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the delusion of a mind whose judgment is mastered by its feelings, and thereby incapacitated, certainly for the time, most probably at all times, for the reasonable service of redeemed beings to God and to each other. Therefore, as our entrance into the kingdom of heaven will depend altogether on the judgment to be passed by a heart-searching God on the deeds done in the body, the constant recollection of this truth is the great preservative against the danger of an extravagant and unfounded hope, derived from feelings casually excited.
It is this thought, my brethren and hearers, which brings the conduct, the actions, and motives of the man, rather than his language and his feelings, under examination. It is this thought which solemnizes the high expectation of a heavenly inheritance, and causes its entertainer to feel jealous lest he deceive himself; and which tempers the rejoicing, even of the righteous, with reverence and godly fear. And it is this thought which, by habitually connecting the reward with the duties to which it is promised, presents at once the most powerful motives to perform them, and the highest assurance of being counted worthy to enter in through the gates into the heavenly Jerusalem. Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
III. Thirdly, I am to inquire what qualifications must be possessed by those who shall be admitted to enter in.
Our Saviour's declaration in the text is the full and satisfactory answer to this all-important inquiry, my brethren-He that doeth the will of God as revealed in his word. This answer, however short, comprehends all that wisdom can teach or life can practice, and is the sole condition on which the hope of eternal life can safely be entertained.
There can be no question, then, either as to the duty or as to the necessity of acquainting ourselves with that will, and of fol. lowing exactly what it prescribes; bringing our religious profession, our conduct as Christians, and our hope towards God, to the appointments, declarations, and example of his revealed word, as the only and the infallible standard of his holy will.
Now, though this is certainly within the compass of the ability which God giveth, and in itself easy-or he would not require it of all who are favoured with the gospel-nevertheless, such is the situation of the Christian world through corruption of doctrine and division of order, that the truth is obscured and difficulty greatly increased in ascertaining what that will of God is, which must be followed and obeyed in order to salvation. Yet as this unhappy state of things cannot absolve from the obligation to inquire diligently what his will is, it should surely operate to increase the caution with which modern systems of divine truth are received and relied upon, as the will of God; and this the rather, not only because we are warned against it in the word itself, but because, in the whole extent of that word, there is not so much as a hint that sincerity in error will render a mistaken view of the will of God, and the erroneous conduct consequent thereon, acceptable to him and available to salvation. Whatever, therefore, may be reasoned by men on this ground, is a gratuitous assumption of what God hath not revealed, and we may boldly say, could not reveal without thereby vacating the whole purpose of the Bible as the infallible standard of his holy will to fallen sinners. Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many, but go ye not after them ; for there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that if it were possible they shall deceive the
elect. Behold I have told you before. The great purpose of the gospel, and the declared will of God being the sanctification of corrupt and sinful creatures, in order to fit them for future happiness, this qualification must be obtained, or there can be no just hope of acceptance with God. But as no man can sanctify himself, in the proper sense of the word, as no fallen sinner can change his own heart, and renew the image of God in his own soul or in the soul of another, it is the will of God that all men should have recourse to the means of grace provided for this end, in and through the LORD JESUS CHRIST. He that would be saved, therefore, in the great day of eternity, must, in the present life, receive and believe in the LORD JESUS CHRIST, as he is offered to sinners in the gospel. He must repent and forsake his sins, according to the conditions of the baptismal covenant in and by which he
is made a member of Christ, a child of God, and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven; and as in this new relation to God all the helps and privileges of the covenant of grace are conferred upon him, he is required, and does therein engage to lead a new life, following the commandments of God. In which, if he persevere to the end, growing in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, his title to the beavenly reward is acknowledged by the Judge, he is owned as a good and faithful servant, and enters into the joy of his LORD.
But in point of fact, few or none do in this wise ful6l their baptismal engagement; for the privileges therein conferred are forfeited by personal sin. Yet where men might justly have been left without remedy, God, even the most merciful God, who knows whereof we are made, how frail and corrupt sin bath made us, and what powerful temptations are presented by the world, the flesh, and the devil, hath fitted this aispensation of bis mercy and grace to our fallen and infirm condition; and in the grant of repentance and renewed obedience to all who have thus sinned, provides for their conversion and restoration to his favour, through the prevailing intercession of bis only begotten Son; and through faith in him, accepts them as righteous, and entitled to all the privileges and hopes of his adopted children. But the penitent thus restored must continue faithful, otherwise be incurs the awful risk of abandonment by the Spirit of grace, being delivered over to the mastery of his own corruptions without restraint, and of being consigned to destruction as utterly incorrigible.
