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Title: Discourses on Various Subjects, Vol. 1 (of 2)
Author: Duché, Jacob
Language: English
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[Illustration: Frontispiece.]

                     DISCOURSES ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS



                    DISCOURSES ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS,

                                   By

                           JACOB DUCHÉ, M. A.


       Rector of Christ-Church and St. Peter's, in Philadelphia;

                            AND FORMERLY OF

                         CLARE-HALL, CAMBRIDGE.


                          The SECOND EDITION.


                                 VOL I.


                                LONDON;

                  Printed by J. Phillips, George-Yard,
                            Lombard-Street.

            And Sold by T. Cadell, in the Strand; H. Payne,
         Pall-Mall; C. Dilly, in the Poultry; and J. Phillips.
                              M.DCC.LXXX.

[Illustration: Pelham Pinx.]



TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE

LADY JULIANA PENN.


Madam,

I have ever deemed it one of the most favourable circumstances of my
life, that your Ladyship condescended to honour my early youth with your
kind countenance and protection. Your amiable character, and exemplary
virtues, have always thrown such a lustre around you, as could not but
enlighten and improve those, who came within their influence. This
testimony from me, is no more than the just tribute of a grateful heart.

I am, therefore, happy, in having your Ladyship's permission to inscribe
to you the following discourses. You are no stranger to the sentiments
they contain: you love and honour the doctrines they inculcate.

The author intreats to be indulged with a continuance of that regard,
which your Ladyship hath hitherto shewn him; and which he hath always
held more desirable, in proportion as he hath been better qualified to
judge of what is truly honourable and estimable in the intercourses of
social life.

With this sentiment deeply impressed upon his mind, he cannot but
rejoice in the opportunity your Ladyship hath granted him, of thus
publickly subscribing himself,

Madam,

Your Ladyship's

Most obliged and

Most faithful Servant,

J. DUCHÉ.



                                PREFACE.


The following discourses were preached in the united Churches of Christ
Church and St. Peter, in the City of Philadelphia, of which the author
was appointed assistant minister in the year 1759, and to the rectorship
of which he was elected in the year 1775.

The reader will find in them no display of genius or of erudition. To
the former, the author hath no claim: of the latter, he contents himself
with as much as is competent to the discharge of his pastoral duty. His
divinity, he trusts, is that of the BIBLE: to no other Standard of Truth
can he venture to appeal. Sensible, however, of his own fallibility, he
wishes not to obtrude his peculiar sentiments; nor to have them received
any further, than they carry with them that only fair title to
reception, a conviction of their truth and usefulness. From his own
Heart he hath written to the Hearts of others; and if any of his readers
find not THERE the Ground of his doctrines, they are, surely, at liberty
to pass them by, if they do it with Christian Candour, and to leave it
to time and their own reflections, to discover that Ground or not.

UNIVERSAL BENEVOLENCE he considers as the SUBLIME of religion; the true
TASTE for which, can only be derived from the Fountain of INFINITE LOVE,
by inward and spiritual communications. The mind, that is possessed of
this true Taste, whatever its peculiarity of opinion may be, cannot be
very "far from the Kingdom of God."--"GOD is LOVE; and he that dwelleth
in LOVE, dwelleth in GOD, and GOD in him." One transgression of the
great Law of Love, even in the minutest instance, must appear more
heinous in the Sight of the GOD OF LOVE, than a thousand errors in
matters of doctrine or opinion.

If the reader peruses these volumes under the influence of such
sentiments, it is not likely, that he will be offended with any
singularities of diction, or any inelegant and colloquial expressions he
may now and then meet with. Much less will his censure be incurred by
the constant use of SCRIPTURAL Ideas, and SCRIPTURAL Language, in
preference to what are called MORAL and PHILOSOPHICAL. Deviations from
the Simplicity of EVANGELICAL TRUTH, have too often been occasioned by
deviations from the Simplicity of EVANGELICAL LANGUAGE. A Christian
ought never to be "ashamed of the GOSPEL OF CHRIST which is the Power of
GOD unto Salvation," but should always speak of Christian Truths by
Christian Names.

The revisal and correction of these discourses have relieved the
author's mind from much of that anxiety and dejection, which a long
absence from his family and his churches had occasioned. And he is now
happy in the thought, that these volumes will ere long reach his native
country, and revive the memory of his labours of love among a people,
with whom he enjoyed a reciprocation of kindness and affection, which
for eighteen years had known no abatement or interruption.

He most gratefully acknowledges the kind and honourable reception he
hath met with since his arrival in England; the chearfulness and
generosity with which persons of all ranks have honoured his
publication; and the affectionate zeal of his friends, relations, and
connexions, in undertaking and completing his subscription, without
giving him the trouble of soliciting a single name.

