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bitter thought, that God “ hath mercy on whom he will have mercy;" and ordereth all things according to the counsel of his own will. The doctrine, that God is sovereign in the bestowment of his favours, he cannot bear. Ilow often does it fill his heart with envy and his mouth with blasphemy! How often have you heard it said--it is well if you yourselves have not indulged such thoughts – that according to this doctrine Heaven is partial, unjust ; influenced by “ respect of persons ;” that it places the character of God and the dispensations of his grace, in an odious light! I shall not soon forget the frank acknowledgment of a man, of vigorous mind and large attainments,-a man who had gloried in the purity of his morals and the integrity of his character, that in view of the discriminative grace of God, he permitted even the fires of hell to prey upon his heart. And when he remembered, that Jehovah would make all things, even the designs and movements of his most fiery foes, subservient to his most holy purposes, his soul was tortured. He burned to make war with Heaven, and wrest the sceptre from the Most High! If you have been conversant with “ revivals of religion,” when the human heart is exhibited in its nakedness, you have witnessed similar acknowledgments. How often have you seen the enmity of the “ carnal mind” waked up and drawn forth by a view of the absolute, universal government of God !
But not so the Christian ! The discriminative grace of God, he contemplates with deep delight. But for this, himself-all men-had perished. He regards it, as the last effort of redeeming kindness, to save at least a remnant of this ruined world. And when he remembers, amidst all the darkness and confusion of the scene around him, that Jehovah will bring order out of confusion, and light out of darkness--will make - all things” promote the glory of His throne, and the happiness of the universe, he opens his lips in songs of thanksgiving and praise. To him, it is a sweet thought--a thought full of calm and pure enjoyment, that “the Lord, He is God.” And when from the everlasting hills, the song of triumphant, exulting Heaven breaks upon his ear, with all his soul he responds, “ Alleluia ! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!"
A THIRD illustration of the subject of this discourse, I find in some of the PECULIAR PRECEPTS OF Jesus. The first precept, to which I would direct your attention, binds us to be clothed with humility. We are required to become like little children; to esteem others better than ourselves; to imitate the example of Jesus, who did not hesitate to perform for his inferiors the most humble offices. No injunction can be more directly at war with the cherished tendencies of unsanctified nature. • What! must I take my place in the dust--own, that I am vile, guilty, hell-deserving--admit the accuracy of the description, which sets me forth as a loathsome and odious creature-approve of the sentence of condemnation, which would consign me to final and eternal wo! Must I accept of the favour of God, as an undeserved benefit !-on my knees, cry for pity! Must I ascribe every blessing I enjoy; every favorable prospect and good hope, to the mercy of Heaven ! Must I, in this spirit, be contented with all the allotments of Providence ; find matter of devout thankfulness amidst my heaviest afflictions and severest trials ; “ esteem others better than myself ;" occupy with diligence whatever station of usefulness falls to my lot, however obscure; and finally, resign up my breath to Him who gave it, with the prayer of the publican, “ God be merciful to me a sinner,” upon my lips ! To obey this injunction, were to dishonor myself-were to fall, voluntarily, from the elevation to which the God of nature has raised me. How can I embrace a religion, which bears so hardly upon whatever is generous, dignified, aspiring in man?' Thus are unrenewed men offended with the gospel- thus do they refuse “ to humble themselves under the hand of God.:
But in obeying the injunction, “ Be clothed with humility,” the Christian finds a deep source of pure enjoyment. Self-abasement, he perceives, is appropriate to his character and prospects. No sooner does he take the place, assigned by the wisdom of God, than a calm delight sweetly spreads itself upon his soul. A full acquiescence he feels in the dispensations of grace and the arrangements of Providence. He is no more tormented with the aspirings of pride, the fires of envy, the goadings of discontent. In whatever state he is, he has learned to be content ; whether he sways a sceptre or sweeps a chimney, he occupies with cheerfulness his appropriate station of usefulness, and looks forward with joy to a place at his Master's feet in heaven. What Christian cannot modestly appropriate to himself the apt, delicate, and striking description, which Bunyan gives of one in the valley of humiliation—" There was a kind of sympathy betwist that valley and him. He would now be up every morning by break of day, tracing and walking to and fro in the valley; he would even lie down, embrace the ground, and kiss the very flowers, which grew around him."
