« IndietroContinua »
oracles, by those who own them to be the word of God, is not contempt of him that inspired them ?
The holy sabbath affords the spiritual mind the most important and highly valued opportunity of waiting upon God, worshipping him, and learning his will. Yet how few, even among moral men, count this holy day their “ delight and ho“nourable!” There are not many, who are convinced, that they ought deeply to repent, and have need of mercy, and of the atoning blood, because they have been used to spend part of the Lord's own day in business, sloth, worldly company, or dissipation.-" Thou shalt not take my “ name in vain,” says the God of infinite majesty and glory: yet how commonly is this great and die tremendous name of God, used in common conversation, even such as is frivolous or profligate! But, unless we consider sin as committed against God, we shall not be struck with the criminality of so irreverent and contemptuous a profanation, of that which should be adored with the pro- ; foundest veneration. This view of the subject is also peculiarly suited to detect the secret enmity of the heart against God, and his holiness and : truth, even in such as are called amiable moral characters. Habitually desiring to approve them. selves to men, as seeking their approbation, they either forget God, or they framo a false notion of him, and live in a constant infringement of all
obligations to him. Yet when this is set before them, and the holy character and righteous law of God are explained, they feel their hearts rise in opposition to the statement, as militating against their self-complacency: the peculiar doctrines of the gospel excite still stronger repugnancy; and their continuance, in neglecting reconciliation to God by Jesus Christ, manifests a heart deeply alienated from him
It is impossible, within the compass of a sermon, protracted even beyond the usual limits with which you are used to indulge me, to enter on all the various particulars that belong to this part of the subject. But the principles, which I have endeavoured to establish, will enable such, as seriously desire to re-consider it, to trace it into a vast variety of instances, in which they may find cause to say, “ Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, " and done this evil in thy sight.” It is certain that the subject, if duly attended to, brings in all men guilty before God. “Every mouth,” if these views be scriptural, “must be stopped :" we are “ concluded under sin;” and “by the works " of the law, shall no flesh be justified before “God.”
If then we are saved, we must be “justified “ freely by the grace of God through the redemp" tion that is in Christ Jesus.” We “must be " born again,” and the whole and every part of the Gospel must be to us as “ life from the dead.” Vol. II,
To them, who have deeply entered into the views here given, in a spirit of diligent self-examination, application by the preacher is needless.
All that earnestness, in attending on the word of life and on every means of grace, which some manifest and others object against, arises from this source: and whenever the objectors become equally sensible of the criminality of every sin, as rebellion against God; they will imitate that conduct which they now censure; Christ will become to them also “the Pearl of great price;" they too will count all but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ; nor will they enquire, How often are we bound to pray, or attend the worship of God? but they will say, “I was glad, “ when it was said to me, let us go into the House “ of the Lord.” This will put earnestness into their enquiries, and fervency into their prayers; and render Christ and his salvation glorious in their eyes, and precious to their souls.
But, alas! I fear this is by no means the case of all, even in this congregation. I am persuaded, that many of you, my friends, have never felt this kind and degree of conviction, as to the criminality of your conduct, and the danger of your souls. I cannot impart to you my perceptions of the truths I inculcate: but I would exhort you to search the Scriptures, and beg of God, for Christ's sake, to illuminate your minds by his Holy Spirit, to a right understanding of the sacred
word, and to a just estimate of your own character and conduct. When this has been duly attended to, you will be more nearly agreed with me, as to the need of regeneration and repentance, faith in the Son of God, and every part of scriptural Christianity, than you have hitherto been.
The subject before us explains a circumstance, which to many appears strange and unaccountable. The same person, who when careless and inattentive to religion, seemed satisfied with himself; now that he is become earnest about salvation, afraid of all sin, and attentive to every duty, is far removed from self-complacency: so far from it, that he has a lower opinion of himself than he ever had before! In fact, he judges by a new rule; he views his conduct, as considering himself the subject and deeply-indebted creature of God. lle has new sensibilities: he is far more employed than formerly in reviewing his own thoughts, motives, words, and actions: he sees sin in ten thousand particulars, where before he saw it not. He thinks nothing done, because he is so far from having attained. He judges not by what man takes cognizance of; but by his obligations to that God who searches the heart. And thus, in his best duties, he feels the need of mercy; and can in nothing find encouragement, except from “the “ glorious gospel of God our Saviour.”
Thus, deep humility, and a great proficiency in genuine religion, not only go together, but are
proportioned to each other, and aid one another's growth. Thus Christ Jesus, and his atonement, righteousness, and grace, become more and more valued, as the believer advances in holiness: and thus he daily ripens for the world above; where perfect purity, humility, gratitude, and admiring love, will dictate the adoration, and enhance the felicity, of the redeemed to all eternity.
But, if hitherto strangers to this salvation and this state of heart, you are still called on to seek “ the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness “ from the God of our salvation;" he is ready to receive and bless all that come to him on his mercy-seat, through the mediation of his Son. “ Behold therefore, now is the accepted time; be“ hold now is the day of salvation.” “Let the “ wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous “ man his thoughts; and let him return unto the “ Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to “our God, and he will abundantly pardon.”