« ElőzőTovább »
selves by rejecting it? Whence is it that, after all, he is despised and rejected of men, and that but very few will give him suitable entertainment ?- Whence is this shocking conduct in reasonable creatures? () it is the same old reason still; they are wbole: hearted, and do not feel themselves dangerously ill ; and how then can they be solicitous about a physician !
What is the reason that the gospel, which reveals and offers life and salvation to the world, meets with so cold a recepcion ! Why does not the way of salvation therein discovered spread transport and praise over all the earth? Why does not the song of angels sound from every human tongue, Glory to God in its highest for peace proclaimed on earth, and good-will towards men ? Why does the christian world in general practically despise ibat religion which they profess? O! it is because they are whole in their own imaginations, though dying by thousands all over the world It is because they are not sensible of their need of the gospel and its blessings. O! if they were but once sensible how dangerously ill they are, they would soon change their opinion
Let me bring this matter still nearer home. Whence is it that the gospel, even with all the disadvantages that attend it from my unskilful lips, does not meet with a more affectionate welcome among you ? There are many, I am afraid, who statedly or occasionally attend here to hear the gospel, who yet despise it in their hearts, or do not affectionately embrace it. And what is the reason of this ? May I not venture to affirm, that the gospel has been dear to some, who have sat under no better ministry ? Must not this be the reason ? That there are multitudes of wholehearted sinners, even among us, that mingle among us in the same assembly, and hear the gospel from the same lips! Multitudes who are insensible of their disease, and consequently of their need of a physician ! 0! inquire, whether this be not the true reason why the gospel meets with such a cold reception among us.
Would you know why so many fools make a mock of sin ! Wbp they can go on impenitent in it, apprehending little or no danger from it! Why they are every day singing, and every day merry, thoughtless and gay! Why they can love and delight in sin, which God hates, and which he has threatened with such beavy vengeance ? Alas! the reason is, they are whole : they do not look upon sin as a deadly disease that requires a cure, but as their
health which ought to be cherished. This is the disease under which our body politic now languishes. It is this disease that enfeebles our councils and undertakings ; but who suspects that this has any bad influence in the case? Who endeavours the cure of this, as the most effectual cure for a languishing, bleeding country !
What is the reason that men are cautious of coming near a house infected with a contagious sickness, and that duty itself can hardly constrain them to enter, but that they can venture their souls without cause into ensnaring company, and within the sphere of temptation ? Whence is it, that, for the recovery of their mortal bodies, they will submit to the most self-denying regimen, take the most nauseous draughts, and be at great pains and expense, whilst, for their souls, they will take no pains, use no means, deny themselves in no gratification ? What is the reason of this? O! it is the same reason still ; they do not feel the least sickness of their souls, but imagine they have a farm, invulnerable constitution, incapable of infection in the most contagious places, and that it will recover by its native strength, without any extrinsic help.
Would you know why there is so much spiritual pride and vanity in the world ? why so many religious Thrasos, vain boasters; who imagine they can turn to God when they please, in their own strength, and who pretend they can perform such great things in religion, when they are disposed to make the attempt ? O! it is because they do not know they are sick : they do not feel them. selves en feebled by sin, and disabled from doing any thing truly good. You have seen some in a delirium, who imagined they were well, able to go about, and perform their usual business, when in the mean time they were under the power of a deadly disease, and the symptoms of death perhaps then upon them. Just so it is with these ostentatious boasters ; and could you but cure their delirium, and make them sensible of their disorders, they would soon feel and confess themselves poor, weak, languishing creatures, unable to do any thing, but just as they receive strength from on high.
Would you know why so many hate faithful preaching, and re. sent it if any means are used for their recovery? It is because they imagine themselves well ; and such do not like to be teased with the importunities of a physician, nor to have disagreeable medicines forced upon them. 0! were they but sensible of their condition, they would willingly submit to the prescriptions.
Would you know where you should begin your religion-; or what is the grand preparative for your embracing the gospel in such a manner as to be saved by it? To this interesting inquiry you may easily infer an answer from what has been said. Begin your religion in a deep sense of sin ; let your wound be probed to the quick, in order to a thorough cure, otherwise it would be but slightly skinned over, and it will again break out, and prove more dangerous than ever. Labour to get a deep sense of your disease, and then you will so give yourselves up to the physician, that he may apply to you what he thinks' proper, and make an effectual cure.
