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may imagine that a distant relation, who is very rich, will bequeath to him a considerable part of his inheritance; but if he has no promise, nor any kind of intimation from the proprietor of the estate, that he will do so, the poor man's expectation is ill founded; in fact it is presumption. It is like the wild conceit of the infatuated Athenian, who imagined that every ship which entered the harbour was his own. In matters of religion, we often find those persons the moft confident, who have the least ground or reason to be fo.
There is a manifest difference between a prefumptuous finner, and a man of real piety. The one is bold and confident, without any regard to the declarations of God in his facred word ; the other is jealous over himself, lest he should be deceived, and often distreiled with fears and misgivings of mind. The one talks of nothing but the mercy of God, without any regard to his holiness, his justice and his truth. The other is affected with that view of the divine character which is given us in the bible. He trembles before the Majesty of a fin-avenging God; and can take no encouragement from any proposed fystem, which does not discover how divine justice can be satisfied for the offences he has committed, as well as mercy difa played in pardoning them. Nothing can give his
'wounded conscience relief, but that which secures due honour to God, in all his attributes.
The presuming finner regards nothing so much as his own security from destruction; the gracious man is concerned, not only about the pardon of his sins, and the justification of his person, but about the purification of his heart, and the conformity of his life to the will of God. He hungers and thirsts after righteousness, and cries with the Pfalmift, “ O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed when I have respećt to all thy commandments.” He knows, that though the salvation of the soul is entirely of the free grace of God, through the atonement of Jesus Christ, yet where that salvation is experienced in reality, the fruits of it will be apparent. This consideration prevents him from being too bold and confident in concluding upon his interest in the divine favour. It is far from being my intention to encourage a state of suspence, of doubting, and of diftruft, in the minds of sincere chrif.. tians. Let not such cast away their confidence, but rather let them give diligence to the full assurance of hope to the end. The reader should remember, that I am now.addressing myself to such as presume that they are in God's favour, on improper and uncertain grounds. For instance,
One man thinks himself in God's favour, because he is indulged with worldly prosperity. But this we have seen is an improper conclusion. Another thinks well of his state because he is attended with many troubles and calamities. But afflictions are no signs of favour, unless they are sanctified, and produce the peaceable fruits of righteousness in those who are exercised thereby. One thinks his state good because he hears the word preached regularly, and enjoys the ordinances of God in their appointed seasons. But many will say at last,
16. We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou haft taught in our streets ;" to whom the great Judge will reply, “I never knew you.” Another concludes he is one of God's children, because he has acquired a good degree of religious knowledge; cán talk fluently on divine subjects, and express himself in prayer with great readiness and propriety. But let him remember, that Judas had gifts as well as the rest of the apostles; and though a person could speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, he is nothing.
One man thinks him felf in the favour of God, because his life is very different to what it was at a former period. But reformation is not regeneration. Another concludes he is the object of God's love, because he is bountiful and liberal to the ne.
eessitous. But though I should give all my goods to feed the poor and have not charity, I am no.. thing. 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 fower. A certain class of professors are there described, who heard the word with joy, but have 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 cona fidence of his being in the favour of God, and think himself something when in fact he is nothing, and fo 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 fubftantial 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 consi.
deration; nor is there any cafe in which a deception is attended with greater danger.
The prophet Micah had to do with a felf-flattering race of men in his day, who faid, " 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 awful 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 delivered 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 satisfied with the mere form of godliness without its power? You who take pleasure in secret fins, live in them, and are unwilling to part with thein ? Have