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Winners before cut down, not e it bore none. . 14.) is pointed it of faculties and radistinguished from S.

Are not all these in the review of our · I hear a person say he conclude that he has not

religion at all. ever before us: if not our sible, that, according to the that word, we may not have it our omissions, deficiencies, jes of heart and affection, our

position, our course and habit of ..iences, meaning, as I do mean, by rings which our consciences cannot 'r slips, and inadvertencies, and surfrequent for a man in earnest about lese things occupy our attention ; let and direction of our thoughts; for they its which will bring us to God evangeuse they are the thoughts which will not • our vigilance, but which must inspire us 2 mility as to ourselves, with that deep, and ..d operating, sense of God Almighty's love ess ('58 and mercy towards us, in and through rist our Saviour, which it was one great aim

of the Gospel, and of those who preached it, cate upon all who came to take hold of the offer

L'e.

XVII.

SALVATION FOR PENITENT SINNERS.

LUKE VII. 47.

Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many,

are forgiven ; for she loved much.

It has been thought an extravagant doctrine, that the greatest sinners were sometimes nearer to the kingdom of heaven than they whose offences were less exorbitant, and less conspicuous : yet, I apprehend, the doctrine wants only to be rationally explained, to show that it has both a great deal of truth, and a great deal of use, in it; that it may be an awakening religious proposition to some, whilst it cannot, without being wilfully misconstrued, delude or deceive any.

Of all conditions in the world, the most to be despaired of, is the condition of those who are altogether insensible and unconcerned about religion ; and yet they

; may be, in the mean time, tolerably regular in their outward behaviour ; there may be nothing in it to give great offence; their character may be fair ; they may pass with the common stream, or they may even be well spoken of ; nevertheless, I say, that, whilst this insensibility remains upon their minds, their condition is more to be despaired of, than that of any other person. The religion of Christ does not in any way apply to them : they do not belong to it; for are they to be saved by performing God's will ? God is not in their thoughts; his will is not before their eyes. They may

may be

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do good things, but it is not from a principle of obedi. ence to God that they do them. There

many crimes, which they are not guilty of; but it is not out of regard to the will of God, that they do not commit them. It does not, therefore, appear, what just hopes they can entertain of heaven, upon the score of an obedience which they not only do not observe, but do not attempt to observe. Then, secondly, if they are to hope in Christ for a forgiveness of their imperfections, for acceptance, through him, of broken and deficient services, the truth is, they have recourse to no such hope ; beside, it is not imperfection with which they are charged, but a total absence of principle. A man who never strives to obey-never indeed bears that thought about him, must not talk of the imperfection of his obedience: neither the word, nor the idea, pertains to him ; nor can he speak of broken and deficient services, who in no true sense of the term hath ever served God at all. I own, therefore, I do not perceive what rational hopes religion can hold out to insensibility and unconcernedness; to those who neither obey its rules, nor seek its aid ; neither follow after its rewards, norsue.--I mean, in spirit and sincerity, sue,-for its pardon. But how, it will be asked, can a man be of regular and reputable morals, with this religious insensibility: in other words, with the want of vital religion in his heart? I answer, that it can be in this

way. A general regard to character, knowing that it is an advantageous thing to possess a good character; or a regard generated by natural and early habit ; a disposition to follow the usages of life, which are practised around us, and which constitute decency; calm passions, easy circumstances, orderly companions, may, in a multitude

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167

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SERMON
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the necessity of flying
ligion in good earnest.
heart, and said to Peter

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: and this is the state of
out, before the Gospel be

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