To his most ingenious and worthy Friend and Countryman, BENJAMIN WEST,
Esq. History Painter to his Majesty, he is happy to acknowledge himself
indebted for the elegant designs, taken from two of his most capital
paintings, which are placed as frontispieces to these volumes.

To his dear and valuable friend, the Author of the late accurate and
elegant Translation of THOMAS à KEMPIS, he is sincerely thankful for his
kind and chearful advice and assistance, in conducting the whole
publication, to which the author's inexperience in printing, as well as
his frequent and necessary absence from the press, would have rendered
him altogether unequal.

He hath only to add, that the revisal and publishing of these discourses
was undertaken at the instance of some of the most respectable names in
the list of his subscribers to the first edition, under whose kind
patronage, and in hopes of every indulgence from the candour of the
publick, he hath ventured to send them abroad.

Hampstead, 1st March, 1780.



                       CONTENTS OF VOLUME FIRST.


DISCOURSE I.

THE CHARACTER OF WISDOM'S CHILDREN.

St. LUKE, CHAP. vii. VER. 35.

"But Wisdom is justified of all her Children."


DISCOURSE II.

EVANGELICAL RIGHTEOUSNESS.

JEREM. CHAP. xxiii. Part of VER. 6.

"And this is his Name, whereby he shall be called, The LORD our
Righteousness."


DISCOURSES III. and IV.

THE RELIGION OF JESUS, THE ONLY SOURCE OF HAPPINESS.

St. JOHN, CHAP. vi. VER. 66, 67, 68.

"From that Time many of his Disciples went back, and walked no more with
him. Then said JESUS unto the Twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon
Peter answered, LORD, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the Words of
Eternal Life."


DISCOURSE V.

TRUE RELIGION, A COSTLY AND CONTINUAL SACRIFICE.

2 SAMUEL, CHAP. xxiv. VER. 24.

"And the King said unto Araunah, Nay, but I will surely buy it of thee
at a Price: neither will I offer Burnt-Offerings unto the LORD my GOD,
of that which doth cost me nothing."


DISCOURSE VI.

TRUTH, THE ONLY FRIEND OF MAN.

GALATIANS, CHAP. iv. VER. 16.

"Am I therefore become your Enemy, because I tell you the Truth?"


DISCOURSE VII.

THE STRENGTH AND VICTORY OF FAITH.

1 JOHN, CHAP. v. VER. 4.

"Whatsoever is born of GOD overcometh the World: and this is the Victory
that overcometh the World, even our Faith."


DISCOURSE VIII.

FAITH TRIUMPHANT OVER THE POWERS OF DARKNESS.

St. MARK, CHAP. ix. Part of VER. 24.

"LORD, I believe: Help thou mine Unbelief!"


DISCOURSE IX.

THE FLOURISHING STATE OF THE RIGHTEOUS.

PSALM i. VER. 3.

"He shall be like a Tree planted by the Rivers of Water, that bringeth
forth his Fruit in his Season: His Leaf also shall not wither, and
whatsoever he doth shall prosper."


DISCOURSE X.

THE CAUSE AND CURE OF THE DISORDERS OF HUMAN NATURE.

St. MARK, CHAP. vii. VER. 34.

"And looking up to Heaven, he sighed; and saith unto him, Ephphatha!
that is, Be opened."


DISCOURSES XI, XII, XIII.

THE RICHES, PRIVILEGES, AND HONOURS OF THE CHRISTIAN.

1 COR. CHAP. iii. VER. 21, 22, 23.

"Therefore let no Man glory in Men: for all Things are yours; whether
Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the World, or Life, or Death, or Things
present, or Things to come; all are yours: and ye are CHRIST'S, and
CHRIST is GOD'S."


DISCOURSE XIV.

CHRIST, KNOWN OR UNKNOWN, THE UNIVERSAL SAVIOUR.

St. JOHN, CHAP. xiv. Part of VER. 9.

"Have I been so long Time with you, and yet hast thou not known me,
Philip?"


DISCOURSE XV.

HUMAN LIFE, A PILGRIMAGE.

PSALM xxxix. Part of VER. 12.

"For I am a Stranger with thee, and a Sojourner, as all my Fathers
were."


DISCOURSE XVI, XVII.

THE TRUE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD INTERNAL AND PRACTICAL.

JOB, CHAP. xlii. VER. 5, 6.

"I have heard of thee by the Hearing of the Ear; but now hath mine Eye
seen thee: therefore I abhor myself, and repent in Dust and Ashes."