But nowhere do unrenewed men stumble more frequently, or fall more grievously, than upon the injunction of the Gospel, which bids us to devote our all to Jesus Christ. They cannot but see, that we are called to give up life itself, if the interests of the Christian cause required the surrender. In accordance with this statement, they hear Jesus say in the plainest terms, that whosoever refuses to forsake all he hath for his sake cannot be bis disciple. Time, talents, property-spirit, soul, and body-whatever we are, have, can accomplish, the Gospel demands at our hands. This demand is directly opposed to the insatiable cravings of selfishness--that selfishness, which in some of its thousand forms, reigns predominant in every unsanctified bosom. Smitten with the love of pleasure--ambitious of renown-or poisoned with the “lust of lucre,” the unrenewed man cannot bear the thought of " giving up
his idols." 66 What has he more?" To devote his all to Jesus Christ; to live only to please Heaven ; to aim in every enterprise to glorify God and build up the church ; to lay out a!!
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his time and strength in efforts to do good :-this is too much. His heart grows cold within him, to think of such a course. He looks
upon protracted martyrdom--a living death! He is prepared, therefore, sourly and stubbornly to resist the injunction, which binds him to pursue it. Like the young ruler, who went away “sorrowful” from Christ, when he bade him forsake all and follow Him, he resolves to gratify his selfish feelings at the hazard of damnation! Is not this the steadfast resolution of hundreds and thousands, both within and without the pale of the visible church?
But O, how different are the feelings of the Christian! No sooner does he consecrate himself, as a living sacrifice to the Son of God, than a thou'sand sources of enjoyment, of which he had never dreamed, are opened around him. He is brought into the society of the holy angels of the King of glory. The presence of the Redeemer spreads the air of heaven upon every thing around him. He is a co-worker with God!-is engaged in the same enterprises—is pursuing the same sublime designs. His interests are identified with the interests of Jesus. “Holiness to the Lord” is inscribed upon whatever he is, and hath. As the servant of God, he not only moves under the “great Taskmaster's eye,” but beneath the protection of His shield—amidst the light of His countenance. What has he to do with corroding care, with tormenting anxiety? What to him are the aspirings of ambition-the lust of pleasure--the graspings and gripings of avarice? He leaves those, who will, to plot and plan; to tug and sweat ; to run, and wrestle, and fight, that they may snuff up wind and feed on ashes. His life is “hid with Christ in God.” His Master will provide for his interests—care for his welfare--secure his happiness. In the service of such a Master, he exults “to do with his might what his hands find to do," and thus employed, he feels, that there is a step only betwixt him and heaven.
Well mighe Jesus declare, that he, who was not offended in Him, was blessed; for those very points, in which unrenewed minds find matters of offence, obviously and largely contribute to his happiness.
The subject discussed in this discourse illustrates the wisdom of conducting our religious inquiries with modesty and candor.--Thus conducted, our attention will be directed---not to the difficulties, with which religion may seem to be embarrassed, but-to the facts by which it is supported. These, we shall easily perceive, present a body of most substantial evidence, quite sufficient to sustain the claims of Jesus to the Messiahship ;--quite sufficient to work the deepest conviction in our minds of the truth of His doctrines, and of the divine authority of His precepts. We shall thus find, even amidst the most formidable difficulties, which the unrenewed mind discovers in Christianity, deep sources of the purest enjoyment. We shall thus most certainly and effectually promote our true interests and happiness. -Difficulties may, indeed, force themselves upon our
notice. These may seem to be formidable, perplexing, embarrassing. They may seem to obscure the brightest truths--to weaken the most powerful evidence. They may awaken the most painful doubts, and apprehensions in us, respecting the stability of our religious hopes. We may be ready to join in the message, which John the Baptist sent to Jesus ; and with him to demand ; " Art thou he, that should come, or do we look for another ?” But what if we should say to ourselves—The most obvious facts in the natural world—the very facts, which we daily witness-are encumbered with various difficulties, which we are utterly unable to explain: ought we not then to expect, that the sublime truths of religion would present points of inquiry beyond the reach of the human mind to investigate and comprehend? May not the difficulties, which embarrass us, be owing altogether to the feebleness of our powers-to the limited and narrow range of our