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while, in contending for the name of disciples, they have thrown away that badge of charity by which the true disciples of Christ are most effectually distinguished.
Justly, then, does the Apostle say, that strong meat belongeth only to them who, by reason of use, have their senses exercised to discern between good and evil. The metaphor is highly proper and significant; for as strong meat, administered to a weak stomach, contributes only to increase its infirmity; in like manner the more diffi. cult doctrines of Christianity, meeting with weak presumptuous understandings, have no other effect than to swell the natural vanity of the heart, which afterwards vents itself in words and behaviour, equally dishonourable to God and offensive to man.
Having thus endeavoured to confirm the observations which naturally arise from the text, it remains only to make a practical application of the subject.
In this application, the hearers of the gospel seem to have the first and principal concern. Ye have enjoyed this advantage from your earliest years. For the time, ye might have been teachers of others. Let us suppose that ye bad attended as punctually upon instruction in any other science, would you not be ashamed, after ten or twenty years, to own you were as ignorant as the first month, and much more ashamed to have it thought that you were contented to be so? Let me ask how you would tolerate such carelessness and insensibility in your children, whom you' educate at a great expense for the purposes of this world? Yet how do the cases differ? Much indeed in one respect; for a man may be bappy without human learning, but without the knowledge of religion, you must be miserable for ever, and so much the more miserable for the neglect of the opportunities which you have enjoyed. Let me beseech you to
bring this home to your minds. In all other subjects, you desire to be well informed. You would not prostitute your time to a ceremonial attendance of any other kind, without some solid and useful object. You would not give up four hours in every week, merely to hear words, without intending to derive some instruction from them. “ Take heed then how ye hear.” Be assured we do not speak in vain. Our defects indeed are many: we do not preach nor live as we ought to do-may God pardon and amend us; but we dispense the ordinances of God; and his word, though dispensed by weak unskilful hands, shall not return void, but shall accomplish the thing wbereunto be sent it: it shall either be the saviour of life unto life, or of death unto death to your souls.
Again, ye bave heard that they who are not careful to add to their knowledge are in danger of losing what they had formerly acquired. Beware then of resting satisfied with your present attainments, but follow on to know the Lord. Be assiduous to improve the advantages ye posses, for growing in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, that ye may walk worthy of God unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God-Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power; continuing in the faith, grounded and settled, and not moved from the hope of the gospel which ye have heard.
Once more, Ye have heard that, without a proper acquaintance with the plain principles of religion, men are unfit to receive doctrines of a higher and more speculative nature. Expect not, then, that we should study your amusement at the expense of your edification. There are persons, perhaps, who expect us to discuss some nice points in casuistry, or to clear up some controverted
points in divinity; in short, who would take it kindly, if, dropping the common topics which have been long and much worn in the service of religion, we provided some fresh ones always for their entertainment. This may be very proper in its season, and, so far as it is fit, a faithful minister of Christ will not be wanting to their expectation; for he has gathered nothing in all the stores of divine knowledge of which he is not willing that they should partake. But in common, this indulgence is entirely out of place. The plainest and most practical truths are first of all to be inculcated. Many more stand in need of these tban of novelties in speculation; and even of those who call out for such, many make the de. mand with a very bad grace. They might be amused, perhaps, with a curious discussion; but what if their sense of divine things be dead? What if they need to have their minds stimulated, and their consciences alarmed with the terrors of God's word? When our Lord was asked by a curious inquirer, if there were few that should be saved? instead of answering directly to the question, he addressed the person with a practical exhortation, “ Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” If any of a similar character should attend our assemblies, let them not think it strange if we imitate so high an example, by preferring to impart to them the plainest and simplest, because the most necessary truths; especially as it cannot be doubted that the Apostle's reproof in the text is still applicable to many hearers of the gospel :-“ For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye bave need that one teach you again, which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat." Amen.
2 Cor. vi. 1.
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you al.
ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
NOTHING can be conceived more encouraging to creatures, in our feeble and depraved situation, than those views of the Supreme Being disclosed by the Apostle in the concluding part of the former chapter. There God is represented in the characters of condescension and grace, so perfectly suited to our necessitous and guilty condition, as must render him the object of our supreme love and unreserved confidence.
The first question that will always occur to an awakened sinner, hath been expressed by the prophet Micah in these words: “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the High God?” And the only answer to this question, which an unenlightened mind can suggest, hath also been expressed by the same prophet, in the form of another question : “ Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of an year old ? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul ?" A conscience alarmed with a sense of guilt, naturally represents the Most High as clothed with terrible majesty, as a God of vengeance, & stern unrelenting creditor, demanding payment even to the uttermost farthing. And however the advocates for
the light of nature may boast of their discoveries, it may be pronounced impossible for unassisted reason, proceeding on sound principles, to discover any means whereby guilty creatures can hope to satisfy the justice, or regain the friendship of their Maker. All our knowledge, with regard to this subject, must flow from revelation alone. The sanctions of justice may indeed be comprehended by human reason; but justice demands inexorably the punishment of transgressors. Justice admits no claim for the exercise of mercy. Nay, more, merey does not even come within the strict conception of legal administration, but is an act of pure prerogative, having no other measure than the will of the sovereign. 66 And who knoweth the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor ?" None else but the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and hath declared him unto us : and this is the name whereby he hath made him known, God is love.
What the Apostle says, (ebapter v. verse 18.) has a stronger signification than is commonly attended to. “ All things are of God.” It not only imports, that all things owe their existence to God, and are the effects of his creating power; but farther, that all the motives to exercise that power are of himself likewise. He finds them in his own perfect nature ; and every exertion of power, whether for producing being or happiness to any of his creatures, is the spontaneous act of his essential goodness and benignity. Why did God create a world? No other answer can be given to this question, but that it was his sovereign pleasure so to do. No other reason, but the same sovereign pleasure can be assigned for man's existence on earth, with all the honours conferred on him at his first creation. And now that man hath forfeited these honours, and incurred the penalty