reception does he generally meet with? Why, multitudes neglect him, as though they had no need of him. They may indeed pay him the compliment of professing his religion, because it happened to be the religion of their fathers and their country, but they have no eager desires after him ; they are not in earnests and laborious to obtain his assistance ; they do not invite him with the most affectionate entreaties to undertake their case; they do not beg and cry for relief from him, like blind Bartimeus, Mark x. 47. Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on u8. In short, whatever regard they may profess for him, they are not deeply sensible of their absolute need of him : they are not feelingly affected towards him, as towards a being with whom they have the nearest personal concern, a concern of the utmost importance : and the reason is, they are whole in their own apprehensions; or if they feel some qualms of conscience, some fits of painful remorse, they soon heal their own hurt slightly, crying, Peace, peace, when there is no peace. They make a medicine of their own prayers, tears, repentance, and religious endeavours, and with this they hope to heal themselves. Thus Jesus is neglected ; they give him the name of a Saviour, but in reality they look to themselves for a cure. How is the gospel that makes the offer of relief from this heavenly physician, generally received in the world? Alas! it is neglected, as the offer of superfluous help. It is heard with that indifference with which men in health attend te the prescriptions of a physician to the sick, in which they have no immediate concern. Brethren, is this neglected gospel the only effectual mean for healing your dying souls? Then what means the stupidity and inattention with which it is heard? What means the general neglect with which it is treated ? O! how affecting is it to see a dying world rejecting the only restorative that can heal their disease, and preserve their lives ! But alas ! thus it is all around us.

Again, Jesus prescribes to the sons of men the only means of their recovery. Particularly he enjoins them no more to drink poison ; that is, no more to indulge themselves in sin, which is, in its own nature, the most deadly poison to the soul And what can be more reasonable than this ? Yet this is what a stupid world principally objects against, and multitudes rather die than submit to it. A disordered, empoisoned constitution of soul is to them the most agreeable. This divine Physician likewise re. quires them to use the means of grace instituted in the gospel :

to meditate upon their condition, and obtain a deep sense of their disorder ; to read and hear the word with solemn attention, and self-application ; to pray with frequency and importunity. These are his prescriptions to all that would recover under his hands. But how few observe them in earnest! What a general neglect of the means of grace prevails in our country, or what a careless attendance upon them! which is equally pernicious ? Christ also enjoins them to submit to him as their Physician, to · flatter themselves no longer that they can heal themselves by means within their own power, but to apply his blood as the only healing balm to their wounded souls. But, alas! they disregard this grand prescription ; they will not submit to him ; but, like an obstinate patient, will have their own way, though eternal death should be the consequence.

But this is not the case of the sinner spiritually sick : he will do any thing, he will submit to any thing, if it may but save him from the mortal disease of sin. How ardently does he long after Jesus! With what cheerfulness does he put himself under his care! With what joy and gratitude does he hear the offer of free salvation in the gospel ! and how dtar is the gospel to his heart on this account! With what eager wishful eyes does he look upon his Physician ! How does he delight to feel himself under the operation of his hand ! to feel him probe his wounds, and then apply the balm of his blood ! With what anxiety does he observe the symptoms, and inquire whether he is upon the recovery or not ! and O ! with what pleasure does he discover the signs of returning health! to feel a little eager appetite for spiritual food ! to feel a little spiritual life in religious exercises ! to feel himself able to run in the way of God's commandments ! to feel the principles of sin weakened within him! How sweet is this ! How willingly does he submit to the prescriptions of his physician, and attend upon the means of grace, however disagreeable to a carnal mind ! He makes the law of God the rule of his regimen, and would not indulge himself in any thing which that sacred dispensatory forbids. He guards against relapses, and keeps out of the way of temptation, as far as possible, lest his frail constitution should be hurt. The society of sinners is like the company of persons infected with a contagious disease, which he is in danger of catching, and therefore he avoids it as cautiously as he can. Let those that think their souls healthy and vigorous, boast of their strength, and what mighty things they can do in religion ;

as for him, he feels his weakness ; he feels he can do nothing aright, but just as he receives daily strength from Christ.

He feels himself every day troubled with some disorder or other, yea, with a complication of them : therefore he is daily sensible of. his need of the physician, and makes daily application to him. He does not begrudge to take time from his other affairs, and, as it were, to keep his chamber a while, that he may use means for the recovery of his soul : for, O! if he lose his soul, what would the whole world profit him? In short, the sick sinner is a tender, delicate, frail creature, entirely subject to the prescriptions of Christ, and every day taking means from him; anxious for his recovery, and willing to submit to any thing that may promote it. This is the man in our Christ-despising world, that gives Jesus a most willing and welcome reception, and embraces his gospel, as containing all his salvation and all his desire. O! that there were many such in our world! for this man is in a hopeful way of recovery. This world is a vast hospital, full of dying souls : Jesus descends from heaven, and enters among them, offering them health and eternal life, if they will but submit to his directions, which are as easy as possible. Repentance, indeed, and some other bitter ingredients, are included in a religion for sinners ; and how can it be otherwise, since these are necessary for their recovery, in the very nature of things? Besides, even these are sweet, when taken in the vehicle of a Saviour's dying love ; and many a soul has found more noble pleasure in generous sorrow for sin, than ever they found in the commission of it.

