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powerful motives and encouragements to a holy life, which were in vain so often and so plainly set before him? When he shall recollect the various means and instruments which were employed to save him from ruin ; the full and the free offers which were made to him of pardoning mercy, and of sanctifying grace; the earnest calls and invitations which he received to turn from his evil way, and live :- When he shall view that precious fountain, in which thousands, as guilty as himself, have been washed and made clean; and shall reflect that all these advantages are for ever lost;-how shall he then hang down his head, and smite his guilty and despairing breast? saying, in the bitterness of his soul, “ How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof? and have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined mine ear to them that instructed me?" Prov. v. 12, 13: Then shall all his complaints be turned against himself; and, instead of resting on his wonted excuses, he shall then call, but call in vain, “ on the mountains and on the rocks to fall on him, and to hide him from the face of" Him who sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb." O that men were wise, and would consider these things, so as to prevent, by a timely repentance, the horrors of that awful day, which is hastening fast to surprise a sleeping world.
My brethren, I have represented your danger to you as plainly as I could. I have endeavoured to expose the weakness of those pitiful evasions by which many of you endeavour to support a vain hope, or at least to lessen the awful apprehensions of a judgment to come. I have spoken to your ears: God alone can speak to your hearts ; and to his mercy and grace I commend you.—Allow me, before I conclude, to beg your attention to the following considerations.
Consider, that to be your own destroyers, is to counteract the very strongest principle of your natures, the principle of self-preservation. Every creature naturally desireth its own felicity; and will you obstinately ruski upon manifest ruin, through all the obstacles that are placed in your way? Assistants you may find in accomplishing this desperate purpose; but without your own consent and active concurrence, it never can be accomplished, even though the whele world, and all the host of apostate spirits, were combined against you. Will you be worse than devils to yourselves ? What pity can you expect to meet with, who have no pity for your own souls? The unfortunate are objects of compassion ; but wilful self-destroyers neither deserve compassion, nor can expect it. Consider what an aggravation this will be of your misery in a future state ? How terrible will it be to recollect, in the regions of everlasting woe, that ye have brought all your misery on yourselves ? that you were forewarned, repeatedly and awfully forewarned, of the fatal issue of your conduct, but without effect ? that Christ and eternal salvation were freely offered to you, but were contemptuously despised and set at nought. These considerations will add a continnal fuel to the tormenting, flames, and will make them burn with insufferable violence. O then be wise in time: « Seek the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”—To conclude, Ponder the wholesome advice recorded, in Prov. viii. 33,-36. “ Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me, findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord. But he that sinneth against me, wrongeth his own soul. All they that hate me, love death." Amen.
GALATIANS vi. 4.
Let every man prove his own work.
BEFORE I enter upon the subject of this text, it may hot be improper to mention some of the reasons which have led me to it at this time *.
1st, As many who call themselves Christians, discover to little of Christianity in their lives, that we are often at a loss to reconcile their conduct with their professions, I thought it might be of use to those who are in any degree distinguished by their religious conduct, if I could lead them into such a scrutiny of themselves, as this text suggests to us; . or persuade them to inquire, whether their works, which are apparently good, are such as will abide the test; whether they proceed from the Spirit of God, or from the spirit of the world; whether they are animated by a " simplicity and godly sincerity,” or by the unhallowed principles of self-love, and the desire of recommending themselves to the esteem of men.
2dly, It is evident from Scripture, that a man may go far in the outward performance of his duty, and yet be actuated by such motives as afford him greater cause of grief and of shame, than of that rejoicing which is mentioned in the clause following my text. I read in the preceding verse, that it is possible for a “man to think himself to be something, when be is nothing." I find, in fact, that the Laodiceans imagined themselves to be "rich; and increased with goods, and having need of nothing," when, in truth, they were “ wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” And there are too many reasons to suspect, that like those, multitudes of this present generation are “ pure in their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their filthiness ;" have “ a name that they live," while “ they are dead;" and have “ the praise of men,” while “their hearts are not right with God.”
* Preached on the evening of a communion-sabbath.
3illy, I foresee the time when thousands shall wish that they had followed the Apostle's advice in my text. “ Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry."-" The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, to judge the world in righteousness. In that day many shall say to him, Lord, Lord, did we not eat and drink in thy presence, have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name done many wonderful works *** But when they receive that awful reply, “ Depart from me, I know you not whence ye are,” with what inconceivable anguish will they then cry out, Oh! that we had tried and proved those specious works in which we trusted. We thought them good, and acceptable to God; alas ! too late we find our unhappy mistake. The time was, when this discovery might have profited us; but now the doom is passed, our state is fixed, and nothing remains for us but a fruitless remorse, and the galling remembrance of our former sloth and security.–And,
Lastly, When I considered that I was to speak to communicants, who have this day sealed either their friendship or their enmity with Christ, at his own table, it determined me to address to you a pressing and earnest call to prove this part of your work in particular ; that such as have been properly employed in this holy service, may, after trial of themselves, lay hold of the comforts which belong to them; and that others may receive such a view of their guilt, and of their danger, as, by the grace of God, shall constrain them to have immediate recourse to that injured, but compassionate Saviour, whose blood, instead of crying for vengeance, pleads for mercy to the chief of sinners. On all these accounts let me entreat, not only the hearing of your ears, but the attention of your minds, whilst I endeavour, through divine aid,
1st, To explain the full meaning or import of the Apostle's exhortation-“ Let every man prove his own work."
2dly, To give you some directions with regard to the manner of conducting the inquiry to which the exhortation relates, and then to point out to you the practical improvement of the subject.-I begin with the exhortation itself, “ Let every man prove his own work.”
There is a particular emphasis in these words, which must not be overlooked. It is his own work that a man must prove. We are sufficiently ready to examine, and to pass sentence upon the works of others. We are often abroad, but are seldom at home, where our chief business lies. Like some travellers, who are well acquainted with foreign countries, but shamefully ignorant of their own, we know more of others than we are willing to know of ourselves, and persuade ourselves that the study of our own hearts is a dull and melancholy business, which may excite within ụs many uneasy thoughts, and can give us no pleasure at all.
Alas ! how low are we sunk by our apostasy from God! and with what little and false consolations may a degenerate mind be soothed ! Instead of looking awards for positive evidence of our favour with God, we learn to regulate our judgment of ourselves, by what we perceive in the characters of other men. If the image of the devil is more visibly formed on others than on ourselves, we have little anxiety to discover the image of God upon our own hearts. The bulk of men think it enough to know that some of their brethren are worse than they are, as if their characters would rise, in proportion as the charac