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"into the kingdom of heaven." An apostle informs us what this will is. This is the will of GOD, the great design of the gospel, says St. Paul, even your sancti"fication;" that is, that our nature should be renewed; freed from the tyranny of sin; and so far in the way of perfection, as al ways to be making some progress towards it.
Thus, my friends, I have laid before you the conditions and nature of that peace, which our blessed LORD promises to his faithful disciples; a peace, infinitely more valuable than any which the world can give; the effect of a conquest vastly superior to those which the foolish world so much applauds; for, Solomon has truly said, "he that ruleth his spirit, or governeth his "life according to God's holy law, is bet "ter than he that taketh a city." What prevents us, then, from obtaining this peace? Why do we not immediately take measures to secure it? Do we think, it will be time enough hereafter? No! now is the day of salvation; now is the accepted time. Do we imagine, that we may omit it till we come to die? No! a death-bed leaves no opportunity for such a task; for "when the "night cometh, no man can work." GOD himself has fixed the time for repentance. "To-day, if ye will hear his voice, harden
"not your hearts ;" and he who will not take this time, may, too likely, never have an opportunity of embracing another. As the blessing of peace is the gift of our holy Saviour, so the conditions on which we may hope to obtain it are expressly laid down by him in his word; and if an angel from heaven should tell you that you can secure it without repentance, faith, and holiness, you might well suspect his message. How mi
serably disappointed, therefore, must those christians be, who entertain vain hopes of the mercy of GOD without fulfilling these necessary conditions; and how sad must be the lot of those, who put off their repentance till they come to die, or live in the practice of any sin, in the wicked imagination, that they will leave it off before they depart hence, and are no more seen. On the other hand, my friends, the blessing of that peace which cometh from the Redeemer, is within the reach of all sorts and conditions of men, who shall earnestly desire to possess it. For as we may have all worldly blessings, and yet want this spiritual one; so may we be destitute of every thing the world can give us, and yet enjoy that blessing, which will make us amends for the absence of them all.
Behold, then, christians, the true road to happiness here and hereafter; the great work we have to perform; the most important business in which we can be engaged; -to embrace those heavenly truths in the gospel, which lie open to the meanest capacities, and are impartially given to the rich and the poor; the wise and the ignorant;-with a cheerful obedience to fulfil what we believe will please GOD, and to avoid what will offend Him;-with a firm faith to receive CHRIST and his word, as the only means of salvation; and with unfeigned sorrow to pray for pardon when we have offended our Maker, and for grace to strengthen us against future temptation. Acting thus, we shall secure to ourselves a treasure beyond all price; that peace which the Redeemer only can pour into the soul; a treasure, which the moth cannot consume, nor the thief steal away; a treasure, that will make us comfortable, contented, and happy through time, and infinitely rich to all eternity.
[For Trinity Sunday.]
JOHN iii. 3.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
HE Gospel for the day contains an interesting account of a conversation, which took place between our blessed LORD, and Nicodemus, a learned Jewish Rabbi, or teacher of the law of Moses. He was a man of great credit among his own people, but earnestly desirous of knowing the truth in CHRIST; fearful, however, of having his wish publicly known, lest he should give offence to his countrymen, and raise their malice against him. In order to avoid this, he came to JESUS by night, and spoke to him in the following respectful manner: "Rabbi, we know that thou art a
"teacher sent from God, for no man can do "these miracles, which thou doest, except "God be with him." Our blessed LORD, who saw into the hearts of men, knew that Nicodemus came to him for spiritual instruction; with an earnest desire of learning the way of salvation, and following it when it was made known to him; he therefore began with a doctrine which lies at the root of the christian religion,the doctrine of regeneration: "Verily, verily, I say unto "thee, except a man be born again, he can"not see the kingdom of GOD;" meaning that man, in his natural and fallen state, being incapable of pleasing GoD, there must be such a change in his heart and life, as may well be compared to a new birth, before he can hope to be fit for the inheritance of a happy immortality. The answer of Nicodemus clearly proves that he entirely misunderstood the meaning of our Saviour's words; on which JESUS expresses himself in a way that was clearer to the Jew's understanding: "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, "except a man be born of water and the
spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of "GOD." As if he had said, "I did not speak of a new birth in a natural, but in a spiritual, sense. I mean, that a man's heart must be changed; his affections purified;