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being employed as an instrument for his glory, and compassion for in such a work. He could not in- perishing sinners, combined in rendeed equal the fervent zeal and dering him superior to all other rapturous worship of the Seraphim: hopes and fears, and prepared him but he desired to emulate the promp- for most unwearied exertions, and titude and alacrity, with which they patient sufferings, in making full performed the commands of their proof of his sacred ministry. Creator. Nay, he made no objec- We allow that the subject applies tions or excuses, when he was sent with peculiar propriety to the case to pronounce the condemnation of of those who are engaged in the the rebellious Jews, and to prove same good work: but all Christians an occasion of their judicial blind-" are bought with a price, that they ness for a warning to all others, may glorify God with their bodies who"hate the light because their and spirits which are his." They deeds are evil." all love the Lord Jesus Christ on These effects of genuine encou- the same grounds, though not in ragement to the broken in heart equal measure; they partake of were by no means peculiar to the "like precious faith" with that of prophet. They will not indeed fol- the apostles; and "If any man low from an unscriptural assurance have not the Spirit of Christ, he is of forgiveness; but they are insepa- none of his." When therefore the
rable from comfort obtained by the deeply humbled sinner has been exercise of living faith in Christ, delivered from gloomy fears of deunder the teaching and influence of served wrath, and enabled to rejoice the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul, in Christ and his pardoning love; speaking of his abundant labours he will certainly inquire, "What and sufferings, adds, " Having ob- shall I render to the Lord for all his tained mercy we faint not;" and benefits?" Nor will he, when under afterwards," For the love of Christ the lively impressions of admiring constraineth us: because we thus love and gratitude, be disposed to judge, that if one died for all, then think any sacrifice too costly, any were all dead; and that he died for labour too great, or any danger too all, that they who live, should not imminent, to which he may be henceforth live to themselves, but called, in his attempts to serve and to him who died for them and rose honour his beloved benefactor. This again." 2 Cor. iv. 1; v. 14, 15. It causes him to consider, in what way was his earnest expectation and he may most effectually recommend hope, that Christ should be mag- the salvation of Christ to his fellownified in his body, whether by life sinners, or be useful to that flock or death;" Phil. i. 20, 21,-other which he " purchased with his own "things moved him not, neither blood." These reflections will frecounted he his life dear unto him- quently employ his thoughts, wheself, so that he might finish his ther he be a minister of religion, a course with joy, and the ministry magistrate, a steward of the unrighwhich he had received of the Lord teous mammon, possessed of influJesus, to testify the gospel of the ence, or endued with natural and grace of God." Acts xx. 24. Deep acquired abilities; or whether, on humiliation for sin, firm confidence the contrary, he live in a private in the mercy of God, gratitude to and obscure station,—a labourer, a the Divine Saviour, "who loved servant in deep poverty, or even in him and gave himself for him," zeal a state of slavery. And, whatever
bé the Christian's outward situation when the joy of God's salvation is and circumstances, provided he aim restored, the lively exercise of to serve the Lord Jesus by a con- every holy affection renders a man scientious attention to his several ready to say, "Here I am, send me ;" duties, in honesty, quietness, and If so poor a worm as I am, may contentment; he will be enabled to glory thy name, O Lord, I would adorn the doctrine of God his Sa- thankfully yield myself to thy disviour, and as certainly meet with a posal, that I may be employed in gracious acceptance, as if he were any way, which may seem good in sent, like Isaiah and Paul, to carry thy sight.'-If then these be indeed his message to the church and to the effects of such humbling and the world. encouraging views of the Lord and The performance of relative du- heavenly things as have been desties, even when the most unkind cribed, we ought certainly to inquire returns are experienced; strict in- with great seriousness, whether we tegrity under heavy losses and in have learned or experienced any trying circumstances; patience and thing of the same nature?-And meekness, amidst sufferings and this may introduce an address to injuries, are in some respects equi- different descriptions of persons. valent to the prophet's alacrity, in There are numbers, who do not undertaking the painful service wish to be thought infidels or irreliallotted him. And, in proportion gious; but call themselves believers, as the believer can unite deep hu- render some worship to God, and mility, with assured hope and fer- respect the name of Christ, and vent zeal, he will act with decision the leading truths of Christianity : according to the commands of his yet they by no means think that Lord, and the opportunities or ad- they are altogether sinful, and exvantages afforded him. But if pride posed to just condemnation even for warp his steady aim and mar his the defilements of their religious simplicity, or negligence make way