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reap from it.
When we fee, as at present, in our own age and country, what profanity and neglect of God, what contempt or desertion of his worship, prevails among many of every rank; what pride and luxury, what riot and sensuality, what uncleanness and debauchery, what lying, fraud, and perjury; and when we observe how one race of finners has succeeded another in every age, and that true religion has been generally, as it is still, in a strug. gling or persecuted state, we ought to be humbled for the fin of our nature, and the share which each of us has contributed to the general guilt. Instead of finding fault with Providence for the permission of fin, we ought to be filled with a holy indignation against ourselves and others, for the perpetration of it. We ought to admire that wisdom and power by which the King of kings fets restraining bounds to the violence of men. Neither ought we to omit adoring his holiness in the awful visitations with which he sometimes overtakes and overwhelms the wicked in their wickedness. When he fends out his fore judgments of war, famine, and pestilence; or when he looks to the earth, and it trembles, as unable to bear all the guilt that is laid upon it ; when thunder, lightning, and tempeft, seem to threaten the immediate diffolution of the whole fabric; we ought to consider all these as the just punishment of fin, and look forward with fear to that time, when he fhall render to every man according to his works, and deferved vengeance shall not be partial, but universal ; when it shall not be occasional and temporary, but final, unchangeable, and eternal.
3. You may learn from what has been said, the state and danger of those who are chargeable with sins of a heinous and aggravated nature. If all without exception are “ under fin; if every mouth must be stopped,” &c. what thall be the condition of those who have the shameful preeminence of being finners of the first order, who have done more than others to provoke the Lord to anger! If thole who have lived to themselves, and not to God, shall not be able to stand in the judgment; what shall become of those who have sold themselves to work iniquity, and whole abominable practices are a reproach to reason, as
well as a fcandal to religion? I may even say further, in the words of the apostle Peter,: “ If the righteous scarcely “ be saved, where shall the ungodly and the finner ap
pear?” 1 Pet. iv. 18. I do the rather beg your attention to this, that we always find loose livers the warmest advocates for libertine principles. It is the drunkard, the swearer, the impure fornicator, who are so ready to produce in conversation their pretended arguments against the corruption of human nature. I speak to all such with. in hearing. What benefit will you reap by denying ori- . ginal corruption, when you are justly chargeable with so many actual transgressions? If there are, or ever were, any persons in the world without fin, surely you cannot pretend that you are fo yourselves. You are afhamed to reveal your hidden scenes to your fellow-finners, but how shall you conceal them, from the Searcher of all hearts? If you cannot bear to be told your faults by your fellowcreatures, with what speechless confusion shall at last before the judgment-seat of Christ ? Let me there. fore address you in the words of your Maker by the Psalmist, Pfal. 1. 21, 22. “ These things thou hast done, and I
kept silence : thou thoughtest that I was altogether such
a one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in “ order before thine eyes. Now consider this, ye that “ forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none " to deliver.” May it please God effectually to convince you of your fin and danger, and to lead you to his mercy, as revealed in the gospel, for your forgiveness. I conclude with the advice of the Pfalmift, Psal. ii. 12. “Kiss “ the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, 4 when his wrath is kindled but a little : blessed are all f they that put their trust in him."
If tbou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who
USTICE and mercy are the perfections of the divine nature, in which we as finners have a peculiar con
Our world is the great theatre, and the human race the great, or, so far as we know, the only objects of their united exercise. Clear and just apprehensions, therefore, of those attributes, muft lie at the foundation of all religion. It is easy to fee, that a discovery, both of juftice and mercy, is necessary to bring the finner to repentance. He mul see the guilt and misery in which he is involved, and the way by which he may certainly, and by which he can only obtain a recovery. The same views are equally necessary to every Christian, during his continuance in this imperfect state. They are necessary to that self-denial which ought to be his habitual character, and to that humiliation and penitence which ought to be his frequent employment.
I must, however, observe, that though there are few of the attributes of God more frequently spoken of, perhaps there are few less distinctly understood. Men have either an imperfect knowledge, or weak persuasion of the justice of God, and thence despise his mercy.
On the other hand, they are apt to take presumptuous views of his general mercy, and thence despise his justice and severity. This is not peculiar to those, who, upon the whole, are under the dominion of fin. Even the children of God themselves are ready, either to lose their views of the majesty and holiness of God, which should incline them to serve him with reverence and godly fear; or, on the other hand, by neglecting his mercy, to fall into that state of slavilh bondage and illiberal fear, which is equally in. jurious to the honor of God, and hurtful to their own peace.
On these accounts I have chosen to inlift a little on this passage of the Psalmist David, in which we have an uni. ted view of divine justice and mercy; “ If thou, Lord,
shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ? But " there is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayst be fear. “ ed.” It is thought by fome, that this Psalm was composed in that memorable period of his life, when he was plunged in the deepest guilt, by his adultery and murder in the matter of Uriah; but more commonly, that it was in the time of his persecution, when the imminent dangers to which he was so often exposed, brought his fins strongly to remembrance. Reserving what is here faid of the mercy of God to another opportunity, let us now consider the view given us of his justice, in this passage, “If “thou, Lord, shoulds mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall “ stand ?” For this purpose I shall,
1. Endeavor to ascertain and explain the meaning of the Pfalmift's affertion.
2. Support and confirm it from scripture and experi
3. In the last place, I shall make a practical improvement of what may be said upon it.
I. Let us then, first, endeavor to ascertain and explain the meaning of the Pfalmift's expression, “ If thou, Lord, “ shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand ?” These words evidently carry in them the deepest sense of fin, a strong and inward conviction of the impossibility of justifying himself before a pure and holy God, if he should deal with him as in justice he might: “ If thou, Lord