DISCOURSE XVIII.

ON THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.

St. LUKE, CHAP. ii. from VER. 6, to 20.

"And so it was, that while they were there, the Days were accomplished,
that she should be delivered," &c.



            SUBSCRIBERS NAMES OMITTED IN THE FIRST EDITION.


    Rev. Dr. Allanson, Rector of Rippon, Yorkshire
    Mrs. Ambler, of Queen-Square
    Mr. George Adams
    Lady Boynton, Burton Agnes, Yorkshire
    Rev. Mr. Bull, Rector of Sarensfield, Herefordsh.
    Rev. Mr. Baker
    Miss F. Baker
    Robert Burton, Esq.
    Rich. Wilbraham Bootle, Esq.
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    Charles Barker, Esq.
    Rev. Mr. Cook, Rector of Semer, Suffolk
    Richard Combe, Esq. Harley-street
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    Mr. James Hingeston
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    Rev. Mr. Harris
    Mrs. Hall, of Tottenham
    Mr. Healy, of Cambridge
    Tho. Johnson, Esq. Bradford
    Rev. Jonathan Judson, Essex
    Rev. Mr. Lantley, Prebendary of Hereford
    Dr. Lysons, of Bath
    Mrs. Levison
    Rev. Mr. Myddleton, Fellow of Clare-Hall
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    Rt. Hon. Countess Dowager of Northampton
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    Mr. Wm. Taylor, London
    Hon. Charles Vane, of Mount Ida, Norfolk
    Mr. Vickary
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    Mr. Joseph Woods
    Mrs. Wilding, Red Lionsquare
    Mrs. Wright, Thunder-Hall, Herts
    Miss Witts, Bath
    Witham Book Society



                              DISCOURSE I.
                  The Character of Wisdom's Children.


St. LUKE, CHAP. vii, VER. 35.

    "BUT WISDOM IS JUSTIFIED OF ALL HER CHILDREN."


If we take an impartial view of the sentiments and conduct of mankind
with respect to religion, we shall find, that their errors in
speculation, as well as in practice, originate, for the most part, in
the will; that their understandings are blinded by their passions, and
that their ignorance of truth too often proceeds from their aversion to
goodness.

To combat this prevailing depravity of human nature, and to strike at
that root of evil which we bring with us into the world, was the grand
and principal design of all those different dispensations, by which
Heaven hath condescended, from time to time, to speak to the sons of
men. Instead, however, of yielding a grateful attention to this
benevolent purpose, they have, in some instances, wholly rejected, and,
in others, perversly misconstrued, the dispensations themselves. Whether
"GOD spake at sundry times, and in divers manners, in times past, unto
the fathers by the prophets;" or, whether he spake, as in these latter
days, to the children, by his own INCARNATE SON; the generality of men
have either been deaf to the salutary message, or have availed
themselves of some idle pretexts to elude a compliance with its most
serious and solemn contents. Hence arose the inattention and opposition
of ancient unbelievers, to the missions of patriarchs and prophets; and
hence it is, that infidels of later ages have called in question the
truth and authority of that most full and complete Revelation of the
Divine Will, with which mankind have been favoured by the ministration
of the BLESSED JESUS. Far, however, from resenting their obstinacy, or
indignantly with-holding from them any further communications of Divine
Light, the great GOD AND FATHER OF SPIRITS hath still persevered in
carrying on the purposes of his Love; and, "whether they will hear, or
whether they will forbear," still seeks, by a variety of dispensations,
to gain possession of the hearts of his creatures. Notwithstanding,
therefore, the general indifference and obstinacy that have prevailed,
there have not been wanting, in every age and nation, some docile
virtuous minds, who have listened to the Heavenly Voice, and received
with gratitude the instructions of that "Wisdom which is from above;"
and who, as her true children, have vindicated her ways to man, and
admired and justified the different methods by which she manifests
herself to different souls.

The truth of these observations we find remarkably exemplified in that
conduct and behaviour of the Jews, and particularly of the sect of the
Pharisees, which is mentioned in the verses preceding my text, and which
indeed gave rise to the pertinent and beautiful maxim there expressed.

Ignorant of the spirit of that dispensation under which they lived, and
perversely attached to those externals of their religion, that most
gratified their pride and selfishness, they seem to have been equally
offended with the doctrines and manners of John the Baptist, and those
of the BLESSED JESUS. And though the grand object of the Master and his
Forerunner was one and the same, even the reformation of the heart and
life; and though the outward means, however inconsistent they might
appear, were but different parts of the same spiritual and redeeming
process; yet these degenerate Israelites sought to stifle the power of
conviction in their breasts, by childishly objecting to the abstracted,
severe, and rigorous life of the Baptist on the one hand, and the easy,
open, and condescending behaviour of JESUS on the other; insinuating,
that the former was only the effect of a gloomy, dark, and diabolical
spirit; and that the latter shewed a familiarity and levity, unworthy
the character of a prophet sent from GOD.

