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character. It is not to our present purpose to enlarge on these; but simply now to fix the just impression, that they are deeds belonging to the score of practice and of positive obedience; and therefore such good works are here described, by him that is to be the Judge himself, as being indispensable in the great day of trial.
We may fail, therefore, by the test of good works, as well as by those other touchstones-of repentance, or of faith. Are any of us found entirely wanting in these proofs of Christian love, or wanting, in a due proportion to our several ability? Then also is "the harvest past, and the
summer ended; and still we are not saved," for this again. We have no right to any happier expectation, than of that fearful answer from our Lord; "Verily, I know you not!"
Here let us close our present survey of these several tests by which we may so easily "ex"amine ourselves whether we be in the faith, and
prove our own selves * " All the foregoing are broad and palpable marks, whereby to make a ready trial of our souls' estate, and ascertain how far we have the answer of a good conscience, that we have closed with the Almighty's gracious offer of salvation in sincerity and in truth. I have
* 2 Cor. xiii. 5.
forborne from entering into minute particulars. If our hearts condemn us in the gross, how much more would they do the same in closer searchings? But if in these our hearts condemn us not, then may we have an humble confidence toward God, (although much more may still remain in any instance to be added) that at the least our will and our desire is to draw near to him through Jesus Christ, and do the things which he says, that we may be eventually saved, for his sake.
And God forbid that all should feel themselves condemned by such inquiries! Some, let us trust, will have found honestly a happy answer to themselves, as we have been proceeding with these several suggestions; and many will at least have good in part to answer, which may turn out the just beginning of a Christian life, although it be no more than a beginning. There might be added, with propriety, cautions to the one of these classes; encouragement and consolation to the other but it perhaps is better, for the sake of all, (and more especially for their sakes, who must unhappily be judged to have no answer yet ready) to part upon a simple repetition of the solemn warning in the text itself, leaving it to
y Cf. 1 John iii. 21, 22.
find its way with every man, according as his case shall be.
Have we, then, the witness of REPENTANCE in our hearts, or have we not? Remember, that by true repentance men forsake sin. Have we the evidence of FAITH? that is, do we find real light, and hope, and comfort in the Gospel so as to feel, in reason and sobriety, a "witness in our"selves" that we believe the truth and promises of God? "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh "the world and this is the victory that over"cometh the world, even our faith "?" And are we living and behaving, in our several stations, as persons mindful of that word which cannot pass away-that "Jesus Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, "and purify unto himself a peculiar people, " zealous of good works *?"
If not-remember once again, "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not "saved!"
2 Cf. 1 John v. 10, 4.
a Titus ii. 14.
THE PERMANENT AND UNIVERSAL FRIEND.
(Preached as a Farewell Sermon.)
GENESIS xlviii. 21.
And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you.
THESE words on merely being heard will sufficiently explain themselves, as to the sense in which they were spoken by Jacob to his son Joseph. They were spoken literally. The patriarch was upon the point to die; and this is the comfort and the confidence he leaves unto his son-" but God shall be with you. I must go "the way of all flesh of all flesh; but there is one who will protect and bless his faithful servants, who "liveth for ever.'
Nobody can fail to comprehend this nor can it need much length of explanation, to give an understanding of the sense in which it is intended to employ the words here; which is, not in a literal, but in a figurative sense, and only in the way of application. To die, is to depart; death is
a separation; and one that " separateth chief "friends." The words are therefore evidently applicable in a figurative sense, to any separation which divides friends. "Behold I depart"-may any Christian say to friends whom he is leaving; "but God shall be with you." The patriarch's confidence remains in literal and full force, alike through all occasions. The friend who cannot taste of death, in any sense, continues still. Whether it be a dying parent giving blessing on a child; or Christian minister departing from among a flock; or whatsoever be the change at hand, no difference is made as to the important point; GOD changes not. He still is present with the faithful every where; and he has promised, too, that he "will never leave them, nor forsake "them "."
I would desire then, Christian brethren, at this close of our immediate connexion, to fix your minds on this great truth and its important consequences. And if this may be done, under divine blessing, with any adequate effect, no better legacy can be bequeathed to any Christian flock. Before however we proceed to the division of our subject, let me propose a thought on which to ground it.
a Cf. Heb. xiii. 5.