Some of you perhaps have wondered why you see poor mourning creatures here and there, that cannot live as you do, thoughtless, careless, and unaffected. You ascribe it perhaps to' melancholy, to preciseness, to hypocrisy, or an affectation of singularity. But I will tell you the true reason. They are sick ; whereas you imagine yourselves well; and you cannot wonder that the sick and the healthy should behave in a different manner. Why do they not neglect Jesus Christ as you do? O! it is because they are sick, heart-sick, and therefore must long and cry for a physician. Why do they not indulge themselves in sin as you do? It is because they are sick of it. They see it to be à mortal poison, and they cannot be easy while they feel it working through their frame. Why do they use the means with so much earnestness ? Why do they pray, and hear, and attend upon every religious ordinance with so much zeal and solicitude ; Why can they not, like "you, attend upon them in a careless, formal way, or entirely neglect them? O! the reason is, they are sick, heart-síck, and they are using these means for their recovery. And did you view yourselves in the same just light, you would use them too : yes, you would be, as strict, as earnest, as laborious as any of them. Why do they not, like you, abandon themselves, and devote all their time to some worldly pursuit ? 0! it is because they are sick, and must take time for the use of means for their recovery, whatever be omitted. Why are they so much afraid of temptation, and keep out of its way? It is because they are afraid of a relapse, and that sin, their old disease, will renew its strength. Whence are they so often filled with doubts, and fears, and anxious perplexities? O! it is because the symptoms of the disorder are doubtful, and they know not whether they are in a way of recovery or not. When they are satisfied in this point, then they can rejoice, and that with a joy more noble than you are capable of.
And poor sick souls, be of good cheer ; you shall yet be healed. Yes, there is balm in Gilead ; there is a Physician there : Jesus can heal you : and, blessed be his name, he is as willing, as he is able. Continue stedfast in the use of the means appointed for your recovery, and he will make them efficacious. Yes, these sick souls of yours shall yet be as healthy and vigorous as an angel; and you shall er e long be advanced to the region of immortal health, where the inhabitants no more say, I am sick ; where you shall breathe a pure salubrious air, agreeable to your delicate constitutions, and be vigorous and lively forever.
Do not think much of it, that a disease so inveterate and mortal, should be painful and difficult in the cure. The operation will not last long ; and if it does but succeed, the pain and selfdenial will be infinitely more than compensated.
The deep sense of your disorder is often discouraging to you : O! you are afraid it will at last prove mortal. But this very thing ought to encourage you. The persons that I cannot speak one comfortable word to, are not of your character ; they are the secure, whole-hearted sinners : but for you there is strong consolation ; so strong that it may bear down all your fears before it. The sense of your disorder qualifies you for the Physician, and renders you proper objects of his care. The poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind, the broken-hearted, are the characters of the persons that he has to do with, and who are recovering under his hands. And are not these your characters? They are indeed humbling and mortifying ; but, O! they are encouraging, as they prepare you for Christ's healing care.
But as for you, whole-hearted sinners, I must pronounce you lost and dead souls. Jesus himself has declared, that he has no business with such as you. And if he casts you off, 0 ! what other physician can you employ? Alas! you will die in your sins! Die in your sins ! O! dreadful ! better die in a ditch, or a dungeon, than die in your sins! Therefore now labour to be sensible of your disorder, while it is curable ; for all that are not healed in this life, are given up as incurable forever. Now apply to Christ as a Physician, for he is willing to undertake your cure.
A SIGHT OF CHRIST
DELIGHT OF SAINTS
THE DESIRE AND
Fonn vm. 56.Your father Abraham rejoiced, [earnestly de
sired] to see my day ; and he saw it, and was glad.
WHEN we see the crowd, the unthinking majority of mankind in our day, neglect the Lord Jesus, we see nothing new. This neglect is indeed stupid, ungrateful, criminal, and extremely affecting and lamentable ; but in this respect as well as others, there is no new thing under the sun. The blessed Jesus has been despised and rejected of men, in every age, ever since sin first entered into the world, and raised enmity against him in the mind of man.
But, blessed be God, such excellency has attracted love and admiration in every age. He has been loved and adored, not only by the angels who know him best, and are spectators of his glory in his native heaven, where he keeps his court in conspicuous splendour, but also by some poor sinners of the race of man, in every period of time, since his glory first dawned upon the world in that early promise, The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head. Gen. iii. 15. John and his cotemporary christians, who lived upon earth when the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among men, beheld his glory, God-like glory, as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John i. 14. In these dregs of time, when iniquity abounds, and the love of many waxes cold, there are some, nay, there are many scattered here and there through the world, who believe in and love an unseen Saviour ; and, while they believe and love, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 1 Pet. i 8. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob also, and all the pious patriarchs, who lived in the early dawn of the gospellight, looked forward with eager eyes to the promised and expected rising of the Sun of righteousness. His beams were but faintly reflected upon them ; yet they could distinguish his light from that of every inferior luminary. They foresaw some illustrious personage, superior to themselves, and all the ordinary messen
* Sacramental Sermon.