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and, so far as it is fit, a faithful minister | ter. There God is represented in the of Christ will not be wanting to their ex characters of condescension and grace, so pectation ; for he has gathered nothing in perfectly suited to our necessitous and all the stores of divine knowledge of guilty condition, as must render him the which he is not willing that they should object of our supreme love and unreserved partake. But in common, this indulgence confidence. is entirely out of place.
The plainest The first question that will always occur and most practical truths are first of all to an awakened sinner, hath been expressto be inculcated. Many more stand in ed by the prophet Micah in these words : need of these than of novelties in specu
Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, lation ; and even of those who call out and bow myself before the High God?' for such, many make the demand with a And the only answer to this question, very bad grace. They might be amused, which an unenlightened mind can suggest, perhaps, with a curious discussion ; but hath also been expressed by the same prowhat if their sense of divine things be phet, in the form of another question : dead? What if they need to have their “ Shall I come before him with burnt-ofminds stimulated, and their consciences ferings, with calves of a year old ? Will alarmed with the terrors of God's word ? the Lord be pleased with thousands of When our Lord was asked by a curious rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil ? inquirer, if there were few that should be Shall I give my first born for my transsaved ? instead of answering directly to gression, the fruit of my body for the sin the question, he addressed the person with of my soul ?" A conscience alarmed with a practical exhortation, "Strive to enter a sense of guilt, naturally represents the in at the strait gate ; for many, I say unto Most High as clothed with terrible mayou, shall seek to enter in, and shall not jesty, as a God of vengeance, a stern unbe able." If any of a similar character relenting creditor, demanding payment should attend our assemblies, let them even to the uttermost farthing. And hownot think it strange if we imitate so high ever the advocates for the light of nature an example, by preferring to impart to may boast of their discoveries, it
be them the plainest and simplest, ecause pronounced impossible for unassisted reathe most necessary truths; especially as son, proceeding on sound principles, to it cannot be doubted that the apostle's re- discover any means whereby guilty creaproof in the text is still applicable to many tures can hope to satisfy the justice, or hearers of the gospel :—"For when for regain the friendship of their Maker. the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have | All our knowledge, with regard to this need that one teach you again which be subject, must flow from revelation alone. the first principles of the oracles of God; The sanctions of justice may indeed be and are become such as have need of milk, comprehended by human reason; but jusand not of strong meat." Amen. tice demands inexorably the punishment
of transgressors. Justice admits no claim for the exercise of mercy. Nay, more, mercy does not even come within the
strict conception of legal administration, SERMON LXXII.
but is an act of pure prerogative having no other measure than the will of the
sovereign. 6 And who knoweth the mind 2 Cor. vi. 1.—“We then, as workers together of the Lord, or who hath been his coun
with him, beseech you also, that ye receive sellor ?" None else but the only begotten not the grace of God in vain.”
Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,
and hath declared him unto us: and this Nothing can be conceived more encourag- is the name whereby he hath made him ing to creatures, in our feeble and deprav. known, God is love. ed situation, than those views of the Su- What the apostle says, (chapter v. verse preme Being disclosed by the apostle in 18.) has a stronger signification than is the concluding part of the former chap. commonly attended to." All things are
DIVINE AND HUMAN AGENCY.
