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surely this hope diminishes, as impenitency rant of its worth, tramples it under foot? Do becomes inveterate. Surely favourable op- we cease to admire Handel because some have portunities may elapse and return no more. no ears for his harmony and melody, or may Surely convictions may be stifled, and im- choose to be perverse and fastidious ?—But pressions worn off never to be renewed. what do we? We disregard ignorance and Surely, by unsanctified attendance, year after prejudice, and seek after a proper standard by year, the most important truths may become which we may obtain the decisions of truth. so familiar as to lose all their effect. Surely, Let us apply the same rule to the subject be by incessant trifling with divine things, God I fore us. To know the dreadfulness of this may be provoked to recall his influence from judgment, let us, his ordinances and thus will be fulfilled the First; dwell upon the advantages derivaprophecy of Esaias, who saith, “ Hearing ye ble from the preaching of the gospel
. The shall hear, and shall not understand ; and see- generality of those that are called by divine ing ye shall see, and shall not perceive : for grace are saved by this instrumentality.this people's heart is waxed gross, and their “ Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they the word of God." And the usefulness of it have closed ; lest at any time they should see continues through the whole of the Christian with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and life. “He gave some, apostles; and some, shɔuld understand with their heart, and should prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, be converted, and I should heal them.” pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the
We may consider this famine as doctrinal. saints, for the work of the ministry, for the It may then be occasioned by the removal of edifying of the body of Christ : till we all faithful ministers, and the succession of others come, in the unity of the faith, and of the of different principles. This is sure to cause knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect a declension in the number and in the zeal man, unto the measure of the stature of the of the members of churches. For the grace fulness of Christ.” Some are unable to read, and the truth of God always go together. and many have little time to search the And in this case the gospel is really taken Scriptures. Particular errors and vices are away, and something is made a substitute continually arising and prevailing, that rethat will be found ineffectual for all the pur- quire the application of particular doctrines
, poses of conversion and consolation. As light and the inculcation of particular duties: and recedes, darkness in the same proportion fol- a minister will study these in the choice and lows. Every system has some parts in it that in the discussion of his subjects. How often are essential. When the leading doctrines in his palaces have some of you found God for of the gospel are denied or concealed, the a refuge! How often have your perplexities gospel is withdrawn; and when this is with been solved, your fears banished, your hearts drawn, " Ichabod” may be inscribed upon the filled with all joy and peace in believing !walls of the building: -—" The glory is de- Could you be reconciled to the thought of parted."
losing all the pleasure and profit you have This famine may be considered as literal. found by experience to be connected with This is the case when a people are deprived the means of grace ? of the very institutions of religion, and are Secondly; let us think of the importance forbidden the assembling of themselves to of the soul and eternity. The body is the gether according to their convictions. This meanest part of our nature; and time is the may be done by the inroads and oppression of shortest portion of our" duration, by a decree an enemy; by the encroachments of tyranny; no less than infinite. The chief question by the loss of liberty of conscience. Our therefore should never be, “ What shall I eat, forefathers could explain this.
