Page images
PDF
EPUB

that they had “ better not have known the way of right

: eousness, than after they have known it, to' țurn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” It may be further observed under this head, that if it be à general truth, that those who despise gospel privileges, are exposed to the judgment threatened in the text, then it follows that a people who come within this de? scription, are thus exposed to this great judgment. In whatever age, or country they may live-whether in the daysof Amos, Paul, or in the present period—whether they inhabit Asia, Europe, or America ; all impenitent sinners under the gospel, are exposed to have the

kingdom of God taken from them, and given unto others." Should it be granted, that our text had a primary reference to the Jewish nation, and pointed out the evils coming upon that people for their abuse of God's word and ordinances; yet it is not to be understood as confined to them ; but equally implicates other nations and societies, who enjoy these privileges, and conduct as they did. They were broken off from their olive tree, through unbelief ; and thou, standest by faith; "Be not then high minded, but fear." Is not this reasoning forcible ?--May not, then the text be considered as an admonition and warning to all future generations, who enjoy their privileges, to avoid their sins and plagues ?. Those divine threatenings, which point out the sin and danger of any one individual or society, equally point out the sin and danger of any other individual or society, which comes within the like description. These remarks

may be sufficient to show, that this prophecy and threatening may be as applicable to other communi. ties, as to ancient Israel ; and thereforeis a subject in which you, as a people, are, as deeply, interested as they were.

Hence a diligent and faithful improvement of your privileges, is the only ground on which you can expect long to enjoy them.' " For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he spare not thee.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

SERMON XVI.

A FAMINE OF THE WORD.

THE SUBJECT CONTINUED.

AMOS, viii. 11.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.

The improvement of this important subject is now before us.

1. Are the word and ordinances of the gospel great privileges to a people? Then may we learn the distinguished advantages of this land. No people ever enjoyed the word of God, and its attendant privileges in an higher degree, than they have been enjoyed in this land, particularly in New England. Here we have had, not only the writings of Moses and those of the prophets, but of Christ and his Apostles, even the canon of scripture complete, to direct us in the way of duty and salvation. And not only the bible, but a multitude of other books which are of great use in un

peace, and

derstanding the scriptures. And here we have enjoy- . ed the great advantages of Sabbath and sanctuary opportunities, and schools and seminaries of learning, designed, in a particular manner, to diffuse divine knowledge among the people.

people. All these have been enjoyed under the most favourable circumstances. We have for the most part enjoyed them in under the auspices of civil power. Our constitution of government has not only protected us in the enjoyment of religious privileges, but extended its patronage to the virtuous and inquisitive, in every department of science. It has often been the case among other nations, that the civil powers, instead of protecting have deprived people of them, and done all they could to extirpate them from the land. So that those, who make the word of God the rule of their faith and practice, must do it at the peril of their lives. Many christian nations have not been permitted to have the bible in their own language, which is in effect to be deprived of it.

We, at this day, have all those external advantages, which arise from a full and clear revelation of the divine character, and of our own, of our duty, sin and danger, and of the method of divine grace in our recovery ; so that of all people we have the least ground to attempt to excuse sin by the plea of ignorance. Such are the means of knowledge in this land, that no one is under the necessity of being, or remaining ignorant of those things which“ pertain to life and godliness.” If any there. fore be found ignorant in this land, it must be owing to criminal inattention to the means of knowledge, and

consequently such ignorance is wholly inexcusable. That any should be found, in such a land of light as this, ignorant of God, of the character, offices and design of the Mediator, and indeed, I may add, of every doctrine and duty contained in the scriptures, must be the effect of great and criminal neglect. Have we not reason to conclude, that such love darkness rather than light ?

2. Are we not, if the gospel be so great a privilege, under every obligation of gratitude to God for his word and ordinances ? - The least reflection may convince any one, that God is under no obligation to bestow upon us these privileges, any more than' upon those nations who do not enjoy them. That he should be under any obligation to any is impossible. Neither. we, nor any of our sinful race deserve any favour from the hand of God. We deserved to have been left without a Saviour, and consequently without the gospel, which publishes the great things of redemption. But how deplorable would have been our situation, had these favours been withheld ? It would, however, have been a treatment corresponding to our personal character. We cannot deny that we are fallen, guilty creatures, without contradicting the universal experience and consent of all generations, as well as the declarations of scripture. And if mankind, indeed, be in this sinful state, it is plain, that the provision of a Saviour is wholly a gracious provision; that justice would have called for no such expedient. Admit then, that God had conducted towards men on principles of justice, then compare this supposed situation of man

« PreviousContinue »