of God.” It not only imports, that all struments; and accordingly he styles himthings owe their existence to God, and self, in the text, a worker together with are the effects of his creating power; but God," and in this character beseecheth farther, that all the motives to exercise the Corinthians, in the most earnest manthat power are of himself likewise. He ner, “ not to receive the grace of God in finds them in his own perfect nature; and vain.” every exertion of power, whether for pro- The same exhortation I now address to ducing being or happiness to any of his you, deeming it peculiarly seasonable, in creatures, is the spontaneous act of his the near view we have of celebrating that essential goodness and benignity. Why solemn ordinance of our religion, in which did God create a world ? No other the grace of God appears in all its lustre answer can be given to this question, but and glory. It seems unnecessary to emthat it was his sovereign pleasure so to do. ploy many words in explaining the exhorNo other reason, but the same sovereign tation, its meaning being so clearly ascer. pleasure can be assigned for man's exist. tained by the connection in which it stands, ence on earth, with all the honors con- as to be obvious to every intelligent reader. ferred on him at his first creation. And All that is needful to be observed, is, that now that man hath forfeited these honors, we are to look for the true import of the and incurred the penalty annexed to his grace of God, which the apostle beseecheth disobedience, whither shall he resort to the Corinthians not to receive in vain, in find an inducement for his Creator show that ministry or word of reconciliation, ing him mercy? Can rebellion, outrageous which he had already said was committed unprovoked rebellion, furnish a motive to to himself, and to his brethren in the pity? Can deformity and pollution pre- apostleship. This plainly appears to consent any attractions of love ? No; it is sist of two parts. manifest, that after all our researches, we 1st. The declaration of an important must finally have recourse to what God fact, “God was in Christ reconciling the himself said to Moses of old, “I will be world unto himself.” And, gracious to whom I will be gracious, and 2dly, An exhortation founded on this will show mercy on whom I will show fact, “We pray you in Christ's stead be mercy.”. Upon this principle the apostle ye reconciled to God." Hence it is eviproceeds in the passage I have quoted : dent, that receiving the grace of God im" All things are of God," saith he, “who ports neither more nor less than believing hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus the fact, and complying with the exhortaChrist, and hath given to us the ministry tion; and consequently every thing short of reconciliation, to wit, that God was in of this is receiving the grace of God in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, vain. Without any further explanation, not imputing their trespasses unto them.” therefore, I shall now proceed to press the He it was who graciously spared those exhortation, by the most powerful argurebels whom his righteous vengeance mightments that I am able to present to your have crushed; and who, instead of requir- minds. ing the fruit of our body for the sin of Let me beseech you, then, not to reour soul, withheld not his own Son as the ceive the grace of God in vain, by the conransom of our transgressions, but gave sideration of the misery and abject bonhim up to the death for us, that we might dage of your condition, while you continue live through him. Having thus by his thus perverse and ungrateful. I will not infinite wisdom, and self-moving goodness, enter into any speculative disquisition opened a way for extending mercy to of- with regard to the pretensions of natural fenders, consistent with the honor of his religion. Whether those who never heard perfections, he proceeds to complete the of the grace of God revealed in the gosgracious plan, by sending forth some of pel may yet be saved, by the efficacy of the apostate race, as ambassadors for an unknown atonement, is a question with Christ, to beseech sinners in his own name, which we have little concern. I speak and in Christ's stead, to be reconciled to at present to those whose fate has nothing God. Paul was one of these chosen in.) to do with the determination of this ques
tion. What say the Scriptures of truth | freedom from those restraints to which with respect to them? “He that believeth the religious part of mankind are subject. on the Son hath life.'' Ponder what fol. But be assured this is no proof that your lows," he that believeth not the Son shall shackles are not real and binding. The not see life, but the wrath of God abideth tyrant to whom you are subject rules by on him."
How awful are these words ! deceit still more than by force; and all his "God is angry with the wicked every day. artifices are used to blind the eyes of his He hath bent his bow and made it ready; prisoners. Nay, it may be asserted with he hath also prepared for him the instru- confidence, that if you have not felt your ments of death." And 0 how hopeless chains, if you have not been conscious of a warfare is that which you have under- a struggle in getting free of them, your taken! Is there any that ever hardened redemption is not yet begun ; for violence himself against God and prospered ? Is there must be, and violence that cannot there any stronghold or lurking place, but be felt ere the usurper of your liberty where the enemies of his government may be dethroned. Such then is your unhappy be safe? Go, try the whole creation round. and disgraceful condition, while ye receive Ascend to heaven, and he is there in the the grace of God in vain. And let me brightness of his majesty. Go down to remind you, that this is no painting of the regions of darkness, and he is there mine. I have only declared what the orin the severity of his justice. Take the acles of truth have pronounced ; and to wings of the morning, and fly to the ut- their sentence you must submit, or take termost parts of the sea, even there his the bold step of calling God a liar. In boundless dominion extends; even there the his right hand shall hold thee a prisoner 2d place, Let me beseech you not to to his vengeance. Go, ask protection from receive the grace of God in vain, by the the highest angel, and he will tell you that consideration of the happiness of those one sin ruined myriads of his companions; who give it a full and cordial reception. and how then should be protect you from Every one of this happy number is justithe penalty of multiplied transgressions ? fied from the guilt of all his iniquities; And if so exalted a being cannot help you, and say, whether you have well weighed what can you hope from any other part of the value even of this lowest privilege of the creation ? Surely in vain is salva. believers ? I am aware that thoughtless tion looked for from the hills and from transgressors can have no conception of the mountains.” There is no other deliv- its importance; in their mad and desperate erer than this Jesus whom we preach. folly, they even make a mock at sin, and He is the alone surety that can pay all deride the fears of the contrite and peniour debt; and even he can profit us nothing, tent. But go ask the pardoned sinner till we receive him into our hearts by what he thinks of the benefit of forgiveness. faith. Till that happy moment, the weight Hear the grateful accents of one who of all our sins lies on ourselves: and spoke from deep and thorough experience: nothing but the brittle thread of life sus- Blessed is he whose transgression is forpends us from sinking for ever into the given, whose sin is covered ; blessed is the pit where there is no hope.