But after all, the generality die in their sins, amidst the full means of their recovery; and the great reason is, they will not be convinced of their danger, nor be persuaded to apply to the Physician. ()! how tragical and affecting a case this! and what may render it the more so to us is, that it is the case of some of us. Yes, my brethren, though I am unwilling to harbour one hard thought of any of you, yet I cannot avoid concluding that there are some, I am afraid many souls, in this assembly, who are not sensible of their dangerous disease, and their need of Christ as a Physician, and therefore are in danger of perishing without him. Sin, like a strong dose of opium, has stupified you, and you feel easy and whole hearted, as if nothing ailed you, when the symptoms of death are strong upon you. We can weep and lament over the sick-bed of a dying friend, and we even drop our tears after him into the grave : but shall we drop no tears this

day over dying souls, that are so numerous among us? What renders the case more affecting is, that they perish by their on wilful obstinacy, under the hands of an all-healing Physician

that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, the I might weer day and night over the slain of the daughters of people! Ye secure and whole-hearted sinners, must it not shock you to think that Jesus Christ, the only Physician, gives you ap? You see, in my text, he looks upon you as persons that he has no business with. He had rather converse with publicans and so ners than with you, as having more hopes of success among them. Let publicans and sinners take the hint, and be encour aged to apply to Jesus. Come, ye profligates and libertines. drunkards, swearers, whoremongers, come sinners of the most abandoned characters, apply to this Physician. He is willing to heal you : He offers you healing. Wilt thou be made whole ? is his question to you this day. He is also perfectly able; able to save to the uttermost, however inveterate your disease may be. If the children of the kingdom shut themselves out"; if selfrighteous Pharisees reject this Physician, and die in their sin, do you come in ; put yourselves under his care, submit to his prescriptions, and you shall yet live, and be restored to perfect health, and eternal life. Rugged as you are, you are very proper materials for the temple of God. If you are sensibly sick, it should not discourage you from entering yourselves into Christ's hospital, and putting yourselves under his care ; nay, this should even encourage you. Your being sick of sin is a necessary qualification to render you his patients: they are such he loves to .converse with, and they are only such' who are recovered by him. Therefore this day give yourselves up to him as his willing patients. Cry to him to undertake your case : Heal'me, O Lord, and I shall be healed. Submit to his prescriptions, and follow his directions, and you shall live forever.

I shall conclude my subject, by giving answers from it to some questions that may arise in your minds on this occasion.

· What is the reason that the world lies in such a dead security around us? Whence is it there is so much sin in the world, and so little fear of punishment ? Whence is it that men will entertain such hopes of heaven upon such slight evidences, or rather with the full evidence of the word of God against them? Alas! the reason is, they are whole in their own imagination : they

think themselves well, and therefore apprehend no danger, but lie in a dead, inactive sleep.

What is the reason why so many neglect the means of grace in public and private ? Whence is it that there are so many prayerless families and prayerless closets among us? Why is the Bible thrown by in some families, as a piece of useless lumber? Why is the house of God so thinly frequented in many places, and the table of the Lord almost deserted? Why is christian conversation so unfashionable ? and why do we hear so few inquiries from sinners, what they shall do to be saved ? The reason is, they imagine themselves well; they are whole-hearted ; and, therefore, it is no wonder they neglect the means of recovery : they think they have no more to do with them than persons in health with physic. The only method to bring to use those means in carnest, is to make them sensible of their dangerous disease. And O! that their ministers may use all proper means with them for this end, and, that divine grace may render them effectual !

What is the reason that the means of grace are attended upon by others with so much formality and indifference? Whence is it there are so many lukewarm, spiritless prayers, and solemn mockeries of the great God ? so many wandering eyes and wandering hearts in the heavenly exercise of praise, and in hearing the most solemn and affecting truths ? Whence is it that all the religion of many is nothing but a dull round of insipid, lifeless formalities! Alas! the same reason, returns.; they are whole in their own conceit. And how can they, while they flatter themselves with this imagination, use those means in earnest, which are intended for the recovery of the sick ?. The sick will use them in earnest; but to others they are mere customary formalities.

Would you know what is the reason that the blessed Jesus, the.. most glorious and benevolent person that ever appeared in our.“ world, is so generally neglected ? O! why is his love forgotten by those very creatures for whom he shed his blood? Why are there not more longings and cries for him? Why is not a Saviour, an almighty and complete Saviour, more sought after by perishing sinners? Why is his name of so little importance among them? How comes it to pass, that he may conținue for months, for years, for scores of years, offering salvation to them, entreating, commanding and persuading them to accept it, and warning them of the dreadful ruin they will bring upon them. VOL. II.


« ElőzőTovább »