Page images

for the regulation of our conduct, is, to fet the Almighty at defiance; it is to contemn the atonement of our Redeemer, and fpurn at the overtures made to us, by the Bleffed Sanctifier of our fouls. Will it be fufficient to fay to him," who is of purer eyes than to be"hold iniquity," that you preferred a life free from the restraints of virtue and the

fetters of piety, to a life of undisturbed peace on earth, and an affurance of future bleffedness for ever-when your confcience now refifts, with abhorrence, the deceitful opiate? With what aftonishment will the finner behold the forbearance, and long-fuffering of an offended God? With what indignation will he look upon the wounds of his crucified Saviour-wounds inflicted and endured for his falvation? With what agony of mind will he contemplate the interceffions of Jefus Chrift, to turn away his Father's wrath? With what diftraction of foul will he obferve the many, very many times, in which our gracious Redeemer hath interpofed be·tween his crying fins, and an avenging Deity ---in which he hath warded off the blow, directed by justice, at the head of daring, and prefumptuous

prefumptuous guilt? Would to God I could prevail with the finner to "be reconciled to "God to-day, whilft it is called to-day!" Inftead of complying with the folicitation of every luft, and of being born away by the impulfe of every paffion—would to God I could prevail with him to retire, a little while, from the pursuits and pleafures of life, and to enter into his own confcience, and examine carefully what juft grounds of hope he can have, whilst he lives at variance with his confcience, and with his God! But he cannot, alas! beftow any time on fo trifling a concern as falvation. As Jefus Chrift died for all, he doubts not but he fhall be comprehended in the effects of his death, and then, all will be well-Deceitful expectation! When he comes to lie on the bed of fickness, and "is even hard at death's "door;" when the road he is to travel is within his view, he will be anxious to know whether the reception, to which, at the end of it, he will be entitled, is the reward of obedience, or the chastisement of neglect. The advice contained in my text, is, my text, is, "to look diligently lest "we any of us fail of the Grace of God;" that is, to examine ourselves with fcrupulous exact


nefs, left we render a revelation from heaven ineffectual to our falvation, and "receive the "Grace of God in vain." The motives to obey the Gospel we have feen to be cogent, and interesting; let us weigh, in the opposite scale, the pleasures and advantages derived from difobedience to the heavenly laws-pleasures and advantages, which, I pray God may never be ours! the reproaches of our conscience, and the difpleasure of "Him who has threatened, "if we incur it, to deftroy both body and "foul in hell." Is the edict of a fovereign, or the admonition of a magistrate, studied with accuracy, and received with attention? And fhall the ever bleffed Gofpel, the law" of the King of kings," of him" who is higher than "the highest," be treated with difrefpect, and rejected with disdain? The punishment of an earthly fovereign compared with the vengeance of God, is as a drop of water to the ocean, or as time to eternity. Thou that livest in a ftate of known fin art every moment obnoxious to this punishment-afk thyself, therefore, how thou canst dwell with everlasting "burnings?" It is one of the bleffings of the

[ocr errors]


Gospel that we can judge in what state we are-whether the friends, or the enemies of God? whether liable to his wrath, or entitled to his mercy? Let us then apply this happy, this peculiar privilege. Let each of us put this important queftion to himself-does my life warrant the affurance of my being in a ftate of falvation? One man, on a little enquiry, will find, that, by his entire neglect of every religious duty, he is amongst those who dread the fecond coming of his Saviour, the time when he will come to judgment. The exercifes of ferious meditation, of devout prayer, of holy communion-to thefe, alas! he is an utter stranger; and if they are to be his advocates at the throne of God, he cannot appear there without the apprehenfion of having incurred the eternal displeasure of his Judge. Another, when he is "to give account "of all the deeds done in the body," may expect to meet the complaints of the injured, the cries of the fatherlefs, and the lamentations of the widow: his own heart now turns evidence against him; and accufing, and convicting him here what has he to expect but exemplary punishment hereafter? A third, inftead

"of living in the faith and fear of God," will discover that "God has hardly been in all his

[ocr errors]

thoughts." Oaths and imprecations he vents without regard to their impiety, or dread of their punishment. Will fuch men dare to fay that "they look diligently, left they fail of "the Grace of God?" Let me perfuade you to confider your danger. A state of suspense, where we have much at issue, is a pitiable fituation. But words cannot exprefs, fancy cannot paint the deplorable fituation of that man, who lives at enmity with God. And every man is at enmity with God, whofe confcience, examined according to the Gofpel, does not affure him of his reconciliation. That there is no fatisfaction of mind in the profecution of vicious courses, is a truth the finner can neither evade by argument, nor controvert by experience. For how shall he, who treadeth in the steps of wickedness, "know peace," when he is perpetually fubject to the inftigations of confcience, and the vengeance of heaven? He may, indeed, fometimes lull his foul to fleep with the deceitful cry of "peace, peace;" but no fooner is the flumber over, no fooner does he awake to the vifitations of remorfe, and the perfecutions


« PreviousContinue »