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the lips and with the life. Then shall be perceived the unspeakable advantage of Christian privileges, however lightly they are now esteemed by the thousands who disdainfully cast them behind their backs, and are wilfully strangers to their use. Then will these now despised things be found the power of God unto salvation through faith working by love, and a preached gospel, with its high discoveries, its precious promises, its lifegiving hope, and its saving sacraments, become by neglect the savour of death in them that perish, will deepen torment with the never ceasing but useless regret that they might have escaped, but they would not.
Oh! what a tormenting thought it will be--and never to pass into forgetfulness, my hearers—that during our day of grace we turned a deaf ear to the counsel of God, a hard heart to the love of Christ, and stifled the convictions of his Holy Spirit; that we never received because we would not ask ; that we never found because we would not seek ; that the door of mercy is shut against us for ever because while it stood open to receive us we refused to enter in ; that our blood is now demanded by the righteous law of God because we trampled under foot the blood of Christ, and, though sinners in nature and practice, dared to meet God in judgment without the shield of the Redeemer's merits sought and obtained by faith.
Thus have I shown you, my brethren and hearers, though in a very brief and contracted manner, compared with the extent of the subject, that in our main concern, the salvation of our souls, the LORD Jesus Christ is all in all; that, as the
procuring cause and sustaining power of all spiritual life, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last; that, from the first seed of divine grace implanted in the heart to the awful consummation of Come ye blessed, or, Depart ye cursed, without him we can do nothing.
The application, then, or improvement of what has been said, refers to the personal condition of all present, as if about to appear before God, and will be profitable to you, my hearers, only as this is realized. The wonderful and effectual provision for your salvation, revealed in the gospel, hath surrounded you from infancy to the present moment; the truths connected
with it have been repeatedly pressed upon your consciences; and the experience of your own hearts must have confirmed the testimony of revelation to the fallen, depraved condition of human nature, and the consequent alienation from God of every sinful creature. Now is this to continue ? I speak to those who are careless of and unconnected with religion—alas ! that they should be the great majority in every Christian land—is this state of desperate and wilful opposition to God to be persisted in? If not-and I trust that this is the better thought which sometimes presents its awakenings to your consciences, wherefore is it not at once acted upon ? If the power of sin over you now is so great, and the love of sin in you so strong as to overrule the command of God and the reason of your own minds, will its influence be weakened by indulgence, or its mastery be more easily shaken off when confirmed by habit ? Who among you has not the testimony in his own experience, confirming that of St. Paul, to the power and prevalence of the carnal mind? To will is present with me, but how to perform that which is good I find not; for the good that I would I do not, but the evil which I would not that I do. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man, but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members—and who is not hereby taught the practical lesson, that if he would be saved he must be delivered from the body of his death?
And shall it speak so plain and come so close to your consciences, only to be driven away with the thousands of good resolutions, and yet deferred amendments of life, which the law of sin has already triumphed over? God forbid, my dear hearers. Rather let counsel be taken from past weakness, and courage be derived from this precious gift of the love of God yet waiting upon you, to come to Christ. Let the sin that so easily besets you, that you have tried once and again to conquer but have failed, let the frequent resolve to begin a Christian life, which has vanished before the temptations of the world like the morning cloud and the early dew, prove to you that in your own strength you can do nothing; and bring you, with purpose of heart, to the sure and sufficient friend of the weary and heavy
laden sinner, in the Lord Jesus Christ, who came that a race of sinners might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly ; who redeemed them to God by his own blood, that he might redeem them from all iniquity by the power of his grace; and who assures them, in my text, that without him they can do nothing.
To follow the world, to glitter amidst the giddy whirl of its intoxicating vanities, to catch its vain applause, and to reap its still more vain reward, may be accomplished perhaps without Christ; and the angels are weeping over the thousands of redeemed and warned immortals, who make no better use of the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ. But to overcome the world, to withstand its allurements, to triumph alike over its smiles and its frowns, and so to use as not abusing the accommodations and enjoyments which are left amidst the sin-blasted ruins of its once happier condition—who of himself, my brethren, is sufficient for this work ? Yet, if heaven is our hope on the ground of revealed promises, this must be accomplished in all who would see God. The hold which the world has upon our affections must be loosed, the power it possesses over our desires must be broken, and the grovelling inclinations of our fallen nature elevated to more substantial and enduring good than this transitory existence can supply. And whence is this to come but from above ? And how is this to be obtained but through the Lord Jesus Christ, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is nouo set down at the right hand of the throne of God, having left us an erample that we should follow his steps. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Reason can strike the balance betwixt time and eternity, and master the calculation which dethrones the world and the things that are in it. But it cannot change the heart and turn the longings of the soul to God, the only good. Experience can certify how weak and worthless the highest worldly delights are to satisfy the soul and confer solid peace and lasting happiness; but it cannot fill the aching void which this
discovery makes, or teach a new and living way to life and bliss. These must come from God the Holy Ghost, through the merits and intercession of the great High Priest. These must be sought and wrestled for in fervent, persevering prayer, in watchful self-denial, in confiding reliance that he who hath called us to the knowledge of this grace will not withhold his mercies from the sin-sick soul, but will bless the endeavours of all who come unto God by him.
Without me ye can do nothing. Truth, Lord! And may thy blessing write it in every heart, thy grace make it triumphant over all opposition, and thy power bring a willing and obedient people to live by the faith of the Son of God.
ACCESS TO GOD ONLY THROUGH CHRIST.
MICAH vi. 6.
* Wherewith shall I come before the LORD and bow myself before the high God."
REFLECTIONS of a very impressive and practical character are presented to every serious mind by this passage of Scripture, and can hardly fail, I should think, at least for the moment, to prompt a similar inquiry even to the more thoughtless and indifferent, on the commanding interest of their relation to God and expectations from him. No sentiment is more universal, I believe, than that of the homage due to the Supreme Being; no duty more important than to ascertain in what manner that homage is to be rendered ; and when, if we carry out our sense of accountability to the end, we shall all stand before our Judge, language is insufficient to describe the misery which must follow the neglect of so plain an obligation.
It is an overwhelming thought, my brethren, to imagine a dependent, ignorant, and sinful being like man, about to approach the glorious majesty, resplendent light, and unspotted holiness of Almighty God; to picture to ourselves the conflicting emotions which throb around his heart, the awful anticipations which absorb his thoughts, and the agonizing suspense which weighs down his spirit, under the fearful forecast of an issue which involves eternity. But it is a wise and a profitable exercise of the mind, my hearers, for it is an interview which we have all to meet, and on our preparation for it more will depend than can be conceived or spoken of.
The words of my text do not, indeed, refer directly to the concluding scene of our trial and probation, but they include it, as the point to which all present intercourse with God should be directed, as the end in which all the means now made use of must terminate. I have, therefore, selected them, as calculated