Page images
PDF
EPUB

seasons of the year, and established a connexion between means and ends, therefore he may as well slumber away the spring and summer, as to labour. Why then does this man, as soon as he steps on religious ground, leave these conclusions, and draw others directly the reverse from the same general principles ? Indeed, had God established no connexion between means and ends, in the concerns of religion, all encouragement to attend on the means would cease, from the moment this was known. Is there not then reason to believe, that men draw such conclusions from the determinations of God, to support and quiet themselves in the neglect of the means of grace? The same men who objected against John, because he did not eat and drink like other men, objected against Jesus Christ, because he did. How inconsistent! The reason was, they disliked the doctrines and duties, which these preachers exhibited. And the principal reason, why men object to the determinations and purposes of God in the things of religion, is, they wish for some excuse in their negligence, or to raise some objection against the preacher of these doctrines, that they may, like the hearers of Christ and John, set aside all their instructions.

IMPROVEMENT.

1. May we not, in the view of this subject, see the difference between saints and sinners? Their characters are represented as different in the sacred oracles. And the difference is displayed in this; the saint is generally consistent with himself in those things, in which the inconsistency of the sinner chiefly appears. It is indeed true, that saints are not perfectly consistent with themselves, in those things, in which we have seen the inconsistency of sinners. And they never will be, until they arrive to a state of perfection. But still there is a wide difference between the saint and sinner. They may both believe the being and perfections of God; but the saint loves the true character of God; he feels and acts habitually under the impression of these important truths; which is never true of the impenitent sinner. The heart, conscience, and reason of a saint are consistent and harmonious. All these agree in justifying, approving and loving the truths of God; and the general tenor of his life bears publick testimony to their excellency. Regeneration reconciles the heart to the truths of God, when seen and understood, as well as to his character. The saint can reason as correctly respecting spiritual things as temporal; for he is willing to know the truth. The veil is taken from his heart, and this removes the darkness, which attends the understanding of the sinner in reasoning upon divine things. What his reason and the word of God dictates, his heart

approves; and the language of his heart and tongue is the same. His heart feels and approves what his lips express in prayer, and all his other expressions of friendship to God and man. There is therefore an essential difference between the saint and sinner in point of consistency.

2. This subject will help us to see the reason of that divine declaration, that at the last day, “Some shall rise to shame and everlasting contempt.” Self inconsistency breeds contempt, because in gener. al it argues a depraved heart. For this reason, there is nothing, which men more carefully conceal, and of which they are more ashamed when exposed. There is scarcely any thing, which they are more unwilling to see and acknowledge than self inconsistency. But, at the day of judgment, the heart, conscience, reasonings and conduct of the sinner will appear; and he will see it, and the world will see it; and he will know that they see it, as he sees it. He has professed to believe in an omnipresent God, yet indulged secret sins. In numerous instances his professions and prac. tice have been at variance. His wickedness and inconsistency in these things will be seen and felt in the most sensible manner. He will be covered with the deepest confusion, and at the same time know, that he is an object of the contempt of all holy beings. His mouth will be stopped, and he obliged to join is. sue with his Judge in his own condemnation. There is nothing which can save the sinner from inconsistency, from shame and contempt, but a compliance with the requisitions of the gospel. This reconciles man with himself, with duty, with God. The love of God, and nothing short of this, will lay a foundation for self consistency, self approbation, and the approbation of his judge at the last day. A wicked, impenitent heart will lead the sinner into perpetual inconsistencies, which, at last, will necessarily bring him to shame and contempt. But the love of God shed abroad in his heart, will render him consistent, when

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

he prays-consistent, when he confesses his sins to God-consistent, when he asks him for favours-consistent, when he thanks him for mercies. His heart, his conscience, and his lips will harmonise in these exercises ; but they will forever contradict each other, if the heart be estranged from God. All he says, all he does to cover and excuse his sins, will, when all things shall appear as they are, only serve to increase his confusion. How important is the religion of Je. sus! It is adapted to save men from the love and prac. tice of sin; which is a state of inconsistency with conscience, reason, and the word of God. Hence the wicked are said to be like the troubled sea whose waters cannot rest. The wicked heart is at war with conscience--with reason with God. What a state is this! But when the gospel is embraced, it this wicked, agitated bosom, as its blessed Author said to the tempestuous sea, “ Peace, be still.” The heart ceases to contend with conscience. For the first time, they become friends. Reason is no longer employed to frame objections against the doctrines and duties of the gospel ; but she is now employed as the handmaid of faith ; and the man finds the saying of David true, “Great peace have they that love thy law.” The gospel is “the word of reconciliation.” When this is embraced, heaven is begun. God and the sinner are friends friends forever. Happy state! May you all know it here, and enjoy it hereafter.

says to

SERMON VII.

ON THE LOVE OF IDOLS.

I SAMUEL, V. 7.

And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us ; for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our God.

The revelation contained in the holy oracles is the greatest blessing ever conferred on this guilty world. This revelation has clearly ascertained our duty and discovered a new and living way, by which we may enjoy the favour of God, whom by our sins we have offended. This revelation was first committed to'writing and delivered to the twelve tribes of Israel. The divine law was written by the finger of God, and is generally believed the first alphabetical writing ever known in the world. This law was written upon two tables of stone and laid in the ark. The people were taught to consider this, as the most precious deposit ; and good men did indeed consider and treat it as the most valuable possession. They used to carry it with

« PreviousContinue »