the height of prosperity was suddenly gold tried in the fire, that you may be plunged into the deepest and most compli"rich; and white raiment, that you may be cated distress. They are the words of clothed, and the shame of your nakedness Elihu, the youngest, but by far the wisest
The Lord Jesus is a com- and most candid of all Job's friends. The plete Saviour. Be your burden what it other three were indeed, as himself had will, he is able to support it. His merit styled them, miserable comforters. It surpasseth your guilt by infinite degrees; was their belief, that adversity was in all and his victorious Spirit can subdue and cases a certain token of God's displeasure; mortify your most imperious lusts. Let and, upon this principle, they endeavored what hath been said, then, lead you to to persuade this excellent servant of God, him. Dwell on the consideration of your that his whole religion was false and own vileness, till your self-confidence is counterfeit, that divine justice had now entirely destroyed, and your hearts dis- laid hold of him, and that he was suffering posed to receive him as the unspeakable the punishment of his hypocrisy and inigift of God to man.
for this hast thou chosen rather than afflic. tion.”
do not appear.
At length Elihu interposes; and moved | as to render sin more odious, or affliction with zeal for the honor of God, and with less formidable, I shall gain one of the compassion to his friend, he, unfolds the noblest ends of my office, and we shall have mysteries of Divine Providence, asserts reason to acknowledge, that our meeting and proves that affliction is designed for together has been for the better and not the trial of the good, as well as for the for the worse. punishment of the bad, directs Job to the In proof, then, of the general proposiright improvement of his present distress, tion, That there can be no greater folly and comforts him with the prospect of a than to choose sin rather than affliction, happy deliverance from it, as soon as his let it be observed, heart should be thoroughly moulded into I. That sin separates us from God, the a meek and patient submission to the will only source of real felicity. That man is of his God. At the same time, he re- not sufficient to his own happiness, is a bukes him with a becoming dignity for truth confirmed by the experience of all some rash and unadvised speeches which who have candidly attended to their own the severity of his other friends, and the feelings. It is the consciousness of this sharpness of his own anguish, had drawn insufficiency of the human mind for its from him; and particularly cautions him own happiness, which makes men seek rein the passage before us, " Take heed; re- sources from abroad; which makes them
ard not iniquity; for this hast thou cho fly to pleasures and amusements of various sen rather than affliction."
kinds, whose chief value consists in filling The latter part of the text contains an up the blanks of time, and diverting their heavy censure, for which some of Job's uneasy reflections from their own internal impatient wishes for relief had no doubt poverty. But these are vain and deceitgiven too just occasion. But these ex- ful refuges of lies. The want remains pressions, uttered in his haste, he after- and we have found out only the means of wards retracted, and finally came out from putting away the sense of it for a time. the furnace of affliction, like gold tried God alone can be the source of real hapand refined by the fire.— What I propose, piness to an immortal soul, an adequate in discoursing on this subject, is to illus- supply to all its faculties, an inexhaustible trate and prove the general proposition, subject to its understanding, an everlastthat there can be no greater folly than to ing object to its affections. seek to escape from affliction by comply- Sin bereaves the soul of man of this its ing with the temptations of sin; or, in only portion. “Behold," saith the Proother words, that the smallest act of de- phet, “God's hand is not shortened that liberate transgression is infinitely worse it cannot save, neither is his ear heavy than the greatest calamity we can suffer that it cannot hear; but your iniquities in this life.
have separated between you and your God, That the greater part of mankind are and your sins have hid his face from you, under the influence of the contrary opin- that he will not hear.” Affliction, on the ion, may be too justly inferred from their other hand, instead of separating the soul practice. How many have recourse to from God, is often the means of bringing sinful pleasures to relieve their inward it nearer to him. Let a man be ever so distress ? What unlawful methods do poor, diseased, reproached, persecuted, others use for acquiring the perishing still if he hold fast his integrity, if he be riches or honors of this world ? while, in a real saint, he is near and dear to God. order to evade suffering for righteousness The eyes of the Lord are upon him, and sake, thousands make shipwreck of faith his ears are open to his cry. The angel and a good conscience, through sinful of the Lord encampeth round about him, compliances with the manners of the world, and a guard of angels wait to carry his against the clear and deliberate conviction departing spirit into Abraham's bosom. of their own minds. These things plainly Whereas sin renders us loathsome in the show, that the subject I have chosen is of eyes of God. He is angry with the wicked the highest importance; and if what may every day; and even their prayers and sabe said on it shall be so far blessed to any, crifices are an abomination to him. He
hath bent his bow, and made it ready; he spect, is the greatest curse we can possihath also prepared for him the instruments bly bring on ourselves; and the most desof death. God looks on them with abhor- perate condition in which a human crearence, and, when conscience is awake, they ture can be placed before his everlasting think of him with horror, and dare not doom be pronounced, ig when God saith come into his presence, knowing that he of him, as he did of Ephraim of old, “He is a consuming fire to the workers of ini. is joined to his idols, let him alone." quity.
