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influence, and exemplify its spirit? If Christians do not endeavour to season it, who will? In that case, it will hasten on in its tendency to decay, and, like an unsalted offering, become perfectly loathsome.
My brethren, let us carefully mark this emphatic expression. A cold and unsavoury professor" is good for nothing," unless as a warning to others. He neither possesses courage, desire, or spiritual qualification to attempt any thing in the service of the gospel. The confirmations of this fact are unhappily too numerous in the religious world. How many who have begun in the spirit have ended in the flesh, and what numbers, who "did run well," like some of the Galatian converts, are now "hindered," and have long since left the course. They were once among the ranks of sabbath-school teachers-but they are gone. They were once found with those bands of Christians who are united for the scriptural purpose of spreading the gospel-but you find them not in such an association now. They were once seen constantly under the ministry of the word, and perhaps at meetings of social prayer-but you now seldom see them at the former, and never at the latter. Ah! and what a mournful change in the family and the closet. Scarcely a trace of the semblance of religion remains.
But the metaphor before us goes farther. In a passage in St. Luke, which contains the same allusion, it is said, that salt when it is insipid" is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dunghill; but men cast it out."* Naturalists write, that if salt has lost its proper quality, it is poison to the earth on which it is cast; it will destroy vegetation, and produce sterility. There are several passages in the scriptures which support this statement. Thus Abimelech, when he had captured the city of Shechem, “ and
Luke xiv. 34, 35.
slain the people that dwelt therein, sowed the city with salt." The evil of "making flesh our arm," is compared to the barrenness of the earth when covered with this ingredient." He shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited."+ So, likewise, it is said, in reference to the judgments of the Most High on sinners, " He turneth a fruitful land into saltness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein."§ Now, all these expressions denote the total worthlessness, and even the absolute noxiousness of wicked professors. Such men are the scourge of the church of Christ; they cast a stumbling-block before others, and "cause the way of truth to be evil spoken of." The character of religion is tried, rather by the conduct of its professors, than by its legitimate design and tendency. Wicked men may live as they please, in forgetfulness of God, without incurring censure; but if a man who makes any pretensions to piety should deviate from the right path, the gospel must bear the blame. Unjust and disingenuous as this spirit is, let us, nevertheless, endeavour to profit by it."Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path because of mine enemies." Hold thou me up and I shall be safe; and I will have respect unto thy statutes continually.”
Finally. The state of such unhappy men is dreadful as it regards their ultimate condition-" Men cast it out;" and the intimation is, that the Saviour will reject such worthless and injurious professors. The scripture is plain on this head: "If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." It must needs be that offences will come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh." "Cast ye the unprofitable servant into
Judges ix. 45.
† Jer. xvii. 8. + Marginal reading. § Ps. cvii. 34.
outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Such is to be the final and unalterable doom of those professors of religion who, notwithstanding they have seen the excellence of the gospel, " and have tasted the heavenly gift," yet, nevertheless, become unsavoury, and even hurtful to the cause of truth. O that we may "be stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as we know that our labour will not be in vain in the Lord." *
I must now bring these solemn reflections to a close. You, my hearers, call yourselves Christians, and ye rejoice to bear that honoured name. But remember, I beseech you, how much it behoves you to discharge the duties which such a name imposes. You are to purify the moral world by your example and your doctrine. You are to do "more than others," for your privileges are greater than those of many. You are to bear much fruit, to be patterns of good works-to be, in short, the means. of saving the world from rejection. Then let me seriously ask, whether you are thus employed? If so, happy are ye; you shall hear, ere long, the joyful welcome, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you."
But do I express a groundless apprehension, when I say, that I fear some of you are conforming to the world, rather than labouring to convert it from its errors and sins? If any professors who hear me are living thus, I faithfully tell them, that instead of helping forward the good cause, they are retarding it, and their case is all but totally desperate. My brethren, if this be really your character, I am compelled to assure you, it is of all others the most awful. How are you to be restored? Is there another revelation to be written, or another
Redeemer to come? Have you not slighted the last and the only remedy which the mercy of God has provided?—I will not enlarge. The thought which fills my mind is overwhelming. Arise and go to your Father. Amen.
MATTHEW V. 14, 15, 16.
"YE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. A CITY THAT IS SET ON A HILL CANNOT BE HID. NEITHER DO MEN LIGHT A CANDLE, AND PUT IT UNDER A BUSHEL, BUT ON A CANDLESTICK; AND IT GIVETH LIGHT UNTO ALL THAT ARE IN THE HOUSE. LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE BEFORE MEN, THAT THEY MAY SEE YOUR GOOD WORKS AND GLORIFY YOUR FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN."
NEVER man spake like this man.” Such was the testimony which the Jewish officers gave of the Lord Jesus Christ to the Scribes and Pharisees, as the reason of their not apprehending him according to their commission. The truth of the representation is obvious through the whole of his discourses, and not the least so in that part of this sermon on the mount, which we now propose to consider. By objects in the natural world, he illustrates the nature of Christianity; and by a selection of imagery, at once beautiful and impressive, he inculcates the discharge of all its duties upon every one of his disciples.
The words of my text, taken in connection with the preceding verse, contain four emblems, under which the moral virtues of the Christian character are introduced to our attention. The first is salt, of which we have already spoken in the preceding lecture. The second figure is borrowed from the sun-" Ye are the light of the world." The third image is that of a city-"A city set on a hill