Our BLESSED LORD exposes the weakness and inconsistency of these
objections, by the following apt and lively similitude: "Whereunto shall
I liken the men of this generation, and to what are they like? They are
like unto children sitting in the market-place, and calling one to
another, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we
have mourned unto you, and ye have not wept." That is to say: We have
taken every method we could devise to engage your attention, and to
prevail upon you to bear a part in our recreations; but you have
unkindly and sullenly refused to come. We have endeavoured to adapt our
little sports and exercises to what we conceived might be your
particular taste and humour; but still we have failed of success.

In application of this allusion, our LORD proceeds--"For John the
Baptist came neither eating bread, nor drinking wine; and ye say, He
hath a devil." The austerity of the Baptist's life, which was meant to
inculcate a lesson of self-denial, and abstraction from the follies and
vanities of a worldly life, as well as a solemn preparation for the
happiness of an heavenly one, ye maliciously declare to have proceeded
from the melancholy suggestion of some dark and evil spirit, that
hurried him into the desart, and secluded him from all affectionate
intercourse with men. On the other hand, because "the Son of man is come
eating and drinking, ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber,
a friend of publicans and sinners!" To answer the great purposes of
Divine Love, I have, with condescending freedom, mingled with all ranks
of people; put myself in the way of the giddy and the profligate, and
even accepted the invitations of publicans and sinners. For this,
without knowing the motives of my conduct, you have vilified me with the
opprobrious names of glutton and drunkard; and insinuated, that the
friendly attention I shewed to men of their character, proceeded not
from a regard to their souls, but from a fondness for their vices. But
notwithstanding your blindness and obduracy, notwithstanding your weak
and wicked misconstructions, be assured, there are those, who can do
justice to these dispensations of Heaven, whose minds, illuminated from
above, can discern the beauty, propriety, and uniformity of design,
which Wisdom manifests in these various methods of addressing herself to
the sons of men. Such children of Wisdom are abundantly convinced, that
the self-denying life of the Baptist was necessarily preparative to that
meek, gentle, condescending Life of Love, which I have inculcated in my
precepts, and recommended and enforced by my example; and that both
these are the happy effects of that Redeeming Power, which I manifest in
the hearts of those, who, with simplicity and self-abasement, receive
and gratefully acknowledge my spiritual salutary visits. "But Wisdom is
justified of all her children."

The truth was this: the Pharisees considered the severe exercises of
John, his contempt of the world, and total disregard of the pleasures
and honours of life, as a personal censure of their hypocritical
pretensions to religion, by which, under the appearance of great zeal
for the external and ceremonial parts of the law, they "sought the
praises of men, more than the praises of God." In like manner, the
humility and condescension of CHRIST, his free and affectionate
intercourse with all ranks of people, even with those, whom (on account
of their ignorance of some minute traditionary precepts of their
Rabbins) they held accursed, were a perpetual impeachment of their
intolerable pride and arrogance, and most effectually tended to lessen
their credit and reputation with those whom they wished and earnestly
sought to engage for their pupils and admirers. No wonder, then, that
whilst they continued thus attached to favourite passions and
prejudices, they should wilfully misconstrue the purest intentions, and
vilify the fairest actions of those, who attempted to combat and expose
them. Their objections to the person and doctrines of CHRIST, as well as
to those of his illustrious Harbinger, came rather from their wills than
their understandings: nor would they ever have called in question the
Divine authority of their missions, had not the design and spirit of
them militated against their own evil tempers and dispositions: "Light
was come unto them; but they chose darkness rather than light, because
their deeds were evil."

In every age of the world, and under every dispensation of religion,
human nature, in itself, has always been the same. The serpentine
subtilty of human reason, when engaged in the service, and acting under
the influence of vice and error, will never be at a loss for arguments
to support their cause against the voice of truth and virtue. Hence the
specious objections, which modern infidelity hath thrown out against the
necessity of Divine Revelation; and hence the weak and idle censures,
which libertinism on the one hand, and false enthusiasm on the other, so
illiberally denounce against the sincere, honest, and cordial votaries
of true Christianity.