Affliction, on the other hand, though a II. AFFLICTION may not only consist bitter, is yet a salutary medicine; and with the love of a father, but may even be though no chastening for the present the fruit of it. " Whom the Lord loveth seemeth to be joyous, but grievous, neverhe chasteneth, and scourgeth every sou theless afterwards it yieldeth the peacewhom he receiveth.—By this,” saith the able fruit of righteousness to them who prophet Isaiah, speaking of affliction, are exercised thereby. Afliction is the “shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, discipline by which we are trained to and this is all the fruit to take away sin.” glory, and honor, and virtue. If this David could say, "It is good for me that world, indeed, were our only portion, there I have been afflicted, that I might learn would be some reason, or at least some thy statutes. Before I was afflicted I excuse, for choosing the pleasures of iniwent astray, but now I have kept thy quity, rather than those sufferings which word.” A good man may even glory in would embitter the short period of our extribulation, knowing that tribulation work istence in it. But the greatest error we eth patience, and patience experience, and can possibly fall into, is that of taking it experience hope, and hope maketh not for the place of our rest. To cure this ashamed, because the love of God is shed fatal mistake, God visits us with afflictions. abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost They are his messengers sent to teach us which is given unto him. But sin is al- our true condition, what this world is, a ways both evil in its own nature and per- fleeting scene of vanity and illusions; and nicious in its effects. This contrast is what we ourselves are in it, pilgrims and very strikingly displayed by the apostle strangers, hastening to another land of Paul. Of the one he speaks as a privi- perpetual abode. lege, and a token for good to those who IV. In affliction we are commonly pasare exercised thereby. “Unto you," saith sive, but always active in sin. he, (writing to the Philippians, i. 29.)“it is left to our choice; the other is not. is given in the behalf of Christ, not only When we suffer in the cause of virtue, we to believe on him, but also to suffer for are in the hand of our most faithful and his sake." But what doth he say concern- everlasting friend; but when we sin in or. ing the other, (Rom. vii. 24.) “O wretch- der to avoid suffering, we commit ourselves ed man that I am, who shall deliver me into the hands of that malicious, cunfrom the body of this death ?" If any ning, and eternal enemy, who goeth about had ever reason to complain of the burden seeking whom he may destroy. Affliction of affliction, Paul had more—“ in labors only hurts the body, but sin affects the more abundant, in stripes above measure, health and well-being of that immortal in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.” principle, which is destined to survive the But in the midst of these sufferings, we ruins of this earthly tabernacle, and to never hear him crying out, Who shall de- inherit happiness or misery for ever. Which liver me from this unremitting distress ? leads me to observe, in the last place, His inward corruption gave him greater
THAT the evil of affliction is of short pain than the evils of his outward condi- duration, but that of sin perpetual. tion; and his captivity to the law of sin Weeping may endure for a time, but joy was worse to him than prisons, and tor- cometh in the morning; and these light tures, and death.
afflictions, which are but for a moment, IIÍ. Sin is evil whether we feel it or work out for us a far more exceeding and not, and worst when we are most insensi- eternal weight of glory. Should they ble of it. To be past feeling, in this re-l continue throughout our whole lives, yet
even that is but a moment compared with Let us then be warned, ere it be too eternity. The evil of sin, on the con- | late, against the fatal error referred to in trary, goes beyond the grave, and lasts as the text; the preference of the momenlong as the soul itself, which it has pol- tary pleasures of sin, to the salutary disciluted. The delight of it is soon gone, pline of affliction. Let us never allow but the sting remains; the guilt and pun. ourselves to imagine, that any present ishment of it pass with us into the other pleasure or advantage of sin will compenworld, and there constitute the worm that sate the dreadful evils which it carries in never dieth, and the fire which is not its train; but uniformly oppose to every quenched.