duties. They adopt various mefor guilt and alarm; he will find thods of eluding the inferences we himself in all respects indisposed draw from the general declarations for difficult, perilous, or self-denying of Scripture, concerning the deceitservices. When discouragement fulness and desperate wickedness prevails, "the hands hang down of the human heart; and object to and the knees wax feeble :" a man every attempt made to convince in this case scarcely finds himself them, that they themselves, as at liberty to speak a word on religi-well as Gentiles and wicked Jews, ous subjects, for the instruction are included in these unrestricted even of his own family; and still charges. These appear to them less to attempt any thing of a more hard sayings; because they deprive arduous nature for the glory of God them of every plea, undermine the and the benefit of his church. foundation of their hope, and exWhen David had been grievously clude all boasting and self-preferovercome by temptation he found ence.-But, if you have been used that conscious guilt rendered him to reason and object in this manner, incapable of renewing his bold and let me earnestly entreat and conjure zealous endeavours in the service of you, seriously to answer the followGod. He therefore prayed, "Open ing questions :-Do you really think my lips, O Lord, that my mouth your own hearts, characters, and sermay show forth thy praise." But vices, to be more holy and excellent
than those of Job, Isaiah, Daniel, [racter. A day approacheth, in or Paul? Or do you suppose that which every eye shall behold a far your superior sanctity is propor- more glorious scene, than that tioned to the difference of the lan- which overwhelmed the mind of the guage you use in speaking of your prophet Isaiah. The Divine Savirtues and duties? If you cannot viour will appear "in his own glory, without affectation adopt their hu- and in the glory of the Father, with miliating expressions, it must arise all his holy angels." Then every from one of these causes: either your action will be weighed in an imparconduct and character are far more tial balance; every character fully holy than theirs were; or they made known; and every unpar knew far more of God and of them-doned transgressor struck dumb in selves than you do. You are either the presence of his Judge; or only much better men; or you are much able to say, "Woe is me, I am less acquainted with those things, undone !" while the awful words, which are essential to a right judg-" Depart, ye cursed, into everlasting ment of characters and actions. fire, prepared for the devil and his When the apostle said, "That angels," shall fill him with terror, God, who commanded the light to and sink him into despair. But at shine out of darkness, hath shined present there is hope; and those into our hearts, to give us the light discoveries of guilt which tend to of the knowledge of the glory of humble us, and prepare us for welGod in the face of Jesus Christ;" he coming the salvation of God, should assigned the real cause of the lowly be considered as inestimable meropinion which eminent saints have cies, the forerunners of "joy unever entertained of themselves: speakable and full of glory.' and a want of this divine illumina- 2. But perhaps, these subjects tion gives occasion for that favoura- have rendered you uneasy and debie estimate which numbers form jected; and you have on that acof their virtues and characters. If count deemed it best to divert your then this be the case, or if there be attention from them, and at any the least probability that it is so, rate, to keep on good terms with would it not be wise in you, my your own consciences. You therefriends, to entreat the Lord, that he fore neglect the Scriptures, and would " open your understandings such books, company, or preaching, to understand the Scriptures:" and as formerly disquieted you; and would it be improper for you fre- hearkening to worldly counsellors, quently to meditate with fixed atten- seek relief from diversions, indultion on the glorious perfections and gences, or a hurry of business; or holy commandments of God? Let perhaps try to dispel melancholy by me affectionately beseech you to a cheerful glass. Thus numbers compare the duties, on which you close their eyes against the light, depend, with the standard of holy because they hate it; till the Lord writ; to watch your own hearts, gives them up to judicial blindness. while engaged in religious duties; My beloved fellow-sinners, as you and to examine impartially your value your immortal souls, do not motives in those services, to which yield to such temptations. Do not you annex some confused idea of shrink from the discovery of your merit, and that you hope will real character and condition while make amends, in part at least, for hope remains. The knowledge of the undeniable defects of your cha- the disease is the first step towards
