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go about the common business of life in the fear of God, as his servants-heavenly minded- of a meek, quiet, humble spirit-satisfied with God-pleased with his ways and instructions—This is the happiest way of living on this side of heaven. The exercises of love, gratitude, submission are all delightful to a humble heart. “Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace." In a word, a humble, broken, contrite heart, mortified to all sublunary things, fortified against all earthly evils--an eye fixed on heaven--communion with God, these are at
. tended with pleasures unspeakably preferable to all this world can boast. This is the life-these are the pleasures of a christian. Do you know them by ex. perience? O come and taste that the Lord is good.
Here Sinners you may heal your wounds,
THE GOSPEL RECEIVED IN VAIN.
II CORINTHIANS, vi. 1.
We then as workers together with him, beseech you also, that
ye receive not the grace of God in vain. In the preceding part of this chapter, the apostle brings into view the glorious dispensation of the covenant of grace. He shows that God is on a treaty of reconciliation with mankind; that he and his fellowapostles were sent forth to publish this treaty, and invite sinners in Christ's name to accept the gracious proposal. “We then are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled unto God.” He then concludes as in the text-“We then as workers together with him, beseech you, that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”—This mode of expression denotes that there is danger, that sinners, to whom the grace of God is revealed, will receive it in vain.
My present design is to show
I. What we are here to understand by the grace of God.
II. What it is to receive this grace of God in vain.
persons, who receive the grace of God in vain.
I. On this part of the subject, a few words only are necessary. By the grace of God, we are undoubtedly to understand the gospel, which reveals the grace of God to a guilty, ruined world. The love and goodwill of God to sinners revealed in the gospel is his grace, as it is all free and undeserved. All God's gracious works, by which a door is opened for the salvation of sinners, together with the way, in which they may come to the enjoyment of God, are revealed in the gospel, and the arguments, proper to excite them to accept this great salvation, are set before them; all of which is the effect of the rich grace and mercy of God. Hence the gospel, which reveals these things, is (by a usual figure) called, “ The grace of God.” These observations prepare the way to show,
II. What it is to receive the grace of God in vain.
1. They receive the grace of God in vain, who neglect to study the gospel, that they may improve in the knowledge of God, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ. The design of the gospel is to make us wise, good, and happy; but it can be of no advantage, unless we diligently study and understand it. This is unthankfully received, when it is put into our hands for our instruction, and little or no improvement is made in the knowledge of it. The scriptures are a peculiar talent, with which we are entrusted, and when serious enquiries are not made into their design and meaning, we treat them as the wicked servant used
grace of God his lord's money, who wrapped it in a napkin, and hid it in the earth. We might as well be without the scriptures, as to suffer them to lie in our houses with. out study. Should we not remember, that the sloth. ful servant, who neglects to inquire after his master's will, when he has all proper advantages to know it, deserves to be beaten as a wicked servant ?-Are there not many of this character in this land of gospel light, who, while they have the revelation of God in their houses, “ which is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness," yet remain unacquainted with its most plain and important truths, and are none the wiser, nor better for all which is revealed ? Such truly receive the grace of God in vain.
2. They receive the grace of God in vain, who do not embrace it as coming from God. They, with whom the scriptures have not the authority of a divine revelation, cannot be supposed to regard them in their practice. And indeed, the scriptures are of no more authority than the writings of Plato or Socrates, only upon the supposition of their being a divine revelation. Unless they are received in this character, they have not the force of a law, even admitting them to be a good system of morality. He therefore, who does not believe them to be from God, must undervalue and treat them with comparative inattention, let his opinion of them, in other respects, be as it may. Every honest mind, on proper inquiry, will see the evidences of their divinity. For is it not inconsistent with all just ideas of God to suppose, that he has given
us a revelation of his will and our duty, and yet that it is not attended with sufficient evidence, that it is from him? And indeed, attended with such evidence, as to leave those, who enjoy it, inexcusable, if they disbelieve it. Inexcusable they could not be, were they not furnished with sufficient evidence of its truth and divinity. It is wholly inadmissible to suppose, that God requires his creatures to receive that as a divine revelation, which is not sufficiently attested as such ; but he does require our attention and obedience to the gospel, and has suspended our everlasting welfare on the manner in which we treat it. They, therefore, whose wicked hearts lead them to reject this grace of God, receive it in vain in the most emphatical sense.
3. They receive this grace of God in vain, who read, or hear it preached with carelessness and inattention. The careless hearer of the word, hears it without profit. For though the truth is delivered, and indeed clearly held up for the consideration and improvement of the hearer, he receives no edification, because he has not given his attention to it. The great ignorance of many persons, even of the most plain and important parts of scripture, with respect to the meaning of which, there is little dispute in the christian world, and even of those, who have attended the stated worship of God, and have heard the word preached for years; the ignorance of such is a full proof of their great and surprising inattention to the word. There are some persons, who are frequent in reading the word of God, and punctual in their attendance upon the word preached, who yet make no dis