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every man, who wears out his life in seeking the regard or the honour which comes from men, walketh in a vain shew ; surely they are disquieted . in vain : but now, Lord, what wait I for? my: hope is in thee.
Who would be content to live for one hour in a state of uncertainty, with regard to the favour of his Maker and supreme Judge? It is ftrange that men can pursue the business and relish the pleasures of life, without the least solicitude about the matter under consideration. They regard not him who hath directed us to embrace his Son Jesus Christ, by believing in his name, as our only deliverer from the wrath to come. “ Kiss the Son left he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” If you are in a state of impenitence and unbelief, how do you know but this day, this night, or this hour, you may be cut off in your fins, and sent to the place of punishment ? “Because there is wrath, beware, left he take you away with a stroke; and then a great ransom cannot deliver you.” Do not say, I hope it will be otherwise. What reason have
you for this hope, so long as you are totally regardless of the only way of safety? You are by nature a child of wrath even as others. He that believeth
not, the wrath of God abideth on him. If you have no fpiritual acquaintance with Jesus, if you have never come to him, as a loft and ruined sinner, believing in his name for the remission of your fins, this is your very case. Your hope therefore is all delusion.
He that believeth is born of God, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life. The change is great. It is a reality, and not the wild fancy of an euthufiaftic mind. Do not deceive yourself. He who will be your Judge at last, who has the key of David, who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, even he hath said, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." To hope for an admittance into the kingdom without this change, is to hope for that which, in the very nature of things, cannot -bc. It is to hope that the testimony of the King of glory is not true. However mysterious that change is in itself, which is signified by the new birth, it is marle manifeft by its effects. Repentance of sin, farth in Chrift, love to God, affection to his children, and new obedience to his will, are its certain consequences. If to these you are an utter ftranger, deceive not yourself by a blind and delusive hope that you are in the favour of God.
It is to you
But while I would warn you against that deceitful hope which only serves to lull you to security in a state of sin, I would caution you against drawing the fatal conclusion, that there is no hope for you. You are yet alive, yet on the ground of mercy. The glad tidings of salvation by Jesus Christ are published in your ears. that wisdom calls; her voice is to the fons of men. To you is the declaration made, “ Whosoever will, let him come, and take of the water of life freely.” The door of mercy is not yet shut. The golden sceptre is still held forth. • Behold now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation. To-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your heart.” When once life is gone, in vain will finners cry for mercy, and seek for favour. In vain will they then say, Lord, Lord, open to us. When once the Master of the house hath risen up, and shut the door, it will never be opened again. The disease will then be absolutely incurable, the State of the finner entirely hopeless, and the soul undone to all eternity. All opportunity will then be past. The thought of this is awful beyond all that language can express.
But, my dear fellow-finner, this is not your case. Mercy's sparing hand hath yet upheld you, and the divine proclamation is still made to you,
“ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” But the case admits not of one moment's delay. How stands your heart affected? If in sincerity you now begin to cry for mercy, there is not barely a possi. bility of your obtaining it, but an absolute certainty. “ Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened to you. Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out." The Lord of life and glory hath said it, and his word is the truth itself. He will never falsify it.
Beware then of saying with those hardened in despair, “ There is no hope, 'no; for I have loved Atrangers, and after them will I go.” Let the proclamations of divine mercy melt you to penitence, encourage you to believe, and excite you to pray. There is mercy for the chief of finners. Of this "Manasseh is an instance, Paul is a pattern, and Magdalene an example. Let God's forbearance and long-suffering lead you to repentance. Approach to a forgiving God, through the death of his Son, and make trial whether he will not be as good as his word. Think on the resolution of the fervants of Benhadad ; " We have heard that the king of Ifrael is a merciful king : let us put fack
king of Israel is a merciful king: let us put sackcloth upon our loins, and ropes upon our heads, and
go out to the king of Israel; peradventure he will fave our lives." You have better ground of encouragement than they had. " For the Lord our God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from
you return unto him."
Perhaps some one of my readers may be disposed to say, 'I look upon the favour of God as a moft desirable privilege, and am using my best endeavours to obtain it.' In reply to this I would beg leave to tell you, that I am afraid you do not consider the subject in a proper light. Do you imagine that the privilege you mention is to be pro. cured by your endeavours ? That it is to be purchased by any efforts or exertions of your own? Whoever does, by his own righteousness, seek to recommend himself to the favour of his Maker, betrays great ignorance of the gospel system, and attempts that which the scriptures declare to be im. possible to man in his degenerate state. For “ by the deeds of the law no flesh can be justified in his
* He who promises himself he shall obtain acceptance with his Maker, by keeping the law, afts
No. XVI. 1.