and what shall I drink, and wherewithal II. Let us pass from the nature of this shall I be clothed?”—but “ What must I do judgment, to examine THE DREADFULNESS OF to be saved ?" The chief care ought to be, IT. To some men indeed this famine would to gain spiritual wealth, spiritual honour, be a very little grievance. Probably it would spiritual food—for these regard man in his prove a pleasure rather than a pain. If the most essential claims and necessities. Every gospel was removed, they would be less in- thing should be considered as good or evil
, commoled and alarmed. They would rather according to its connexion with the soul and have no prophets, unless they would “ pro- eternity: and from this principle, which a phesy smooth things.” Of á Micaiah they child can understand, we infer, that, beyond exclaim, “ I hate hin; for he doth not pro- all comparison, the famine most to be dreadphesy good concerning me, but evil." Yea, ed is that which regards not the body, but they say,"—how dreadful are actions put into the soul; not time, but eternity. words,—"yea, they say unto God, Depart Thirdly; observe the design of such a disfrom us; we desire not the knowledge of thy pensation. Some judgments, though painful, ways.” But do we take the value of learn- are still profitable. They remove the human ing from the opinion of a fool ? Do we esti- arm; but it is to lead us to a dependence on mate the jewel from the swine, that, igno- the Divine. They take away the desires of our eyes; but it is that we may ask, “Where III. We have to reflect on THE EXECUTION is God my Maker, that giveth songs in the OF THIS SENTENCE. For some may be ready night?" How blessed was the humiliation to say, How can such a thing be? It is very that reduced Manasseh from the throne into improbable; and, considering the divine proa rrison, where he sought and found the Lord mise, it seems to be impossible. For has he God of his fathers ! How kind was the famine not said—“ This is my covenant with them, that drove the prodigal to his father's house! saith the Lord ; my Spirit that is upon thee, "O) Goi, chastise me, but do not abandon and my words which I have put in thy mouth, me. Try me as thou pleasest, but do not shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of withdraw from me the proofs and the me- the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth diums of thy grace. Say any thing but this of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, from hence-He is joined to idols, let him alone."" forth and for ever. Upon this rock will I Other judgments are in mercy, but this is in build my church, and the gates of hell shall wrath. Other judgments are parental, but not prevail against it.” But a distinct on inthis is penal. Other judgments may urge us stantly removes this difficulty: God has eninto heaven; but this is the way to hell, gaged to establish his church · universally; "going down to the chambers of death." but this does not regard any particular body IT.
Fourthly. In estimating this curse, let us of professors. He has engaged that the gosappeal to the sentiments of the righteous. pel shall never be removed from the world; Their conviction, in a case like this, far out- but this does not hinder the withdrawment weighs the opinion of the politicians and phi- of it from particular places. If after all you losophers of the age. The question is a re- are slow of heart to believe; if you are still ligious one, and the spiritual judgeth all thinking that such language as this never things, though he himself is judged of no can, or never will be accomplished with reman. In what terms does David deplore gard to us; let me ask you, the loss of divine assemblies? “When I re- First. Is not He who utters this threatening member these things, I pour out my soul in almighty, and so able to fulfil it? If he has me: for I had gone with the multitude, I infinite resources, from which he can bless vent with them to the house of God, with the his friends, he has the same power, the same voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that dominion to furnish him with arms against kept holy day. O God, thou art my God; his enemies. He can never be at a loss for carly will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for instruments to do his pleasure; nor can these thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a thirsty instruments, however weak in themselves, land, where no water is; to see thy power prove feeble in the hand of Omnipotence. and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the Secondly. Is not He who utters this sanctuary." Take those who are confined threatening just, and so disposed to fulfil it ? from the ordinances of God by disease or ac- Men may draw God as they please ; they cident—though God does not leave them may imagine bim all patience and pity ; but comfortless, neither are they unsubmissive, they will find themselves mistaken. “A God yet with the recovering Hezekiah they are all mercy is a God unjust.” He is an equitaasking, “What is the sign that I shall go up ble Governor, as well as a tender Father, to the house of the Lord ?"
He is holy in all his ways, and righteous in We can rise but one step higher, and there all his works. If sin is the abominable thing we meet with God himself. His people may that he hates—if it be aggravated by light err: but his understanding is infinite; he and knowledge—if the servant that knew his cannot be deceived. What does he think of Lord's will and did it not shall be beaten this judgment? You may infer it from his with many stripes—if the abuse of the greatbenediction; “Blessed are the people that est privilege be the greatest guilt-can God know the joyful sound.” You may infer it see all this without concern, without provofrom his promise; I will give them pastors cation? If at an infinite expense he has sent after my own heart, that shall feed them the gospel among us, and we make light of with knowledge and understanding. Though it; refuse to read or to hear it; or make the the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and hearing of it a matter of mere curiosity or the water of affliction, yet shall not thy entertainment; applying it to no one purteachers be removed into a corner any more, dose for which it was given, or turning it into but thine eyes shall see thy teachers : and licentiousness—is it conceivable that we can thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, do this with impunity? Can God connive saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when at such wickedness? Must he not prove ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn that he is “of purer eyes than to behold into the left." You may infer it from his iquity ?" Mercy sent forth the messengers threatening ; “Behold, the days come, saith to invite to the marriage-feast: but what said the Lord God, that I will send a famine in Justice of those that refused ? « None of the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst the men that were bidden shall taste of my for water, but of hearing the words of the supper.” Lord."
