« PreviousContinue »
First place, Hence learn the absolute necessity of selfdenial, and how much it ought to prevail in the temper of a Christian. In explaining to you the object of faith, I have endeavored to lay before you the nature of the gofpel-message, and the fubftance of the truth as it is in Jesus, viz. the loft and helpless state of man by nature, forgiveness through the blood of Christ, and fanctification as the work of his Spirit. If this view is just, then religion must be begun, preserved, improved, and perfected, by union with Christ. If this view is just, then all felf: righteousness and self-dependence is a denial of Christ. And indeed, such is the life of a believer, if the conduct of the great apostle of the Gentiles may be taken for an example : Phil. iv. 13. “I can do all things through " Christ which strengtheneth nie.”
2. Hence also learn the necessity of a new nature, in order to a new life. If the old nature is indeed in ruins, it will be lost labor to begin to build without a new foundation. And if the foundation is ill laid, however beautiful the fuperstructure, the fabric cannot be lasting. The not attending to this is visibly the cause of many miscarriages. Men often resolve upon some amendment of life, from prudence, conveniency, or even from imperfect convictions, and fome apprehenfion of eternity itself. But though these resolutions are formed with seeming fincerity, inherent corruption foon becomes too strong for such feeble opposition. Remember therefore our Saviour's caution, “ Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or make “the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt.” If you desire to live a life of holiness or virtue, apply to God through Christ, for the pardon of your sins, and peace with him. Entreat of him also, in the fame prevailing name, that by his grace he would implant in you“ a new heart, and a “new fpirit, that you may walk in his ways, and observe “his judgments to do them.”
3. Learn also how injurious they are to the doctrine of falvation by faith in Christ, who slander it as unfriendly to holiness of life. So far from being unfavorable to holiness, it makes the most effectual provision for it. Obedience te
the whole law of God, is embraced by every believer as his choice, and promised as his duty; only he expects to de. rive strength from his Redeemer to enable him to discharge it. I desire to bear witness, and so will every faithful minister of the New Testament, that Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it. He hath not only left it in its full force upon the conscience, but he hath added to its obligation. The awful sanction of the law shall take place upon every impenitent sinner. It is well represented by the flying roll, in the prophecies of Zechariah, chap. v. 3, 4 “ Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth “ forth over the face of the whole earth : for every one that stealeth, shall be cut off as on this side, according to it; and everyone that sweareth, shall be cut off as on that fide, accor
ding to it. I will bring it forth, faith the Lord of hosts, and “ it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house “of him that sweareth falsely by my name; and it shall re“ main in the midst of his house, and shall consume it, "with the timber thereof, and the stones thereof.” See also the fuperadded fanction of the gospel, Heb. X. 28, 29, “ He that despised Mofes law, died without mercy, under “ two or three witnesses: of how much forer punishment,
suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trod“ den under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the “ blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an
unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of
grace ?” Hear it, my brethren, hear it for your souls fake, any known sin allowed in the heart or conversation, is as inconsistent with salvation under the covenant of grace as under the covenant of works; or rather, to speak more properly, as many as continue in the practice of sin are condemned already, and remain under the power of that ministration of death. To delight in the law of the Lord after the inward man, is the fruit of faith, the character of the new nature, and necessary to fit you for the divine presence.
4. Suffer me to say a few words, for the reproof and conv etion of those who are living in contempt of the gospel. Alas! how many are there who turn a deaf ear to the most earnest and pressing invitations addressed to them
in the word of God, and enforced by his providence ! There are two sorts of despisers of the gospel. (1.) Those who are open and avowed enemies to the doctrine of the gospel, who desert it, despise it, or slander it. Too many there are of this character in the present age, to whom the cross of Christ is foolishness. O! how deplorable is their folly! and how aggravated their guilt! If this is the divine commandment, That we should believe in the name of the Son of God; and if there is truth in the divine word, “ That there is no falvation in any other ;” miferable indeed must be the state of those who are found thus fighting against God. Will it be a light thing to be found despisers of all that grace and love manifested in the gofpel? How heavy is the threatening, in our Saviour's own words, against those who despise the precious corner stone, and tried foundation, which is laid in Zion, Matth. xxi. 44.
“ And whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be bro“ ken; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him “ to powder. (2.) They are despisers of the gospel who, profeffing belief in the doctrine of Christ, continue to live in unrighteousness. He came to turn you from all your transgressions, as well as to deliver you from condemnation. His power is particularly illustrated in bringing finners “ from darkness to light, and from the power of " Satan unto God.” The end of his coming is lost as to all those who continue in fin. If they are called by his name, they are a scandal to it; if they form any hopes from his sufferings, they will be disappointed ; if they advance any claim to his mercy, it will be rejected ; if they plead relation to him, he will openly renounce them: Matth. vii. 21, 22, 23. “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, “ Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he " that doth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not
prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out “ devils ? and in thy name done many wonderful works? " and then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: “ depart from me ye that work iniquity.”
5. In the last place, Suffer me, in the most earnest manner, to beseech every sinner in this assembly, to believe in the name of the Son of God. I say, every sinner, because those only who are sensible that they are finners, will be obedient to the call.
Are you not therefore sensible of your guilt and danger? Are your understandings so blinded? Is natural conscience itself so feared, that you do not see how much you stand in need of a Saviour ? Remember, that if there be any truth in the whole compass of natural and revealed religion that cannot be fpoken against, it is this, That God“ is of purer eyes than that he can behold iniquity;"> and that, for this reason, “ he will render to every man “ according to his works. It is a truth engraven upon the conscience, and ratified by the course of providence; the Heathens discovered it through the thickest darkness; and the guilty confess it by their daily fears. What a harvest of converts would I bring in even in this assembly, if I could but lead to the Saviour every one that believes, in some measure, in a judgment to come! What an aftonishing disorder is brought into our nature by fin? What a marvellous delusion is upon the mind, and what inconsistency is there in the conduct of finners! It is hard to say, which of the two is most amazing; their backwardness to receive the truth, or their unwillingness to obey it; their inattention to evidence on the one hand, or their forgetfulness of what they do believe, upon the other. there any person within these walls, who doubts that he is to die; or who does not believe, that he must be judged after death ? Are you then ready for the trial ? - Have you served your Maker? Have you loved him above all ? Have you lived to his glory? Have you fought and placed your happiness in his favor ? Or are you sensible that iniquities have prevailed against you ? Have they now taken hold upon you, so that you cannot lift your eyes? Behold, I preach peace to you by Jesus Christ. Believe in his name and merits for your pardon ; rely on his grace and Spirit for your reformation ; and return to God, through him, as your unchangeable portion. This is the tenor of the gospel : Luke xxiv, 46, 47.
« Thus it is " written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rife ** from the dead the third day: and that repentance and
“ remission of sins should be preached in his name, among * all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
I JOHN ii. 2. And he is the propitiation for our sins : and not for ours
only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
NO as many as have any belief of eternity, it must be
a matter of unspeakable moment to know, how they may have confidence towards God. This enquiry becomes, if possible, still more serious, when we confider man as in a lapsed and corrupt state by nature, as guilty, and obnoxious to his Maker's righteous judgment. Then it becomes necessary, not only to preserve the favor, not only to avoid the displeasure, but to seek for some shelter or covering from the wrath of God.
This is the account given us of our condition in fcripture; which, as it is a truth of the utmost importance, lying at the foundation of all religion, I have often endeavored both to explain and enforce. And happy, happy they who have heard with application; happy they whole eyes have been opened on their danger as finners; who have seen and felt the evil of sin, as a departure from, and rebellion against a most holy, righteous and gracious God.