« PreviousContinue »
have no promise to build upon-no Mediator to take hold of—no atonement to plead-00 covenant to depend upon. You know that God is just, and you know that you are sinners—thus far you can proceed in your own scheme with certainty; but I defy you to move one step farther upon sure ground. You cannot prove that God is reconcileable, far less can you tell upon what terms he will be reconciled to you; so that your causes of fear are real and certain, whereas your hopes are mere guesswork, having po other foundation than the doubtful conjectures of your own darkened minds. What will you do wben you come to die? A Christian can say, "I know that my Redeemer liveth; and because he lives, I shall live also." But what will you be able to say, who have no Redeemer, no intercessor, into whose bands you can commit your departing spirits? who have nothing in your view but a tribunal of justice, a tribunal from which there is no appeal. Be entreated, my dear friends, to think of this in time. “ Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way." If once his wrath begin to burn, then shall you find that they, and they only, are blessed who put their trust in him. But,
2dly. This comfortable subject doth principally di. rect me to speak to Christians; and I shall address my ex bortation to you in the words of the apostle Peter, “Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure.” That this assurance is attainable you bave al. ready heard. Let me then press you, by some motives, to seek after it. Consider how much it is for your present interest. O the joy to be assured of the favour of God! this is beart ease, this is the very rest and sabbath of the soul. How sweet and comfortable will the thonghts of a Saviour be to you, when once you can say, “ My beloved is mine, and I am his." Then will it do thee
good to view his wounds by the eye of faith, and to put, as it were, thy hand into his side, when thou canst call him, with Thomas, my Lord and my God. The holy Scriptures will then have a double relish. With what delight will you turn over this charter of your future in. heritance, and ponder that exceeding and eternal weight of glory wbich you shall one day possess. With what holy boldness may you approach the throne of grace, when you can call God your recor.ciled Fatber! What would a despairing sinner, who feels the burden of guilt, and the foretastes of everlasting misery, give for such a privilege, especially in a dying hour. How will this sweeten the difficulties of obedience. It was this that kept the Apostle from fainting, as we read in the close of the preceding chapter. What can quicken us more than to know, that after we have gone through a short life in this world, everlasting happiness shall be our portion in the next? Who would not mend his pace, who is assured that every step brings bim nearer to heaven?
What a mighty cordial will this be, under the sharp, est afflictions, to consider that God meaneth us no hurt, but, on the contrary, hath pledged his faithfulness, to make them all work together for our good? One who hath eternal life in the eye of his faith and hope, can look throngh tribulation, and see sunshine at the back of the darkest cloud.
And then, what comfort does it give in the hour of death? How miserable is the soul, that must be turned out of doors shiftless and harbourless, and is not pro. vided of an everlasting habitation, or a better place to go to; but assurance makes the soul to triumph over the grave, and take death cheerfully by the cold hand, and even long to be gone, and to be with Christ. Dark and doubting Christians may indeed shrink back, and be afraid of the exchange; but the assured soul desires ta depart, and needs as much patience to live as other men do to die. -Let us then, my brethren, press after tbis attainment, and not only seek to be in safety, but to know that we are so. And as it is a gift of God, let us, by humble and importunate prayer, ask it of him who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not. And,
Last of all, Let those who bave got this invaluable mercy, improve it for those purposes for which it was bestowed. “I will run the way of thy commandments," said the Psalmist,“when thou hast enlarged my heart." Make swift progress in the way of duty, if you desire the continuance of this comfortable privilege. Let it appear to all that your conversation is in heaven. Live above this world, and be daily “ adding to your faith, virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity:"-And then shall an entrance be administered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Preached at the Celebration of the Lord's Supper.
1 John iv. 9. In this was manifested the love of God towards us, be
cause that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
THE value of different truths, like that of all other objects, is to be estimated by the different degrees of their usefulness and importance. Judging by this rule, there
are none which better deserve our attention, than those which relate to the character of the Supreme Being. If our ideas of him be different from what be really is, it is impossible that we can love bim truly, or serve bim with acceptance. There may be qualities in the imaginary be. ing which we adore, utterly repugnant with the perfections of the true God; and the mode of worship by which we strive to please him, may of consequence be as absurd as the ideas which we entertain of his character. Various are the means which God bath provided for guiding us to the true knowledge of himself. The bea. vens declare his glory, and the firmament she weth his handy-works. The invisible things of him, even bis eternal power and Godhead, are clearly seen, being perceived by the things which he hath made. His moral perfections may be learned from his general administra. tion of the world, and especially from his conduct to wards his rational creatures. Had we capacities sufficient to take a comprehensive view of all his works and ways, such a review would result in a full conviction, that righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne, and that mercy and truth continually go before him. But as we see only a small part of the great sys. tem which he is carrying on, and of consequence are liable to mistaken and partial conceptions, he hath been graciously pleased to rest his character on one great fact, which it is impossible to misunderstand. This fact the Apostle places in our view in the passage before 19. He is engaged in an argument for his favourite doctrine of universal benevolence. To enforce this doctrine, he reminds bis readers of the love and benevolence of God, and of this he can find no other way to express his strong conceptions, than by denominating bim love and good. ness itself. “ Beloved," saith he, at the 7th verse, “let
us love one another, for love is of God, and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love." To prove this, he enters into no refined disquisitions, or ab. stract reasonings, on the divine nature. These, he knew, were but little adapted to the general apprehensions of mankind. He thinks it sufficient to appeal for a proof of it to that wonderful expedient which God devised for saving lost sinners. “In this," says he, “was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." These words then imply,
I. That the redemption of mankind was an act of the freest and most unmerited grace.
II. That it is a full demonstration of the unbounded love and goodness of God.
As these are truths of the greatest importance, and very properly suited to our meditation at this time, I will lay the evidence of them before you in as clear a manner as I can, and then conclude with an application of the subject.
I. then, The text implies, that the redemption of mankind was an act of the freest and most unmerited grace. God was under no obligation to provide a Saviour for his fallen creatures. Without any imputation on bis justice, he might bave left them to eat the fruit of their own doings, and to be filled with their own devices. He stood in no need of our services, nor could he be injured by our rebellion. Our perdition would have made no blank in his works, wbich his power could not have supplied in one moment. Man was indeed miserable enough to excite compassion; but he was deservedly so, and there. fore compassion might have been restrained, and justice have had its course. He had left the station in which