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. 44 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.” O that you may see your danger before it be too late! Read with feriousness 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 disowned. “ 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
O death, thou king of terrors ! dreadful name!
O may I seek, while mercy points the way,
The Subject farther improved by Way of Conviction.
WE 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 repenfance?” 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
of spirit ? What returns do you make ? Much is required of those on whom much is bestowed. If no proper use be made of the abundant blessings of providence, if they are not improved to a proper end, the reckoning will be awful at last, in the great day of accounts. It appears to have been our Lord's intention to make us sensible of this, in the parable of the talents. Those who made no proper use of their lord's money, with which they were intrufted, are denominated slothful and wicked servants, and dealt with accordingly.
The prophet's observation is verified in many instances; “ Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness.” To be unmoved and unhumbled amidst innumerable inftances of providential kindness, is a sad indication that we are of the number of those whom the di. vine word denominates wicked men. That person is in a dangerous condition, upon whom the most likely means to produce repentance have no effect. That ground must be bad which the common methods of cultivation, and the showers of Heaven do not make fruitful. Awful are the words of the apostle to the Hebrews; they should be read with fear and trembling by such persons as we are now addressing; “ The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs
meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blerfing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing ; whose end is to be burned."
But there is another class of men still inore impious than those to whom we have been speaking; those, we mean, who pervert the favours of providence to a wrong use and end. Their conduct fomewhat resembles that of those ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. They make use of the blessings of God's goodness, as provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts thereof, in gluttony, drunkenness, pride, and impurity. In their hands, the bounties of Heaven become weapons of unrighteousness, incentives to fin, and instruments whereby they may serve Satan, and the more successfully promote his diabolical cause a. mong men.
He whose goodness they thus wretchedly pervert and abuse, will most assuredly resent their conduct. The whole creation groans under the weight of their guilt.
The Lord says concerning rebellious Ifrael, by the prophet Hofea,
- She did not know that I gave her. corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her filver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof,