Page images

ness : and oh ! that it may please God, that their fins may find them out, and his word may be quick and powerful to their conviction. But what I have now in view is, to maintain the universal conclusion in the text, not only that many men have been profligates, but that every man is a sinner.

For this purpose, it is of the utmost moment to put you in mind what fin properly is. There are two ways of defence, you know, upon any trial : the one is, to deny the fact; the other, to maintain it is no crime. It is of necessity, therefore, in the first place, to afcertain the charge, by an account of the nature of fin. Of this, I do not think there can be produced a juster account than we have in our shorter catechism: “Sin is any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law “ of God :” Which is nothing else but a brief illustration of the words of scripture, Sin is the transgression of the law. Let the conscience, then, of every hearer answer to the charge. Have you kept, or have you broken the law of God ? Have you been obedient subjects to the King of kings? Have you done your own will, or the will of him that made you ? However unwilling you may be to put this question home at present, no perfon shall be able to decline the tribunal, or evade the answer in the day of judgement.


We have one great difficulty to struggle with in the attempt of bringing the guilty to confeffion, that sin hath blinded the understanding, and perverted the judgement; so that after we have said, that fin is the tranfgreffion of the law, there will remain another question, What is the law, and how far doth it extend ? Upon this we must have recourse to the remaining traces that are left upon the conscience; and I see nothing more proper, than to press home that summary which God hath given of his own right and our duty, in the first and great commandment, “ Thou “ shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy “ heart, and with all thy foul, and with all thy “ mind ;” Matth. xxii. 37. Are you your own ? Have you no lord over you? Can you plead any exception to this command ? Is not your maker infinitely perfect, and infinitely amiable ? Is he not worthy of your supreme love? If he is not, who is it, or what is it, that you have reason to prefer, or that can produce a better title? Can there be any thing more just than the sentiment expreffed by the pious Pfalmift, Pfal. lxxiii. 25. 16 Whom “ have I in heaven but thee? and there is

none upon earth that I defire besides thee.” Is there excellence or sweetness in the creature, and is there none or less in the creator, from whom every inferior nature derives its very


existence, and on whom it depends every moment for its preservation ?

May I not hope to have some hold of finners bere, in pleading the rights of their maker? Are your hearts then naturally, and have they been habitually and supremely set upon God? Has it becn your first and leading care, to know him, and to serve him, to inquire into his will, that you might do what was acceptable to him? Do you believe, that in his favour only is life, and therefore do you seek your happiness and your comfort in him? Many are apt greatly to mistake upon this subject ; nay, it seems to be the leading deception of finners, to think nothing evil or punishable, but such gross crimes as are diforderly in human fociety, and obnoxious to human laws. It is scarce possible to make them sensible, how much guilt there is in a total forgetfulness of God; and yet this is the very source of human depravity. The chief thing blameable in our attachment to other things, is their filling the room that is due to God, their being employed in a manner thạt is dishonourable to God, or, in other words, their being instruments of rebellion against the will of God.

Are there any of you, my brethren, who, by the kindness of Providence, have been kept tree from grofs, visible, and scandalous offences; who, from a natural coolnets of


temperament, have been chaste or fober; who, from a principle of honour, have been just or generous; who, from the dictates of prudence, have been regular and decent; but have been unmindful of your duty to God, have been unwilling to think of him, or strangers to delight in him ? and are you not finners in his presence ? Have you been preserved by his power, and yet never confcfled the obligation? Have you been living daily upon his bounty, and yet seldom or never given him thanks, except in the most indifferent and formal manner, and such worship, as is a much more proper occasion for repentance than ground of confidence ? How, then, shall you be able to stand in the judgement ? « For of him, and through him, and to him,

are all things; to whom be glory for ever. *** Amen.”

II. I come now to make some practical improvement of what has been said on this subject. And,

1. From what has been said, you may learn how deeply and surely the foundation of the gospel is laid. It is laid in the actual state of the world, and in that depravity of our nature, which it is impossible to conceal, and which nothing but the greatest obstinacy and perversion of mind can have the courage to deny. I am sensible, that nothing but an inward and personal conviction of guilt and mifery wrought by the Spirit of the living God, will bring the finner to embrace the gofpel ; yet the neceflity of salvation may be evinced in the clearest and most fatisfactory manner, by reason and observation. As the visible creation, when attentively viewed, ferves to discover the wisdom and omnipotence of God, and is, as it were, an open volume, which men of every tongue may read and admire ; fo the state of the moral world, as it is called, plainly points out the guilt and apostasy of man, and loudly calls for the interpofition of the Saviour. This it is our duty to attend to, not only to stop the mouths of gainfayers, but to establish the faith of God's children, that it may not be overthrown or unsettled by the cavils and objections of those who lie in wait to deceive.

2. From what has been said, you may see with what sentiments we Thould look upon the state of the world, or peruse the history of providence, and what profit we may reap from it. When we fee, as 'at present, in our own age and country, what profanity and neglect of God, what contempt or defertion of his worship, prevails among many of every rank; what pride and luxury, what riot and sensuality, what uncleanness and de. bauchery, what lying, fraud, and perjury ; and when we observe how one race of Ginners VOL.I. с


« PreviousContinue »