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the immensity of space—the Being“ in whom you live, and move, and have your being,” who can crush you in a moment, and who has engaged to recompense his enemies, and “reward them that hate him," is incensed at you, and laughs at your insensibility, because he knows that your hour is coming.
III. The subject before us suggests the strongest motives for an immediate application to the methods of cure. Were sin a tolerable distemper, it might be endured; were it entirely or in every sense incurable, it must be submitted to. But as things are actually situated, there is no necessity for you to pine away in your iniquities; for though you cannot recover yourselves by any native unaided power of yours, though in this light your [hopelessness] be deep, and your wound incurable, yet there is a method of recovery revealed in the gospel, which millions have tried with success. “ There is balm in Gilead, there is a Physician there."* By the discoveries it makes of the placability of the Divine Being, and the actual constitution of a Redeemer, the gospel is essentially a restorative dispensation. “ It is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” of
We have observed, in the course of our discussion of the subject, that the evils attached to sin are twofold: guilt, which is a legal obstruction to an approach to God, and renders the sinner * Jer. viii. 22.
Rom. i. 16.
liable to eternal death; and pollution, which disqualifies him for happiness.
To the former, the blood of the Redeemer, “ sprinkled upon the conscience,” is a sovereign antidote: “ the blood of Christ cleanseth from all sin.”* The great design of his coming into this world, was to render that reparation to divine justice for the injury it had sustained by the transgressions of men, which it had been otherwise impossible to make; and thus, in consistency with the divine law, to admit repenting sinners to mercy. “ Having boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near.” +
With respect to the power and pollution of sin, its efficacy in retaining the soul in bondage; this also admits of relief in the gospel. There is a Spirit, we have often occasion to remind you, which can liberate the soul, and diffuse freedom, light, and purity through all its powers. “ The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.” I “ Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”$ If you are willing to be made clean, if you sincerely implore the savour of divine grace, it will not long be withheld from you. “He will give his Holy Spirit unto them that ask him.” || “ If you will * 1 John i. 7. + Heb. x. 19–22. I Rom. viii. 2.
$ 2 Cor. iii. 17. || Luke xi. 13.
turn at his reproof, he will pour out his Spirit unto you, and make known his words unto you.”* “ He is willing to heal your backslidings, to receive you graciously, and love you freely.”+
If you are so much in love with your distemper, indeed, as to determine, at all events, not to part with it, your case is hopeless; and nothing remains but for you to die in your sins, under the additional guilt you incur by refusing the remedy which Infinite Wisdom has prepared. At present, God is expostulating with you, in the language of an ancient prophet, “ O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayst be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?" “ Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be ?”S
You have met with many occurrences calculated to bring your sin to your remembrance; in various respects, God has walked contrary to you, and has probably often visited you with severe chastisements. Your bodies have been reduced by sickness, your families visited with death; and under some of these strokes you were for a while stunned, and formed some feeble resolution of forsaking your sins, and devoting yourselves to a religious life. But what are the fruits ? No sooner was the first smart of your affliction (abated,] than you returned to your course, and became as inattentive to the concerns of your soul as ever. * Prov. i. 23.
† Hos. xiv. 4. Jer. iv. 14.
$ Jer. xiii. 27.
God only knows, whether he will grant you any more warnings; whether he will wait upon you any longer; whether he will ever again visit you in mercy; or whether he will pronounce on you that awful sentence recorded in Ezekiel :-“ Because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee. I the Lord have spoken it: it shall come to pass, and I will do it; I will not go back, neither will I spare, neither will I repent: according to thy ways, and according to thy doings, shall they judge thee, saith the Lord God.”*
ON COUNTING THE COST.
Luke xiv. 28.—For which of you, intending to build a tower,
sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have
sufficient to finish it ? AMONG the many excellencies which distinguish the character of our Lord, as the author and founder of a new religion, we perceive, throughout the whole of his conduct, a most transparent simplicity and candour. He disdained, on any occasion, to take advantage of the ignorance or inexperience of the persons with whom he conversed; never stooping to the low arts of popularity, nor attempting to swell the number of his followers by a concealment of the truth. He availed himself of no sudden surprise, no momentary enthusiasm arising from the miracles which he wrought, or the benefits which he conferred. The attachment which he sought, and which he valued, was the result of mature conviction, founded on the evidence of his claims, and combined with a distinct foresight of the consequences, near and remote, which would follow from becoming his disciples. Conscious of the solidity of the foundation on which his title to universal and devoted obedience rested, he challenged the strictest scrutiny. Knowing that his promises would more than compensate all the sacrifices he might require, and all the sufferings to which his disciples might be exposed, he was not solicitous to throw a veil over either; but rather chose to set them in the strongest light, that none might be induced to enlist under his banners, but such as were “ called, and chosen, and faithful.” He felt no desire to be surrounded by a crowd of ignorant and superficial admirers, ready to make him a king to-day, and to cry, “ Crucify him, crucify him,” tomorrow; but by a band “whose hearts God had touched,” prepared through good and evil report to follow him to prison and to death. Such, with the exception of one, were his twelve apostles ; such the hundred and twenty disciples who were assembled at Jerusalem after his ascension; and such the character of those whom he will acknowledge as his at a future day.
* Ezek. xxiv. 13, 14.