The qualifications for eternal life, then, are repentance towards God and faith in the LORD Jesus Christ, professed by embracing the gospel, and evidenced by the fruits of faith in all holy conversation and godliness of life ; persisted in to the end as a faithful member of Christ's mystical body, the Church which he bought with his own blood, and for which he gave himself that he night cleanse it from all pollution, and present it to God a glorious Church, purified from the defilement of sin, and renewed in holiness. This purpose the faithful Christian has ever before him; he looks to the end-to the account he has to give in, to the Judge who shall assign his everlasting condition. These quicken and strengthen him to crucify the flesh with the affections and lusts of a fallen, corrupt nature ; to put off the body of the sins of the flesh; to cleanse himself from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God; and to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Great and manifest imperfection, yea even sin, cleaves to his best services; he feels that they are nothing worth in the eye of unspotted purity and holiness, that he is in himself an unprofitable servant. But be looks unto Jesus, to the promises of God in him, to the merit of his righteousness, and to the atoning virtue of his blood. Faith presents these continually to God, and hope looks forward with humble confidence to the reward of grace in the well done, good and faithful servant, with which his Lord and his Judge shall confess bim before his Father and the holy angels. Not every one that saith unto me LORD, LORD, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doelh the will of my Father which is in heaven.
The application of this awful subject, and of what I have said upon it, brings home to our consideration, my brethren and hearers, the true design and purpose of the religion of the gospel, in preparing sinful creatures for everlasting happiness in the kingdom of God, by the renewal and sanctification of their corrupt natures in the present life. This alone, if duly considered, might give an importance to time, distinct from every worldly consideration; and teach us so to number our days as to apply our hearts unto wisdom-might rescue this precious talent from the sinful vanities and idolatrous pursuits of the world, and devote it to the higher interests of our eternal state. How, then, let us ask ourselves, are we prepared for the awful solemnity represented in my text ? My dear hearers, we must all stand before the judgment seat of Christ; from this there is no escape for any; and we know not how soon death
may seal us up to the judgment of that day, and put repentance and hope for ever beyond our reach. Shall any, then, conti ue to trifle with this tremendous uncertainty, and, in the wantonness of defiance, provoke God to surrender them to impenitence? God forbid ! Rather let it quicken us all, according to our
several conditions, to search and try our ways, and bring our hope, whatever it may be, to the standard of God's revealed will; for this it is which alone can correct error and give assurance to truth, and by which we all shall be judged.
Let professors of religion, especially, bring their hope to this standard ; not in part only, but in the whole of its foundation and superstructure. Let them open their Bibles, and then trace, step by step, their conformity with the will and command of Almighty God. Let them open their hearts, and there search for the sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit. Let them inspect their lives, and, from the the fruit thence yielded, judge whether the tree is made good. To them, in particular, is the warning of my text addressed. They are the persons who call CHRIST LORD; and he therein affectionately cautions them against the shame and ruin of being by him disowned before God.
And let those who have hitherto turned a deaf ear to the counsel of God, who have smothered the voice of.conscience, and stifled the convictions of the Holy Spirit in their hearts; who are yet surrounded with the goodness of God, and certified by the gospel, that He hath not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ; who must also be judged by the word spoken unto them--Let them awake to the warning of my text, and ask themselves what preparation is made for the day of the Lord, by doing the will of God! O let them bring the levity and thoughtlessness in which their day of life and grace is fast vanishing away, to the judgment then to pass upon the deeds done in the body, and ask themselves Is this what God requires of me that I may be saved ? Think a moment, my fellow sinners, of what God hath done for your salvation, and of what you have done in return for his love. Think of the awful hour when you must give account of yourselves, to Him who made and redeemed you, for the improvement of this and all his other mercies. And, O think, what horror and despair will seize upon you above all others, when that merciful Saviour who poured out bis life to save you from hell, shall be compelled to disown you ; when your then earnest LORD, LORD, shall meet no answer from infinite love, but