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shall one say, In the Lord have I righteousness and strength.”
Secondly. If we want them—we see to whom we are to address our prayers. Betake yourselves to the friend of sinners, and say, remember me now, thou art come into thy kingdom. Heal me, and I shall be healed: save me, and I shall be saved; for thou art my praise. Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." And has not thou said, “ Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out?” Behold a sin. ner that wishes to have nothing more to do with sin. O save him from the bondage of corruption, as well as from the burden of condemnation. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions.Create in me a clean heart, o God; and renew a right spirit within me.
O be induced to do this, and to do this immediately. Here is a Saviour exalted to bless
you with all spiritual blessings—and, especially, "To bless you, by turning every one of you away from your iniquities”-and there is no blessing like this. Seek him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is near. For there is a time, when if you call he will not answer, and if you seek him early, you will not find him. The season for obtaining these blessings is short and uncertain. Surely, you need not be informed that you are sinners—but the wages of sin is death. While you are strangers to pardon, you are only treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath. You are open to all the miseries of life, the sting of death, the torments of hell. Yea, you are exposed to a double condemnation; one from the law which you have transgressed, and another from the gospel which you have despised. And how is it that you do not lay these things to heart? How is it you do not fear, lest every moment the earth should open its mouth, and your souls go down quick into hell? How will you contrive to sleep to night—when you know that if you die in your present state, God is under an oath to destroy you?
But, “ Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” He is blessed in his duties, for he has an assurance of acceptance, and assistance. He is blessed in his enjoyments, for he tastes the loving kindness of God in them. He is blessed in his trials, for they flow from love, and are designed for his profit. Now he is delivered from the curse, he can bear the cross of afflictions. He cannot endure his troubles long, and he does not endure them alone.
Here are some whom he has pardoned. He gave them to see and feel, and confess their sins. He discovered to them the scheme of salvation revealed in the gospel. He enabled them to come with all their unworthiness, smiting upon their breasts, and saying, God be merciful to me, a sinner—and believing they passed from death unto life. They found rest unto their souls. They are now serving him, and they find his yoke easy, and his burden light.
• And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find: knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that
asketh receiveth: and he that seeketh findeth: and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. Amen.
RELIGION MAKES US PROFITABLE.
I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begot
ten in my bonds; who in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me.-Philemon 10, 11.
The epistles are of three classes. Some are addressed to Christians at large-some to particular, churches--and some to single individuals.
The epistle before us is of the third class. And as it is inscribed to one person, so it is limited to one subject. It furnishes none of those glaring scenes, which the pencil of the historian requires; but it is full of importance to a Christian teacher. It says nothing of the intrigues of statesmen, the contentions of senators, the exploits and mischiefs of heroes, but it yields topics of reflection, much more interesting and useful to a serious reader. These are concisely expressed in the words which I have read.
We will therefore, I., state the circumstances of the case to which they refer. And, II., deduce some remarks from them for our instruction and edification.
I. The circumstances of the case may be thus briefly stated-At Colosse lived Philemon. He appears to have been a person of some respectability, if not distinction. The apostle calls him a fellow labourer. He had a church in his house; and by his liberality, often refreshed the bowels of the saints.
With this Philemon, lived a servant, whose name was Onesimus. Onesimus, like too many servants, was ungodly, though he lived in a pious family, and enjoyed religious means and privileges. He robbed his master, and with the purloined property made his escape. As it is usual for such criminals to go to some large, populous place, to avoid detection, Onesimus hastened to Rome, the capital of the world.
Thither Paul had arrived a little before, in consequence of his appealing unto Cæsar: and having hired a house, “ preached the kingdom of God, and received all that came in unto him." As he was the subject of conversation in the city, Onesimus is informed of him; and from curiosity, or some other motive-perhaps he had heard his name, or seen his person at his master's house he goes to the apostle's lodgings, and attends his ministry. Probably Paul preached against thievery. However this may be, “ The word was quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and was a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Onesimus is convinced and alarmed: he feels his guilt: and now dreads, not only human, but divine justice. He cannot get rid of his distress; but walks about the city, crying to himself, what must I do to be saved.?
At length he resolves to go and open his case to Paul-" He may afford me instruction and relief.”—He waits upon him. “Sir, I lately heard you preach, and I am one of the characters you described and condemned.”—What is your name? 66 Onesimus.” What are you?“
“ I was a slave.”—And who was your master?
6 Philemon of Colosse.”-Him I know:—but what, Onesimus, brought you here ?-Onesimus weeps
"0! I cannot deny it, I cannot conceal itI robbed my master, and fled hither from justice. And ever since I heard that sermon, I can find no rest; my iniquities have taken şuch hold upon me, that I cannot look up.—My sin was the most heinous and aggravated-it was a good master I injured! How often did he admonish me! How earnestly did he pray for me!"
See here what a víctory grace obtains over nature. Onesimus
and confesses himself a thief! For he was now remote from the scene of action; no person was there to impeach him; and if he had not acknowledged the crime himself, it could never have been known. This was no pleasant task. Nothing could be more irksome to the pride of the human heart. It is as common to cover as to commit sin. Men--such is their injustice, and self-love-men wish to appear better in the
of their fellow-creatures, than they really are; even better than they know themselves to be. But, when the Holy Ghost lays a burden upon the conscience, no diversion can remove it. Divine grace produces self-abasement: and a true penitent will not only confess his sins to God, but when called by circumstances, he will own it also to men, to his fellow Christians, and to ministers. And such a disclosure may some