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Scripture, but by particular texts; and is, moreover, the only foundation of accountability in moral creatures ; a fearful responsibility rests upon those who make no corresponding effort to consider and improve their advantages under the light of the gospel. But the slightest acquaintance with revelation shows, that such is the case. God's message to mankind is addressed to them as capable of understanding, believing, and obeying his word; and his promises are all suspended on the condition that they do this. If this is not so, what possible meaning can we attach to such texts as the following? Repent and believe the gospel. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. He that believeth not is condemned already. Come unto me, all the ends of the earth, and be saved. Are these, and thousands like them, addressed to beings who cannot understand and apply them ? who have no control over their own corrupt wills, no power to withstand the admitted and forewarned opposition of their fallen nature, no reason to consider and estimate the consequences ? God forbid ! Else whereto serveth the Bible ? and why am I here to preach and you to hear ? and where is the warning to Christians from the example referred to in my text? Was the promise of Almighty God, to give to that generation of the Jews the land of Canaan as an inheritance-confirmed as it was by the miracles in Egypt, by the passage of the Red Sca, by the manna and the water of the wilderness-sufficient for faith to rest upon for what was yet to fulfil in its completion ? Our reason says, Yes, my hearers, and wonders at, and condemns the hardness and stupidity of that people. And shall we escape a similar rejection from the heavenly rest—who, with clearer light, and more wonderful displays of the power and faithfulness of Almighty God, continue in unbelief, and, through carelessness and love of the world, neglect this great salvation? Therefore, thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest : for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself ; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
But further yet : Faith, says the apostle, cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
God having revealed his will, his ministers have wherewithal to preach. But is mere hearing all that is required of the people? Is faith to come without an effort on the part of the hearer, to be assured that it is the word of God that is preached, and to obey it when heard ? No! and no one but a fanatic ever thought so. For the gospel is commanded to be preached among all nations for the obedience of faith ; and as reason is competent to estimate the proofs that the gospel is the word which God, in these last days, hath spoken unto us by his Son, so is it equally competent to perceive the supreme obligation to receive and obey it as such--to put forth every power and faculty of a redeemed nature in this superlative duty; and, on the faith of God's command, to expect, in the use of means, the fruit of God's promises. He calls us to his heavenly rest, and hath sent his only begotten Son to guide us to the promised land, as he called his ancient people from Egyptian bondage, and sent Moses to lead them to Canaan. He promises to be our support and defence during our pilgrimage, and to make us victorious over all our enemies, in like manner as he promised to the children of Israel. But as they feared the Anakims who possessed the land, as they dreaded the toils of the war and the dangers of the battle, lusting after the flesh pots of Egypt, and dishonoured God by their unbelief; so do we too, too many of us, fear the contest with our corruptions, and dread the privations of selfdenial, and, loving the pleasures of sin for a season more than the rewards of eternity, fall after the same example of unbelief, and thereby forfeit that rest which Christ hath purchased—which God hath promised, and furnished us to attain. Light is, indeed, come into the world, even the light of life ; but men love darkness rather than light. The glad tidings of a reconciled God, and an Almighty Saviour-of grace abounding even to the chief of sinners, and of eternal life assured to all who believe and obey the gospel-are preached continually, but they do not profit them that hear. The cause of this ruinous disregard of God's mercies to their souls is faithfully laid before them, both by precept and example, and they hear the words but they do them not.
Need we, then, to be surprised, my brethren, at the small
effect which is produced among us, by the preaching of the word ? I think not. The cause is fully sufficient to account for the effect. Nor need we wonder at the disregard of religion, and the consequent wickedness which abounds; but we may well wonder, that where so much is known and felt to be at stake, rational beings, on trial for eternity, should thus actand, while we wonder, mourn also, and lament, that those for whom God hath done so much, should be so averse to do any thing for their own souls.