such suggestion of a diseased mind, that THESE observations may suffice to il. important and solemn question which our lustrate the general proposition, that there Lord addressed to the multitude,
66 What can be no greater folly than to seek to shall it profit a man if he shall gain the escape from affliction, by complying with whole world, and lose his own soul? or what the temptations to sin; or, in other words, shall a man give in exchange for his soul ?” that the smallest act of deliberate trans- 2dly. Let us examine ourselves caregression is infinitely worse than the great- fully, whether our judgment and choice est calamity we can suffer in this life. have been rectified on this important
What hath been said, ought, in the 1st point. What is it that affects us with the place, to serve for reproof to those who, deepest concern and sorrow; the adverse so far from considering iniquity as more to events in providence, or the sins by which be dreaded as a greater evil than afilic we have incurred the loss of the divine tion, will not refrain from their ungodly favor ? When the hand of God lies heavy and vicious practices even when their sin on us, what do we desire with the greatproves their affliction. To many, alas! it est earnestness ? whether is it to have the seems to be as their meat and drink to trial sanctified, or to have it removed ? obey the commands of sin, by fulfilling What is the chief object of your ambithe lusts thereof. In vain hath the word tion? Is it to grow in grace, and in conof God and providence admonished them, formity with the image of God? or is it that naught but bitterness is to be found to become great, and prosperous, and in the path of folly. They still pursue powerful in the world ? Were God now that path, in defiance of their own experi- to put wisdom or riches in our choice, as ence, and weary themselves with commit- he once did to Solomon, would we deterting iniquity. They break through all mine as he did ? or would we grasp at the restraints, not only when an angel stands riches, leaving it to age and experience to in the way, but where ruin, misery, and bring wisdom along with them in the ordestruction, stare them broad in the face. dinary supposed course of things ? In
How many are to be seen bound with what character does Christ appear most the cords of their own sins, from which amiable to us, as a Saviour from punishthey have neither the inclination nor ment, or as a Saviour from sin ? Finally, power to free themselves ? How many in what view does heaven appear most wasted and maimed by criminal indul- worthy of our desires and wishes; as a gence? How many brought to poverty place of deliverance from suffering, or as and rags, by riot and intemperance ? a state of perfect freedom from sin and “Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who infirmity of every kind, where we shall hath contentions? who hath wounds with be enabled to serve God with the entire out cause? who hath redness of eyes? affections and powers of our whole nature ? they that tarry long at the wine, they that By these marks let us try the real state go to seek mixed wine.” Sin has had its of our characters, that so we may not pass martyrs as well as godliness, who, in pre- through life with a lie in our right hands; mature old agc, have been made to possess but knowing that we are of the truth, the transgressions of their youth, in all may assure our hearts before God, lookthe bitter fruits of a body tortured with ing for his mercy unto eternal life. Amen. diseases, and a spirit wounded with re
THE SAINTS' PRESENT AND FUTURE HOME.
Christian hope, which he calls a building SERMON LXVII.
of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And,
III. He expresses the firm persuasion
which he had, in common with all true 2 Corin. y. 1._"For we know, that if our believers, of being admitted into that glo
earthly house of this tabernacle were dis- rious and permanent dwelling-place, as solved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the hea soon as the earthly tabernacle should be
Each of these particulars I shall briefly The prospect of a blessed immortality is illustrate, and then direct you to the pracone of the most powerful supports to the tical improvement of the whole. people of God, amidst all the trials of the I BEGIN with the first of these heads, present state; and therefore hope is com- which respects our state and condition on pared to an anchor, which being cast with earth. And in the description here given in the veil, keeps the soul firm and un us, there are several things that deserve
hoved, so that nothing from without can our notice. disturb its inward peace and tranquillity.
1st. The body is called a house; and it This was the true foundation of that cour- may well get this name, on account of its age and constancy with which the apostles curious frame and structure, all the parts and primitive Christians endured and over- of it being adjusted with the greatest exactcame the most grievous sufferings. Faith ness, insomuch that there is not one mem. presented to their view a far more exceed- ber redundant nor superfluous, nor any ing and eternal weight of glory; in com- thing wanting that is necessary, either for parison of which their present afflictions ornament or use. appeared so light and momentary, that But it is principally with relation to the they were incapable of giving them much inward inhabitant that the body gets the pain or uneasiness, as the apostle more name of a house in the text. It is a fully declares in the close of the preced- lodging fitted up for the soul to dwell in. ing chapter. And being unwilling to leave It is the residence of an immortal spirit, such an agreeable subject, he further en- and from thence it derives its chief honor larges upon it in the words of my text: and dignity. As God created this earth, “For we know, that if our earthly house before he made any of the creatures which of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have were to inhabit it, and as the world was a building of God, an house not made completely furnished with everything with hands, eternal in the heavens.” necessary and desirable, before man, its Death itself can do us no real prejudice; intended sovereign, was introduced; so on the contrary, we have reason to wel. likewise, in the formation of man, God come it as a friend, because, when it beats began with the body, and first completed down these tenements of clay in which we the outward fabric, before he breathed are lodged, or rather imprisoned upon into it a living soul. How foolish then are earth, it only opens a passage for us into they who spend all their thoughts and a far more commodious and lasting habi- cares upon the bodies, and overlook those tation, where we shall possess the greatest immortal spirits within, for whose use and riches, the highest honors, and the most accommodation they were solely intended; transporting pleasures, without intermis- especially when it is considered, in the sion, and without end.
2d place, That the body was not only I. He compares the body to an earthly made for the service of the soul, but that it house, yea to a tabernacle or tent, which is likewise composed of the meanest mate. is still less durable, and more easily taken rials, even that of the dust which we down; and therefore the dissolution of trample under foot. Upon this account such a frail thing ought not to be reckon the apostle calls it in the text, not merely ed a very great calamity. To this he a house, but an earthly house. Thus we opposes, in the
are told, (Genesis ii. 7.) “that the Lord II. place, The glorious object of the God formed man of the dust of the