man to whom the Lord imputeth not inBut the prospect of impending misery iquity :-For day and night thine hand is not the only circumstance that charac- was heavy on me, so that my moisture is terizeth your unhappy condition. Present turned into the drought of summer. O bondage, distracting and disgraceful bon- Lord my God, I cried unto thee, and thou dage, is no less a just description of your hast healed me. Thou hast brought up
The enemy of God and man rules my soul from the grave; thou hast kept in your hearts, and by his imperious com- me alive, that I should not go down into mands, all your inclinations and actions are the pit; thou hast put off my sackcloth, swayed. It is possible, indeed, that this and girded me with gladness. Therefore shameful slavery may be unknown to your shall every one that is godly pray unto selves. You may flatter yourselves with thee, in a time when thou mayest be a supposed liberty, and even boast of your found; and I will give thanks unto thee,
O Lord my God, for ever and ever.” But to behold his glory, and to partake of his this forgiveness, precious and invaluable as bliss. it is, is only the introductory blessing be- And shall these considerations be still stowed on those who give the grace of insufficient to determine your choice? 0 God a full and cordial reception. Being wonder not at the unbelieving Jews, who justified by faith, they have peace with persecuted and slew the Lord of life. Let God, and peace with their own conscience. not your indignant sentiments rise at their The cause of enmity being removed, they , injustice and cruelty. Their sin and folly are restored to friendship with their Maker. were light compared with yours, who now God is not ashamed to be called their reject his counsel and despise his grace. Father, nor reluctant to bestow on them Their scorn was excited by his mean apall the blessings and honors that pertain pearance, and they hid their faces from to his children. Hence the rapturous him, because disguised in the form of a gratitude of the apostle John, too big for servant. But I will tell you a thing more expression, and yet, by the very want of horrible and astonishing. The Son of expression, more forcible than the most God, clothed in all the mild glory of an descriptive eloquence. Beloved, now exalted Saviour, and stretching forth his are we the sons of God; and it doth not hands to bestow all the blessings puryet appear what we shall be, but we know chased with his blood, is still despised and that when he shall appear we shall be rejected. And thou, O impenitent sinner, like · him, for we shall see him as he is.” | art the man guilty of this contempt and The meanest individual, nay, the most ingratitude; yet, blessed be God, though abandoned sinner that now hears me, may you may justly be charged with this almost yet become an heir of God, and a joint incredible guilt, I am still warranted to heir with Christ, a king and priest unto beseech you, in the God, and a pillar in the heavenly temple, 3d and last place, Not to receive the never to be removed. Let your desires grace of God in vain, by the consideration soar to the greatest height, stretch your of the riches of his long-suffering and imaginations to the utmost-yet the liber- forbearance. Long as his mercy has been ality of God will be still more unbounded. insulted, it is still in your offer. I need Much he hath promised to bestow on his not appeal to particular passages of Scrippeople, and many similitudes he hath con- ture to confirm this comfortable truth. descended to use, that their slow minds It appears conspicuously through the might be assisted in conceiving his bounty; whole tenor of revelation, every page of but nowhere hath he said, this is all your which contains the language of love and portion, or beyond this no more is to be compassion to sinners. Review the hisexpected. No, his bounty will be an ever- tory of Jesus, and after you have seen lasting fountain, and benefits for ever shall what he hath already done for our sakes, nourish eternal gratitude in the bosoms of try if you can possibly question his goodthe redeemed. “For he that spared not will. Did he condescend to be clothed his own Son, but gave him up to the death with our mortal flesh, and will he disdain for us all, how shall he not with him also the entertainment of an affectionate and freely give us all things.” Peruse the grateful heart ? Did he bleed and die on valedictory discourse of our Lord to his the cross for our sins, and will he fail to disciples, and learn from it what you may perfect his work in our salvation? It was lawfully expect from a reconciled Father. a powerful argument which the apostle All your prayers shall be heard. The Paul employed on a certain occasion with Comforter, even the Holy Ghost, shall Agrippa, “Believest thou the Prophets?” come into your hearts, and lead you into So say I to you, Do you believe the histhe knowledge of all truth. Ye shall be tory of your Saviour, as recorded by four made fruitful in the works of righteous- evangelists? How do you read them ?
