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* * eeslitous. But though I should give all my goods to feed the poor and have not charity, I am nothing. One man is persuaded of his interest in God's favour, because he every day offers up many prayers, and attends to other religious duties. But the hypocritical pharisees made long prayers; and Saul, before his conversion, thought himself blame. less touching the righteousness which is of the law. Another concludes it is well with him, because he finds pleasure and joy in religious exercises. But : let him read with serious attention the parable of the sower. A certain class of professors are there described, who heard the word with joy, but hav. ing no root in themselves, their profession came to nothing. From all these hints it is plain, that a man may easily flatter himself into a mistaken con. fidence of his being in the favour of God, and think himself something when in fact he is nothing, and so deceive his own soul.
Many of the things which I have mentioned are in themselves good and commendable; but they are not sufficient evidences of God's special favour. More substantial and satisfying grounds should be inquired after, according to the word of God. There is no case in which men are more liable to deception than that which is now under our confi.
deration; nor is there any case in which a decep. tion is attended with greater danger.
The prophet Micah had to do with a self-flattering race of men in his day, who said, “Is not the Lord among us? No evil can come unto us." Alas! poor sinners; it is not your bold and unshaken confidence of safety, but scriptural evidence, that is to be regarded, in this weighty concern. It is aw. ful to hear deluded sinners speak of their elevated hopes of being in God's favour, while it is evident from the temper of their minds, and the whole conduct of their lives, that they have neither part nor lot in this matter, but are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Can you be in God's favour who never experienced a real change from nature to grace ? You who were never deli. vered from the power of darkness, never translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son? You who never knew what evangelical repentance means; who never had your hearts purified by faith in the divine Saviour ?
Can you imagine yourselves to be in God's favour, who never devoted yourselves to him, to be governed, ruled and guided by him? You who are fatisfied with the mere form of godliness without its power ? You who take pleasure in secret sins, live in them, and are unwilling to part with them? Have
" tu too you never read, never seriously considered, the words of the pious Psalmist, “ If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear my prayer."
The world may flatter you; if you seek the praise of men, you may have your reward. Even good men, in the judgment of charity, may be disposed to think well of you. You may have quietness in your own consciences, and lull yourselves to sleep on the bed of security, and still be in a state of the greatest danger. Like the foolish virgins, you may come to a shut door at last, when he from within will say unto you, “ Depart from me, I know you not, ye workers of iniquity.” Othat you may see your danger before it be too late! Read with seriousness the parable just referred to, I mean that of the ten virgins.' The foolish ones saw their error when, alas! it could not be rectified. They applied indeed to the wise, but their application was fruitless. In vain they cried, “ Lord, Lord, open to us." The door of mercy was shut for ever, and the workers of iniquity utterly and finally difowned. “Behold, now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.” But to those who trifle the golden moments away in folly and delusion, there will remain nothing but the blackness of darkness for ever.
O death, thou king of terrors ! dreadful name! What tongue can e'er describe, what pencil draw
The scenes of horror which surround thy throne?
O may I seek, while mercy points the way,
The Subject farther improved by Way of Conviction.
W E have already observed that the special fa
vour of God is manifestly distinct from the common blessings and bounties of his indulgent providence. These latter instances of favour are too often abused, by those on whom they are liberally bestowed. They certainly ought to be improved so as to humble us under a sense of our fins, and to lead us to repentance of them. To this purpose the apostle Paul writes to the Romans. " Despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?" These filken cords of kindness should draw our hearts nearer to God. His goodness should attract our affections to himself.
Had you received a thousandth part of the kindness from men, which you daily receive from the Almighty, you would be affected by it, and think yourselves under great obligations to those who had shewn you such kindness. And shall all the kindness of your Maker be loft upon you? Where,
in this case, is your gratitude, your ingenuousness No. VIII. 1.