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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 continuance, in neglecting reconciliation to God by JESUS CHRIST, manifests a heart deeply alienated from
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 es. tablish, 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 1 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 6 is 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 glo. rious 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 incul. cate: but I would exhort you to search the Scriptures, and beg of God, for CHRIST's sake, to illu. minate 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
LUKE, xv. 6.
Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which
"THEN drew near unto Jesus all the publicans « and sinners for to hear him.” Persons of bad cha. racter, not only in the sight of God, but also in the judgment of men, were so impressed by our LORD'S miracles and discourses, that they voluntarily “ drew “ near,” not to cavil or scoff, but “ to hear him.” Yet, while he compassionately regarded and instruct. ed them; the “ Scribes and Pharisees murmured, “ saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth “ with them."
To repress these proud objectors, to illustrate the propriety of his conduct as the Saviour of sinners, and to encourage the penitent, both at that time and in all future ages; our gracious Lord spoke the three parables which stand recorded in this chapter.