Thirdly. Is not he that utters this threat
ening, faithful, and so bound to fulfil it? Even | light, lest darkness come upon you: for he a Balaam could say, “ The Lord is not a man that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither that he should lie, or the son of man that he he goeth. While ye have the light, believe should repent. Hath he said, and shall he in the light, that ye may be the children of not do it! Hath he spoken, and shall he not the light.” With gospel means, be concerned make it good?"-He has evinced his truth to obtain gospel grace; and earnestly pray in his denunciations as well as his promises. that the ministry of the word may become If Joseph found his word true, so did Pharaoh; the ministration of the Spirit. Be ye doers and Saul was constrained to believe it as well of the word, and not hearers only, decewing as David.
your own selves. For if any be a hearer Fourthly. Has not he who utters this the word, and not a doer, he is like unto : threatening fulfilled it already in various in- man beholding his natural face in a glass : fur stances? Here we appeal from principles to he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and facts. The gospel has been removed from a straightway forgetteth what manner of country ; a people have been unchurched. he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect The Jews are an eminent example. While law of liberty, and continueth therein, he bethey enjoyed their ceremonial services, they ing not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the had the gospel in type; and when the Saviour work, this man shall be blessed in his deed." was among them, they had the gospel in re- Finally. As it is so dreadful to be destiality: but the kingdom of God was taken from tute of the gospel, think how many of your thein, and given to a people “ bringing forth fellow-creatures are found in this deplorabie fruit in its season.” When we consider the condition. They would be glad with the names by which they were called; the mira- crumbs that fall from your table. They never cles, the ordinances, the privileges that distin-hear of a Saviour. They feel depraved proguished them; and see this garden of the Lord pensities, but know nothing of that grace laid waste, this people a reproach and a by- which can create in us a clean heart, and reword—with what force comes the admonition new in us a right spirit. They feel guilty of the apostle : “ If he spared not the natural fears, but know nothing of that blood which branches, take heed also lest he spare not cleanses us from all sin. Pray that the thee.” What became of the Church of Rome, Scriptures, and that missionaries may speedily so famous as to be “ spoken of throughout the reach them. Pray that the Sun of righteous whole world ?" It was made “a cage for ness may arise, with healing under his wings
, every unclean bird.” Where are the seven and comfort them with the knowledge of salchurches of Asia ? The places that once
vation. “ God be merciful unto us, and bless knew them, know them no more for ever. us; and cause his face to shine upon us. That The blasphemies of the Koran sound where thy way may be known upon earth, thy 64once the name of Jesus was as ointment ving health among all nations. Let the perpoured forth; and the banners of an infamous ple praise thee, O God; let all the people impostor wave where once was erected the praise thee. O let the nations be glad and standard of the Cross, to draw all men into it. sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people All these had a time wherein to know the righteously, and govern the nations upon things that belonged to their peace—and then earth." they were hid from their eyes. - Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
DISCOURSE LVI. The subject demands gratitude. We have reason to bless God that we have not had
CONVERSION. a famine of bread; that he has crowned the year with his goodness; and fed us with the Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, finest of the wheat. But still less has he visited and become as little children, ye shall no us with a famine of hearing the words of the
enter into the kingdom of heaven.—Math
. Lord. Why did the gospel reach us at such
xviii. 3. an early period? Why, when it was denied The disciples were such dull scholars, to so many, was it imparted to as ? Why, that after all the education our Lord and Sasince it has been withdrawn from numbers viour had given them, they were yet imagin; once favoured with it, is the blessing yet con- ing that his kingdom * was of this world.” tinued to us—and in such purity and plenty? They supposed that he would deliver them
- Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto from the Roman yoke; advance them as a thy Name give glory, for thy mercy and for nation to the high places of the earth; and thy truth's sake."
