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he trusts, his “ light afflictions, which are but for a moment, will work for him a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
O Almighty God, who hast appointed all the ranks and conditions of men in this thy family upon earth, who art the maker of both rich and poor, and the common father of us all; grant, we beseech thee, that we may make a right use of these thy dispensations, so that riches may never tempt us to forget thee, nor poverty to murmur at thy will; but that despising alike the good and evil things of this world, we may fix our hearts and affections on those heavenly treasures which thou hast provided for them that love thee, and study above all things that true happiness, which neither wealth can give, nor want deny. Hear us, o merciful Father, for Jesus Christ's sake, our Lord and Saviour. Amen.
DIVES AND LAZARUS,
LUKE xvi. 27-31. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house ;
For I have five brethren ; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets ; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, Father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
This very striking passage of scripture, as you are aware, is the conclusion of that interesting parable of the rich man and Lazarus, on which I have before addressed you; and the use which I design to make of it, is to apply the argument, which it contains, to the impenitent and irreli
gious, who are to be found in the christian world. I shall endeavour to shew how unreasonable is the apology, which they sometimes make for themselves, that they have not a sufficiently certain assurance of the truth of the gospel; and how unfounded their confidence, that, if the means of more positive conviction were bestowed, they would be sincere and zealous christians.
We have in the text the express assertion of our blessed Saviour, (for the sentiment which he puts into the mouth of Abraham in the parable, must of course be understood as his own), that those sinners who are not awakened to repentance by the ordinary means of grace which God has thought fit to bestow, would not repent even though a miracle should be worked to persuade them. This is the general precept which his words convey. He “ knew what was in man, " and every word that he uttered, christians will acknowledge to be undoubtedly true; so that upon his authority the fact is unquestionable. But I address myself now to those who are not decided believers, not altogether christians. The true and sincere disciples of the gospel have no need of my arguments and exhortations; it is the unbelievers, the doubters, they who halt between two opinions, the irregular in practice, and unsettled in faita, who are for the most part ad
dressed in discourses from the pulpit; and it is the attention of such hearers as these, that I now wish to invite to the fact, which I have stated upon Christ's authority to be true, but of which they may probably desire some arguments in confirmation. Understand then what it is that I am about to maintain. It is this; that those who are impenitent and irreligious, with all the means of conviction at hànd, which God has in his mercy furnished for the purpose of reclaiming men to his service ; with the gospel continually expounded before their eyes, and sounding in their ears; with the strong proofs of its truth which exist; with the secret whisperings of the Holy Spirit in their consciences; with the outward calls to seriousness which are so incessantly repeated in the various dispensations of misfortune, sickness, and death; that persons, I say, who though perpetually appealed to by all these warnings and admonitions, still remain impenitent and irreligious, would not be converted even if one should go unto them from the dead, or if any other miraculous evidence of the truth of the gospel should be presented to their view. I mean outward evidence, for I do not of course intend to say that God could not, if he pleased, by one single exertion of his power upon the soul, in an instant convert the most hardened infidel