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virtue, but that the practice, or even the real love of virtue, are quite unattainable upon any other scheme; and that the most specious pretences, independent of this, are no more than great swelling words of “ vanity,” 2 Pet. ii. I speak the more freely upon this point, because I speak from experience. I was once as you are. I verily thought that I “ought to do” (or at least that I might do) many things against “ Jesus of Nazareth,” Acts, xxvi. None ever went farther than I, according to the limits of my years and capacity, in opposing the truths of the Gospel. But the mercy of God spared me; and his providence having led me through various changes and circumstances of life, in each of which I had a still deeper conviction of my former errors, has at length given me this opportunity to tell you (O that I could speak it to your hearts), “ that at the name of Jesus every knee,” sooner or later, “ must bow,” Phil. ii.; before him every
heart must either bend or break : that he is full of mercy, love, and pardon, to all that submit themselves to him; but that, ere long, he shall be “ re“ vealed from heaven in flaming fire, to execute judge
ment, and to convince ungodly sinners of all the “ hard speeches they have spoken against him," Jude.
I would, 2dly, address those who, while they profess to believe in the Lord Jesus do, in their works, manifestly deny him, Tit. i. This is, if possible, a worse case than the other; yet how frequent! You believe that Jesus Christ came into the world, both to be a propitiation for sin, and also to give us an example of a godly life, and yet continue contentedly in the practice of those sins for which he poured forth his soul, in the pursuit of those vices which the Gospel disallows, and in the indulgence of those desires which
your own consciences condemn. Think, I entreat you, of these words in the 50th psalm: “Unto the " wicked God saith, What hast thou to do, that thou “ shouldst take my covenant into thy mouth : seeing “ thou hatest instruction, and castest my words be“ hind thee?” This question is now proposed to our consciences, that we may be aware in time of the danger of insincerity; and not “perish with a lie in our “ right hands,” Isa. xliv. If we cannot answer it now, what shall we say in that awful hour, when God shall speak it in ten thousand thunders, to all who, in this life, presumed to mock him with an empty outside worship, “ drawing near him with their lips, when “ their hearts were far from him?" Isa. xxix. For the day is at hand,“ the day of the Lord,” when God shall bring
every hidden thing to light,” when every man's work shall be tried and weighed; tried in the fire of his purity, weighed in the balance of his righteousness; and as the issue proves, so must the consequence abide to all eternity: a trial and a scrutiny which no flesh could abide, were it not for the interposing merits of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and our Judge. But he has already told us, that he will then own none but those who were faithfully devoted to his service here. To the urgent cries, and strongest pleas of others, he will give no other answer, but “ I know you not; I “ never knew you,” Matth. vii.; "depart from me,
ye accursed, into everlasting fire,” Matth. xxv.-What will it then avail to plead our privileges, when, if this be all, we may read our doom already? "And " that servant who knew his master's will, and pre“ pared not himself, neither did according to his will, “ shall be beaten with many stripes : for unto whom
soever much is given, of him much shall be required;
" You see your
"and to whom men have committed much, of him
they will ask the more. O consider this, ye that forget God, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver,” Luke, xii. Psalm, 1.
Finally, Let those who through grace have attained to worship God“ in spirit and in truth,” be careful to adorn and hold fast their profession.
calling, brethren :” let the name of Christian always remind
your high obligation to, and continual dependence upon, the Author of your faith. Use it as a means to animate and regulate your whole behaviour; and if, upon some occasions, you find undeserved ill offices, or unkind constructions, wonder not at it: thus it must and will be, more or less, to all who would “ exercise themselves in keeping a conscience “. void of offence,” Acts, xxiv. Yet be careful to model
your actions by the rule of God's word. Our Lord says, “ Blessed are ye when men revile you, and
say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my “ sake, Matth. v. Observe, first, the evil spoken of you, must be false and groundless; and, 2dly, the cause must be “ for the sake of Christ,” and not for any singularities of your own, either in sentiment or practice, which you cannot clearly maintain from Scripture. It is a great blessing when the innocence and simplicity of the dove is happily blended with true wisdom. It is a mercy to be kept from giving unnecessary offence in these times of division and discord. Endeavour that a principle of love to God, and to mankind for his sake, may have place in all your actions; this will be a secret, seasonable, and infallible guide, in a thousand incidents, where particular rules cannot reach.
“ Be sober, be vigilant;" " continue “instant in prayer;" and in a little while all
flicts shall terminate in conquest, faith shall give place to sight, and hope to possession. Yet a little while, and “ Christ, who is our life, shall appear,” Col. iii. to vindicate his truth, to put a final end to all evil and offence; and then we also, even all: who have loved him, and waited for him, “shall appear with him in
glory.” Isa. xxv.
ON ALL THINGS BEING GIVEN US WITH CHRIST.
Rom. viii. 32.
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for
us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things ?
mean, that "
VARIOUS have been the disputes, and various the mistakes of men, concerning the things of God. Too often, amidst the heat of fierce contending parties, truth is injured by both sides, befriended by neither. Religion, the pretended cause of our many controversies, is sometimes wholly unconcerned in them : I
pure religion and undefiled,” that “ wis“dom which coming from above,” abounds with proof of its divine original, being “pure, peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good works, without partiality, and without hypo
crisy;" James, iii. Religion is a serious and a personal concern. It arises from a right knowledge of God and ourselves; a sense of the great things he has done for fallen man; a persuasion, or at least a wellgrounded hope, of our own interest in his favour; and a principle of unbounded love to him who thus first
loved us. It consists in an entire surrender of ourselves, and our all, to God; in setting him continually before us, as the object of our desires, the scope and inspector of our actions, and our only refuge and hope in every trouble: finally, in making the goodness of God to us the motive and model of our behaviour to our fellow-creatures, to love, pity, relieve, instruct, forbear, and forgive them, as occasions offer; because we ourselves both need and experience these things at the hand of our heavenly Father. The two great points to which it tends, and which it urges the soul, where it has taken place, incessantly to press after, are, communion with God, and conformity to him ;' and, as neither of these can be fully attained in this life, it teaches us to pant after a better; to withdraw our thoughts and affections from temporal things, and fix them on that eternal state, where we trust our desires shall be abundantly satisfied; and the work begun by grace shall be crowned with glory.
Such is the religion of the Gospel. This the life and doctrine of our Lord, and the writings of his apostles, jointly recommend. An excellent abridgement of the whole we have in this eighth chapter to the Romans, describing the state, temper, practice, privileges, and immovable security, of a true Christian. Every verse is rich in comfort and instruction, and might, without violence, afford a theme for volumes; particularly, that which I have read may be styled evangelium evangeli; a complete and comprehensive epitome of whatever is truly worthy our knowledge and our hope. The limits of our time are too narrow to admit any previous remarks on the context, or indeed to consider the subject 'according to the order of an exact division; therefore I shall not at present use any artificial method; but,