Immagini della pagina

God were more averse to a reconciliation than the most gloomy self-tormenting mind can conceive.

We have a famous story recorded of two brothers at Athens, which, as it serves to illustrate what I have been saying, I shall briefly relate it to you. One of them, for some high misdemeanour, was condemned to lose his life, and was going to be led to execution, when his brother, who had lost his hand in the detence of his country, and had been a great mean of gaining a victory which was of the last importance to the state, came suddenly into the court; and without saying a word, but barely holding up his mutilated arm, so prevailed with the judges by this remembrance of what he bad formerly done, that they instantly discharged the delinquent brother, though he had forfeited his life. Thus far does the intercession of man prevail with men; and shall not the constant presentation of the Lamb that was slain, for so our Saviour's appearance in heaven is described in the book of Revelation, shall not this be as operative and powerful with the loving Father? The Redeemer thus pleads, “ Behold me, O my Father, behold me in a form thus different from that in which I originally was ! Behold me now dwelling in human flesh, which I have assumed ; and how it was treated for the atonement of thy justice, and the salvation of these my people; and now, let not all my sufferings be in vain, but for my sake receive them into thy favour, and bestow upon them those blessings which have cost me so much. Can any consider the force of this intercession, and yet doubt of its success ? Let us, in the

III. place, Join both these together, viz. The assured love of the Father; and—The constant prevailing intercession of the Son. And O how great is the amount ! Either of them singly give us good ground to hope ; but when the two are united, how certain, how infallible is our assurance? When the advocate's plea is just and fairly urged, when the Judge is sufficiently qualified, and perfectly well disposed, how safe is the client, how secure of success! If God himself loves you, and the Redeemer never leaves importuning him for you, how is it possible that your prayers should be rejected, or any of your interests miscarry? It is needless to insist any longer in the proof of this; the conclusion is so strong and evident, that you must all of you have made it before I could speak it. I shall therefore suggest to you, in a few particulars, the natural use and improvement of this comfortable subject.

And now, my dear brethren, upon the review of all that has been said, is not this the secret language of yonr hearts :—These indeed are blessed news, but what interest have I in them? Does the comfort of them belong to me in particular or not? This is as it should be. In so far you are on the road to the best and most necessary improvement that I can suggest to you. The Scriptures will inform you, that this is the children's bread, in which the dogs can pretend no share. You see it is not a common privilege. It is peculiar to those who love the Redeemer, “and believe that he is come out from God." This is the test.

Here then is the great and important question, which, in the name of the living God, the Searcher of hearts, I put to every soul who now hears me. Is it your character, or is it not? I do not ask



believe the existence of a God, or even the truth of the Christian religion. This is a faith which may go down with you to hell, where the devils themselves believe and tremble.

Neither do I ask you, if you have felt some passing motions of love to Christ, some faint desires after an interest in him. There is a desire of the slothful, says Solomon, that kills him, while it only serves to increase his present uneasiness, and his after punishment. But do you really know Christ, and love him in sincerity ? Do you cordially approve of the methods of his saving grace? Do you know what it is to lay down your guilty souls, as under the effusion of his blood, and the covert of his righteousness? Do you know what it is to strip yourselves of pride and self-confidence in his sight, that your nakedness may be clothed with his most perfect righteousness? Do you know what it is to bow to his sceptre, as his obedient subjects ; to take the law of your direction from his mouth, and to rejoice that you have such a governor or instructor ? And do you feel the necessity of a constant application to him as your great Head, on whose influences you live, and by whose Spirit you must be perpetually aided to all the purposes of a divine life? Can you say to him, as Peter did, “ Thou, Lord, who knowest all things, knowest that I love thee." Does this faith and love govern your practice, and appear in the fruits of holy and virtuous conversation ? Have you, by these, been kept not only from the grosser habits of falsehood, drunkenness, swearing, uncleanness, and other rank sins; but is the very inclination to them mortified, and can you say that it is your principal aim and study to maintain consciences void of offence both towards God and man? Do you know what it is to pray in the name of Christ; not barely to pronounce the words, as many do a spell, as if God were to be charmed by a sound ; but with a humble sense of your own unworthiness, a firm persuasion of his infinite merit, and a hopeful expectation of being graciously heard for his sake?

