« VorigeDoorgaan »
need not here be mentioned. The same may be observed of that too common sin of swearing, which example and impunity have made so easy to too many, that they count it amongst the faults of human frailty; though to a considering man it is a most horrid crime, for it leads men naturally to speak of God without fear and without reverence: this leads them to impiety, to atheism, and to damnation.
And indeed there is no security, until a man has so far gained upon himself, that he can be content to hear the voice of God within him, and to obey the dictates of his conscience; till he can resolve to put a stop to the very beginnings of vice, and knows for certain, that to allow of any one known sin, is but too sure a way to fall into another. Therefore, it is strange to see men confident that for themselves they shall never do such things as others are blamed or punished for; when at the same time they freely indulge themselves the liberty of such things as grieve the Spirit of God, by whom alone they are kept from the greatest villanies.
And this brings us to another observation from these words, That God does never suspend his grace, while men continue worthy of such a mercy; that is, while there are any hopes (and God knows it very well) whether his grace will not be still abused, and still despised.
The goodness and the justice of God give us all the assurance imaginable of the truth of this; and the constant methods of his providence shew us, that he leaves no methods untried. which may become a merciful Father, and a just
Creator, to bring his children and creatures to their duty and happiness.
And therefore, though we have many waysprovoked the justice of God, yet we are sure he has not given us up to ourselves, if we are sorry for our miscarriages, and are resolved to take up for the time to come;-for such thought and such purposes come from the good Spirit of God, which never doth any thing in vain.
But then this is no reason why a man should still continue in sin, in hopes that the same good Spirit will some way or other preserve him. from ruin; for, it is true, God doth wonderfully prevent us while there is any hope of a reformation; but when that is over, when we have wearied the patience and long-suffering of God, (for he will not strive with us for ever,) then we may expect to be given over to a reprobate mind.
This then is the use we are to make of this. knowledge:
1st. We should always endeavour to live in the fear of God, that we may not consent to known iniquity. This was the holy Psalmist's rule:* I have set God always before me, therefore I shall not fall; that is, he endeavoured to have it always in his mind, that God was ever present with him, saw all his actions, heard ll his words, and knew the very thoughts of his heart.
2dly. If at any time we fall, what have we to do but to follow the example of the same Psalmist: I made haste, and delayed not to keep thy commandments. And let us not fancy,
• Psalm xvi. 9.
+ Psalm exix. 60.
that we can repent and turn to God when we please; but remember, that every sin a man knowingly commits, the more careless and the more hardened he grows; and consequently more unfit for God's grace, without which no man ever did repent.
3dly. When the Holy Spirit of God puts into our minds good thoughts and desires, we see how dangerous a thing it is to strive to divert them. And we shall not do so, if we remember the dreadful words of God:* Because I called and ye refused; ye set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I will therefore laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh.
Lastly; We see how dangerous it is to neglect the means of grace which God has appointed to keep up a sense of his majesty in our hearts. People do not consider, that we cannot please God, but in the ways of his own appointment; so that no man can tell what he shall do, what he shall be, when once he ventures to leave or to neglect the means of grace afforded him in the church of God.
In short; if we are under the conduct of the Spirit of God, we may know that we are so by these short observations:
1st. We shall be very humble, knowing that we have nothing of our own to boast of; for it is God that worketh in us both a will and power to do any thing that is good.-2dly. We shall be very careful of our ways, knowing that we are under the direction of an Holy Spirit, who will
• Prov. i. 24.
forsake those that grieve him by their evil deeds. -Lastly; We shall be very thankful, that God is pleased to take the government of us himself, and not to leave us in the hands of our own counsel, for then we are sure to be undone. And we shall strive to express our gratitude by doing what he has commanded us.
On the other hand; they that live in any known sin, they that are careless of their souls, they that neglect the ordinary duties of religion, may be assured of it, that they are taking themselves out of God's protection, and putting themselves into the service of the devil: and that they cannot go back when they please into the service of God, no more than they can go to heaven without the leave of God.
To conclude the whole.
Happy are those, who, from being great sinners become worthy penitents; but the ways of sin are extremely dangerous, and the return to righteousness difficult, irksome, and hazardous.
More happy therefore by far, and more safe, are the circumstances of those who, from their very youth, being taught to know and to fear the Lord their Maker, are careful not to grieve his Holy Spirit, by consenting to and continuing in known iniquity; for then that good Spirit will ever be present with them, to lead them in the way they should go, until all danger will be over, and they are secure from fear of evil: which God grant we may all be in his good time, for Jesus Christ's sake.
To whom, &c.
Ninth Sunday after Trinity, and Evening after the Sacrament.
THE EXAMPLE OF THE JEWS A WARNING TO CHRISTIANS.
Í COR. X. 11.
NOW ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM FOR
N this chapter the apostle shews, (and that by the example of the Israelites,) that to be in covenant with God, and to partake of the sacraments, which are the seals of the covenant, will not secure us from destruction, if we do not live worthy of such a favour.
I would not, saith he, brethren, have you ignorant, that all our fathers were baptized as well as we, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink; that is, they were partakers of the same covenant, and sacraments, and promises, that we are; and yet, notwithstanding all these privileges, those that were disobedient were destroyed in the wilderness, and never entered into the land of Canaan, which was a figure of heaven.
Now all these things were written for our admonition; that is, to warn us not to depend upon being Christians, without living as be comes Christians.