« AnteriorContinuar »
bad neither; many are worse than I am! What man is there that sins not? why should I then fear more than others ? —Was I not baptized P-Is not God merciful ?
Did not Christ die for sinners ?-Besides, were I to grow so serious, and so good, all mine acquaintance would deride me, and ask whether I also will turn enthusiast, and enter on the melancholy way of reli. gion.” By these and the like thoughts, the poor sinner, who began to awake, falls asleep again; shuts his eyes, which the Lord had begun to open, that he might see his danger; and will not probably open them again before death stares him in the face; and hell, as the prophet expresses himself, is moved from beneath to meet and swallow him up; unless indeed God strikes his impenitent heart with some fearful judgment, and makes him also cry out, “Lord, save, or I perish.'
Suppose again the Spirit of God gently strives with him, as is the case sometimes, especially when the sinner is disengaged from business and pleasure :-- If he feel himself unhappy; if the emptiness of his heart make him confess that he wants something. Is it likely he will acknowledge that he wants God ?-Or that he will apply to Jesus Christ, the great Physician of souls ?-No: It will be time enough, he thinks, on his death-bed, to call earnestly for mercy, and ask
the peace of God that passes all understanding." What does he do then ? Why, he runs away from himself and God, (if I may so speak,) endeavours to divert himself from his melancholy, and raise his low spirits, for this is the name which he gives to those. dawnings of conviction ; and obtains an unhappy relief by plunging into business, diversions, or drunkenness; perhaps also by reading unprofitable books, having recourse to trifling company, or overcharging himsel with the cares of this life.
Thus does the natural and unawakened man frustrate all the strivings of God's Spirit to show him his danger; thus he remains the willing servant of sin, content with the bondage of corruption, inwardly and outwardly un.
holy, and satisfied 50 to be, not only not conquering sin, but's not endeavouring to conquer, especially that sin which so easily besets him.
Such is the state of every unawakened man, whether he be a gross, scandalous transgressor, or a more reputable and decent sinner, having the form though not the power of godliness. .- O you who are in that condition, if I have shewed you in some measure the state of your hearts, let me beseech you not to harden them the more on that account; ra. ther give place to conviction. For Christ's sake, let conscience be heard ; if it cries, ' Thou art the man,' be not ashamed to confess to God your mistake about your spi. eritual state. Turn the text into a prayer, and say, ,** Lord, have merey upon me, I am a mere natural man still: I never understood the things of thy Spirit; they have been foolishness to me, neither could I receive them, for they are spiritually discerned, and I want thy Spirit; but spare me a little, and let me recover thy
favour in Christ, before I go hence and be no more seen. : Wake my soul to righteousness, and that I may never 'more plead for sin, or wilfully and knowingly transgress against thee, give me that knowledge of' thee wherein
standeth my eternal life. I own it to my shame, I am - a stranger to it ; but, Lord, spare me a little, teach me, and let me obtain in this world the knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting.” Nothing, brethren, but the desire I have that you should thus pray from a feeling sense of your wants, has made vime use such plainness of speech. Be not displeased,
then, at my endeavours to awaken you, and open your eyes. You are undone for ever, unless your wound be probed in such a manner as will make you see and feel the necessity of applying in time to him that can heal you, even the Lord Jesus Christ. In Him you shall find all that you want in yourselves; he is the Second Adam, from whom you must derive a new nature. To him your souls must be united in one Spirit; from him you must receive pardon and grace, life and power, holi. ness and happiness. He is ready to bestow all these things upon you, if you are but willing to ask him sin. cerely.—And he requires but one proof of your sincerity, and that is, not to seek your happiness in the world, and in created things any longer ; but in him alone. Begin then to deny yourselves those sinful gratifications which separate God from your souls, and choose rather to mourn now in hopes that you shall be comforted, than to enjoy the pleasures of the world for a season. If you have not resolution enough to make that happy choice,to desire, with St. Paul, to know nothing but Jesus and him crucified ;' O look to yourselves, see the horror of your state. You are heirs of the curse entailed upon every child of Adam. By nature you are children of wrath ; you wander like lost sheep in the wilderness of this world ; you are dead in trespasses and sins.' You have sold yourselves to the prince of the air, who leads you to perdition as a sheep is led to the slaughter, and you know neither who leads you, nor whither you are led. In a word, you are as yet without God and without Christ in the world; and Adam's sin, with your own, of which you never truly repented, removes you every moment further from God, and nearer eternal misery. Now, in such a desperate condition, can you delay to leave all your sins and apply to Jesus ? Can you spend one mo. ment without beseeching him to grant you true repent. ance and his Holy Spirit ? Can you think any terms too hard to be complied with in order to obtain an interest in the blood of the covenant, a happy passage into eternity, and an inheritance among the saints in light ?-Oh do not say that this doctrine is too severe. Do not go away from this place of worship, as some of our Lord's disei. ples did from him, complaining, “ This is a hard saying, who can bear it?' Ah! will not that saying, Depart from me, ye cursed,' be much harder to hear, and ever. lasting burnings much harder to bear ? And do you think that life is so long, and so sure, as to be depended upon with safety ? Or that your strength or health will screen you from the wrath of God in your unawakened state ? Oh, you are mistaken ; death, by grasping your mortal body, before you are aware, may plunge you in
an instant, where there is no place for repentance, mercy and salvation. Hang no longer in suspense, then; if the world and the devil, the prince of the world, be gods, follow them ; but if Jehovah, if Jesus Christ is the Lord, deny yourselves and sin not ;' according to his command, take up your cross daily and follow him? till you overtake him, and he blesses you with the par. don of all your sins, and a new heart. Seek him till you find him in your souls ; walk with him till you cleave to him, till you can say with the true spouse of Christ, - My Beloved is mine, and I am his ;' till you abide in him as a branch in the vine, and are enabled to bear much fruit,' even all the fruits of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.'
This is the kingdom of grace within us, through which we shall infallibly enter into that of glory through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I DESCRIBED, in my last discourse, the state of an un. converted man, called in scripture 'a natural man;' or, in other words, the state of one who neither loves nor fears God; who, hanging over everlasting destruction only by the thread of life, lives unconcerned, being buried in worldly cares or pleasures, and bound down in his spiritual grave by stupidity, presumption, and sin; who fondly thinks that he shall go to heaven without becoming a new creature, and in that hope securely sleeps on, upon the very brink of eternal ruin ; fancying, perhaps, that the false peace which he enjoys, is the peace of God which passes all understanding.' And I proved, that if his false peace be not broken, if he be not awakened out of that deep'spiritual sleep he is in ; if he be not convinced that he is in a state of condemnation, and cannot escape the second death, unless Christ causes him to pass from darkness to light, he has not the least ground 'to hope that the curse, which follows every natural man, shall not overtake and sink him into hell in the day of judgment. Now the next thing we must do is to consi. der how he may be awakened into a real desire to work his salvation out with fear and trembling.' It is not in his power, brethren, or in that of any man living, to do that work of himself; here must the omnipotence of God begin to interpose, the Spirit of Jesus must make the wound as well as bind it up, for he is alone the * author and finisher of our salvation. It is true, he has various ways of calling a sinner, and of crying to him, while he hides himself behind the trees of his performances, and the pitiful fig-leaves of his own righteousness, Adam (natural man] where art thou ?' But he