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hath he, who neglects the ordinary means of instruction, to expect extraordinary and unpromised assistance ?
What if God, provoked with your conduct, should say to you, as he said to the obstinate Jews, “ Behold, I am against thee!" All my perfections wait to befriend thee: but all my perfections condemn thy conduct, and all will be employed to punish thee at last, if thou continuest incorrigible. Miserable sinner! say, if thou hast the heart, I would serve God; but he is impatient, and difficult to be pleased. I would seek him; but he is unjust and unkind, and will not forgive my defects, nor reward my labours. I would serve him: but he lies in wait to deceive me, and sets his power to resist me. I would love him as my chief good; but his nature is not enough to render me happy: either he doth not know how to make the wretched happy, or he will not give his knowledge effect. Miserable man! Is it out of thy power to say thus ? Art thou obliged to avow the direct contrary? And how then wilt thou look the Judge of the world in the face ? Ah! thou wilt be 6 speechless.”
Some are so hard driven for excuses as to take them from the state of the church, and from that of the world. The church, say they, is thin, poor, persecuted, and some of the members of it fall into sin “seven times," and even sin against one another “ seventy times seven times in a day." True, some good men of bad constitution and in strong temptation do trespass against their brethren many times in a day; but they “ turn again” as many times, “ saying, We repent;" from hence you argue that you, who perpetually sin, but never repent, ought to be forgiven! Is this fair? True, "the just man falleth seven times,” but he “riseth again," and 5 seven times a day praiseth God because of his righteous judgments :" and hence you infer, that you who lie perpetually in wickedness ought to be applauded for doing so. How is it, that while you observe the failings of good men, you are blind to their excellencies, and to the greater excellencies of others who have not their failings? Is it the failings of these men that you disapprove? I fear you rejoice in their faults, and dis
like their virtues. What if the church be thin, and poor, and persecuted, is it the less respectable on these accounts? Is it not the more so ? These are the faithful souls, who realize what Peter promised, and each saith to Jesus Christ, “ Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise.” These Christians ought to strike thee dumb; they have put it out of thy power to say, religion is impracticable. On your principles Christ and only twelve apostles, and they all in an upper room persecuted, as when one doth hunt a partridge in the mountains," would have furnished you with an excuse as much more plausible as twelve are less than twelve hundred thousand.
perceive, are in the world, and thence you fetch excuses; but, as there would be no end of following such vain pretences, so we venture to say once for all, that if the whole world were up in arms against God, you ought, like Noah, to attend to the just and merciful voice, that saith, “ The end of all flesh is come, behold the earth is filled with violence, I will destroy them; but come thou, and all thy house, into the ark.” Who but a madman would perish for the sake of company !
After all, what are excuses of this kind good for? What end do they answer except that of colouring a black and desperate cause, a cause of rebellion against God, and wickedness, and wretchedness, and high treason against ourselves? Is there any thing in stupidity and sin worth all this, and can any thing be supposed so horrible, as that man should rack his invention to sink himself into the condition of a brute? How flimsy will all these excuses appear when sickness and death come ? True, such a man will not be troubled with our exhortations then : but his conscience, his own conscience will accuse him ; “ he shall flee from the iron weapon, but the bow of steel shall strike him through. The heavens shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him."
For my part, I have consulted my pity, and if it were possible for me to frame an excuse, and to affirm, that man ought to be allowed to live in sin, I would not conceal it. Why should we conceal any
thing that is just and right? but if any thing be unjust, why should we not expose it? No, we can find no excuse, and we declare, in the face of heaven and earth, that as the salvation of the righteous is all of the Lord, so the destruction of the wicked is all of themselves ; and an unconverted professor of religion is inexcusable now for living in sin, will be inexcusable when he dies for dying in sin, and when the Judge shall require an account of his conduct at the last day, will be inexcusable and “ speechless.”
I finish with two reflections. First, let our text be an apology, if any apology be necessary, for the ministry, which your teachers exercise among you. They believe Jesus Christ, see the day a coming, dread the consequence to you, and endeavour to save you, with fear pulling you out of the fire.” Happy, happy in the highest degree, should God succeed our labours ! Let the text also reconcile Christians to all they meet with here. What are afflictions, what are persecutions, what are the most severe trials in comparison with the shame and disgrace foretold in the text? Now the Christian may be, on many fashionable subjects, as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth," and in whose lips there is no swearing, no slander, no falsehood,“ no guile:” but in that day he will not be “speechless,” he will be without fault before the throne of God, and will “ cry with a loud voice, Salvation to our God, and unto the Lamb forever and ever.
God grant you all this grace. To him be honour and glory forever. Amen.
ANY PERSON, WHO UNDERSTANDS CHRISTIANITY, MAY TEACH IT.
1 CORINTHIANS xiv. 31.
Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and
all be comforted.
Much as I admire the modest soul that uttered these words, and greatly as I think they contribute to public edification, I confess freely to you, I should have had no heart to speak on the subject to night, had I not recollected a passage of Scripture, which I shall mention presently: for what am I about? I am going to try to convince you, that any person, who understands the Christian religion, máy teach it. I say, I should have had no heart to teach this, for what a difference is there between us and the church at Corinth, to whom the text is addressed ! 66 Jesus Christ had enriched them in all knowledge, and in all utterance, so that they came behind in no gift.” When they assembled for the worship of God, one had a psalm,” another" a doctrine,” a third
a tongue,” a fourth “ a revelation,” a fifth 66 an interpretation," so that an ignorant unbeliever, if he came into the assembly, would be informed, and convinced, and would be obliged to “ report, that God was in them of a truth.” This was not peculiar to the church at Corinth, for these gifts were not bestowed with a niggardly hand, but in rich abundance on all the churches, and the vain boast of the king of Assyria was a sober truth in the mouth of Jesus Christ, “ Are not my princes altogether kings ?” Happy for mankind, these eminent men were saints, and their mighty powers were not dangerous instruments of mischief, not causes of " confusion, but of peace in all the churches."
How different are Christian churches now! The primitive Christians understood religion in all its parts; but we have forgotten some, added others, and perplexed all. They understood each part in all its extent; but we seldom trace a truth backward to its spring, or forward to its outfall. They knew what to say, and where to stop; but we rashly decide what they durst not determine, and have nothing to say on their chief subjects. Far from bringing a psalm or a doctrine to increase the stock, we can hardly carry them home in our memories when they are given us. We go to Chris tian assemblies, not like bees to their own hives, each to contribute a little to the general store; but like bees burnt out of their own hives to carry away the labours of others. In this, too general a case, who can wonder we should be slow to teach the doctrine of the text ?
However, we are emboldened to teach this branch of Christian doctrine, not only from a consideration of its general usefulness, but from a declaration of God himself to Moses : 6 I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name Jehovah, was I not known to them.' Hence I infer, that religious knowledge is in different degrees in different men, who yet are all excellent in their kind. Jehovah was a name, which God condescended to take (for all names are beneath his dignity), to convey to Moses proper ideas of such perfections as he was about to display to suit the circumstances of the poor enslaved Israelites; and this name conveyed more knowledge of God than the Patriarchs had been favoured with, as their circumstances had not required so much information. Jehovah was a great name; bụt Jesus Christ taught us God under a much greater, by directing us to call him Our Father, abating nothing of the majesty of Jehovah, while he united with it the nildness of a pa