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meaning is, that they have not been awakened and brought under conviction. They seem to suppose, that this is an excuse for their present inattention to religion : But if they should ever ·be brought under conviction, they will be convinced, that the stupidity, which they now ex. cuse, is inexcusable. God commands all men to repent, the stupid, as well as the awakened. It is one of the devices of satan, to lead sinners to pervert every thing which is good to their own destruction. It is a blessed truth, that God by his power awakens the consciences of those who are at ease in their sins; and that by his grace he renews their hearts. But it is a vile abuse of this truth, to form it into an excuse for a sottish stupidity in the things of religion; or for continuing a moment unreconciled to God. Christ called on the man with. the withered hand to stretch it forth. He began to obey, before he had evidence that the power of Christ was exerted, to enable him to do it. It was his duty to obey, with an entire dependance on divine pow. er. The impotence of sinners differs from the withered hand in this respect,---it is moral, and therefore, without excuse : But here is a resem. blance,---the sinner, in a spiritual sense, is commanded to stretch forth his withered hand, --- he also is dependent upon Christ, to enable him to do it, this he ought to know; but this should not lead him to delay for a moment his obedience to the command. He is not to wait, until he feels the power of Christ already exerted, to restore his withered hand: neither is there any way, that he can know that the healing power of Christ is
not lead his he ought to Christ, to
exerted, only by his stretching it forth. O that sinners would trifle no longer, with the calls of the Son of God which are addressed to them!
8. In view of this subject, we discover the self-righteous scheme of religion to be exceed. ingly contrary to truth. To be holy, even as God is holy, is no more than our duty at any time. Every thing short of this, is sin, and ex. poses to the curse of the law, which is punishment without end. How can creatures who are under obligation to be perfectly holy, and who, instead of this, are exceedingly wicked, expect favor from the hand of the Judge, on account of their own deservings ! Let every subject, which is calculated to discover the unreasonableness of depending on the works of the law for justification, be made use of, to beat us off from this san. dy foundation. The world is full of those who confidently expect happiness after death, because they think they have merited all this by their works of righteousness in this life. They have never known their need of Him, whose name is called The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
Lastly. If all men are under obligation to pos. sess the same holy character which God does, then am I, and you, my hearers, bound to possess this character. And is this the character which we now possess ? Are we followers of God as dear children ? If we possess any degree of his holy nature, let us feel ourselves under all possi. ble obligation to go on to perfection. How can those, who have seen the beauties of holiness, feel indifferent about making progress! Why do not all, who are born from above, like their be.
loved brother Paul, press towards the mark? And let those, who are yet in their sins, suffer the word of exhortation suggested by the present subject. My fellow-men! you are moral agents. You are the creatures of a holy Creator. He has commanded you to obey his voicc. His voice is distinctly heard in his holy word, which he has put into your hands. Although you have hitherto refused to submit to his government, he has not concluded to give up his authority over you. He still addresses you in the words of our text, “ Ye shall be holy ; for I the Lord your God am holy.” This command is reasonable. He can require nothing less, without giving up his right to reign over you. He can require nothing less, without allowing you to be wicked, and misera. ble. O bethink yourselves, ye children of Adam, ye probationers for eternal blessedness, or misery beyond the grave ! The God who made us will not be mocked. While we may be jest. ing, he is speaking to us in earnest. I intreat every one of you, to hear his voice. Do not de. lay a moment to return unto the Lord ; and be assured, he will return unto you. The least degree of holy regret for sin ; the least degree of holy trust in the Saviour, he will not despise. But whether ye will hear, or whether ye will forbear, this know; that the eternal God, your Creator, Preserver and Judge commands you, by all the authority of his throne, to be holy; for he himself is holy.
END OF SERMON VI.
2 CORINTHIANS v. 15. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but un. to him which died for them, and rose again.
THERE is an important sense in which Christ died for all ; became " a propitiation for the sins of the whole world,” and “ tasted death for eve. ry man.” His atonement is infinitely pleasing to God, as a substitution for the punishment of those who are personally guilty. In consequence of the death of Christ, the Father has set open the door of mercy to our fallen world, and every child of Adam is invited to enter, before the door is shut. It is in view of the ample provision which is made, that the servants of the King of Heaven are commanded to bid all, as many as they find, unto the marriage. But there is another, and more important sense, in which Christ died for those who are saved. He did not die merely to put them into a state in which they might be saved; but he died with a full deter. mination, to redeem them from all iniquity, and purify them unto himself. He died, that he might give them life ; even a spiritual and holy life, which should be supported by a different food, and devoted to a different end, from that which they lived when they were dead in tres. passes and sins.
and after that beforehat afterwa
The first clause of the verse might lead us to treat of the atonement, as consisting, not in the obedience, but the death of Christ; and also as a provision made, not for a part, but for all mankind; so that whosoever believeth might not per. ish, but have eternal life : But the verse has not been selected at this time, with a view to illus. trate, and prove these points of doctrine. The other part of the verse is proposed, as the foun. dation of the present discourse. And this sug. gests two important ideas; 1. That there is a real difference between the characters of men, before and after regeneration ; II. That the dif. ference is this, That before regeneration, they live unto themselves, and that afterwards, they live not unto themselves, but unto Christ.
I. The text will lead me to show, that regen. eration makes a real difference in the characters of men. Regeneration, or a change of heart, is what is meant in the text by living, in distinc. tion from being dead in the sense of the prece. ding verse. " Then were all.dead,".--the whole human race are by nature spiritually dead. Christ, the second Adam, is a quickening Spirit. He quickens the dead. The dead hear the voice of the Son of God, and live. The word, “ hence. forth,” in the text marks a dividing line in the life of those, who become subjects of grace. That regeneration is meant in the text, is made evident by the context, particularly the 17th verse, where it is said, “ If any man be in Christ; he is a new creature : old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.". · That there is a real, fundamental difference be.