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in Christ, repent of our sins, and obey his laws. That, seeing we are not of ourselves able to comply with these terms, the same Jesus, who once made his soul an offer. ing for sin, is now exalted, "a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins ;" and by his Spirit, who is promised and sent down into the world, to those who will receive him; renews and sanctifies the hearts of men, and forms them to the love of God and man, and to the practice of that universal holiness, which becomes the gospel of Christ; and that from the throne of his glory, to which he is now exalted, as Head over all things to his church, and on which he sits as a Priest, interceding for his people, and dispensing the gifts, the graces, and the blessings which he purchased for them with his blood; he shall, at the appointed time, come again in the character of a Judge, "taking vengeance on those who obey not the gospel," but to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe; and to receive his faithful followers to the full possession of the unspeakable glories, and joys of his everlasting kingdom.
Such, I conceive, to be the substance of the gospel. These are the blessed doctrines of grace, which distinguish and exalt Christianity above any system of religion, suggested by the light of nature, or framed by the reason of man. In preaching the gospel, therefore, it becomes us to remember, that these are the doctrines, which as ministers of Christ, we are called to publish to the world, even the doctrines which God has revealed by his Son, and which teach us what Christ has done for man, and how man must through him be saved.
It is this gospel that exhibits human nature, in consequence of the fall of Adam, as lying low in ruins,deep
ly involved in guilt and misery: that illustriously displays the grace, and the glory of our God and Saviour, in the contrivance and accomplishment of our redemption, by Jesus Christ, who was once crucified for the sins of men, but is now highly exalted, and crowned with all the glory and honors becoming the Redeemer, the Lord and the Judge of the world that teaches us to seek the salvation of our souls, and acceptance with God, only through faith in him, inasmuch as there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby any can be saved: that requires us to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the world, as it becomes those for whom he gave himself, that he might by his blood redeem them from all iniquity, and by his Spirit purify them unto himself, a peculiar people, zealous of good works that enforces the practice of every duty and virtue, by the most solemn and interesting motives, drawn from the authority, the love, and mercy of our Maker and Redeemer; from the awful terrors of his law, and the alluring promises of his grace; from the regards which we owe to ourselves and our fellow-men, in this world; and from the hope of that heaven of inconceivable happiness, which awaits the good, and the fear of that hell of unspeakable misery, prepared for the wicked, in the world to come. It is this gospel, which our Lord commanded to be preached to all the world, and which, in the Apostles' days, proved so mighty through God, to the pulling down the strong holds of Satan in the hearts of men, and was instrumental of so gloriously establishing and enlarging his kingdom in the world. It is this gospel, which in every succeeding age, has been prospered to the same desirable ends. It is this gospel, which must be still preached by all who
minister in the name, and in the church of Christ, as they would desire and hope to see their ministrations, succeeded by his blessing in the promotion of those great objects, which this divine religion is so admirably fitted, and so specially designed, to advance..
2. In preaching the gospel, it concerns us, with all prudence and fidelity, to divide aright the word of truth, and give to the respective classes of our hearers, their proper portion in due season. It is not sufficient to preach the doctrines, the precepts, the promises, and the threatenings of the gospel, in one general view, as if these were all equally addressed to all men; but that these may produce their proper, and full effect, it is requisite to direct the application of them, more especially and pointedly to the different characters and conditions of our hearers, to which they are especially adapted. In this way alone, can we reasonably promise ourselves much success in our attempts to convince, or persuade, to minister reproof or consolation. In order to attain these objects in any considerable degree, we must consider carefully, and endeavour to distin-. guish wisely, a variety of different circumstances in the conduct, and the situation of those whom we address, and to accommodate ourselves to these, in such a manner, as that every one's conscience may perceive at once where the discourse is pointed, and be led to apply it accordingly, for instruction, correction, or comfort. I cannot now take notice of any of the more particular distinctions in the characters and circumstances of men, which call for an attentive and skilful management of our public and private addresses; but I shall take leave to observe, that there is one general and more important distinction of characters, which we should
never lose sight of ourselves, and to which it becomes. us to keep the attention of our hearers, ever directed: I mean the essential and vast difference between a sincere Christian, and an impenitent sinner; between one who is in a state of corrupt nature, unrenewed, and unsanctified; and one whose heart is purified by faith in Christ, and whose life is adorned with the beauties and the fruits of holiness; between one who is only born of the flesh, and is a child of wrath; and one who is born again of the Spirit, and is become a child of God, a member of Christ, and an heir of heaven. The nature, the importance of this distinction of characters; the absolute necessity, the happy fruits and consequences of this effectual change of the heart and the life; the miserable situation of those who have not experienced it; the certain condemnation under which they now abide; and the awful judgment and doom hereafter awaiting them, if they fly not to the bope set before them in the gospel; these should be often inculcated, and fervently impressed upon the conscience, as we would hope, that the gospel may be made an instrument, in the hand of God, to open the eyes of men, and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God; that they may receive forgiveness of their sins, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith that is in Christ Jesus.
Thus plainly laying before men the declarations of the word of God, concerning their respective states and characters, and rightly dividing to them the word of truth, in which they are particularly and most deeply interested, we shall approve ourselves faithful and wise stewards in the household of God, or church of Christ; and have ground to hope, that the word thus faithfully
and judiciously dispensed, will be accompanied with his efficacious blessing, and thereby rendered truly and eminently profitable to our hearers.
3. In preaching the gospel, it is required of us, that we make the glory of God, in the salvation of men, the great end to which our ministrations, and our aims are habitually directed. We must seek, not our own glory, but the glory of him who sent us; we must labour to promote, not our own temporal interests, but the eternal interests of those to whom we are sent. We must remember that we are ambassadors for Christ, appointed to entreat and persuade you in Christ's stead, and as though God did beseech you by us, to be reconciled to God. This is our proper business; this is the great and good end of the pastoral office which we hold ; and he who loses sight of this, or proposes to himself any end that is not subservient to, or consistent with this, whatever applause, or advantages he may secure to himself from his fellow-men, he cannot be styled a true preacher of the gospel, nor receive the final reward of the good and faithful servant of Christ.
4. In preaching the gospel, it must be the study and endeavour of its ministers, to recommend it to the esteem and practice of others, by their own example.
So important and powerful is the influence of example, to enforce instruction on every subject of a practical nature, that it is considered as a certain truth, established by long observation and experience, and has therefore become proverbial, that "example teaches more than precept." In common life, every one knows how much more easily and speedily we learn to transact any business, by seeing it done, than by being merely informed, though ever so particularly and fully, how