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he whom we had sometimes in derifion, and a proverb of reproach. We fools counted his life madness, and his end to be without boncur. How is he numbered among the children of God, and his lot is among the saints * !
3. We may well admire the condescension of this great King, who humbleth himself even to notice the worship of heaven ; that he should look upon the worship of finful men with acceptance, and permit such worms as we are to take his holy name upon our polluted lips. If we know ourselves, we must be conscious of such defects and defilement attending our best services, as are sufficient to affect us with shame and humiliation. What wanderings of imagination, what rifings of evil thoughts, what unavoidable
though unallowed workings of self-compla· cence, mingle with our prayers and praises, and disturb us in our secret retirements, in the public affembly, and even at the table of the Lord! I hope we know enough of this; to be sensible that we need forgiveness, not only for our positive transgressions of his will, but for our sincerest, warmest, and most enlarged attempts to render him the glory Wild, v. 1-5
duc due to his name! Yet we are incompetent and partial judges of ourselves; we know but little of the evil of our own hearts, and have but a slight sense of the malignity of that evil which is within our observation, But the Lord searches the heart and the reins, to him all things are naked, without covering, open * without concealment. He underftandeth our thoughts afar off, and beholdeth us exactly as we are. Our dislike of fin, is proportionable to our attainments in holiness, which are exceedingly short of the standard. But he is infinitely holy, and therefore evil is unspeakably hateful to him, -How vile and abominable therefore must our fins appear in his view ! Indeed, if he was strict to mark what is amiss, we could not stand a moment before him. Nor would it be agreeable to his majesty and purity to accept any services or prayers at our hands, if we presumed to offer them in our own name. But now there is an atonement proa vided, and a way of access to a throne of grace, sprinkled with the blood which speak. eth better things than the blood of Abel, Now that we have an Advocate, Interceffor, and High Priest, to bear the iniquity of our
holy things, we are accepted in the Beloved. Now the great and holy God vouchsafes to admit such finners into communion with himself. He invites us to draw near with boldness; and because of ourselves we know not how to pray as we ought *, he favours us with the influence of his holy Spirit. It is a great instance of the power of faith, that, remembering what we have been, and feel ing what we are, and having some right apprehension of him with whom we have to do, we are enabled to approach him with confidence, and to open our hearts to him, with greater liberty than we can use to our dearef earthly friends. His people know by many infallible proofs, that his presence is with them in their secret retirements, and in their public assemblies, according to his promise. He hears and answers their prayers, he revives their spirits, he renews their strength; he gives them reason to say, that a day in his courts is better than a thousand of the world's days. Such are their expectations, and fuch, in the exercise of faith, is their experience. They worship him whom the angels worship; and they know, that unworthy and defective as they are, their wor
* Rom. viii. 26.
fhip is no less acceptable to him, than that of the angels in glory, by virtue of their relation to him, who is Lord both of angels and men.
4. Hence we may infer the necessity of that change of heart, which the scripture expresses by a new birth, a new life, a new creation, and other representations, which denote it can only be effected by divine power. Till we are the subjects of this operation, we are incapable of enjoying or even of seeing the kingdom of God *. Though to outward appearance the congregation before me seem all to be serious and attentive, as if engaged in the fame design, and animated with the same desire and hope, he to whom our hearts are known, doubtless observes a great difference. Some of you, though custom, or a regard to your connexions, bring you hither, yet must be sensible that this is not your chosen ground, and that these are not the subjects which give you pleasure.
Christ Jesus the Lord. The Lord sees, though I cannot, the indisposition of your hearts towards him. You are soon weary and uneasy. * John iii. 3.
And you wish to throw the blame of your uneasiness upon the preacher. You regard his method, his manner, his expressions, with no friendly intention, in hopes of noticing something that may seem to justify your dislike ; and a sermon, not very long in itself, is to you very tedious. We wish well to your souls, we study to find out acceptable words; for though we dare not trifle with or flatter you, we are unwilling to give you just offence. But if you will be faithful to yourselves, you may perceive that it is not so much the length or the manner, as the subject of our sermons that disgusts you. You would, perhaps, hear with more attention and patience, did we speak less of him whom the angels worship.' There are assemblies more suited to your taste, and there are public speakers to whom you can probably afford a willing ear, for a much longer time than we detain you. Because there you are at home. You are of the world, and you love the world. The amusements, the business, the converse, and the customs of the world, suit your inclination. But here you are not, if I may so speak, in your proper element: and yet it may be, there are persons in the