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intended to ferve in the universal kingdom of God, is to be an everlasting monument, that a rational creature who has once departed from its innocence, and obedience to its Creator, never can again return to the same state, but by his own almighty power and sovereign grace. Upon the whole, from this faint view of the plan of redemption, as lying open to the attention of principalities and powers, we may say with the apostle Paul, Rom. ii. 33. “O the “ depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of “God! how ünsearchable are his judgments, and his “ ways past finding out !"
I proceed now to conclude the subject, by some prac: tical improvement of what has been faid. And,'
1. What you have heard will contribute, I hope, by the divine blessing, to fhew the guilt of those who despise the gospel, and serve to remove the offence of the cross. It required no small measure of fortitude in the apostle Paul, to declare that he was not “ashamed of the cross of Christ,” which at its first publication was “to the Jews a stumbling ( block, and to the Greeks foolishness.” The doctrine of the cross, in its fimplicity and purity, has been matter of offence in every succeeding age, to men of proud and worldly minds. God knows, there are not wanting many at this time, who treat the doctrine of the cross, and salvation by grace, with as much contempt and infolence as they dare. Nor is it at all impossible, that there may be some among you who are infected with thefe poisonous and destructive principles. Be persuaded, o deluded foul! that “ the weakness of God is stronger than man,” and “ that the wisdom of man is foolishness with God.'* This glorious and gracious plan hath the approbation and admiration of angels, though it hath the contempt of finners. It astonished the angels, therefore no wonder though it should astonish us. You will perhaps say, It is indeed astonishing above measure ; it teaches me to believe an incarnate God, a suffering Saviour, the innocent punish. ed, and the guilty forgiven. It is attended with so many surprising circumstances, that I cannot help saying, How can these things be? But as Samson said in his riddle, « Out of the eater came forth meat, out of the strong came
* forth fweetness;" so out of the suggestions of your corrupt minds, I would derive fome evidence of the truth. A cunningly devised fable would be dressed by the deceiver in a manner suited to the human taste; but this doctrine hath not upon it any of the marks of human wisdom. I do not think if it had not been revealed, that it could have entered into any human mind; and therefore we may justly say, “Salvation belongeth unto God.” It is because he is God, and not man, that we, the children of men, “ are not consumed.”
2. You may learn, from what has been said, the encouragement that is given to finners to return to God through Chrift. The very circumstances that are most astonishing and admirable in this great dispensation, are the undeferved love and unexpected condescension of God to guilty and miserable sinners. I know that the inward and effectual call can only be given by the Holy Ghost; but I know also, that “ faith cometh by hearing, and hear"ing by the word of God.” Therefore, in expectation of the blessing of him who “ hath the hearts of all men in “ his hand, and turneth them howsoever he will,” I proclaim in the hearing of every finner within these walls, “ that God so loved the world, that he gave his only be. “ gotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not “perish, but mighit have everlasting life.” I repeat the universal call, that “him that cometh to him, he will in “ no wise cast out.” Are there not many in this house under the power of sin, and the curse of a broken law ? Nay, who is there that is not condemned by these important words, which you will find Gal. iii. 10. “Cursed is “ every one that continueth not in all things which are “ written in the book of the law to do them.” This sen. tence stands uncancelled against all who are not reconciled to God by faith in Christ Jesus. Is the application difficult? Ye saves of sin, drunkards, swearers, profane and lascivious jefters, envious and malicious slanderers, retainers of unjust gain, and all without exception who are lov. ers of pleasures more than lovers of God, ye shall be slain all of you; “ as a bowing wall Mall ye be, and as a “ tottering fence.” Remember the misery of those who Vol. I.
