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that they may see their good works, and glorify their Father who is in heaven," Matt. v. 14, 15, 16. Yes, the change we speak of will be observed. Carnal companions will be deserted: places of vain amusement forsaken. No oath, or filthy jest, or light expression, will proceed from the mouth; the places where the Gospel is preached will be frequented, the Sabbath-day will be carefully kept holy, and the whole behaviour and appearance will be such as become godliness.
This will excite hatred. "The carnal mind is enmity against God," and every thing godly and godlike. When God permits, persecution will follow: and, if this is not public by the magistrate (which blessed be God, our laws prevent), yet relations, friends, and neighbours show their dislike. "Every one who liveth godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution;" so the Scripture declares, and so serious persons will be sure to find it. Nor let them wonder or be offended at this, for from the beginning it was so. "He that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit." And every believer must bear the cross; if not AbeFs cross, yet Isaac's; if not martyrdom, yet mocking. They think it strange, and then speak evil; perhaps they will falsely accuse you; they will say you are hypocrites, and take up a profession of religion to answer some wicked purposes. But be not offended; this is rather "a token for good" on your behalf, while on theirs it is an awful evidence of their Christless, dangerous state; for, as it follows in the next verse, "They shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead;" they must answer for all "their ungodly deeds and hard speeches;" and what will they answer to Jesus, on whom their reproaches fall, when he shall say, "Why persecute ye me?" Let persecutors consider how they will answer this!
We have considered, in the first place, the walk of a natural man: and may we not say, Lord, what is man! What a wretched, fallen, guilty creature is man! How is our nature depraved which inclines us to such a course; and what abundant cause is there for mourning and lamentation on this account! And say, my friends, what sort of a walk is ours? Whose will do we follow? Is it the will of the flesh, or the will of God? Which of these do you consult? Do you consider in your daily walk, Will this action I am going to do, this pleasure I am going to take, please God or not?
Learn also that the commonness of sin affords no excuse for it. The will of the Gentiles, or the way of the world, is the broad way to ruin. Follow not the multitude to do evil. Forsake the foolish and live. The narrow road that leads to heaven has but few travellers; God grant we may be found among the number!
From what has been said, the necessity of regeneration evidently appears. Is the heart of man so corrupt? Is he so strongly inclined to the will of the world, and the beastly lusts of the flesh, what then can effect an entire change and alteration, first in the heart, and then in the life ?" Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" With man this is impossible; but nothing is too hard for the Lord. The people to whom St. Peter wrote had felt this change, and so have thousands in all ages. For this purpose the Lord hath sent his Gospel hither. Salvation has come to this house. "To you is the word of this salvation sent." The Lord open your hearts, as he did Lydia's, to attend to the word. Which of you is willing to be saved; to be saved now; to be saved from sin; to be saved by Jesus? He is
/ able to save to the uttermost; it is his office to save: it is his delight to save; and therefore he sends us, in his name, to invite you to come to him; to beseech you to be reconciled to God. Come, then, fellowsinners, all things are ready. Come to this great and loving Saviour, and he will wash you from all your past sins in the fountain of his precious blood, and give you a new heart, a heart to love him, and walk in his holy, pleasant ways.
Christians! with what holy shame and grief may you review the former part of your lives. May not "the time past suffice to have wrought the will of the Gentiles?" Did you not live long enough in sin? Ah, you will say, Too, too long! Oh, the vanity of my childhood and youth! Oh, the mis-spent Sabbaths! Oh, my youthful wantonness, lusts, and revellings! I look back upon them with a mixture of shame and indignation. I blush to lift up my face to a holy God. I smite my breast with the Publican, and say, "God be merciful tome a sinner!"
And now, my friends, what doth the Lord require of us? Have we lost so much time while we were in our sins; oh, let us be doubly diligent in future! Let us redeem the time, for the days are few and evil. Let us be active for God, for our own souls, and for others. Let us lay ourselves out for usefulness; and instead of running with the wicked in the ways of sin, let us run with enlarged hearts in the ways of God. "Let us exhort one another daily, and so much the more, as we see the day approaching."
Dives and Lazarus; or the Sufficiency of Scripture for the Purposes of Salvation.
[Intended as a check to Infidelity.]
Luke Xvi. 81.
If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
ETERNITY is at hand! Let us take a view of it—a view set before us by Jesus Christ him. self: by him "who brought life and immortality to light;" and who best knew how to describe the state of a saint in heaven, and a sinner in hell. Our text is the conclusion of a parable, designed to reprove the Pharisees, who were covetous and worldly. Here we have an account of a very wicked man, who was rich, and of a very good man, who was poor. Death came and ended all the pleasures of the one, and all the pains of the other. The rich man, being in hell, desires the poor man may be sent from heaven to convert his brethren on earth; but he is told in these words, that if they would not mind their Bible, they would mind nothing else. This text, my friends, is chosen on purpose to recommend the Bible to you, that you may not neglect the only book which, under God, is able to save your souls.
We read in the 19th verse—" There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day." It is not a sin to be rich, nor is it a sin for the rich to wear handsome clothes, nor to keep good tables: but it is very danger
VOL. II. M
ous to the soul to be rich; because those who have much of the world, are tempted to love the world too much, to forget God, and to neglect their souls. A life of ease, pleasure, and honour, is so contrary to a life of faith, repentance, and self-denial, that few rich men are saved.
Ver. 20, 21. "And there was a certain beggar, named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate full of sores; and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores." Learn from this, that we cannot judge of any man's state before God, by his circumstances in the present world. A wicked man may be very prosperous, and a good man may be in
freat affliction. Poor Lazarus was helpless indeed, as is name signifies: it is hard to be poor, but harder still to be sick and poor. Lazarus could not work, or he would not have begged. He could not even walk. Somebody was kind enough to bring him to the rich man's gate, for there was no parish relief in those days, in hope that he would be observed, pitied, and relieved. Poor Lazarus was very modest and humble. A bit of broken meat was all that he wanted : but this was denied. The wanton pampered dogs came and licked his running sores, which shows that he had not a bit of linen to cover them, and keep them from the air; and he was so weak that he could not keep off the dogs, which seemed ready to devour him.
What a picture is this of a hard-hearted rich man and a patient beggar! Dives could not plead that he was oppressed by a number of beggars, for Lazarus was alone; nor that he was unknown to him, for he lay at the gate; nor could he say he was idle, and might work, for he lay helpless on the ground; nor that he wanted a great deal, for he would have been contented with crumbs; nor that his servants