« PreviousContinue »
hearts from this moment. Let each from this moment, take salutary measures to subdue his predominant propensity. Do not withdraw froin this temple, without being firmly resolved on a change of life.
Consider that you were not sent into the world to aggrandise and enrich yourselves; to form attachments which serve as unhappy ties to hold you on the earth; much less to scandalize the church, to be high-spirited, proud, imperious, unjust, voluptuous, avaricious. God has placed you here in a state of probation, that you might become prepared for a better world. Consider, that, though the distractions of life may frequently call a wise man to be engaged in the world, in defiance of his wishes; yet there is nothing so unworthy as to be, like most of you, always dissipated, always devoted to pleasure. Consider, that though this vacuity of life might be excused in a youth following the impulse of nature, before he has had time to reflect, yet games, diversions, and theatres, do but ill accord with
hairs ; and that he, at least, should devote the rest of his life to the service of God, and the advancement of his own salvation.
Examine yourselves on these heads; let each make them the touchstone of his conduct ; let him derive from them motives of reformation ; let the time past suffice to have gratified his concupiscence; let him tremble on considering the wounds he has given his soul, and the dangers he has run, in delaying to the present hour.
Is it forty, fifty or sixty years since I came into the world? What have I been doing? What account can I give of a period so precious ? What virtues have Í acquired ? What wicked propensities have I subdued ? What progress have I made in charity, in humility, and in all the virtues for wbich God has given me birth ? Have not a thousand various passions divided the empire of my heart? Have they not all tended to enslave me? O miserable man! perhaps my day of grace is past : perhaps in future I
knock in vain at the door of mercy: perhaps I may be numbered with those of whom Christ says, Many shall scek to enter in and shall not be able : perhaps the insensibility I feel, and the resistance which my unhappy heart still makes, are the effects of divine vengeance: perhaps my time of visitation is past : perhaps God spares me only in life to make me a fearful example of the misery of those, who delay conversion : perbaps it is to me he addresses that sentence, Let him that is unjust be unjust still, and let him that is unholy be unholy still. But, perhaps I have yet a little time: perhaps God has spared me in life to afford me occasion to repair my past faults: perhaps he has brought me to-day into this church to touch and save me from my sins: perhaps thesę emotions of my heart, these tears which run down mine eyes, are the effects of grace: perhaps these softenings, this compunction, and these fears are the voice which says, from God, Seek ye my face : perhaps this is the year of good-will; the accepted time; the day of salvation: perhaps if I delay no longer, if I promote my salvation without delay, I may suc
ceed in the work, and see my endeavour gloriously crowned.
O love of my Saviour, bowels of mercy, abyss of divine compassion! O length, breadth, height, depth of the love of God, which passeth knowledge ! resolve this weighty inquiry; calm the agitation of my mind; assure my wavering soul. Yes, O my God, seeing thou hast spared me in life, I trust it is for salvation. Seeing thou seekest me still, I flatter myself it is for my conversion. Hence I take new courage, I ratify anew the covenant I have so often violated; I pledge to thee anew the vows I have so oiten broken.
If you do so, you shall not labour in vain. For what is it that God requires of you? Why has he created you out of nothing ? Why has he given you his Son? Why has he communicated to you his Holy Spirit ? Is it to destroy you? Is it to damn you? Are you so little acquainted with the Father of mercies, with the God of love ? Does he take pleasure in the death of the sinner? Would he not rather that he should repent and live?
These are the consolations which follow the exhortations of the prophet, and the words of my text. For after having said, Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near ; he draws this conclusion, to which I would lead you, as it has been the design of these three discourses, and by which I would close the subject. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. And, lest the penitent sinner should be over
burdened with the weight of his sins,-lest, estimating the extent of divine mercy by his own contracted views, he should despair of salvation, I will add this declaration from God himself, a declaration which admirably expresses the grandeur of his compassion; My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways ; for, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts. Now to God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, be honour and glory for ever. Amen.
HEBREWS xii. 1.
Wherefore, seeing we are also compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us; and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.
My brethren, the Holy Spirit proposes to us in the words we have read, distinguished duties, excellent models, and wise precautions. Let us run with patience the race that is set before us. These are the distinguished duties. We are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses. These are the excellent models. Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us. These are the wise precautions.
I frankly acknowledge, my brethren, that on comparing the design of my text with the character of some among my hearers, I ought to suspend for a moment the thread of my discourse; lest the difficulty of success should deter me from attempting the execution. We are going to preach perseverance to men, of whom so great a number live in supineness and indolence, and to whom it is much more