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to face, and know even as we also are kpown! There nothing shall prevent or interrupt our approaches to God. There he that sitteth upon the throne shall dwell among us; and as the blessed consequence of his everlasting presence, we shall shine as the stars for ever and ever. There sin, that has so often provoked him, shall be entirely removed; and we shall feel no evil heart of unbelief, no worldly mind, no sensual affections, no depravity of any kind to offend his infinite purity. There shall be no angry frown, no hand lifted up to strike us, no averted face, but smiling complacency and love. But we must wait for that happy period to explain the full blessedness of those immediate approaches. In the mean time it is happy for us that all our blessedness is not reserved for hea. ven. The dawning of the blessed day is animating. The glimpses of God's glory give unspeakable pleasure. Let our outward circumstances, therefore, be what they may, we cannot be miserable if we can approach to God, and if our eyes and hearts be fixed
Let us then welcome every ordinance and every dispensation of Providence which may lead us to God; and let us diligently improve our present enjoyment of communion with him, that we may be more abundantly prepared for dwelling in his im. mediate presence above,
I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thout
livest, and art dead.
We have frequently considered the state of the world as lying in wickedness ; and have expressed our grief on viewing the folly, the obstinacy, and the impending rụin of sinners. But let us remember, that many affect to weep for others, whose own circumstances demand their tears and their pity. They seem filled with a pious indignation at the more notorious breaches of the law of God; and when these and other commandments are enumerated to them, “ Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not commit adultery,” with the greatest self-complacency they say, “ All these have I kept from my youth up." But they are, notwithstanding, very defective in real religion. They have the form of godliness, and make a fair and flourishing appearance at a distance; but when we come near, instead of meeting with fruit, we find nothing but leaves.
I say not this to check the well-built hopes of a Christian. I would on no account raise groundless scruples and jealousies in the heart of any genuine, humble, self-suspecting servant of God. What then shall I do? Shall I make no inquiry whether there be any such characters among us or not? Or shall I say,
Yes, I am satisfied that you are all of you Christians. I am fully persuaded that there is not in this numerous company one hypocrite, one painted sepulcbre, one nominal professor. I verily believe that you are all true Christians, children of God, and heirs of glory." God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, how greatly I should rejoice to make this declaration. But if I were to do it, should I not be too hasty ? Alas! how many are there who have never set apart one hour in their lives, to consider seriously, whether they have any title to life and salvation or not! In such a case, should I flatter and encourage them, and promote their delusion? Should I whisper peace to men, who must speedily be awakened, or be ruined for ever? No, faithfulness to God, love to your souls, and a concern for my own, forbid it. But do thou, O Lord of life, pour out on thy unworthy messenger, the spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind; and enable him to illustrate this important truth in such a manner, that it
may be the happy means of undeceiving the miserable self-deceiver. May it also establish the faith, and encourage the heart, of every upright Christian ; while he finds that he has more than a name to live; being dead, indeed, to sin, and alive to God, through Christ Jesus our Lord.
“ I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thon livest, and art dead."
These words contain a part of the severe reproof which was given to the angel of the church of Sardis, They express the lifeless state of religion in that so
ciety; and they are followed by this important ex hortation; “ Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.”
I proceed now to inquire what is requisite to procure a person a name to live; and who are those whose religion is entitled to no higher character. I shall afterwards describe the guilt and danger of resting in such a lifeless profession.
I. We are to inquire what is necessary to give a man a name to live.
It is certain that many have not attained even to this. Their own consciences, and all around them, unite in condemning them as dead to every thing holy. What must a man do, therefore, in order to establish a reputation for religion?
I answer, that it is necessary that he abstain from vice, and the grosser pollutions of the world. A man may get the name of being rich without making a figure, or living up to the income which he pretends to possess. But no one can be deemed religious without some sort of decency of behaviour, and a general freedom from public and scandalous vices. The world, however credulous, is not easily imposed upon in this instance. It is often difficult for a Christian, the humble, serious, upright Christian, who designs, and earnestly endeavours, “ to live soberly, righteously, and godly,” to establish and maintain an uncensured reputation. But where there is no care to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, or when we live in the known commission of any one sin, we may say what we will, and make what pretences to religion we please, yet we shall not be able to gain any credit.
Besides this, there must be an external appearance of devotion. Mere negatives will not be suffi. cient. Let a man be exact and pharisaical in washing the outside of the cup and the platter; or let him say with truth, “ God, I thank thee, I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers;" yet if he go no further, none will account him truly religious. If he neglect all positive duties; if he show no regard to religion in the house of God, in the family, and in the closet; if he cast off fear, and restrain prayer before God; if he never read the word of God; and, still more, if his seat in God's house be always or generally empty; if he be not also regular, constant, and apparently devout in the performance, whatever he think of himself, others will never regard him as a genuine Christian.
This, at least then, is requisite to procure for a man a name to live, that he be free from more open and scandalous vices; and that he regularly attend to the duties of religion, and appear to be a proficient in Christian virtues and graces.
But there are many of you who hear me this day, who have not so much religion as this. How can I think otherwise of you, when some of you live in the indulgence of vice; or when your places in this house are so frequently empty, or filled with sleepy and indifferent hearers? I am surprised and grieved at your conduct; and it makes me tremble when I see you apparently easy in such a deplorable and dangerous condition. Where, sinner, is thy conscience? Dost thou think that it is dead, because it does not disturb thee as formeriy? If this be thy opinion, thou art miserably deceived. It is not