« PreviousContinue »
increases their sense of the evil of fin, and their abhorrence of every approach to it.
Presumption, and such views of God's mere cy as are taken by the fecure, arise entirely from the extenuation of fin. The fanguage of their hearts is, •Surely this is not so great a matter, • but God's mercy will forgive it. If you will either seriously examine yourselves, or obferve, with some attention, the discourse of careless worldly persons, you will perceive this very clearly. They comfort themselves with the thoughts of their little comparative guilt, rather than of the certainty and greatness of divine mercy. "I may perhaps,' says one of them, have been guilty of such or such fins; but I
am sure I never did fo or so,' or perhaps as fome others who immediately occur to their minds a greater finners than themselves. I cannot help mentioning to you the faying of a prince of our own country, towards the close of life, who had been a remarkable libertine in his younger years : 'I cannot think,' says he ,
that God will be so hard as to damn a man . for taking a little pleasure out of the common * road."
In oppofition to this, the true penitent fees more than ever his inexcufable guilt as a finner, but hopes for forgiveness from God, as the efa fect of his own infinite grace, and the accomplishment of his promife in the gospel. He gives the whole glory of it to him; and ne
+ X. Charles II. to BiMap Buræet.
ver thinks of diminishing the luftre of his transcendent mercy, by covering or extenuating the offence. Hence secure perfons are easily fax tisfied, while true penitents make fupplication with strong crying and tears. They are often reconfidering the promise, and frequently que ftioning the ground on which their dependence has been placed. Hence alfo secure perfons seek ease to themselves from the remonftrances of conscience, by ftifling conviction, and offering excuses; but true penitents, by giving full force to the accusation, and pleading the benefit of the remiffion. To fay all in a word, the one ftruggles hard to be found innocent, the other to obtain mercy.
4. From what hath been said, you may fee of how much moment it is to the Christian to keep clear views of the mercy of God, as well as of his own interest in it. The moment he tofes the comfortable senfe of peace with God, his chariot-wheels are troubled, and he drives heavily. It makes his duty burdensome, and his trials infupportable. And no wonder, fince he is not so far left of God as to return to the fecurity of finners; and at the same time the fource of his inward confolation is like a spring fbut up, and a fountain sealed. For what end are the promises of God contained in scripture? why are they put into your hands ? why are they repeated in your ears? Why, but for preserving you in that peace which the world cannot give, and which, blessed be God, it can. not take away. Hear what your Saviour says,
John John xvi. 33 “ These things I have spoken un“ to you, that in me ye might have peace. In “ the world ye shall have tribulation : but be “ of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
5. In the last place, You may fee from what hath been said, in what way you may most effectually, and most certainly, preserve your peace with God, viz. By the frequent exercise of penitence and confession. This will fhew you the necessity of forgiveness from God. This will constrain you daily to seek for forgiveness from God. Beware of seeking or preserving peace by the extenuation of fin, or by ftifling conviction. This may well lead
you to floth and fe. curity for a feason, which lays the foundation of the bittereft repentance of all; but will never give you the comfort of God's children. He that shutteth his eyes upon his own fins, shall never see the glory of divine mercy. Serious, voluntary, deliberate humiliation, is the true way of promoting both that steadiness in duty, and that peace with God, which ought to be the Chriftian's fupreme desire. Whatever de ftroys felf-sufficiency promotes the growth of true piety. The gospel is particularly directed to those that see their neceflity. It brings comfort to the mourner, help to the miserable, and mercy to the guilty. It is a great mistake to think, that the contrition and penitence of the children of God is hurtful to their comfort, for it is the very foundation of it; according to that refrething promise, with which I shall conclude, Il. lxi. 1. 2. 3. "The spirit of the Lord “ God is upon me, because the Lord hath a• nointed me to preach good tidings unto the • meek, he hath sent me to bind
the broken “ hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, “and the opening of the prison to them that “ are bound : to proclaim the acceptable year of “the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our « God, to comfort all that mourn : to appoint “ unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto “them beauty for afhes, the oil of joy. for
mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit “ of heaviness, that they might be called trees " of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, so that he might be glorified.”
SE R M ON
The nature of Faith.
1 JOHN i. 23.
And this is his commandment, That we should be
lieve on the name of his Son Jesus Chrift.
E propose, in a little, to draw near to
God in the most folemn act of Chriftian worship. With what humble folicitude ought we to inquire, whether we are truly intitled to this great privilege, or may hope for acceptance in this important duty. It is the moft explicit, and the most public profeffion we can make of faith in the Redeemer's blood; and therefore none can do it in a proper manner but those who have indeed believed in the Redeemer's name.
Faith in Christ is the great foundation of our peace with God. It is the great principle of our fanctification. It is the great distinction between the heirs of glory and the heirs of hell: " For he that believeth, and is baptized, shall “ be saved; but he that believeth not, fhall be “ damned.” And therefore no subject can be of