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The favour of God is absolutely and divinely free. Yet the facred writers every where recommend the use of proper means, to those who defire to flee from the wrath to come. “ Enter
ye at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the
which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.
Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts ye double-minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning,
like the country-man mentioned by the poet, who, being unable to ford the river, took up a resolution to wait on the banks, till the stream had all run by;
Vain man, defift; such flatt'ring hopes forego:
** Ifrael, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? OTI HX EX TISEWS, because they sought it not in the way of faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that ftumbling stone.” Rom, ix. 31, 32.
and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the fight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”
Then proftrate fall
Let me, in the first place, recommend unto you self-reflection, as necessary, in order to come to a just knowledge of your state. Seriously commune with your own heart, and think on your ways. To this exercise finners in general are extremely reluctant, and therefore they go on in fecurity, without any prevailing concern about their eternal interefts. They are like a man in a ftate of intoxication, who fcarcely knows what he does, and who never reflects on the malignity of his actions, or the dangers to which he expofes himself. Without serious confideration, there is, humanly speaking, no hope of a found conversion. “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet to thy testimonies; I made hafte, and delayed not to keep thy commandments.” When the Psalmist prediêts the converlion of the Gentile nations, he fays, “ All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn unto
the Lord." They shall recollect the actions of their past lives, they shall call to mind their own evil
ways; they shall consider their state, as finners against God, and ask themselves, what they are doing, whither their courses tend, and what will become of them to all eternity. They have perhaps till this hour been wholly inattentive to these things. They have forgotten God their Maker, forgotten what ought to have been their principal business in this world, and for what purpose they were brought on the stage of existence. Before this period of reflection and serious consideration, men in seeing see not, in hearing they hear not, neither do they understand, and therefore God's first work upon their hearts is to awaken and rouse them from their fecurity; " Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” The prodigal first came to himself, and then said, “ I will arise, and go to my father.” The Al. mighty's address to our first parent after the fall was, “ Adam, where art thou ?” This is the general method he is pleased to take with those whom he brings to repentance.
They shall remember, and turn unto the Lord.”
Let me then entreat you to ask yourselves these serious questions, “ Am I in a state of acceptance with God, or have I lived till this hour as
alienated from him? The special favour of the Maker of the universe is not enjoyed by every man. I myself, by nature, am a child of wrath ; but have I experienced a change from nature to grace ? Am I in a converted state? Do I bring forth fruits meet for repentance ? What evidence can I produce of my being interested in God's pardoning love ? I am commanded to examine myself, whether I be in the faith, and to prove my own felf, whether Jesus Christ be in me, by the renewing operations of his Holy Spirit. To be at uncertainties in a matter of such moment is dangerous; and it would be still more awful to deceive myself, and to think myself something when I am nothing.
· If I am not in a state of friendship with God, my condition is awfully dangerous, and hould I continue in it; surely it had been better I had never been born. For if I should die in fuch a state, I muft be miserable for ever; and how do I know but this night my soul may be required of me? Even in this life, if I am not reconciled to God, woe is me; for his righteous law condemns me, and his wrath abideth on me. The condition of the meanest brute, or of the vileft reptile, is preferable to mine, for they have never offended their Maker, or provoked him to anger; but he is.“ angry with the wicked every day." In such a case, S 3
how is it possible for a man to be happy, either in this world or the next!
· But what is the procuring cause of God's displeasure? What are the grounds of the quarrel betwixt him and his creatures ? Whence came this distance between him and my poor soul? Surely there must be a cause. That God, whose creature I am, and with whom I have to do, is so holy, so juft and righteous, that he cannot but hate fin, that evil thing by which I am defiled. It belongs to the perfection of his nature to be displeased with it. I read in his facred word, that he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and that he cannot look on iniquity. Let me consider this. When it is said that he cannot look on iniquity, it must signify the most inconceivable detestation of it. He cannot connive at it, he cannot spare it; because to do fo would be contrary to the holinefs of his nature. He can do every thing which is not contrary to himself, to the essential properties of his nature; but I may be fully assured, that he can do nothing which is contrary to his truth, his holiness, or his righteousness; nothing inconsistent with these his adorable perfections.
• Is it not on this ground, that the purity of God is sometimes expressed by jealousy? For the nature of jealousy is not to spare. Nothing but the executing of vengeance will satisfy it. Is not this