see the innot only in mo
lity, and then
die in an unconverted state : “ It is a fearful thing to fall “ into the hands of the living God. Who can abide with “ devouring fire? Who can dwell with everlasting burn"tings?" Admire the infinite grace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, and admire the infinite wisdom of God that hath laid help for you upon one who is "mighty to 6 save." May I not say, that, on this folemn occasion, your Saviour speaks to you, not only in his word, but from his cross? See the justice of God in the cross of Christ, and thence learn the evil of fin. See the power and wrath of God in the crofs of Christ, and tremble at your own state. See the matchless love of God in the cross of Christ, and be persuaded to return to him with weeping, with supplication, and with mourning. Let the eye of faith be pointed at the dying Saviour, and say unto him, “ O almighty fufferer, look down, look down from “thy triumphant infamy, pity and pierce this hard heart “ with a sense of guilt and misery. Thou hast said, that " when thou shouldst be lifted up from the earth, thou “ wouldlt draw all men unto thee : let this promise be ful. “ filled to my experience. Draw me, we will run after thee. “ Lord, take away my complicated guilt; Lord, renew “and pacify my unsanctified affections, form me for thy“ self, that I may serve thee here, and afterwards fee thee " as thou art !"
3. From what hath been said upon this subject, you may examine your title to partake of the holy ordinance of the Lord's fupper ; 'or, in other words, your right to the favor of God, and to eternal life. No difpofition more suitable, none more necessary, at a communion-table, than a grateful and admiring sense of redeeming love, Not only the profane blafphemer, or the scornful despiser, is unfit to sit down at this feast, but the self-righteous formalist who never saw himself undone. It is true indeed, that when angels themselves are put to a stand, all our thoughts must soon be loft and swallowed up. But, my brethren, do you desire to look into it? Do you feel a sensible pleasure and delight in this sacred employment? Do you, in some measure, see the glory of divine grace, though you are not able to measure its dimensions ? There
is no subject so obfcure and unintelligible to those who are strangers to the power of religion, as the mystery of re. deeming love; no subject fo odious and distalteful to those whose minds are formed upon the maxims of the world, as the doctrine of salvation by grace. Christ upon a cross, Christ upon a throne, Christ the believer's rock and refuge, the source of his firength, and the source of his comfort, they are neither able to relish nor coin, prehend. All the warm espreilions of gratitude and at tachment, which are unspeakably sweet and ravishing to a serious soul, appear to them in the light of enibusiasm and visionary folly. But as many as it hath pleased God to bless with an inward and personal conviction of their lost state by nature, will see the greatesi beauty in this plan of salvation, and will rather rejoice, than ilırink, at tharing with their Redeemer himself the contempt of the world. They will say, with the apostle Paul, Cal. vi. 14. $ God forbid that I should glory, lave in the cross of our
Lord Jesus Christ.”There is a beautiful opposition stated by the same apostle, between a believer's understanding the love of Christ, and yet being unable to search it to the bottom, in the following passage, Eph. iii. 17, 18, 19, “ That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye “ being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to com. “ prehend with all faints, what is the breadth, and length, " and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, “ which paileth knowledge, that ye might be filled with “ all the fulness of God.”
4. In the last place, From what has been said, learn what is your most proper employment at the Lord's table. Adore and contemplate the riches of redeeming grace, that great theme which “ the angels desire to look into.” Think, with humble amazement, on the boundless mer. cy of God, which reached even to you, and witin the highest thankfulness on the honor to which you are admitted, of receiving the sensible pledges of his love. Dwell on this impenetrable mystery of “ Immanuel God with us.---" God manifested in the flesh.” Think on this awful proof of divine justice and holiness, the wrath of God pourci out upon his own Son. Think on the perfection of the
"whid depth, th all farounded
atonement which is made for the fins of the world. Rejoice in the fulness of that Saviour who is now made “ head over all things to the church ;” and draw, by faith, from his fulness, every necessary supply to yourselves : and as you are now to commemorate his death, with a view to his second coming, think on that “ day of sal“ vation,” when he shall come “to be glorified in his faints, « and admired in all them that believe;" when you shall enter in triumph into the holiest of all, where no doubt the mystery of redemption shall be more fully discovered ; when saints and angels shall jointly fing that new song, Rev. v. 12. “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to re“ceive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and “ honor, and glory, and blessing ;" when the whole plan of divine grace shall be completed and closed, and the mediatorial kingdom itself brought to a period; for then “ cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the “ kingdom to God, even the Father ;" when confirmed angels, and redeemed finners, when the whole host of heaven shall unite in one acclamation, “ Hallelujah ; for " the Lord God omnipotent reigneth."