« PreviousContinue »
ife in a state of probation, and if you fincerely engage in religion, heaven will be your portion; but if you continue in fin, impenitent and unconverted, after taking a few turns of levity on this mortal stage, then you must fink down into the regions of interminable defpair. The longer you perfevere in courfes of folly and iniquity, the more difficult it will be to relinquifh. them. Be intreated now in this your day, folemnly to attend to the things of your peace. God is calling upon you-minifters are calling upon you-the Holy Ghost is now moving upon the hearts of many. Refit not his motions, left God should swear in his wrath, my spirit fhall no more ftrive with you, neither shall you enter into my reft. Recollect for a moment, what Christ Jefus has done to accomplish your falvation, Did he not descend from the glories of heaven-forsake the adoration of angelic hofts-come down into this wretched world -veil his divinity in humanity, and fhroud all his infinite excellencies in the humiliating form of a fervant? Did he not continually go about doing good-teaching guilty man the way of life--taking little ones into his arms-laying his hands upon them-bleffing them and declaring, that of fuch is the kingdom of God? Remember his poverty, cruel mockings and excruciating fufferings. Contemplate him in the garden of Gethefemene, agonizing under the awful weight of your iniquities, the preffure of which was fuch, that caufed his blood to forfake its ufual channels and fall in clotted drops to the ground. Behold him betrayed by one of his defciples, in the bafest and moft deceitful treachery, with the tender and warmeft fignal of friendship. Follow him to the pretorium and to the high priests hall; fee him arraigned before Pilate's unequal bar; barbarously accufed, and unjustly and inhumanly condemned -view him ftripped of his own raiment, dreffed in the mock robes of royalty, inftead of a fceptre, a reed is put into his hand, and instead of a golden, a thorny crown is fixed on his head, and here he is molt contemptuously ridiculed in all his offices, he is fmitten, tantalifed, and when malice had exhauf
ted all its ftores, as the laft and loweft exertion of meannefs, he is fpit upon. Behold him dragged from this horror of contempt, hurried out of the city, away to Golgotha, there. nailed to the cross, the delicate and nervous parts of the body, the hands and feet pierced through by the rugged steel, fufpended in this tremendous plight between heaven and earth, forfaken by his God, and all hell let loofe upon him. He is here till fcornfully mocked, his fide pierced with a fpear. While the fun is hiding his face from the fcene, all nature in convulfion under the foot of the crois, he is praying for his murderers, expiring and fhedding his blood for the atonement of their fins.
All this, and infinitely more than can be defcribed, did the fon of God, my dear young friends, undergo and suffer for Are you able now to withstand this mighty collection of motives, ftill proceed on in fin, in impenitence, and unbelief; defpife like the barbarous Jews, the blood of falvation ; trample it under foot, and make the defperate plunge into damnation? Stop, my children, halt, paufe, confider for a moment. Heaven is clofing, hell is opening before you; be entreated and befought by all the blood of God, shed on Calvary's hill, that you lay your ways to heart, ceafe from evil and immédiately become fober minded. Others are bathing in this blood and drinking in the ftreams of life eternal, and why should not you? This is the last particular addrefs, you will ever proba bly hear from my aged lips. And I fhall close it all in the words of Abraham's fervant to the houfe of Laban; # you will deal kindly and truly with my master tell me, if "not, tell me, that I may turn to the right hand, or to the "left." O! children, turn unto the Lord, and become foberminded.
The Glory of God the Chief End of Man.
I Cor. x. 31. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
THESE words contain a general refolution of all cafes of confcience and difficulties that had arisen in the Corinthian Church respecting the eating of meats, which had been offered to idols. It was the common practice of the heathen, first to offer meat in their pagan worship on the alters of their gods. and afterwards fell it in the public markets. As this was an ufual practice in the city of Corinth, it created no fmall perplexity among the christians. Wherefore the Apostle enters fully into this fubject, and states the duty of every clafs of chriftians, the weak and the strong, those who thought they might eat these meats, and those who were of a different opinion. And here he fums up the whole matter in this general maxim or rule in our text. This was defigned not merely for the direction of this church in a particular inftance, but for the government of all chriftians throughout all generations in the general and habitual conduct of their lives. A principle
of fupreme refpect to the glory of God muft reign in the heart, and prefide over the whole tenor of their practice. The mere lawfainefs of an adion is not always to be confidered, but the expediency of it likewife must be taken into view. There are fome things which are duty without hesitation, but there are many things in which time, place, and a variety of circumftances must be attended to, in order to our determining, whether the performance of them be for the honor of God.
This rule is laid down by St. Paul as the ftandard of all our actions. The lowest and most common, as well as the highest and most important. There are no branches of conduct exempted from this authority. A neglect of or a disrespect to this rule, is as real rebellion against the principles of reafon, as those of revelation.
This maxim plainly fuppofes, that the glory of God, ought to be fo much the ground of human actions, that none can be morally good or virtuous, which originate not from this fource. Where the heart is deftitute of this principle and not governed by it, all must be wrong, vicious, and finful. The chief end of man is to glorify God, and the infallable connection is the enjoyment of him forever.
The doctrine in our text is evidently this, that all our actions ought to be done to the glory of God.-This does not suppose we are always to have this object in view, or immediately contemplate it previous to the performance of every action. This would be an impoffible fuppofition. We know not that angels or the spirits of just men made perfect, or that even the man Christ Jefus, called upon this principle to lead him in the performance of every action. It is enough for us finful and very imperfect creatures to know, that the glory of God, ought to be our habitual and prevalent end, though not continually ex ercised and brought into view. If this be the habit of the foul, the frame of the heart, and maintain a prevalency in the con
verfation, it furely connects the foul with falvation, notwith ftanding all the deviations, relaxations, departures, negligencies, and the whole train of infirmities which are our conftant attendants.
When it is here affirmed that whatsoever we do ought to have a refpect to the glory of God, the meaning does not exclude a proper and rational regard to ourfelves. We ought to love ourselves, for this is the conftituted ftandard of love to our neighbor. We affirm without hesitation that perfons ought to regard themselves, their own intereft, and the happinefs of their families and near and dear connections, only let reafon and religion fix every thing in its proper place and order.
This apoftolic maxim does not mean to exclude, a just res pect to the future recompence of reward. If we regard the glory of God and our own future exiftence, all these things are admitted to their proper fituation, both by reason and revela tion. The great features of beauty confift in light and fhade, and exhibited in proper time and place. That persons own intereft should influence them in matters natural, civil, moral and religious, cannot be denied by any perfon in the exercise of reafon, who believes in divine revelation. The paffions of hope and fear are continually brought before us to influence our actions, both in the natural and Chriftian fyftem. The great question is, whether felf intereft, or the love of God, ought to hold the fupreme influence in our conduct. Nature, even corrupted nature, admitting a glimpfe of the light of reafon over the darkness, points the latter to be the directorial feat. Were this order to be reverfed, and the reins furrender. ed to self-interest, separate and independant, this would be giving the chariot of the fun, of all rectitude and propriety, to the filly, proud and ambitious boy Phaeton, and throwing the whole world into a blaze. If the leading refpect, and the first principles of duty, are perverted from God, nothing but confu