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Christ's incarnation and death.-“The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar and his word is not in us. If any man sin we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous : And he is the propitiation for our sins ; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Christ came to seek and to save them who are lost. If we are not lost, we need none to seek us. have not sinned, we need none to save us. The whole plan of the gospel is founded in the supposi. tion of human apostasy, depravity and guilt. If you deny this, it is absurd to talk of redemption by Christ ; For what is there, from which rectitude and innocence need to be redeemed? Whatever respect you may profess for the gospel ; if you be. lieve that human nature is unpolluted and guiltless, and that your own souls are pure and without spot, you will despise the doctrines of justification by faith in Christ's blood; renovation by the power of the holy spirit, and salvation by God's sovereign grace; and, consequently will reject every thing in the gospel, which distinguishes it from the religion of nature.
4. There is still another sort of despisers, perhaps more numerous than the former : I mean such as profess to believe the gospel in all its essential doctrines, and yet in their hearts and lives oppose it.
If, on hearing the characters of despisers as already described, you can acquit yourselves, it is well : But be not high minded. Attend to this which has now been mentioned ; for by this, I fear, many will be condemned.
You either esteem the gospel, or you despise it : There is no medium : Indifference is contempt. Consider how you treat the things which you value. Do you treat the gospel in the same manner?
What you esteem, will be much in your thoughts. « Where the treasure is, there the heart will be." The miser's thoughts are on his money ; the libertine's thoughts are on his pleasures ; a lover's thoughts are on his absent friend. How are your thoughts employed ?-Do they habitually run after Christ and his salvation, the promises of his word, and the blessings of his grace ? Do you love to pay him your morning and evening visits? In the em. ployments of the world, Do your hearts frequently, steal away for a short interview with him? Or, on the contrary, does the world engross your soul ? Does it lie down and rise up with you, and possess you all the day? Is the sabbath a weariness, God's worship a burden, and converse with his word an irksome task? By thus examining the current of your thoughts, you will learn the source from which they spring, and the issue to which they tend.
“ Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh."
They who are of the world, speak of the world, and the world hears them. They who are born * from above, have their conversation in heaven.
Their true interest, best friend, strongest affections and highest hopes are there ; and there they find the most agreeable subjects of discourse. Filled with divine love, and warmed with pious zeal, they relish the conversation, which turns on heavenly themes. On proper occasions they will introduce it; and when it is introduced by others, they will gladly take a part in it.,. They will speak often one to another, that they may receive and communicate light and heat, and may fan each other's too languid fires into a brisker flame.
There are, indeed, burning lips, which sometimes accompany a wicked hcart.' There are some fulsome hypocrites, whose religion wholly consists in the talk of the lips. These osten expose religion to contempt by an improper manner of urging it into conversation. Be ye not like them. But then if you feel an aversion to serious dicourse, and a disposition to divert it, whenever it meets you, How dwells the love of God in you ?
What you esteem will influence your practice. That which you make your great end, will chiefly govern your actions. If your heart is set on any particular object, whether it be honour, wealth, or pleasure, that object you will pursue with an engagedness proportionable to the estimation which you make of it. "Enquire then ; Do the blessings of the gospel command your desires ?-Do its promises animate your hopes ?-Do its threatenings awaken your fears ?-Do its precepts guide your steps ?—If you are strangers to this holy influence of the gospel, how can you say, you do not despise it? The world is not viewed with indifference. If this has the highest place in your mind, the gospel is despised. You cannot serve God and mammon. If
you hold to the one, you despise the other.
You are solicitous to acquire an interest in that which you esteem most valuable. Your love of the world prompts your diligence to get a share in it. Your affection for a particular person makes you studious to please him. If you value the gospel of Christ, you will feel a deep concern to obtain the great salvation which it reveals. You will be careful to understand the terms of it. You will renounce every thing, which you know to be contrary to it. You will count all things but loss in comparison with it. You will cut off your right hand, and pluck out your right eye, when it causcs you to offend. You will not run the hazard of
losing your soul, though you might thus gain the whole world. Such a price you will judge infinitely too great for the purchase. The world cannot be given back in exchange for the soul.
If you valué an object, you will be careful to asa certain your interest in it. The husbandman will not purchase a farm of him, who cannot make him a good title. The merchant will not trust his wares to those who appear unable to pay him. If one should tell you, your title to your estate was precarious, you would not rest till you had examined it, taken advice upon it, and made it as secure as possible. If you should hear, that some principal debtor was like to fail, you would take measures imme. diately to save your debt. If you have the same value for the blessings of the gospel, as you have for the interests of the world, you will be as prudent and diligent to secure them. You will axamine yourself, whether you are in the faith, and whether Christ is formed in you. Every doubt which arises in your mind, will give you sensible concern, and put you on new enquiry. You will give diligence to the full assurance of hope.—How do you find the matter?-Can you live from month to month, and from year to year, careless, and unconcerned, without a clear, or even a probable evidence of your title to the great salvation of the gospel ? Let me tell you, most certainly you despise it. You would not remain thus indifferent, if any considerable worldly interest was in the same precarious situation.
What you chiefly value, you will spare no pains or expense to secure. To this you will make all other interests subservient. Go then, imitate the wisdom of the husbandman, who, having found a treasure hid in a field, sold all that he had, and purchased that field-adopt the prudence of the mer. chant, seeking goodly pearls, who, having found VOL. II.
one pearl of great price, sold all his goods to procure it. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. Lay up treasures in heaven. Imagine not that a few transient thoughts, cold petitions and lifeless endeavours, will entitle you to glory. If your seeking rises no higher than thus, it is but neglect. In the salvation of the soul there is such an evident and undisputed superiority to every worldly interest, that this indolent seeking of the former, while the latter is pursued with ardour, is little better than direct contempt. And how will you escape, if you neglect this great salvation ?A salvation declared to be great by the price which the Redeemer has paid for the purchase of it, by the affectionate importunity with which he has urged your acceptance of it, and by the joy of heaven over those who obtain a share in it.
Once more. What we esteem, we ordinarily choose that others should esteem too. We are pleased when they approve our judgment. It grieves us to see them despise the interests which we value, and to hear them reproach, the friends whom we honour. If we love the gospel, we shall desire that all men would embrace it. We shall openly profess our belief of, and attachment to it. If we have, by any means, cast a stain upon it, we shall, on conviction, immediately wipe it off by a voluntary confession of our error. We shall recommend this gospel to others by a regular attendance on its ordinances, and exemplary obedience to its precepts. When we hear men reproach its heavenly doctrines, or see them trample on its sacred institu. tions, our hearts will be warmed with holy indigna. tion. We shall wish to see its influence among men more extensive and powerful, and shall gladly contribute our aid to this important purpose.
Enquire now, how it is with you, Can you rest contented without a profession of the gospel, and