Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

very thoughts of the heart. But, “ all have sinned, “ and come short of the glory of God.” In this respect, “ there is no difference ;” and as all are involved under one common sentence of condemnation; all should, with one consent, welcome the gospel of grace. For “ it is a faithful saying, and worthy of “ all acceptation, that Jesus Christ came into the " world to save sinners."

May I not, even now, be addressing some persons, who, if asked, what part of their conduct they would choose to alter, were they persuaded that Christianity was a mere delusion, though not disposed publickly to avow this opinion ; would scarcely be able to fix on any particular ? Regard to health, character, peace, and interest; the company with which they have been used to associate ; and various other considerations, would induce them to persevere nearly in the same tenour of outward conduct, if they were of opinion that no future state of retribution awaited them; if they had in no degree the fear of God before their eyes. But the case would be very different, if they attended to even the same things, from a real religious principle.-Surely that must be vastly different from Christianity, which would scarcely be affected, if Christianity were abrogated!

Sins of omission seldom burden the consciences of men in general. If direct violations of some express prohibition are not chargeable upon them, they do not often condemn themselves for neglect of duty. They forget, that there are injunctions as well as prohibitions ; and that refusing to hallow the Lord's day, or to honour and obey their parents and supe. riors, is as really disobedience to God, as robbery, adultery, or murder. For, unless we consider sin, as committed against God, sins of omission will almost always be overlooked.

It has pleased our gracious God, to give us the holy Scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto eternal salvation; yet how few love and reve. rence them, and search them daily! Can any man suppose, that the neglect of the sacred 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 honourable !" 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 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 profoundest 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 themselves to men, as seeking their

approbation, they either forget God, or they frame a false notion of him, and live in a constant infringe. ment 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 conti. nuance, 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 varie oas 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 reconsider 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 jus" tified before God.”

If then we are saved, we must be “justified freely

by the grace of God through the redemption tha sis 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.”. 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 mani. fest 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 selfcomplacency: 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. He 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 glori. “ous 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

« AnteriorContinuar »