Page images
[ocr errors]

they are blessed and shall see God. They repent of their sins; they believe in Christ; they love God and one another. They walk by faith. It is but one class of persons who are thus variously described in the Scriptures. If you answer to this description, this goodness is laid up for you, but not otherwise.

But I ought to say that these persons are not ashamed of their fear of God and their confidence in him. They trust in him “before the sons of men. They are visible, as well as real Christians; while, with the heart, they believe unto righteousness, with the mouth they make confession unto salvation. They declare themselves on the Lord's side, as well as go over to it.

There are acts which must be performed ; a character had; a work of God, of which we must be the subjects; a spirit, which we must imbibe or the promises are not ours.

And now, in closing this discourse on divine goodness, I must submit some inferences.

How sinful is sin, all sin ! It being against one so great, so good, good to all, good to us.

What a heart of sin that must be which such goodness does not lead to repentance. How hard when such love will not break it! How obstinate that such kindness cannot subdue it! Are there not hearts here which are still proof against all good

[ocr errors]

ness ?

How reasonable it is, that the laws of a being so benevolent should be strictly, universally, and cheerfully obeyed! Can such a being have made laws

by obedience, to which the ultimate good of his creatures is not to be promoted ? Yet how many of God's beneficiaries live daily in the transgression of his commands; live on his bounty, but not in his fear, nor to his glory!

What an appeal the Bible makes to our hopes ! Oh! shall any of you fail of the inheritance reserved in heaven; be forever separated from the glory of the divine goodness? We must not forget the medium of God's goodness to us. Christ, the chief gift of his goodness, is the medium of all the rest. We have been speaking of the object of hope. The foundation of it is Jesus Christ.

How important we should be God's people. There is a favor which he bears only to them. Oh! taste and see that the Lord is good.

God's goodness is not intended merely for us to contemplate and admire, but also to imitate. We are commanded to be merciful, holy, perfect even as he is; to resemble him in beneficence.

And now what shall his goodness effect ? Who knows not that there is moral power in goodness, efficiency in love? The love of Jesus is the greatest force in the universe. I say, what shall this goodness do? We know what its tendency and intent is ; to lead sinners to repentance.

Here are sinners that have never repented towards God; hearts that have never been broken ; or, if broken, broken by the anguish of bereavemeat rather than by the sense of sin. Shall it break your hearts, lead you to repent?

may never. A thing does not always reach what it has a tendency to ; an expedient may be thrown


in the way. A thing may be adapted and designed to an end, and not secure it. Shall this goodness lead you to repent? Ah ! suffer it. Let it reach, move, melt, ohange your hearts. Superadd to thy goodness, oh ! God, thy grace, and it shall do it. Oh ! thou that spared not thy Son, give thy Spirit too.


Bless the Lord, oh! my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

Psalm ciji. 2.

This hour, which, from year to year we have been wont to spend together, has sometimes been consecrated to one subject of meditation, and sometimes to another, for there are many subjects which are appropriate to the day and the occasion. You will conjecture from the text to what theme I intend to consecrate this hour, so far as my act can consecrate it. I am not going to remind you now, as sometimes I have done while occupying this position at the meeting of the years, of the brevity of life, and the rapidity of time's flight, and death's awful certainty, and still more awful uncertainty, and the issues of death. Nor shall I put you in remembrance, except it be incidentally, of the vanity of man, the transitoriness of all human things, the emptiness of worldly grandeur, and the fading and fleeting nature of every thing temporal and terrestrial, though these are topics on which I might, not inappropriately descant. Nor is our theme to-day that judgment, whither we are all hastening, and which so many of our fellow-mortals

* Preached on New

Year's day, January 1, 1828.

and some of our fellow-worshippers have reached since the last beginning of days; nor is it immortality, except as immortality should combine itself with every subject and diffuse itself through all our meditations. Nor in looking back on the year and on life will it be a primary object with me to search out and set before you your sins, and to excite you to repentance, though well I know, that, if you do faithfully the duty which I am going to inculcate, you cannot help remembering your sins, and you will repent of them. Though no two subjects stand in more direct contrast to each other, than the divine goodness, and human sinfulness and unworthiness, yet, as subjects of thought, none are more closely associated, for contrast is our principle of association ; how can you think of the one without thinking of the other ? Our sins constitute the shading of the picture, of which God's benefits are the light and coloring. One glance takes in the whole; and no sinner can be really grateful, without being penitent. Repentance is a sinner's gratitude, its first and deepest emotion; “knowest thou not that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

I have already indicated the subject to which I shall attempt to direct your thoughts; and the chord of the heart, that instrument of many strings, that I shall aim at; for to touch it, so as to cause a full and lasting vibration, is not mine ; God alone can do that; for that, the divine finger must move across it. It is easy to awaken slight and transient emotions of gratitude. That may be done, and often is, by some extraordinary display of divine goodness, some un

« PreviousContinue »