lead them forth conquering and to conquer. Again. Let us be concerned to improve In this secular empire they believed there it while we possess it. It is our Saviour's would be degrees of power and glory, as in application of the same doctrine. “Then Je- any other; and expecting that these places sus said unto them, Yet a little while is the would be filled by some of their own body
, light with you. Walk while ye have the after a dispute among themselves, they in
quire of their Master which of them shouldness, in waywardness, in pettishness. Have be the greatest ?
you never met with persons whom it is imHow does our Lord reprove and instruct possible to please? Or whose importance and them? Instead of delivering a lecture on vanity are gratified by the perplexity of your the abstract nature and advantages of a state attempt? It is not because you employed the of mind with which they appeared to be al- wrong expedient that you were not successmost entirely unacquainted; "he called a lit- ful; any other would have met with the same tle child unto him, and set him in the midst fate. The more you allure, the further are of them—and said, Verily I say unto you, Ex- they off-the very thing to which our Sacept ye be converted, and become as little viour refers. “Whereunto shall I liken this children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom generation? It is like unto children sitting of heaven."
in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, Let us consider,
and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye
have not danced; we have mourned unto you, I. THE TEMPER THAT DISTINGUISHES THE and ye have not lamented.", SUBJECTS OF DIVINE GRACE. IL THE WAY IN WHICH WE ARE TO ATTAIN like little children. And yet we are enjoined
In all this we are forbidden to be found III. THE IMPORTANCE OF POSSESSING IT.
by our Saviour to resemble them. How is
this? I answer, metaphors employed by the I. THE TEMPER THAT DISTINGUISHES THE sacred writers are not to be taken universally, SUBJECTS OF DIVINE GRACE. It is infantile. but in connexion with the subject that reWe must be “as little children.” But it is quires illustration. It is sufficient that there not to be inferred that we are to resemble be a real and striking resemblance in the arthem in every thing
ticle of comparison. And this is unquestionWe are not to be like them in ignorance: ably the case here. “Be ye not children in understanding.” A For we may observe, that as soon as child. grayheaded babe would be an unnatural and ren are ushered into the world, they cry for a shocking sight: and yet there are persons the nourishment God has prepared for them. who have been many years in the religious And as it is in nature, so it is in grace. The world, who have never cultivated their minds, new creature has wants to be relieved, and nor improved their privileges and opportuni- appetites to be indulged: and there is provities; and who may be addressed in the words sion suited to them in religion. Hence we of the apostle, “When for the time ye ought read, “ As newborn babes, desire the sincere to be teachers, ye have need that one teach milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby." you again which be the first principles of the Again. Little children are teachable, and oracles of God; and are become such as have ready of belief. They receive with unsusneed of milk, and not of strong meat. For pecting confidence the declaration of their every one that useth milk is unskilful in the father. If any doubt arises, if any dispute word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But occurs, they run to him, and his testimony strong meat belongeth to them that are of full decides every thing. Thus should it be with age, even those who by reason of use have us. We are to receive the kingdom of heatheir senses exercised to discern both good ven as a little child. I was going to say, We and evil.”
