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been happy; at the same time borne down, SERMON it may be, with the infirmities of a sickly body, and left to drag a painful life without assistance or relief.-How many sad scenes of this nature, on which it were painful to insist, does the world afford?
When we turn to those who are accounted prosperous men, we shall always find many sorrows mingled with their pleasures; many hours of care and vexation, wherein they acknowledge themselves classed with those who labour and
are heavy laden. In entering into some gay festive assembly, we behold affected cheerfulness displayed on every countenance; and might fancy that we had arrived at the temple of unmixed pleasure, and gladness of heart. Yet, even there, could we look into the bosoms of these
apparently happy persons, how often find them inwardly preyed upon by some tormenting suspicions, some anxious fears, some secret griefs, which either they dare not disclose to the world, or from which, if disclosed, they can look for no relief; in short, amidst that great company of pilgrims, who
SERMON who are journeying through life, many V. there are whose journey lies through a
valley of tears; and many to whom that valley is only cheered by transient glimpses of joy.
To these classes of mankind is addressed the invitation of the text. To them it is in a particular manner addressed; overlooking the giddy and dissipated multitude. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden. Not as if our Saviour were always ready to accept that sort of piety which is merely the consequence of disor made all those welcome, who are driven by nothing but fear or danger to have recourse to him. His words are to be understood as intimating, that the heart which is humbled and softened by affliction, is the object of his compassionate regard; that he will not reject us merely because we have been cast off by the world; but that, if with proper dispositions and sentiments we apply to him in the evil day, we shall be sure of meeting with a gracious reception. It now remains to show, what that reception is which we may
look for; what that rest is which Christ SERMON hath promised to confer on those who come to him; whether their distress arise from moral or from natural causes. Come unto me, and I will give you rest.
I. CHRIST affords rest to the disturbed mind that labours under apprehensions and fears of guilt. Let those who suffer distress of this nature come to Christ, that is, with contrition and repentance, have recourse to him as their Saviour, and they shall regain quietness and peace. Foolish and guilty they have been, and justly lie under dread of punishment; but the penitent sorrow which they now feel implies their disposition to be changed. It implies, as far as it is genuine, that, sensible of their folly, they now desire to become good and wise; and are determined for the future to hold a virtuous course, could they only hope to obtain pardon for the past. In this situation of mind, let them not be cast down and despair. Christ has brought with him from heaven, the olive-branch, He carries in his hand the signal of forgivepess, The declaration which he publishes
SERMON is, Let the wicked forsake his way, and the
unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abùndantly pardon *. Insufficient though our own repentance be, to procure pardon from Heaven, we are informed, that an all-sufficient atonement has been made by Christ. Neither the number nor the atrocity of offences excludes from forgiveness, the penitent who returns to his duty. To all who come under this description, the offer of mercy extends, without exception. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things †?
This discovery of divine government, afforded by the Gospel, is perfectly calculated to scatter the gloom which had overcast the desponding heart. The atmosphere clears up on every side; and is illuminated by cheering rays of celestial mercy. Not only is hope given to the penitent, but it is rendered sinful not to indulge that hope. We are not only al
* Ifaiah, lv. 7.
† Rom. viii. 32.
lowed and encouraged, but we are
religion of Christ brings to them who
II. CONSIDER what rest the religion of Christ gives to them whose distress arises not from inward and moral, but from natural and external causes ; from adverse fortune, or any
of those numerous calamities to which we are at present
To such persons it may seem
* John, vi. 37.
† Ezek. xxxiii. 11.