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dead, but sleepeth; and it is not so fast asleep, as to prevent its marking thy sins, though it does not at present reprove them. But be assured that the arch-angel's trumpet will awaken it; and then thou wilt be convinced that it has never been idle. It will, with an amazing exactness, set thy sins in order before thee, and charge them home upon thee with a dreadful resentment. Butcome now, and let us reason together: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; and though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Why will ye die, when Christ has most expressly engaged, that if you will awake, and arise from the dead, he will give you life? “ Yes," methinks I hear one of you say,
" I would, but I cannot arise. That is what grieves me: It is life and strength that I want, I am sensible of my danger, and see the bottomless pit gaping wide to receive me. I would flee from the wrath to come; but O! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me? I can do nothing of myself. I could as easily lift a mountain, as make my wicked, stubborn heart obey, or love, or trust in a Saviour. I know that he is the Holy One of God; but, like the unclean spirits, I believe and tremble, lest my sins should procure for me a more dreadful condemnation.”
Do you say so sincerely? Then you are already awake. Though others be strangers to your present temper, conflicts, and resolutions, and perhaps think you dead; yet he who knows your works, pronounces you alive. He sees you loathing yourself for all the evils which you have committed; he hears your groans; he bottles your tears; he observes you struggling under your burthen ; and he has sent me to you with these gracious proclamations : “ Ho! every one that thirstetli, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price :” and “ Come unto me all
that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Go to him therefore; or if you cannot go, cry or look to him for his blessing. Acknowledge your wants and your weakness. Say that it is in consequence of his own gracious and repeated invitations, that you have been induced to apply, and that you will die at his feet, if he do not afford you relief.
relief. Ask of him, and he will give you living water; and the water which he will give, shall be in you a well of water springing up to everlasting life.
I return now from this, I hope not unprofitable, digression, to inquire,
II. When may a man be said to have a name to live only?
A statue may be so curiously painted and dressed, as to be mistaken, at a distance, for a man ; and a hypocrite may borrow so much of the appearance of Christian graces, as may enable him to pass for a genuine Christian.
I shall, therefore, mention some circumstances, by which such a character may be distinguished.
In the first place, he has nothing but a name who attends to the outward part of religion only.
Such a one, perhaps, endeavours to obtain the reputation of a Christian; and if he succeed in that,
he has all that he desires. In order to this, he is scrupulously exact in tithing mint, anise, and cumin. He will be religious and righteous overmuch in certain particulars; and forward to offer the sacrifice of a fool, like those who are mentioned by the prophet Ezekiel. “ They speak one to another, every one to his brother, saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth from the Lord : and they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before me as my people, and hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love; but their heart goeth after their covetousness."
But is this to worship him, who is a spirit, in spirit and truth? Can this be pleasing, or rather is it not intolerably offensive, to him who requireth truth in the inward parts? “Blessed be God,” says the humble Christian, “if this be meant by having a name to live, I hope that this character belongs not to me. Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I honour and love thee. I trust that I can appeal to thee; that I care not in comparison, how lightly I may be regarded by men. If I can enjoy thy favour, and the approbation of my conscience, I wish for no more.”
Secondly. He that has but a name to live, feels no satisfaction and joy in approaching to God. Public and private worship may be duly attended to, and hours of retirement regularly observed, because all this may be necessary to secure his reputation, or to render his conscience easy. He performs those duties; that is, he reads or hears the word of God, sings a psalm, and repeats a prayer. But where is his
heart? He is an entire stranger to all enjoyment of God. So far is he from feeling this divine pleasure, that he does not propose it to himself. He is not solicitous to acquire those dispositions which are suitable for attending to any solemn duty: And he spends not a moment more to meet the God of heaven, than is necessary to dressing and adorning his body. He knows not what it is to have his affections ascending to God, nor to have the divine influences descending upon him. He has not even a sincere and prevailing desire for this blessedness, and therefore is evidently destitute of all spiritual life. Let no serious Christian misunderstand me. Because he is not always affectionate and lively, because he finds himself sometimes indisposed for prayer, meditation, self-examination, and, indeed, for almost every duty, or because he may be sometimes much disturbed with vain and wandering thoughts, let no one ima. gine that he is certainly a self-deceiver, or a hypocrite. If this were true, there never could be a sincere disciple of Christ. Was it not an apostle, a man who had been caught up to heaven, and ad. mitted to hear things which it is not lawful for a man to utter, who says, “ To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. When I would do good, evil is present with me?" Could Paul say this, and shall we, who are so much inferior to him in all spiritual gifts and graces, be surprized (grieved, indeed, and humbled deeply, we ought to be, but can we be surprized) if we find that we have not already attained to perfection ? Because we are not angels, shall we deny that we are Christians ? Because we are not all vigour and joy;
shall we say that we have not any life or enjoyment? Because we cannot run without weariness, nor walk without fainting, shall we therefore deny that we ever possessed any power of spiritual motion ?
Thirdly. He has a name to live only, who, not. withstanding all his religious exercises, is in no de“ Hear the word of the Lord, all
ye men of Judah, that enter in at the gates to worship the Lord. Thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these : for if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if ye thoroughly execute judgment, then will I cause you to dwell in this place.” If we forsake not, as well as confess, our sins ; if we take note diligent heed to our ways, according to God's word ; if we be not excited and encouraged to perfect, holiness in the fear of God, we use the means of religion to no purpose; we receive the grace of God in vain, and are nothing better than those formal professors whom the Apostle. describes, that are ever learning, and never coming to the knowledge of the truth. This could not be, if our religious duties were performed from animating principles. God would then bless our store; and if we began to-trade with one talent only, we should find it increase to two, five, or ten.
But if our supposed graces do not flourish, and we have no more knowledge, faith, love, zeal, humility, patience, experience, holiness, hope, or joy, than we had many years ago, have we not some reason to fear that a form and profession are the whole of our religion ?