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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 to the commands of his Lord, and the opportunities 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 temptation, he found that conscious guilt rendered him incapable of renew
ing 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 every holy affection renders a man ready to say, "Here am I, send me:" If so poor a worm as I am may glorify 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 of heavenly things, as have been described; we ought certainly to inquire 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
When the apostle said, " God, who commanded "the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined "in our hearts, to give us the light of the know"ledge 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 impartially your motives in those services, to which you annex some confused idea of merit, and which 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 will appear " 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 will be fully made known; and every unpardoned transgressor will be struck dumb in the presence of his Judge, or will be only able to say, 'Wo is 6 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 him 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 unspeakable 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 they hate it, till the Lord gives them up to judicial blindness!
My beloved fellow sinners, as you value your immortal souls, do not yield to such temptations. Do not shrink from the discovery of your real character and condition, while hope remains. The knowledge of the disease is the first step towards recovery: but a groundless imagination that there is no danger is the common prelude to an incurable prevalence of the malady. As reasonable agents, examine this matter with an accuracy and impartiality proportioned to its importance that, in case your confidence of safety should be found a mere presumption, you may now seek and obtain that inward satisfaction which the prophet felt, when assured that "his iniquity was taken away, "and his sin purged." Can you doubt, whether it be better to discover your danger now, or to remain strangers to it, till God shall call you to receive your eternal retribution?
But are any of you so deeply convinced of sin as to be ready to say, 'Wois me, I am undone!" Let me caution you, my brethren, against despondency. The wreck and ruin of self-confidence makes way for evangelical hope. The Son of God "came into the world to save sinners;" "to seek "that which was lost;""not to call the righteous, "but sinners to repentance;" "to reconcile ene"mies by the blood of his cross;" "to receive "gifts for the rebellious;" "to justify the un