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do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see."
What have you to object against this advice?-Are not these the very things you need? are they not exactly suited to your state and circumstances ?- Would you not think yourselves bound to bless God eternally, for giving you such a rich and full supply? I think I may reasonably take all this for granted.-What discourages you then ?-You say you are unworthy. I ask you, Where does Christ speak as if he supposed you to be worthy? Were this a secret known only to yourselves, you might indeed bave cause to dread a discovery; but the Lord Jesus knew this before you knew it. Nay, if he had not told you of it, I dare venture to affirm you should never have found it out, I mean in this world, for death and judgment will clear up all mistakes. Why then do you make objections where Christ makes none? - Is his honour dearer to you than to himself?— Does be not know how to dispense his mercy till you have taught him? I charge you to beware of such presumptuous conceits. It is because you are poor, and blind, and naked, that he counsels you to come to bim for the supplies here offered.
But does he not speak of buying; and what price can I offer him for such inestimable blessings? I have alrea. dy told you what I take to be the meaning of that expression ;-but as this objection is of a very deadly nature, and commonly proves one of the strongest bars in men's way to Christ, it is necessary to examine it with some more accuracy. And, first, I must ask those who make the objection, Are you really willing to take these blessings for nothing, if you can get them? Do not answer rashly, for I apprehend there is a secret deceit within you, that you are not aware of.-Say, would it
not give you a mighty satisfaction, if you could discover something in yourselves that might entitle you to these blessings, or, at least, that might incline or dispose Christ to bestow them upon you? Would it not give you some courage, if you could shed more penitent tears for sin, if you felt more love for God and the Redeemer, or if you were more exact and blameless in your conduct and behaviour? And are you not secretly displeased with yourselves, that you cannot attain to these things before you apply to Christ for his aid? If this is the case,
allow me to put your objection in its proper form. It is not, as you apprehend, I have nothing to give to Christ as a price for his benefits; but I have not enough.-My stock is too small to buy such an inheritance; and till it is better improven, it is vain for me to hope that my offer can be accepted. Alas! my brethren, it is plain from this, that pride is at the root of your objection, though it has art. fully put on the form of humility; at the bottom, you are pleased with the notion of buying, and are only vexed that you have not enough to give. You secretly dream that, by diligence and good management, you may
at length acquire something that may deserve the favourable regards of the Redeemer; and therefore, ouce for all, I must tell you, that, notwithstanding your mourofal complaints of poverty, you are really far poorer than you suppose yourselves to be. You not only want a price in the mean time, but you shall never be able to find a price that bears the smallest proportion to the blessings you need; and Christ, who shed his blood to purchase these benefits, will never sell them below their value. The truth is, he does not intend to dispose of them in that way. Though he bought them at a high rate, he gives them away freely, and gives them only to those who, disclaiming all merit and worthiness in themselves, are
willing to receive them merely as an alms, to which they neither have, nor can have, any title.
Let me therefore entreat you to come to him, poor and naked as you are. It is his own counsel, and, as I told you, he is the true and faithful Witness. You may depend upon his word, and shall never have cause to repent your following his advice. Come, then, O sinpers, at his call, and believe it, that he is more willing to give you the blessings here spoken of, than you are or can be to ask them from him. You honour the truth of Christ when you obey his summons; whereas, you directly give him tbe lie, and call him a false and flattering witness, when, upon any pretence whatever, you keep at a distance from him, and question his readiness to perform what he hath promised. He not only counsels, but in. vites; he not only invites, but entreats; and to remove every ground of suspicion or jealousy, he adds his oath to bis promise, and to both he superadds his seal, and is now ready to hold it out to you in the holy sacrament. Let me therefore, once more, beseech you to hearken to his advice. First come to himself by an humble faith, and then come and receive the New Testament in his blood.
As for you who have already been determined by grace to listen to the advice of this faithful Witness, I this day invite you, in his name, to come anew, and draw water out of the wells of salvation. For you, he hath again covered a table in the wilderness, and instituted this ordinance for your spiritual pourishment and growth in grace. You have formerly tasted that the Lord is gracious, he is now waiting to give you some farther expe. rience of it. Come forward then with thankful hearts, and enlarged desires. Devise liberal things, for he is a liberal Giver. Open your mouths wide, and he will fill them abundantly. Amen.
ECCLESIASTES viii. 13.
But it shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he
prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he feareth not before God.
THE promiscuous distribution of good and evil, in the present life, has always tended to weaken the influence of moral and religious motives among mankind. Our minds are so framed, that pleasure or pain, immediately or soon to be experienced, affect them in a much stronger degree, than greater measures of either, removed by dis. tance of future time. There is a prodigious difference between certainty, as the mere object of our understanding, and the strong impression produced by the consideration of those things which are not only certain, but near at hand. The former merely produces assent of the mind; the latter lays hold of the heart, and influences the con. duct. Accordingly we find, that all who have aspired to the art of persuasion, in moral or religious discourses, have endeavoured to heighten the influence of distant motives, by placing the objects of them in the strongest light. This may be done either directly, by representing their superior and infinite importance, or implicitly, by lessening our conceptions, and thereby lowering our 80licitude, as to the intervening period.
This last is the method adopted by Solomon, in the passage
with which the text is connected. In the preceding verse, he bad expressed, in the strongest terms, the
full assurance he had that it should finally be well with them that fear God. Many, indeed, in the present time, are the afflictions of the righteous. In the world, they are generally despised, and reviled, and persecuted. And what is the reason of this? Our Lord tells his disciples the reason: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world bateth you." But what is the hatred, the calumny, or the persecution of the world, to those whose minds are raised above it, to an inheritance incorruptible, andefil. ed, and that fadeth not away; whose light affliction, which is but for a moment, works out an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory.
Let us now change the view. The sinner may do evil an hundred times, and as often prosper in his schemes of iniquity; yet, in the midst of all this outward success, he is still the object of pity and compassion, rather than of envy. To real happiness his heart is a stranger; he grasps at enjoyment, and embraces vanity; his days fly away as a shadow; they see no good; and he himself is fast hastening to those regions of darkness, where nothing is beard but the voice of fruitless lamentation, and everlasting despair.
This, it must be confessed, is a gloomy subject; but gloomy as it is, we must not forbear to press it on your attention. The same God who commands us to say to the righteous, It shall be well with him, commands us likewise to deliver this awful warning: “It shall not be well with the wicked, neither shall he prolong his days, which are as a shadow; because he feareth not before God.”
But, before I proceed to illustrate the threatening in the text, there is a previous point to be settled, without