thoughts and reflections? And after all, do we not learn from daily observation and experience, that difficulties cannot justly be opposed to evidence ? Must we not, on this ground, deny the most obvious occurrences, deny even our own existence ? We may not then array the difficulties, by which religious truths seem to be embarrassed against the evidence, by which it is sustained. And what shall we say ; do we stop to settle difficulties, before we permit ourselves to enjoy the blessings of Providence, respecting which questions might be asked, that we could not answer ? Do we refuse to partake, hungry though we may be, of the “ finest wheat,” till we comprehend the processes of vegetation and nutrition? Do we refuse the advantages of thought--the pleasures of friendship and of love, until we have settled every inquiry, which might be raised respecting the nature and operations of our minds? And shall we be madly inconsistent only in religion? Shall we reject the evidence, which clearly and fully supports the character and authority of the very Saviour, of whom we stand in most pressing need, because questions may be asked respecting Him, which we are not wise enough to answer? For the same reason, shall we spurn the victim, who died for us, and whose blood alone can wash away our sins--refuse the offered aid of the Holy Spirit, who alone can enable us to win our way to Heaven—and rise up in rebellion against the government of God, which alone can effectually protect us from our foes, defend our rights, secure oor various interests ? To humour our pride, and gratify our selfishness, shall we live in disobedience to the commands of Jesus? This were to involve ourselves in the grossest folly. It is our wisdom, for it is our happiness, to lay hold of the blessings of the Gospel ;--blessings, which modesty and candor in conducting our religious inquiries, will lead us to hold in just estimation. Let those who will, be held back by difficulties, which grow out of their own ignorance and imbecility, from accepting the offered, needed benefits of gracious Heaven; be ours the happiness of cordially believing in Jesus, as the Saviour of the world. By His agency, did not the blind receive their sight and the lame walk? were not the lepers cleansed, and did not the deaf hear? were nori the dead raised up, and to the poor was not the Gospel preached ? Jesus, Master, Heaven forbid, that we should be offended in Thee !
By all the regard you have for your best interests and highest happiness, I exhort you, my hearers, to break through every difficulty, which would hold you back from a cordial confidence in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of the world. Tell me, do ye not need a Saviour, who can be touched with the feeling of your infirmities; who can sympathize in your sorrows; upon whom you can look as a faithful and merciful high-priest? Believe in Jesus. Do you not need a Saviour, who can search your inmost soulsforgive your sins--tread down your foes-sustain you in the dying hour raise you to heaven? Believe in Jesus. You cannot contemplate His character, as set forth in the Bible, without seeing clearly, and feeling deeply, that He is the very Saviour your necessities require. Trample, then, on every obstacle which would hold you back from His feet. Do you shiver with fear when you hear eternal Justice, from the top of Sinai, utter the irrevocable decree,~“ The soul that sinneth it shall die ?” From your inmost soul, do you long to find a victim, by whose blood the authority of the divine law might be maintained, the glory of the divine character preserved, and your crimes washed away from the book of God's remembrance ? “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world.” Hasten to His cross. Break through every impediment, and fasten all your hopes on Him. Do you tremble lest the evil tendencies of your nature, combined with the assaults of temptation, should lead you far away from duty and from peace? Do you distrust your power to break off your guilty habits to overcome the world ?” Do you long to bear the image of the Son of God ? Remember, then, “ He is more ready to give his Holy Spirit to them who ask, than are parents to give good things to their children.” Cast yourself upon this promised aid of the Holy Ghost. Lay open your bosom to His gracious influences; and even in the “ narrow way,” you shall “run and not be weary.” Is your spirit tired of the darkness and storms which settle on this world ? Do you see little but vicissitude, confusion, distraction ? Look upward, I beseech you. The Lord reigneth. Confide; in the face of general rebellion, confide in His wisdom, power, and goodness, and you shall see Him walking on the tempest, guiding the whirlwind, controlling the thunder-bolt. Would you be assured of the joys of Heaven ? Give up your whole heart to the spirit of holy obedience--wait at the feet of Jesus--be clothed with humility-devote your all--your spirit, soul, and body, to the Son of God and even now may you catch “the beams, and breezes, and blessed visions of Heaven.'