These are the marks by which each of you may be known by himself.

And now that I have held up the mirror, I suppose I may warrantably class this whole audience into three different sorts of people.

1st, Those who are yet doubtful of their state, and know not what judgment to pass.

2d, Those who are sensible that the marks that I have given do not at all agree to them. And,


3d, Those with whose spirits the Holy Spirit doth witness, that in truth they love the Redeemer, and believe that he came out from God. And this directs me to a threefold address.

1st, As for you who are yet uncertain about your state, who have not accustomed yourselves to this strict reckoning, and therefore know not what judgment to form of yourselves, What have you been doing ? How can you answer this neglect ? Ah! shame upon you, to delay an inquiry upon which all the comfort and safety of your souls does depend. How inexcusable is this? If the Scriptures had told us that it was only some few that should miss salvation; yea, if it had been said, that it was only one of ten thousand that was in danger of hellfire, yet methinks the hazard is so dreadful, that each of us should be crying out, “ Lord, is it I ?” But when the Spirit of God tells us, and the common course of the world must convince us, that comparatively there are few, very few, that shall be saved ! O how solicitous should every one of us be to know whether we be of that happy number! and how utterly inexcusable are they who neglect it. Well then, let the time past suffice. Speedily set about the most serious examination. Never be at rest till

you have come to a just sentence on your case. The discovery will repay all the time and pains you can bestow upon it.

2dly, As for you who are past doubting in this matter, whose full-blown sins testify to your foreheads, that you cannot lay the most distant claim to the character in the text; who neither love the Redeemer, nor believe to any saving purpose that he came out from God, how deplorable is your present case! What! cannot self-love conceal your condition from you ? Has it no covering to throw over you, no lurking-place to hide you in? O then bethink you, how open you must

open you must be to that God, whose eyes are as a flame of fire, penetrating into the innermost foldings of the most deceitful heart, and marking him for

a hypocrite who calls, yea thinks himself just? How does this discovery affect your souls ? Canst thou dwell with devouring flames? Canst thou lie down in everlasting burnings ? Canst thou bear the heavy hand of Omnipotence upon thee without shrinking? or, if thou canst not, say, Hast thou the most distant hope that possibly thou mayest be saved, notwithstanding thy unbelief and wickedness? The issue of this matter is very short, and requires no great degree of penetration to perceive. If the gospel be not true, thou canst have no ground for any hope at all. And if it be true, thou art utterly cut off from all the hope of it, so long as thou continuest in thy present state. The Saviour, the almighty Saviour himself, cannot save thee.--He cannot deny himself.-He cannot overturn the whole tenor of the gospel, and make himself the minister of sin.

And are thy unavailing hopes cut off. What course wilt thou then betake thyself to next? Even while I speak, thou art on the brink of destruction, the wrath of God abideth on thee. Behold a black storm of vengeance is gathering around thee, and thou art excluded from the only ark in which thou canst escape. And what excludes thee? Hear, and blush, 0 sinner, even thine own obstinate folly. Nothing else can ; all the devils in hell can. not shut thee out, unless thou wilt; and from Heaven thou canst meet with no hindrance, where all is love and goodness; so that, if thou dost perish, it must be by thine own merciless hands. And wilt thou be thine own murderer? Wilt thou destroy an immortal soul ? Desperate madness! O stop in time, and yet repent and believe, and all that is past shall be forgiven thee. This is the voice of the gospel. These are the tidings which I am warranted to deliver. The much injured Saviour himself shall pray for thee--and he has been praying for thee. For had he not, from year to year, procured saving mercy by his intercession, thou hadst been long ere now cut down as a cumberer of the ground. O then, let this melt

« IndietroContinua »