« PreviousContinue »
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 ápproacheth, 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
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 un“ speakable 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
godly;" to sanctify the unholy ; to give life to the dead, strength to the helpless, liberty to the captive, and felicity to the wretched. He invites all who are athirst, yea, all that are willing, to come and buy of him the blessings of salvation, “ without money and without price.”. “Him that “cometh unto me,” saith the Saviour, “I will in no wise cast out." "Behold then the Lamb of
God, that taketh away the sin of the world !" He is the author and finisher of faith ;" and he hath pointed out to you the proper way of seeking peace and salvation, in these most instructive and encouraging words : “Ask and it shall be given
you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall “ be opened unto you: “ for every one that asketh “ receiveth, and he that seeketh findeth, and to “ him that knocketh it shall be opened."
But some hearers of the gospel are sufficiently confident that their sins are forgiven, and that they have experienced that change which is described in the scripture: yet they are not disposed to say, “Here I am, Lord, send me.” They shew no zeal for the honour of God; no readiness for self-denying services; no tokens of being constrained by the love of Christ to live as his devoted servants. It does not appear that their terrors were accompanied by humiliation and hatred of sin, or their comforts by“ the sanctification of the
Spirit unto obedience.” But let us all beware of this delusion ; " for every tree that bringeth “ not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into 6 the fire."
"Matt. vii. 7, 8.
SERMON III: ISAIAH VI. 5-8.
Finally, my Christian brethren, I beseech you " by the mercies of God," to desire an increase of that spiritual knowledge which produces humility; but at the same time to watch against discouraging fears, while conscious of integrity in your professed faith and love, and in your desire to honour the Lord by thankful obedience. For these indulged and needless apprehensions render the mind too feeble for active service or patient suffering ; and they give religion a forbidding and unamiable aspect. Let us therefore unite all our contemplations on other subjects with frequent meditations on the mercy and grace of God our Saviour; be very careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit by evil tempers or a selfish behaviour ; and be diligent in every means of grace. Above all, let us pray without ceasing for such a sweet sense of the Lord's pardoning mercy and abundant grace, as may animate all our endeavours to shew the holy tendency of our principles, and to make those “ ashamed who would falsely accuse our good “ conversation in Christ."
1 JOHN IV. 8.
God is love.
The sacred writers do not enforce practical religion by such inducements as are commonly suggested by moralists and philosophers. The beauty of virtue, its utility to mankind, and its benign effects on the health, peace, interest, and reputation of the possessor, may be mentioned with propriety as subordinate recommendations ; but the authority, command, example, and glory of God, constitute the primary motives and ultimate object of genuine holiness; and every duty is inculcated in the New Testament by the encouragements and obligations of the gospel. “Be“ loved,” says the aged apostle, “ let us love one “ another, for love is of God, and every one that “ loveth is born of God, and knoweth God: he “ that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS
LOVE.-In this was manifested the love of God “ towards us, because that God sent his only be
gotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” Let us then,
I. Inquire how such compendious propositions as this in the text should be understood:
II. Illustrate the truth and importance of it from