recovery but a groundless imagi- given you; seek, and you shall find; nation, that there is no danger, is knock, and it shall be opened unto the common prelude to an incurable you: for every one that asketh prevalence of the malady. As receiveth, and he that seeketh findreasonable agents, examine this eth, and to him that knocketh it matter with an accuracy and impar- shall be opened." Matt. vii. 7, 8. tiality, proportioned to its import- But some hearers of the gospel ance: that in case your confidence are sufficiently confident that their of safety should be found a mere sins are forgiven, and that they presumption, you may now seek have experienced that change which and obtain that inward satisfaction, is described in the Scripture: yet which the prophet felt, when as- they are not disposed to say, "Here sured that “his iniquity was taken I am, Lord, send me." They show away and his sin purged." Can no zeal for the honour of God,-no you doubt, whether it be better to readiness for self-denying services, discover your danger now or to-no tokens of being constrained by remain strangers to it, till God shall the love of Christ to live as his call you to receive your eternal retri- devoted servants. It does not appear that their terrors were accom
But are any of you so deeply panied by humiliation and hatred convinced of sin, as to be ready to of sin, or their comforts by the say, "Woe is me, I am undone!" sanctification of the Spirit unto Let me caution you, my brethren, obedience. But let us all beware against desponding fears. The of this delusion; "for every tree that wreck and ruin of self-confidence bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn makes way for evangelical hope. down and cast into the fire." The Son of God came into the world Finally, my Christian brethren, I to save sinners, to seek that which beseech you by the mercies of God, was lost, not to call the righteous, to desire an increase of that spiribut sinners to repentance, to recon-tual knowledge which produces hucile enemies by the blood of his mility; but at the same time to cross, to receive gifts for the rebel-watch against discouraging fears, lious, to justify the ungodly, to while conscious of integrity in your sanctify the unholy: to give life to professed faith and love, and your the dead, strength to the helpless, desire to honour the Lord by thankliberty to the captive, and felicity ful obedience. For these indulged to the wretched. He invites all and needless apprehensions render who are athirst, yea, all that are the mind too feeble for active serwilling, to come and buy of him the vice, or patient suffering; and they blessings of salvation, without give your religion a forbidding and money, and without price. "Him unamiable aspect. Let us therethat cometh unto me," saith the fore unite all our contemplations on Saviour, "I will in no wise cast other subjects, with frequent mediout. "Behold then the Lamb of tations on the mercy and grace of God, that taketh away the sin of God our Saviour; be very careful the world." He is the author not to grieve the Holy Spirit by evil and finisher of faith ;" and he hath tempers or a selfish behaviour; pointed out to you the proper way and diligent in every means of grace. of seeking peace and salvation, in Above all, let us pray without ceasthese most instructive and encou- ing for such a sweet sense of the raging words; "Ask, and it shall be Lord's pardoning mercy and abun
dant grace, as may animate all our
IV. And Lastly, make some
NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE DIVINE
I. In what manner ought we to understand such compendious propositions as that of the text?
There is a peculiar curse, as it were, connected with indolence and levity in the grand concerns of religion. If a man will trifle in matters of the last importance, and if instead of carefully examining 1 JOHN, iv. 8.-God is Love. the meaning of an expression, as it THE sacred writers do not inculcate stands in the context, and forms a holy practice from such considera- part of a consistent revelation, he tions as are commonly suggested only attend to the mere sound of by moralists and philosophers. The the words, allowing his prejudices beauty of virtue, its utility to man- and passions to interpret them; he kind, and its benign effects on the will surely be taken in a snare, and health, peace, interest, and reputa- perhaps left to wrest the Scriptures tion of the possessor, may be men- to his own destruction. The dilitioned with propriety as subordinate gent and faithful servant will not recommendations; but the autho- only consider a few words of the rity, command, example, and glory commands or directions of his masof God, constitute the primary mo- ter, but he will observe the whole tives and ultimate object of genuine of them, weigh their import, and holiness; and every duty should endeavour fully to understand them. be enforced by the encouragements This is the proper use of reason in and obligations of the gospel. respect of divine revelation. We Beloved," says the aged apostle, are neither authorized nor qualified "let us love one another, for love to sit in judgment on the testimony is of God, and every one that loveth of God, to reject any part of it as is born of God, and knoweth God, useless or injurious,-to propose he that loveth not, knoweth not alterations, or to make additions. God: for GOD IS LOVE.-In this was All such attempts are both absurd manifested the love of God towards and presumptuous in the extreme. us; because that God sent his only But our rational powers are the begotten Son into the world that gift of God, to whom we are accountwe might live through him." Let able for our use of them: and as us then,
we should soberly examine what ground we have to believe the Scriptures to be a divine revelation; so we ought to study them with diligence and teachableness; and depending on the promised assistance of the Holy Spirit, endeavour to find out the real meaning of every proposition contained in
III. Point out certain perverse them. inferences which are frequently deduced from it.
We meet with several comprehensive declarations in the sacred