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and honour his beloved Benefactor. This leads him to consider, in what way he may most effectually recommend the salvation of Christ to his fellowsinners, or be useful to that “ flock which he
pur“ chased with his own blood." These reflections will frequently employ his thoughts, whet! er he be a minister of religion, a magistrate, a steward of the unrighteous mammon, possessed of influence, or endued with natural and acquired abilities; or whether, on the contrary, he live in a private and obscure station,-a labourer, a servant, in deep poverty, or even in a state of slavery. And whatever be the Christian's outward situation and circumstances, provided he aim to serve the Lord Jesus by a conscientious attention to his peculiar duties, in honesty, quietness, and contentment: he will be enabled to " adorn the doctrine of God “his Saviour,” and as certainly meet with a gracious acceptance, as if he were sent, like Isaiah and Paul, to carry his message to the church and to the world.
· The performance of relative duties, even when the most unkind returns are experienced ; strict integrity under heavy losses and in trying circumstances; patience and meekness amidst sufferings and injuries; are in some respects equivalent to the prophet’s alacrity in undertaking the painful service allotted him. And, in proportion as the believer can unite deep humility with assured hope and fervent zeal, he will act with decision according tự the commands of his Lord, and the
oppor tunities or advantages afforded him. But if pride warp his steady aim and mar his simplicity, or negligence make way for guilt and alarm; he will find himself in all respects indisposed for difficult, perilous, or self-denying services. When discouragement prevails, “ the hands hang down and " the knees wax feeble:” a man in this case scarcely finds himself at liberty to speak a word on religious subjects, for the instruction even of his own family; and still less to attempt any thing of a more arduous nature, for the glory of God and the benefit of his church. When David had been grievously overcome by temptations, he found that conscious guilt rendered him incapable of renewing his bold and zealous endeavours in the service of God. He therefore prayed, “ Open my
lips, O Lord, that my mouth may shew forth
thy praise.” But when the joy of God's salvation is restored, the lively exercise of affection renders a man ready to say, “ Here I am, “send me:" “ If so poor a worm as I am, may glo'rify thy name, O Lord, I would thankfully yield ' myself to thy disposal, that I may be employed in any way, which may seem good in thy sight.'
If then these be indeed the effects of such humbling and encouraging views of the Lord and heavenly things, as have been described; we ought certainly to enquire with great seriousness, whether we have learned or experienced any thing of
the same nature ?—And this may introduce an address to different descriptions of persons.
There are numbers, who do not wish to be thought infidels or irreligious; but call themselves believers, render some worship to God, and respect the name of Christ and the leading truths of Christianity: yet they by no means think that they are altogether sinful, and exposed to just condemnation even for the defilements of their religious duties. They adopt various methods of eluding the inferences we draw from the general declarations of scripture, concerning the deceitfulness and desperate wickedness of the human heart; and object to every attempt made to convince them, that they themselves, as well as Gentiles and wicked Jews, are included in these unrestricted charges. These appear to them hard sayings; because they deprive them of every plea, undermine the foundation of their hope, and exclude all boasting and self-preference. But, if you have been used to reason and object in this manner, let me earnestly intreat and conjure you, seriously to answer the following questions: Do you really think your own hearts, characters, and services to be more holy and excellent, than those of Job, Isaiah, Daniel, or Paul? Or do you sup
: your superior sanctity is proportioned to the difference of the language you use in speaking of your virtues and duties? If you cannot without affectation adopt their humiliating expressions,
it must arise from one of these causes: either
your conduct and character are far more holy than their's were; or they knew far more of God and of themselves, than you do. You are either much better men; or you are much less acquainted with those things, which are essential to a right judgment of characters and actions.
When the apostle said, “That God, who com" manded the light to shine out of darkness, hath “ shined in our hearts, to give us the light of “ the knowledge of the glory of God in the face " of Jesus Christ;" he assigned the real cause of the lowly opinion, which eminent saints have ever entertained of themselves: and a want of this divine illumination gives occasion for that favourable estimate which numbers form of their virtues and characters. If then this be the case, or if there be the least probability that it is so; would it not be wise in you, my friends, to intreat the Lord, that he would “open your understandings “ to understand the scriptures?" and would it be improper for you, frequently to meditate with fixed attention on the glorious perfections and holy commandments of God? Let me affectionately beseech you to compare your duties with the standard of holy writ; to watch your own hearts, while engaged in them; and to examine impaltially your motives in those services, to which you annex some confused idea of merit, and that you hope will make amends, in part at least, for the
undeniable defects of your character. A day approacheth, in which every eye shall behold a far more glorious scene than that which overwhelmed the mind of the prophet Isaiah. The divine Saviour
“ in his own glory, and in the glory of “the Father, with all his holy angels.” Then every action will be weighed in an impartial balance; every character fully made known; and every unpardoned transgressor struck dumb in the presence of his Judge, or only able to say, “Woe
is me, I am undone!" while the awful words,
Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared “ for the devil and his angels,” shall fill him with terror and sink bim into despair. But at present there is hope: and those discoveries of guilt which tend to humble us, and prepare us for welcoming the salvation of God, should be considered as inestimable mercies, the forerunners of “joy un
speakable and full of glory.”
But perhaps these subjects have rendered you uneasy and dejected; and you have on that account deemed it best to divert your attention from them, and at any rate to keep on good terms with your own consciences. You therefore neglect the scriptures, and such books, company, or preaching, as formerly disquieted you; and, hearkening to worldly counsellors, seek relief from diversions, indulgences, or a hurry of business; or perhaps try to dispel melancholy by a cheerful glass. Thus numbers close their eyes against the light, because