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vile and abominable. Judas is called a devil. On the other hand, where this is found, and God sees that a man acts conscientiously, and from a sincere desire to please and glorify him, he will pass by many mistakes, pardon many imperfections, and accept him according to what he has, not according to what he has not.”
And this leads us to a fourth remark. There may be true grace, where there is at present very little light. This was the case with Nathaniel. His knowledge as yet was small : his mind was contracted, and he laboured under low prejudices. He had no apprehension of a Messiah, distinguished by poverty and suffering. And, because Nazareth was a wicked place, and a place of obscurity, he concluded nothing good or great could originate from thence. Nevertheless, he was open to conviction-he complied with the invitation, Come and see he immediately “believed with the heart, and confessed with the tongue”and our Saviour, pleased with his proficiency, promises to lead him into all truth.
Now, this may be the case with others. And, indeed, so far am I from supposing it necessary to evidence the reality of a man's conversion, that he should in everything see clearly at first; that I commonly suspect those who are all at once so ripe in knowledge, and so high in doctrine. These disproportionate notionalists remind me of those unhappy children whose head grows so much faster than their bodies-- it is the effect of disease, or weakness of constitution, not of health and vigour. I love to see knowledge, experience, and practice advancing together, “unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” That which comes up in a night may wither in a night we dislike mush. room piety. If we look into nature, we shall find things slower in their growth, in proportion to their excellency. How rapidly nettles and thistles, and reeds, and osiers spring up to maturity : but the oak is as much slower in attaining its perfection, as it is more firm in its grain, more dura. ble in continuance, more important in its use.
Let us not then conclude that a man is a stranger to divine grace, because he is unable at present to go all our lengths in sentiment. It is not possible for us to determine in certain disadvantageous circumstances, with how much ignorance in the judgment true grace in the heart may be connected. How little of the plan of salvation did Peter know, when our Saviour said, “ Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father who is in heaven.” As the sanctification of the soul, so the illumination of the mind is gradual, and surely intellectual defects are no more wonderful than moral ones.
Nor let us be anxious to force upon him doctrines which at present he is not prepared to receive. Our Saviour said to his disciples, “ I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Where the heart is right with God, a growing experience in divine things will after awhile make room for the admission of
And therefore we remark, finally, that where grace is real, it will in due time be attended with clearer light. 6. Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou ? Thou shalt see greater things than these.” Grace is an active principle, and leads us to use what we have: “ And
to him that hath shall be given, and he shall have more abundance.” It disposes us to go on:“ And then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord.” It inspires reverence and humility, and a dependence on divine teaching—and "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant: the meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way." Let not thy deficiencies, therefore, cast thee down. You are under the care of one who will not break a bruised reed, nor quench a smoking flax, till he send forth judgment unto
He has your welfare at heart. The convictions and desires which he has produced in you are tokens for good. He will never leave nor forsake you, 6 till he has done all that which he has spoken to you of.-He will perfect that which concerneth you." It is now only the dawn—but the dawn is the pledge and the beginning of noon. " And the path of the just is as the shining light, which shineth more and more ụnto the perfect day.” And whatever discoveries he has already made-remember you shall see greater things than these
First. Greater in this world ; more of himself, of his word, of his grace, of his providence. He can enable us to see divine things more clearly, more impressively; with more confidence and with more appropriation.-Let us not limit our desires, or our hopes.
Secondly. Greater in another world. After all our attainments, this earth is only a land of darkness—but heaven is everlasting light. In these happy regions, there is no darkness at all. “ Now we see through a glass darkly ; but then face to face: now we know in part: but then shall we know even as also we are known. And when that which is perfect is come, then that which is past shall be done away.”
Then will he fully reveal himself. “We know that Messias, who is called Christ, shall come ; and when he is come, he will tell us all things.
THE CHARACTERS OF SIN.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are
now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.Rom. vi. 21.
It is of the greatest importance to entertain proper apprehensions of the evil of sin. Hence the Scriptures are so large and particular in describing it. They place it before us in every quality, and express it under every allusion that can rouse our indignation, awaken our fear, or produce our flight. Witness the language of the apostle: “What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed ? for the end of those things is death."
Behold the enemy. Sin is here arraigned and condemned in all the periods of time: the past, the present, and the future. For the past-here is unprofitableness : for the present-here is disgrace: and for the future, here is hell. Let us then consider sin under these three characters. 1. As unfruitful. II. As shameful. III. As destructive.
And, I. The apostle asks, “What fruit had ye in those things ?”—The question implies an undeniable negative, and suggests that sin yields no real benefit, no solid satisfaction. It should be otherwise. Sin ought to produce something, for it costs much. It requires the sinner to wage war with himself, to overcome innumerable difficulties, to make the most expensive sacrifices.Now, for a man to labour and toil, to give up all the advantages of religion, to sacrifice his soul, his God, his everlasting welfare, and plunge into " the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone” --for nothing ! is hard indeed!
And is not this the case ? Read the history of wicked nations, families, individuals. What does the sinner ever gain or enjoy ? What that is valuable and satisfactory? What that deserves the name of fruit? What that even corresponds with his own expectation ?--The enemy told Adam and Eve that they should be as gods, when his design was to degrade them “below the beasts that perish.” And thus we read of the deceitfulness of sin :" it attracts by flattery ; it destroys by delusion. It looks on with blandishing smiles, but conceals the cloven foot; it presents the bait, but hides the hook; it talks of liberty and indulgence, but this is only to favour its inroads; once admitted, slavery and desolation spread all around. It promises much, but how does it perform?
Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide it under his tongue; though he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still within his moutlı: yet his meat in his bowels is turned, it is the gall of asps within him.”