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manger of his birth; think on his life of toil, reproach, and sorrow; think on his prayers, his tears, and bloody sweat in the garden; think on all the untold, inconceivable agonies of his cross; think on the sepulchre through which he passed to prepare for you mansions of celestial and everlasting bliss; think on all these until your heart melts in godly sorrow for your sins, and your bosom glows with the warmest emotions of gratitude, love, and praise.
4. Let me also assure the awakened sinner, that his burden of guilt can be removed only by applying to that blood which will purge his conscience from dead works to serve the living God. Are you oppressed with such a sense of sin and ill-desert, as leads you to inquire with deep solicitude what you must do to be saved? When you consider how long you have lived without God, or prayer, or hope; how long you have enjoyed the bounties of his providence, and all the privileges of his grace, without making any returns of gratitude and love; how often you have broken his law, slighted his gospel, and done despite unto his Spirit; does your conscience in view of all this smite you? How then can you silence its reproaches? You may pray-you must pray; but will your prayers hush its clamors? You may, and must weep in godly sorrow; but can even such tears wash the stains of guilt from your soul? You may renounce your sins, and live a new life; but can even an entire change of character erase from God's book of remembrance a single one of the numberless offences you have committed against him? How then can you escape the endless miseries of remorse? Apply to that blood which speaketh better things than the blood of Abel. Come to the cross of Christ; for here, and only here, can you find a balm of sovereign power to heal your wounded spirit, and give your conscience perfect and everlasting peace. The Savior himself invites you: “Come unto me all ye that labor, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. The Spirit and the bride say, come; let him that heareth say, come; let him that is athirst come; and whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely."
5. But a cordial acceptance of these invitations is indispensable to the sinner's salvation. Here is a sovereign remedy; but can it, without being applied, heal the diseases of sin? The banquet of the Gospel is spread before you; but if you refuse to taste, must you not famish for ever? physician cure the patient that will not follow his prescriptions? untasted refresh the body, or light unseen charm the eye, or music unheard regale the ear?
Consider then the absolute necessity of purifying your conscience by an
actual application of atoning blood. If the blood of Christ does not here purge your conscience from dead works, can you reasonably expect to serve and enjoy God for ever in heaven? Can you, with a heart unsanctified, and a conscience unappeased, be happy any where under the reign of Jehovah? Have you then forgotten the great, immutable law of his empire-"The soul that sinneth, it shall die?" Can you, under such a law, ever be happy in your sins? Happy while cherishing the deathless worm of remorse in your bosom! Happy while drinking at the fountain of all the miseries in the universe! Alas! can a man take fire in his bosom, and not be burned? Can the dead share the pleasures of life? Can the deaf enjoy the melodies of music; or the blind gaze on the sublime and beautiful scenery of nature? While blind to the glories of a Savior, a stranger to the transforming power of his Gospel, and dead in trespasses and sins; can such a man, without a radical change of character, avert for ever the stings of remorse, or relish the holy enjoyments of religion?
True, you may even in your sins enjoy a kind of happiness in a world of probation through which God is pouring the full tide of his temporal and spiritual favors. You may here gaze with delight on the beauties of nature and art; you may taste all the sweets of society, friendship, and domestic life. If remorse corrodes, you may mitigate its pangs by a thousand objects. You may frequent places of gay and fashionable resort; you may plunge into the vortex of sensual pleasures; you may engross your mind with the cares of life, and the perplexities of business; you may regale your taste with the flowers of literature, or feast your intellect on the banquet of science, or cheer your heart with all the sweet reciprocities of friendship and domestic affection. Oh! there is in these a siren charm to lull asleep the bitter recollections and dark forebodings of guilt! But scenes far more congenial to remorse and despair are fast approaching. And in that lone land where no rills of mercy flow; where no ray of hope glimmers on the blackness of darkness for ever; where no ties of kindred, no sweets of friendship, no endearments of home are known; where no song of mirth is heard, no object of beauty strikes the eye, no pleasures of sense allure the taste; where nothing is found to sooth remorse, or alleviate despair; but every thing conspires to turn the mind upon its own guilty recollections, and fill the whole soul with a sense of its past and still increasing guilt;— can the sinner be happy there? Does he then dream of being happy in his sins? Alas! he may one day wake from this delusive dread realities of endless, hopeless, unmitigated remorse. God grant that he may awake before he reaches that world where he will find no atoning Savior, no sanctifying Spirit, no balm of Gilead for the wounds of sin. His conscience may here sleep awhile; but it cannot sleep for ever. In the
dream to all the
hour of death, if not before, it may awake like that of the phrensied Altamont; and in eternity it must and will awake in tenfold rage, to kindle those fires which shall never be quenched.
"Look round, and see those numbers infinite,
"O love divine! harp, lift thy voice on high!
My lyre, be eloquent with endless praise !
Stooping from heaven to earth, from earth to hell,
Without beginning, endless, boundless love!
Above all asking, giving far to those
Who naught deserved, who naught deserved but death.
Saving the vilest! saving me! O love
Divine! O Savior God! O Lamb, once slain!
All fly-as from the great white throne, which he,
HUMAN DEPRAVITY, AND ITS REMEDY. JOHN, XV. 3. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
THE word clean is often figuratively used in Scripture to express moral · or spiritual purification. In this sense it is evidently used in this passage. The disciples, to whom Christ originally addressed the text, were once depraved, destitute of holiness, under the power of sin, prone to evil, and averse to all good. But they had all been cleansed from this original depravity, and had become habitually holy. The means or instrument by which this great moral change had been wrought upon them, was the word of Christ.
The same is true of all who are now the real disciples of Christ; they were once depraved, and they have been cleansed or made holy through the instrumentality of the word of Christ.
The text teaches, by implication, man's depravity; and instructs us how may be remedied.
The object of the ensuing discourse will be,
I. To establish the fact of human depravity.
II. To speak of the remedy presented in the Gospel.
VOL. 5.-No. 6.
I. As to the fact; this is implied in the text. That the disciples had been made clean through the word of Christ which had been spoken unto them, evidently implies that they had previously been unclean, or destitute of holiness, and positively corrupt or depraved and this is true of all mankind. By nature, or in their natural state, all are depraved-destitute of holiness-prone to evil, and averse to good continually.
This is proved by the declarations of the word of God, and by facts.
In the Scriptures we read, "The imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth." "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one." "What is man that he should be clean? and he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous?" "The heart of the sons of men is full of evil, and madness is in their heart while they live." "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." "The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." "There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way; they are together become unprofitable: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes." Such is the testimony of God, in his word, respecting the native character of man; and it does unequivocally establish the universal and total depravity of human nature.
This testimony is abundantly confirmed by facts. The history of the world, in all ages, is a history of human depravity. The historic page is continually polluted with human crime.
But we need not recur to ages past for evidence of human depravity; the painful proof is ever before our eyes; we meet it constantly in our intercourse with our fellow-men. What do the deceptions and frauds so frequently witnessed in the commerce of men with each other, and by which multitudes are injured, and even ruined in their estates prove? They prove human depravity. The same is proved by the lying, and slander, and backbiting, and tale-bearing so common in society, and so destructive of social enjoyment. Mingle in society, and your ears are often assailed with oaths, and curses, and blasphemies-every one of them painfully illustrating the depraved and ruined character of man. Look at the awful profanation of