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If haughty and self-righteous Ifrael fill the world with the loud acclamations of “ The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we, the church, the church; we are God's peculiar people, his portion, his chosen heritage;" yet the Most High can take his leave of Jerufalem, as he did of Shiloh, and cast the people out of his sight; and though they were to himn once externally for a name, a praise and a glory ; yet they shall become like a rotten girdle, that is good for nothing; yea, God will even dash them in pieces one against another, and will not pity nor spare them, because, notwithstanding their high pretensions, their hearts are far from him.
Chorazin and Bethsaida had mighty works done in them; they were highly favoured with the presence, the preaching and the miracles of Jesus, yet, because of their unbelief, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for them. Capernaum, which was exalted to heaven in privileges, for the like stupid insensibility, shall be cast down to the lowest hell in punishment.
The seven Asian churches may lose their splendor, he diminished and brought low. Laodicea thought herself rich and increased with goods, dignified with able preachers, splendid gifts of the Spirit, sound doćirine, and glorious privileges, on which accounts the judged herself more in favour with God ....) than all the rest, and became vain and secure to that degree, that the threatening denounced against her is, Thou art so offensive to me, that I will fpue thee out of my mouth."
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To be in the favour of God is a matter of infinite concernment, yet thousands in the world are mistaken about it. When death and judgment come, what discoveries will be made; what an awful disappointment will many meet with; especially such as expect the favour of God, and admiflion among
the saints, on account of a mere outward profession, or of some acts of external obedience! Some will plead their excellent gifts in praying and preaching, for which they have been admired and applauded by men. Some will plead their high preferment in the church; and others say, - We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” But the great Judge tells us, he will answer them all alike, with these awful words, “I know you not, I will not own you, depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the Devil and his angels.” It will be in vain for them to reply, “What! must we depart, who were civil with our neighbours, good church-men, orthodox believers, and sober livers ! Must we depart who heard the word gladly, commended the preacher, practised many things which we heard, had strong convictions, hated superstition, were pleaders for God's pure worship, and even took delight in approaching unto Him! Wilt thou not, on all these accounts, grant us favour? Must we indeed be banished from thee ? O most dreadful disappointment!
Alas, alas! what a discovering, disanimating, confounding day will that be to many, who, upon felf-flattering grounds were as confident of being in God's favour as if they had seen their names in his book! They would by no means be beaten off from this vain confidence; but they will now see themselves to have been wofully deluded by Satan, and their own deceitful hearts, when it is too late to cry for mercy.
The consideration of this deeply affects the minds of upright minifters. Their hearts ache, and their fouls mourn in secret, on account of the pride and stupidity of self-deceivers. If we tell them there is danger ; if we bid them search and deal plainly with their hearts, they look upon us as enemies, by raising in them unnecessary terrors, and giving false alarms. Some even deride our earnest endeavours, and bid us look to ourselves; for they know they are safe, and as high in God's favour as the best of us, though their whole temper and their walk give just ground of suspicion, that their hearts are not right in the fight of God. We are under the fad
necessity of leaving those, with painful fears that we shall never see them numbered with the saints at God's right hand, in the day when he maketh up his jewels.
Since the danger of being deceived is so great, and the consequences so awful, of what importance, my dear reader, is a real sense of interest in the divine favour! Qught it not to be sought with the greateft and most earnest solicitude ? While men live in prosperity and affluence, and enjoy abundance of worldly comforts, they may live in a kind of security ; drowning the noise of conscience, and lulling themselves asleep in the cradle of ease; yet a day is coming which shall burn as an oven, when all the proud and the profane shall be as Itubble, and the day shall consume them, and leave them neither root nor branch. Their worldly wealth shall perish, and their delusive hopes give up the ghost, when the heavens shall be diffolved, and the earth tremble under their feet. O what will God's favour, and the smiles of the Redeemer's love be worth in that day, when he shall call the dead out of their graves, and command them to stand forth, that they may hear their final sentence of absolution, or of condemnation, according as their fate shall be! Then, then to have the favour of the Lord, the great Judge of heaven and earth, will be worth more than it is possible for language to express!
The Almighty will presently summon us hence by his messenger death, the king of terrors, and fay to us, “ This night shall thy soul be required of thee; thou must go hence, and give an account of thy stewardship! O then what will a well-grounded hope of interest in God's favour be worth to us! Such a confidence is indeed of great importance to us while we live, whatever be our circumstances in outward respects. In prosperity, what can give rest to the capacious mind, which is ever looking beyond sublunary things for satisfaction? His favour alone can do it, the letters of whose name, in the Hebrew language, are called quiescent, even the great JEHOVAH. In adversity, there is still greater need of the divine favour. When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? But when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? In the day of calamity, God's favour is most seasonable, when it frequently happens that the favour of men is withdrawn, and all things look dark about us. What a sovereign support in trouble is the light of God's countenance! It is indeed light in darkness; it is life even in a dying hour.
Hence it is, that the children of God have ear. nestly desired and fought some tokens of his love, while they have been in this vale of tears. Let others think lightly as they please, of this their importunity, the divine word gives encouragement to