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by asking, whether constant reference to the kindness and love of the Savior, in parting for a time with the enjoyments of Heaven, and consenting to humble himself to be made man, and to die for us upon the cross, would not possess power beyond all other considerations, to correct all that is evil and depraved in the heart of man? What sin of the human heart would any reasonable person wish to retain or cherish, if he were all the time standing near the cross upon
which his dearest friend, and that friend the ever blessed Son of God, was dying for his sake ? Could he in such a place be puffed up with pride, or be misled by self-love, or indulge discontent and murmuring under the allotments of ALMIGHTY GOD? Impossible. All the base, inbred secret passions and desires of the heart of man, perish when the Cross of CHRIST is in view ! Neither can the malevolent or wrong feelings of our heart towards our fellow creatures, any more than their inward and selfish feelings, bear the light that beams from the face of the crucified Jesus. Falsehood, deceit, anger, malice, revenge, appear insupportably wrong in the presence of the most meek, forgiving, and bleeding Savior. Nor is there any manner of sinful feeling or action towards our fellow beings which does not receive an insupportable rebuke, and an absolute death blow from the tender words and pleading actions of the Son of God, when he died for transgressions not his own, and died praying for his enemies. And, surely, if ever the alienated thoughts and feelings of rebellious creatures are made to rush back towards God, in the full tide of overflowing sorrow, thankfulness, and love; it must be when, for their sake, and for their salvation, He gives up his dear, his only begotten Son, that “whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” When the heart is once prostrated, and thoroughly pervaded by a sense of the love of God in Christ Jesus, from that moment it begins to love what God loves, and to hate what he hates. And then it is that the God and Father of our LORD JESUS CHRIST regains his lost supremacy in the hearts of his creatures; which is, as I conceive, the new birth ; and which therefore is the very thing intended in the glowing prediction of our text.
I have scarcely time left, my dear hearers, to turn to you and
ask whether you do not often feel humbled and distressed, and sometimes seriously alarmed at the power which your depraved and sinful feelings have over you; whether it does not seem to you most unaccountable and unmanly that you should find it so easy to break your most solemn vows and engagements, and so hard to keep the slightest good resolution ? whether the frequent and numberless instances of your pride, duplicity, anger, and unkind feelings, do not sometimes distress you greatly, and make you feel that the thraldom of your sins is deeply degrading and wretched ? And when your thoughts hurry to the confines of the dead; when you think of leaving your house and lands, your business and your pleasures, your friends and your companions; when, in imagination, you stand before the bar of God, in order to give account of the deeds done in the body; do you not shudder to own to yourselves that you are not fit to die; not fit to stand before an holy God; not fit to enter through the pure portals of the better world? If not fit, what is the reason? Is it not that your hearts are evil, and need changing? But how can they be changed ? When will they be? Who will do the great, the benevolent, the all-important work for you?
Have you ever asked these questions with intense interest and feeling until now? Do you so ask them even now? Would to God I could hope that you did, for then my reply would be given with a sense of satisfaction and joy, never felt before in all my ministrations amongst you. Then should I speak to you of a throne of grace, satisfied that you would go there to pray for the blessed influences of the Holy Ghost. There should I point you to a Savior, and repeat some of his gracious promises, convinced that they would be to you words of life and joy.
But whether you feel as I could wish or not, I cannot dismiss you without expressing the profound conviction of my mind and heart, that you are very depraved, and very unhappy, and must remain so—nay, must be growing daily worse and worse for ever, until you are born again; and that nothing can make you better ; nothing can impart true happiness to you, except it be such a view of the love of God, in the gift of his Son, to die for you; as shall constrain you to hate and to forsake all that is evil, and to choose and pursue whatever is well pleasing in bis sight. Then, and not till then, will the liberty of the unbound captive—the satisfaction of the cleansed leper—the joy of the reprieved criminal—the generous ecstasy of the reconciled child, be yours. Then, and not till then, will the spirit of the upper world make your heart its temple; and a share of the blessedness of the upper world be given you in foretaste of its perfect and endless enjoyment.
THE SINNER SAVED BY THE POWER OF DIVINE GRACE.
What shall the dying sinner do
How shall we get our crimes forgiven
In vain we search, in vain we try,
This is the pillar of our hope
Let men, or angels dig the mines,
Should vile blasphemers with disdain