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But as this is a difficulty with which the truly serious only are apt to be distressed, I must not stop here, but beg them to consider, whether it would not be more reasonable to put the question in this form, How do I know, or rather, Wbat ground can I find to suspect, that the commandment to believe on the Saviour, doth not extend to me? It is undeniable, that none of the human race are excepted by name; the invitation or call is addressed to men indefinitely : “ Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth.”—“ Unto
men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men.” Say, then, my friends, under what fatal denomination can you find yourselves excluded from the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness? Surely not as sinners; for this denomination is common to all men, and “Christ came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" this was his very errand, “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Neither can it be as great sinners ; for Paul testifies, that Christ came to save the chief of sinners. “ His blood cleanseth from all sin;" and many examples are recorded of the most infamous transgressors, who have been washed, and sanctified, and justified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. Much less then can it be as deeply-convinced and self-condemning sinners; for under this denomination you are expressly invited to have recourse to him : “Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The commission he received was to bind up the broken-hearted, to bring forth the prisoners out of the prison-house, and to comfort those that mourn. Are you wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked? Such precisely was the state of the Laodiceans, with this only difference, from whence no discouraging inference can be drawn, that they knew it not, whereas you do: yet even to them were these gracious words addressed by our Lord bimself, (Rev. iii. 18.) “ I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed; and to anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.” Nay, (which methinks should put an end to all further questioning upon this head) the epistle directed to them concludes with that unlimited offer of gospel-grace, which might justly be introduced with a note of admiration, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man will hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me.” Beware then of setting bounds where God hath set none. If you feel your need of Christ as the only Saviour; if your eyes have been so far opened, as to see that he is worthy to be depended upon, and “mighty to save,” let no objections drawn from your own unwor. thiness, which, under the covert and semblance of humility, bides the daring presumption of giving God the lie, keep you back from this great High-Priest, or prevent your application of his atoning blood, for sprinkling your hearts from an evil conscience, and introducing you into the holiest with filial boldness, by that new and living way which he hath consecrated for you, through the vail of his flesh.
What the Apostle subjoins, having our bodies washed with pure water, may allude to those purifications enjoined by the law, which served to remind the Jews of the unspotted holiness of the God of Israel, and of that reverence which ought to possess their minds in all their approaches to his gracious presence; though I cannot help thinking, that these words were intended by the Apostle to introduce a new exhortation; and ought there. fore to be transferred to the following verse: in which case, without any straining, they obviously apply to the ordinance of baptism, and are urged, with great proprie. ty, to enforce a steadfast, unwavering adherence to that faith which the converted Hebrews had professed with such solemnity, when, at their admission into the church of Christ, their bodies were washed with pure water, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
But I shall not detain you any longer from the proper business of the day. Only let me call upon you, before I conclucle, to look up to this great High-Priest over the house of God, for that Holy Spirit, without whom neither sermons nor sacraments have any virtue or efficacy. It is he alone that can bestow upon us the qualifications here required. Let each of us then plead the promise of the Father, begging, that the Spirit of all grace may be given, “ to take of the things of Christ's, and to shew them unto us;" that from just views of our High-Priest, and of the new and living way be bath consecrated for us by his blood, we may be enabled to draw near to God with true hearts, in the full assurance of faith ; and receive such tokens of his love while we sit at his table, as shall be an earnest and pledge to us, of that still more near and joyful approach to him in the heavenly sanctuary; where we shall no more see him in the glass of ordinances, but face to face; where we shall be thoroughly changed into his image, and enjoy him fully, without interruption, and without end. Amen.
Romans v. 10.
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to
God by the death of his Son; much more being res conciled, we shall be saved by his life.
THE grounds of a Christian's faith and hope are not only sufficient to satisfy his own mind, but capable like. wise of being described and vindicated, in such a manner as cannot fail to give full satisfaction to every sober, unprejudiced inquirer.
Genuine Christianity is far from declining any means of trial, whereby truth is distinguished from delusion or imposture: on the contrary, it courts the light; and the more severely it is tried, the brighter it shines: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, and purified seven times." The evi. dence by which our faith and hope are supported hath already stood the test of many generations; and the most violent attacks of its enemies, instead of shaking the foundation, have only served to show that it is laid by that same Almighty Hand wbich created and upholdeth these heavens and this earth. Nay, these heavens, and this earth, shall at length pass away; but one jot or one tittle, in these lively oracles of wisdom and truth, shall in no wise pass away till all be fulfilled.
The privileges of a Christian are not a picture drawn by fancy, neither doth his comfort takes its rise from those inexplicable impressions to which the dreaming enthusiast is constrained to resort. The intelligent be
liever stands upon firm ground, and is always ready to give an answer to every man that asketh him a reason of the hope that is in him.”
Do you inquire into the object of his hope, he will tell you without hesitation, that he looks for a portion after death; in comparison whereof, this earth which we inhabit, and all that it contains, shrink into nothing, yea, less than nothing, and vanity.
Whatever we behold in this material world hath the seeds of dissolution sown in its very nature. Our bodies themselves are only tabernacles of clay, which ere long shall be crumbled into dust, and see corruption,
Here we breathe, as it were, in the midst of contagion and defilement; and the best things we enjoy are liable to be perverted, either into the instruments or occasions of sin. Honour tempteth to pride, power to oppression, and afluence to sensuality and criminal indulgence. Few, comparatively speaking, can carry with an even and steady hand the full cup of prosperity any length of way; like Jeshurun, they are apt to kick when they wax fat, and lightly to esteem the Rock of their salvation.
Nay, though they should escape the pollution of these earthly enjoyments, by using them with moderation, and employing them to the purposes for which they were de. signed; yet so precarious and fugitive are all sublunary things, that it is impossible for any man to promise upon their continuance. Who can say, “ My mountain standeth strong, I shall never be moved ?" Can any man guard himself at all times against secret fraud and open violence? Nay, every element, the wind, the fire, the water, may in a moment be armed with sufficient force to make the unwelcome separation betwixt us and the best of our worldly possessions.-Thus corruptible and