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66 Wo to him that is alone when he falleth," saith the
“ for he hath not another to help him up." Whereas, when Christians join together in holy communion, like trees planted in a thicket, they shelter and defend one another. They have boldness to face their adversaries, as well as strength to baffle their attempts to seduce them. “ Let us then exhort one another daily, lest any of us be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." Like brethren, let us dwell together in love and unity, having all our spiritual goods in common, being “ ready to distribute, willing to communicate,” accord. ing to the measure of gifts and graces which it bath pleased our heavenly Father to bestow on us.--In the
6th and last place, If we would obey the exhortation in the text, we must beware of neglecting the instrumental duties of religion. Let us carefully read the Holy Scriptures, which God, in mercy, bath given us to be a “lamp to our feet, and a light unto our path.". 66 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul : the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the sim, ple.” To reading you must join the hearing of the word preached; that powerful ordinance which God bath so remarkably countenanced in all ages of the church, and made effectual, by his blessing, both for the conversion of sinners, and for the establishment of his own people. Under this head I would particularly recommend to you a devout attendance upon the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which is so peculiarly calculated to strengthen our faith, and to build us up in boliness and comfort, unto eternal life. This hath been found, in the experience of all the saints, to be a most blessed insti. tution, which hath in every age enabled men to hold on their way with alacrity and joy, and in every situation hath assisted them to renew their strength. To all this
we must add constant and fervent prayer to God. By this we maintain correspondence with the “ Father of lights, from whom cometh down every good and perfect gift.” Prayer is the messenger which he hath appointed for conveying to us help in every time of need. He hath promised his Spirit to them who ask it. Let us " ask and receive, that our joy may be full."
Thus, my brethren, I have suggested to you a few plain directions, which, through the blessing of God, may be of use to assist you in maintaining that firm ad. herence to the Lord which my text recommends. All that now remains is, that I intreat you to reduce them to practice. And what motive can I represent to you so powerful as the consideration, that " to them who, by a patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality, God will render eternal life.” 6 To him that overcometh,” saith Christ,“ will I grant to sit down with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on his throne." The time draweth near, when you shall be placed beyond the reach of temptation, when your warfare shall be accomplished, and your struggles at an end; and who would not sustain a short, though it were a sharp conflict, that he might obtain a triumphant victory? Some of us perhaps have but a few more efforts to make, and a few more assaults to sustain, before Christ shall call us home to receive the enriching reward—a reward not of debt but of grace; even that exceeding and eternal weight of glory, with which our light and momentary afflictions are not worthy to be compared. Let us all then be persuaded, “ with purpose of heart to cleave unto the Lord." Let as count all things but loss, that we may win Christ, and be found in him, not having our own righteousness, but that everlasting righteousness
which he hath prepared for them who “ cleave to him." Let us go from this place, saying as Peter did, only with more humility, “ Though all men should forsake thee, yet will not we.” And “ now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy: To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever.” Amen.
Micah vi. 3.
O my People, what have I done unto thee? and where
in have I wearied thee? Testify against me.
It is impossible to predict what impression the same truth will make upon the different minds of men. That word, which will pierce one man to the “dividing asunder of the soul and spirit,” may have no edge at all when addressed to another. But were I to judge from my own feelings, I should think, that all the terrors of God could not more effectually awe the heart of a sinner, than the passage of Scripture which I have now read. It strikes my ear like the last sound of God's mercy. Doth the Almighty command and threaten ? I fear and tremble: yet I have still some expectation that his compassion may interpose in my behalf.—But doth he put off his terrible Majesty, and, instead of vindicating the authority, condescend to plead the reasonableness of his law? then I am sure that his forbearance is almost ex
hausted, and that my day of grace is drawing near to an end. For as he neither wants power to punish, nor provocation to justify the punishment he might inflict, bis design in stooping so low, can only be to render my condemnation consistent with the utmost extent of his mer cy. In the words of the text, the Supreme Lord of hea. ven and earth appeals to sinners themselves for the mild. ness and equity of his government: and challengeth them to produce one instance of undue severity towards them, or the least shadow of excuse for their undutiful behaviour towards him. “O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? Tes. tify against me.” And doth the infinitely wise God con. descend to be tried at the bar of human reason? Can it then be supposed that his cause is doubtful, or that he runs the least hazard of being cast in judgment? Have we not reason to conclude, that the evidence of his goodness must be clear and irresistible, when he offers it to trial before the most partial tribunal, and submits his vindication to those very persons who cannot justify him without condemning themselves?
But as sinners are naturally supposed to shun the light, and to turn away their eyes from every thing that bath a tendency to humble and abase them; it may be of use to bring this cause to a fair and open trial: Which, through divine assistance, I propose to do.
First. By giving you a direct proof of the goodness of God, and of bis tender concern for the welfare of his creatures.
Secondly. By examining some of the most plausible objections which are argued against the mildness and equity of the divine administration.
I will then conclude with a divine and practical improvement of the subject.
I BEGIN with giving you a direct proof of the good. ness of God, and of bis tender concern for the welfare of his creatures. This appears, in the
1st place, From the unwearied patience which he exerciseth towards transgressors. How easily could ho arrest them in the midst of their mad career, and hurry them to judgment with all their provocations on their heads? Might not God have seized thee, O sinner, in the very act of sin, with a curse or a lie in thy mouth, and have stopped that breath with wbich thou wast insulting his name and his laws? How often might he have summoned thee to his deed tribunal in a fit of drunkenness; and made thee sober in that place of torment where there is not a drop of water to cool the thirsty tongue? Ah, how easy a matter is it for the Almighty to bring down the proudest of his foes? to silence the profane, injurious railer? to bind the bands of the oppressors, and to make them know that they are but worms? We read of one angel destroying in one night an hundred and fourscore and five thousand Assyrians; and myriads of angels stand continually before his throne ready to execute whatever he commands. He is the Lord of Hosts, " who doth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.” How easily can he throw thee into a bed of languishing? and waste thy strength under such a pining sickness, or racking pain, as to make thee cry for mercy to him whom thou blasphemest, and even beg the prayers of those whom thou wast wont to scorn? But God hath as yet done none of these things. By his merciful visitation he preserves thee in the land of the living and in the land of hope. He supplies all thy wants, and loads thee with increasing benefits. He gave thee that breath which thou hast breathed out against him, and