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love in dying for them, and thy readiness to receive, forgive, and bless them, it was a frequent and favourite subject of discourse ; for the truth of which I appeal to those unhappy persons themselves.” Suppose that the Judge should then call on you, and sternly ask, “ Is this true? Give an account of yourselves. How could you go on in such a course of rebellion against me, when you were told that I could in a moment hurl you into bell; and especially, how could you resist so many melting declarations of my love, and the repeated assurances which you had of my willingness to save you? Here, ye executioners of my vengeance, do your office; and those mine ene- . mies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring them hither, and slay them before me.”
O my friends, these things are not a mere fiction. Something like this will certainly take place. Think then, what
your confusion and speechless horror will be, if such questions should be asked by one whom you cannot avoid. Can any sentence be too severe ? “ He that despised Moses' law, died without mercy, under two or three witnesses. Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite to the spirit of grace ? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompence, saith the Lord.”
Let us inquire, therefore, what hopes we have of receiving salvation by Christ. He is come to seek and to save that which was lost. Are we all of us sensible that this is our miserable condition? Has
every prop given way, and do we feel ourselves sink. ing, sinking fast into the bottomless pit? No; it is evident, by the composure and security that sit upon the countenances of the generality, that they are scarcely apprehensive of the least degree of danger. They have some secret hope, which cheers them in the prospect of death and of judgment. Perhaps they will be displeased with me if I publish it; but I will hazard their displeasure, if I may but be useful. I will suppose then, that, after having heard, on some occasion, a discourse concerning the lost and miserable condition of sinners, and their danger every moment of dropping into hell, as they were going home, they were conversing with each other in the following manner :
6 What did the preacher mean, by giving such a doleful account of our state? Does he think to frighten us, by thus throwing about firebrands, arrows, and death? He has missed, bis aim, if he did. He may frighten children, or some abandoned wretches, who are without God, and without hope in the world.” “But, for my part,” says one,
I was born of religious parents, and was brought up with all the strictness of a Puritan ; I have had many a good prayer offered for me to God, and doubt not but I shall fare the better for it on my leaving this world.” “ I have not," says another, “much to boast of the goodness of my birth and education ; but I have since supplied the deficiency by my own prudence and industry. For, I thank God, I am not as other men are. I have not only been always regular in my attendance at church, but I have had prayers in my family on a Sunday evening, and minded my own private prayers besides : and if I do not
succeed, I wonder then who can expect to be saved." " You are very good,” says a third ; “but though I do not equal you, yet I have been always strictly honest; and I defy all the world to charge me with the least falsehood or shuffling in any of my dealings; ; and if honesty will not save a man, I know not what will."
“ You are all, without doubt, very safe," says another; “ as for me, I must confess myself a very great sinner. But as God is merciful, I hope I shall escape as well as any of you.” Thus they that are whole need not a physician. You see that all these are secretly hoping that they are safe as they are, and therefore give themselves no trouble to look out for help, or even to accept it when it is offered. But let others build on the sand, it is your business to inquire upon what you are relying, or from what you hope for salvation. Has this given you any concern? Are you indifferent whether the Son of Man save you or not? Did you ever sincerely desire to be found and saved by him ? “ Did I ever ?” cries some awakened sinner; "
whole heart have I been long wishing and waiting for his coming. I know that if Christ do not save me, no one else can give me relief. I have been hitherto trusting to lying vanities : but what things were gain to me, those I count loss for Christ. Lord, save me, or I perish.” Say you so ? then you are the very person that the Son of Man is now seeking.
I would, therefore, observe, that this subject speaks particular comfort to those who are sinking under an apprehension of their own unworthiness, and the number and power of their spiritual enemies.
You are ready to say, under a sense of your own vileness, “ If I were but more humble and holy, I might cherish a hope of the mercy of God. But surely light might as well have communion with darkness, as Christ with such a monster of wicked. ness as I.” But read the text again, and you will see that Christ looks for a feeling sense of your being lost, as the only qualification for obtaining his favour. Can you say, “Lord, I am undone. Look which way I will, I see nothing but ruin. Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me?" Such a prayer is music in heaven; Angels listen to it with pleasure: and the great God himself-I speak it with reverence and rapture-has been often overcome by such an address. How can you doubt whether Christ will receive you or not, when he came down from heaven on purpose to seek you? But unbelief still continues to object, “ It is certainly encouraging to hear of the power and promise of Christ. But Satan is 50 busy with me, his temptations are so well timed,' so well suited, and so strongly urged, that I cannot help fearing that I shall one day perish by means of his devices.” But remember that the Son of Man, who is come to seek and to save that which is lost, is also willing to save to the uttermost. Let the enemy be ever so strong, Christ is stronger than he, and shortly will bruise him under your feet.
“ That would be a great mercy. But my worst enemies are within. Such a legion of corrupt affections are perpetually tormenting and triumphing over me; and I see not any prospect of obtaining the victory.” Why so? Consider again, that he who could say to the proud waves of the sea, when they roared, “ Peace, be still," can as easily subdue your tumul
tuous spirit. I repeat it, therefore, let lost souls encourage themselves in a Saviour, who seeks them.
a You may conceal your distresses from me: but Christ, when he comes, will instantly find you out; and with the first glance of his eye, will perceive all your wants and your misery. What relief you may expect from him, you may infer from his commission, as it is expressed in these words: “ The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord God hath anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek. He hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound ; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion; to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
Finally, let us all be thankful for the gospel. Think how great a part of the world have never heard any thing of Christ: they are left to wander on in the paths of the destroyer, without the least knowledge of a Saviour. Bless God that your lot is cast in a place where the glad tidings of salvation are clearly proclaimed.
But how peculiarly thankful should you be, who havé reason to hope that you have obtained mercy ? Many such characters are now, I hope, before me; and inexcusably ungrateful must you be, if your souls do not magnify the Lord, and yourspirits rejoice