Would you profit, then, my hearers, by the preaching of the word? Bear in mind, that you must be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own souls. The divine blessing is suspended on your own endeavours-Unto him that hath, shall be given ; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. Remember that, without faith, it is impossible to please God. All expectations, therefore, built upon the morality of our lives; all sweeping conclusions, that God is other than he is revealed to us in Christ, and that he will savo us, apart from the conditions of the gospel, are among the deepest deceits of the devil, and the immediate fruit of unbelief. Thous believest that there is one God, thou docst well; the devils, also, believe and tremble.' Where, then, is thy advantage, unbeliever? What knowest thou of this awful and tremendous Being, abstracted from his own revelation of himself? What doth he require of thee? How will he deal with thee? What is provided for thee after death!-Unbeliever, canst thou tell? No! neither canst thou hope. Hope-a good hope through gracesprings from the revealed word—from a God in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, and pouring out his Holy Spirit to recover it to holiness and eternal life. Hope springs from endeavour, from exertion to obtain what we hope for: and faith must go before as the first foundation of all. To faith all things are possible ; but to unbelief there is nothing possible, because there is no motive-nothing to excite the soul, either to hope or fear ; neither is there any thing promised, but the blackness of darkness for ever.
Have we, then, my brethren and hearers, ample foundation for faith to rest securely upon ? sufficient motives for exertion ? efficient means for attainment? Whence, then, this indifference, this apathy, when eternity is at stake ? Shall a preached gospel—the glad tidings of heaven's love and of man's redemptionbecome the savour of death to your souls, through your own neglect? Shall the sacrifice of the cross for your salvation prove the ground of a deeper condemnation, and identify you with those who crucified the LORD of glory? O, bethink you, while God is waiting to be gracious ; while Christ continues to intercede for sinners; while the Holy Spirit is present to lead you into all truth ; and while a preached gospel offers its treasures of wisdom and knowledge, of grace and truth, of comfort and encouragement, of pardon and peace, let faith seize upon the rich inheritance, that the fruit may be unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. Be no longer ashamed of the gospel, but let your confession of Christ be openly made, and your acknowledgment of him, as your only hope of mercy and acceptance with God, be manifested by obeying his commands, and following the bright example he hath set you in his life.
And you, my brethren, who have this day solemnly renewed your baptismal engagements, take heed to yourselves, that what you profess to believe, be exhibited in its fruits; that by so doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and your light so shine before them, that they may be induced to choose that good part, which shall not be taken from them. Be not faithless, but, like the great father of the faithful, even against hope believing in hope, set to your seal that God is true. Let not a doubting mind weaken and defeat the effect of God's precious promises, and deaden your endeavours faithfully to fulfil the obligations this day undertaken. Bear in mind our blessed Lord's rebuke to doubting, sinking Peter-Othou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? Let your profiting appear to all men, on the sure ground, that the help promised to enable you to work out your salvation, is and will be given you from above ; and that as members of Christ, you shall receive of that fulness of grace, which it hath pleased the Father should dwell in him, for his body the church. Only believe, for all things are possible to him that believeth. The promises of God being in Christ, yea, and in Christ, amen, to every one, who, with hearty repentance and true faith, embraces and obeys the gospel.
GRIEVING THE SPIRIT.
EPHESIANS iv. 30.
"And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of
A PROVISION of divine grace, or spiritual assistance, freely bestowed by Almighty God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, in order to enable fallen creatures to fulfil the conditions on which the rewards of eternity are suspended, is a leading and fundamental doctrine of the Christian revelation. And as this divine help, in its commencement and progress to holiness, is the special office of God the Holy Ghost; the regeneration, conversion, sanctification, and resurrection of believers, are constantly referred in the Scriptures to his operations. Of these operations, the history of Christianity, as presented for our learning in the writings of the apostles, is the authentic record. From this, we must not only derive the belief of the doctrine, but learn, also, in what manner we must apply ourselves, to obtain this assistance, and how we are to ascertain its presence and effects. And for both these essential purposes, we are amply furnished, my brethren, in those Scriptures, which are given by inspiration of God, and are able to make us wise unto salvation, through faith, which is in Christ Jesus; for we there read, that God hath promised his Holy Spirit to all that ask it in fervent prayer, and that the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.
On a subject, however, of such importance to our present comfort and eternal welfare, as that divine help, without which we can do nothing towards the improvement and perfection of our moral nature, God hath been graciously pleased, not only to give us the most satisfactory information of the fact, but to add thereto, outward and sensible assurances to our faith in his promises, by the sacraments of the gospel.