God himself shall make his abode What was it that affected him with grief?
Ye shall be kept from the evil was it not the hardness of men's hearts ? of the world while in it, and at last ye What was it that drew tears from his comshall be where your exalted Redeemer is, passionate eyes ? was it not the view of
Jerusalem, that impenitent city, which the youngest of you of another opportunity. knew not, or regarded not, the day of its Before to-morrow your doom may be fixed merciful visitation ? Nay, what was the unalterably. May God enable you to profit errand on which he solemnly declared him- by these instructions, and to his name self to be come into the world ? was it not be praise. Amen. to " seek and to save them who were lost?" and I will ye counteract by your obstinate folly, all these gracious intentions on his part ? Will ye persist in rejecting his grace, until ye have extorted vengeance
SERMON LXXIII. and indignation from him whose heart is love ? How dreadful, in that case, must your doom be! As ye love your souls, be warned in time against this desperate, 1 JOHN, II. 15.—“Love not the world, neither this ruinous madness. The gracious call
the things that are in the world: If any man
love the world, the love of the FATHER is not still resounds in your ears, To-day, if in him.” ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." And we, as ambassadors, are From these words I propose, by divine asstill charged to “beseech you, in Christ's sistance, stead, be ye reconciled to God."
I. To describe that excessive or sinful And now let me ask, what impression love of the world, from which the apostle these plain and obvious remonstrances here dissuades us. have made on your minds ? What may II. To inquire wherein the malignity be their effect, I cannot foretell. This I of this sin consists. know, that could I hope to succeed better, III. To lay before you a few sympI would with pleasure come down, and ad-toms of a worldly mind, and examine some dress each of you, even on my bended knees, of the apologies upon which men flatter obtesting you by every solemn, every ten themselves with being free of it. And, der argument, to fly from the wrath to IV. To enforce the exhortation, and
I easily foresee the time when the give some directions how to get this undue remembrance of this offered grace shall affection towards earthly things mortified either fill you with joy unutterable, or and subdued. with fruitless and everlasting anguish. I. It will readily occur to you, that the For whatever thoughtless sinners may exhortation is to be understood under cerimagine, no word of God shall ever return tain restrictions. The place of his works to him void, but shall accomplish the pur which God has appointed us to inhabit, pose for which he sends it.
“We are a cannot in itself be supposed an object de. sweet savor to God," saith the apostle serving our aversion or dislike. This Paul, “in you that believe, and in you would be to impeach the goodness of our that perish; to the one we are the savor Creator, and to tax his handiwork with of life unto life, and to the other of death imperfection. We may lawfully lovo the unto death." I am aware that pleadings world, as it is the workmanship of God, of this kind are sometimes treated with and the mirror in which we behold the ridicule; but the time is at hand when the perfections of the invisible Creator. Creascoffer shall be made sober. The view of tion is a large instructive volume, and the death may do it—the day of judgment sense of every line is God. The proper certainly will.
use of all the creatures is to lead us Now then is the accepted time. Now upwards to him that made them, and to you may obtain an interest in this Saviour; kindle in our souls the warmest gratitude and if you apply to him, as sure as God to that unwearied Benefactor, who has liveth, you shall find mercy. Thus far I provided so liberally for our comfort and can go, but one step farther I cannot pro- happiness. They are naturally the means ceed upon sure ground. I cannot promise of supporting our bodies while we are emyou on any future time. If you reject the ployed in those duties which we owe to counsel of God now, I cannot assure even|God, and they also enable us to supply the