had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them." Remarkable are the words of our Saviour to his Apostles, when he sent them forth to preach the kingdom of heaven-" Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words; when ye depart out of that house, or city, shake off the dust of your feet: verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorra in the day of judg ment, than for that city." These words deserve particular attention.

The people of Sodom and Gomorra are set forth, as an example, suffering the vengeance of fire from heaven. But though they suffered a strange punishment in this world, they are still reserved unto judgment, for a severer doom. And And yet their punishment, after all, will be far more tolerable, than the punishment of those who despise the gospel. Our Lord does not say, Whosoever shall practise all the enormities of Sodom; but, "whosoever shall not hear your words;" it shall be more tolerable for the men of Sodom, than for him. Despisers then will perish wonderfully, in a manner, which they would not believe, though one should declare it to them.

It is time now, that we proceed, as was proposed, III. To urge and enforce the caution in the text— "Beware, lest this come upon you."

In mercy to our guilty world, God has sent down his Son from heaven, to make the purchase, proclaim the offers, and state the terms of eternal salvation. To us the word of this salvation is sent. The question now proposed is, Will you accept it ?

If you will accept the benefit, you must submit to the terms of it. You must repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.


must put off the old man with his deeds, be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new man, which is created after the image of God. You must renounce all confidence in the flesh, and place your dependence on the righteousness of the Redeemer, as the ground of your justification to eternal life. You must form your holy resolutions in a humble reliance on the grace of the divine spirit, without which you can do nothing. In a word, you must, with a serious and deliberate choice, yield yourselves to the government of the gospel of Christ. If you will not do this, you despise his gospel, and all the blessings which it reveals. And whatever may be the condition of those, who have never heard of it, your contempt must certainly be followed with consequences, awful beyond description.

Consider, I beseech you, what it is that you despise. It is a gospel preached by the Son of God from heaven; confirmed by signs, and wonders and divers miracles, preserved in the world by a merciful prov idence, and transmitted to you by peculiar favour. How worthy then of your thankful acceptation!

To despise this, is to despise that pearl of great price, to purchase which you should be willing to sell all that you have. Its doctrines are heavenly, its precepts are pure, its promises are precious, it contains the unsearchable riches of Christ; treasures of wisdom and grace, which angels contemplate with admiration.

To despise this, is to despise God's greatest gift, even the gift of his own Son, who came to seek and to save them who were lost. It is to despise his distinguishing goodness, in revealing to you the things which are hidden from multitudes of your fellow men, and which many prophets and righteous men have desired to see. It is to despise your own souls, which, in the estimation of the Re

[ocr errors]

deemer, are so precious, that he gave himself up to death for their salvation. It is to despise the spirit of grace, which has often strove with you, to awaken you from stupidity, recover you from unbelief, and draw you to the Saviour.

Judge now, what must be the consequence of this contempt. Know ye, that your judgment lingers not. The Lord will soon arise, that he may do his work, his strange work; and may finish his act, his strange act. He will sweep away your refuge of lies, and destroy all your hiding places. Now, therefore, be ye not mockers, lest this which is spoken, come upon you.

Enquire whether you are not to be numbered among those who are called despisers. You do not, perhaps, directly disbelieve, or professedly reject any essential doctrine of the gospel; much less the gospel itself. You receive and acknowledge it as true. But does this employ your thoughts, engage your attention, influence your heart, and govern your conduct? Is it conduct? Is it your great concern to secure the salvation, which it reveals; and your serious enquiry, whether you have any lot or part in this matter; Do you give all diligence to make your calling and election sure? Are you willing to renounce every thing, which appears înconsistent with your eternal hopes? Do you love the word, worship and ordinances of God, and delight to attend upon them as the means of salvation ?Must not many confess, that they come short of this character? Yea, that their character is the reverse of this?Let me particularly expostulate with the young. Are there not among you, some who think little about religion, and the vast concerns of eternity, and who devote themselves wholly to the pleasures, amusements and vanities of the world ?-Some, who spend few of their private hours in conversing with the scrip

[ocr errors]

tures, maintain no secret communion with God, and pay no reverence to the worship of the sanctuary? -Some, who can stand out a whole prayer, or sit out a whole sermon, and yet scarcely know what has been spoken; and are more inattentive, when the concerns of their salvation are urged, than if they were hearing a novel or romance ?— Some, who seldom look into themselves to learn the state of their souls, rarely ask advice on their spiritual concerns, and love no conversation less, than that which turns on serious subjects ?-Do we see you, my young hearers, giving yourselves up to Jesus your Lord, and making an open profession of his gospel? Do we see you flocking into his church, and gathering around his table? Do we see you animating and encouraging one another to piety and good works?Can it be said, that among you, even among you, there are none who despise the Saviour?

Will a gracious God pour his spirit upon our seed, and his blessing upon our offspring, that they may spring up as grass under the vernal showers, and as willows by the water courses? Then shall we hear one saying, I am the Lord's, and another calling himself by the name of Jacob: We shal! see them subscribing with their hands to the Lord, and enrolling themselves among his people: We shall behold them flying unto Jesus as a cloud, and gathering into his house, as doves to their windows.

The gospel is too great, too precious to be despised. It contains the words of eternal life: Hear it, and know it for your good.

Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble on the dark mountains, lest, while ye look for light he turn it into darkness and the shadow of death.

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

The Cure and Conversion of Naaman, the Syrian


[ocr errors][merged small]

And his servants came near and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, Wouldst thou not have done it? How much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash and be clean ?

NAAMAN, the chief commander of the

Syrian army, a man of great reputation in his country, and in high estimation with his king, was grievously afflicted with the leprosy: a disease, which seemed in its nature to be incurable, and which by its progress in the present case, threatened speedy death. On the advice of a Hebrew girl, who was a servant in his family, the Syrian general took a journey into the land of Israel, hoping, from her information, to receive a cure by the power and prayers of the prophet Elisha. He came, with horses and chariots and a train of attendants, to the prophet's house, and waited at the gate, until his VOL. II. N

« VorigeDoorgaan »