cannot be too credulous when God speaks. We are not to resemble them in fickle- He cannot be imposed upon himself, and he ness: “That we henceforth be no more cannot deceive us: his wisdom forbids the children, tossed to and fro, and carried about one, and his truth the other. What one party with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight believes, and another denies, should have litof men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they tle influence over us; while we haye the judglie in wait to deceive.” Children are ex- ment of God, to which we can appeal. “To the tremely versatile. Though they are impress-law and to the testimony: if they speak not ed with a thousand things, and seem for the according to this word, it is because there is time incapable of growing weary of them, they no light in them.” When we find any thing pursue nothing with certainty and constancy. revealed in this book, we are not to hesitate And there are men, there are professors like in admitting it; we are not to reason upon it, them. They have no determinate sentiments; How can these things be?" but with a ready they have no fixed plan; they live extem- mind yield up ourselves to the "obedience of pore; they wander from party to party, they faith; and do all things without murmuring rove from preacher to preacher; you can or disputing.” place no dependence upon them; their at- Little children also are distinguished by a tachment and behaviour to-day are no proofs freedom from anxieties. Though they possess of their attachment and behaviour to-morrow. nothing adequate to their own support, and Let not such think to rise to eminence. Con- see not the resources from which their supsistency, steadiness, is essential to character. plies come, they feel no uneasiness; they rely “ Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel." with cheerfulness on the father to provide for We are not to resemble them in sullen- them; and never question his ability or his
. And shall we despond because we are they are to "condescend to men of low es not affluent? Shall we be miserable because tate.” They are not to be ambitious of prewe are called to live by faith on the provi- eminence; they are not to be desirous of dence of God? Shall we disobey that gracious vain glory; provoking one another, envying command, “casting all your care upon him, one another.' They are not to “ seek great for he careth for you?" "Shall we never re- things for themselves;" they are to “ learn in gard the address of our Lord to his disciples? whatsoever state they are, therewith to be “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow content:" and, longing to be good rather than nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor to be great, feel the sentiment of David: barn; and God feedeth them: how much “ Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor mine more are ye better than the fowls!" " And eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in which of you with taking thought can add to great matters, or in things too high for me. his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able Surely I have behaved and quieted myself
, to do that thing which is least, why take ye as a child that is weaned of his mother: my thought for the rest? Consider the lilies soul is even as a weaned child.” Having how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; considered the nature of this temper, and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all II. Let us inquire THE WAY IN WHICH WE his glory was not arrayed like one of these. ARE TO ATTAIN IT. It is by conversion. We If then God so clothe the grass, which is to- must be “converted," and " become as little day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into children.” And this teaches us two things the oven; how much more will he clothe yon, which ought to be remembered. O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what First. The temper we are required to ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither possess is not in us naturally, but is the be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things consequence of a divine change. Innate do the nations of the world seek after: and depravity is, alas! too fully established by your Father knoweth that ye have need of Scripture, observation, and experience, to be these things. But rather seek ye the king- denied. A man that knows himself will dom of God; and all these things shall be readily subscribe to the mortifying confession added unto you."
of David: “I was shapen in iniquity, and in Little children are devoid of malignity. sin did my mother conceive me;" and acThe trifling resentments they sometimes feel knowledge, with Paul, “ In me, that is in my and discover are soon over, and they are “at flesh, dwelleth no good thing." This being one again," and as friendly as before. There admitted, it follows, that we are not made is nothing implacable in them: they easily Christians, but become such; that it is the forgive, and perfectly forget. For which rea- effect not of a natural but a spiritual birth. son the Apostle says, “ In malice be ye child- Ye must be “ born again." As creatures ren;" which is the same as saying, in another we are in Adam; but if any man be in Christ
, place, “ Be ye angry, and sin not : let not the " he is a new creature: old things have sun go down upon your wrath: neither give passed away; and, behold, all things are beplace to the devil. Let all bitterness, and come new. In order to be religious, we wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil must be saved—"saved by the washing of speaking, be put away from you, with all regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy malice: and be ye kind one to another, ten- Ghost.”—And since this conversion is de derhearted, forgiving one another, even as signed to produce in depraved beings such a God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” character as our Saviour describes, it also
But the thing principally, though not ex- follows that this conversion implies much clusively intended, is the humility of little more than a change of opinions, or a mere children. Hence our Saviour adds, “ Who- reformation of manners.
It is a renovation soever therefore shall humble himself as this in the state of the heart; in our principles, httle child, the same is greatest in the king- motives, and dispositions. It turns the whole dom of heaven." Little children have no bias of the soul another way, and proves by ideas of distinction till they are given them. its tendency that it is divine, according to They do not assume state, or stand up for the promise ; " Then will I sprinkle clean points of honour. If they were not taught water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from otherwise by their hopeful parents, they all your filthiness, and from all your idols
; would be satisfied with the simplest fare and will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I the plainest raiment. Left to themselves, give you, and a new spirit will I put within the children of a nobleman would play fami- you: and I will take away the stony heart Tiarly with the child of a peasant. They out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart have no great aims; no towering projects'; of flesh. And I will put my spirit within they are pleased with little and common you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, things.
and ye shall keep my judgments, and do And Christians are required not only to them.” wear humility, but to be a clothed" with it. Secondly. This change is to be judged of They are to be sensible of their insufficiency; l by its effect. Here many people err. They