Sincerely to be pitied is the poor unbeliever, whose short-sighted
reason, incapable of seeing further than the externals of Christianity,
furnishes him with some plausible objections, that seem to weaken its
outward evidence, but cannot reach the spirit and power by which it is
animated and supported. "Christianity was instituted for the common
salvation of all men: its essential truths, therefore, are plain and
obvious, level to every capacity, and stand in no need of learned labour
to inculcate and explain them; they are rather matter of feeling, than
of reasoning.

"Whatever is within, whatever is without us, calls aloud for a SAVIOUR.
Change, corruption, distemperature and death, have, by the sin of fallen
angels, and of fallen man, been unhappily introduced into this system of
things which we inhabit. The whole creation groaneth; and animals and
vegetables, and even the Immortal Image of GOD himself in man, are all
in bondage to their malign influences; so that every thing cries out,
with the apostle Paul, "Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"
so that every thing cries out, with the apostle Peter, "Lord, save me,
or I perish!"

"What kind of a Saviour then is it, for whom all nature thus cries
aloud, through all her works? Not a dry moralist, a legislator of bare
external precepts, such as some would represent CHRIST to be: no, the
existence and influence of the REDEEMER OF NATURE, must, at least, be as
extensive as Nature herself. Things are defiled and corrupted
throughout; they are distempered and devoted to death, from the inmost
essence of their being; and none, but HE alone, "in whom they live, and
move, and have their being," can possibly redeem and restore them."

These are inevitable truths, which all men, at some time or other, must
feel, and feel deeply too, whether they attend to them now or not. The
redemption and restoration of every sinner can be accomplished in no
other way, than by CHRIST'S spiritual entrance into his heart, awakening
in him an abhorrence of evil, and a love of goodness.

This is the spirit of the GOSPEL OF JESUS; this the grand purpose of
Heaven, under every dispensation of Revealed Truth, from Adam down to
this day. The modes of communication, the outward forms of worship and
of doctrine, may vary; but the same spirit runs through the whole, and
the enlightened eye of "Wisdom's children" can see and adore her radiant
footsteps, in paths that appear dark and dreary to the eyes of others.
However her outward garb may change; whatever different appearances she
may put on, under the patriarchal, legal, and evangelical dispensations;
her real features, her whole person and employment, have ever been
invariably the same. These different appearances were only adapted to
the different circumstances of men, and calculated to direct their
attention to the one great and principal object she has always had in
view, even the Redemption of immortal spirits from the tyranny of earth
and hell, and the full restoration of them to their primeval innocence
and bliss.

Turn then, ye advocates of infidelity! O turn back from those delusive
dangerous paths, into which the false light of fallen reason hath led
your wayward steps. Wisdom herself, and all her true and Heaven-born
children, lift up their sweet and instructive voices, and press you to
return; to recognize your illustrious origin; to spurn the transitory
and polluting joys of earth, and to aspire after the pure and permanent
pleasures of Heaven! From the Throne of the Most-High, the center of her
enlightened kingdom, she speaks, she illuminates, she warms every
intelligent being that turns to her benignant ray: the darkness of
nature kindles, at her approach, into the Light and Life of Heaven;
every evil principle, every evil passion, shrinks from before her, and
retires to its native hell; whilst the spirits of her redeemed children
issue forth from their long captivity, and triumphantly re-enter the
realms of purity and peace.

Who would not wish, then, to become a votary, a pupil, a child of
Wisdom? But how is this privilege to be obtained? what path must we
pursue, that will lead us to her delightful mansion? what conduct must
we observe, that will entitle us to be members of her illustrious
household? Must we put on the raiment of camel's hair, and the leathern
girdle; follow the mortified Baptist into the desert, and feed upon
locusts and wild honey? Or must we not rather adopt the gentler manners
of the HOLY JESUS, mix with the world as he did, and chearfully employ
ourselves in acts of kindness and brotherly love?

It is evident from the whole passage of Scripture, of which my text is
part, that our Lord blames the Jews no less for their disregard of the
ministry of John, than for the contempt with which they treated himself;
and plainly intimates, that, by the Children of Wisdom, we are to
understand all those who see the Baptist's ministry in its true point of
view, viz. as introductory and preparatory to his own; and in
consequence of this are fully convinced, that the chearfulness of Faith,
and the sweetness and condescension of Love, must naturally be preceded
by the severity of Repentance, and the salutary bitterness of sorrow and
contrition.

"Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand," said the Harbinger of
the SON of GOD: "The Kingdom of GOD is come; he that believeth shall be
saved;" said the SON of GOD himself. "Repentance, therefore, and Faith
working by Love," are the sure characteristics of Wisdom's Children.

It is not, therefore, any distinguishing peculiarity of the Baptist's
character, the outward garb, or the outward deportment, that we are to
assume, but an inward temper and frame of mind corresponding to both. A
deep sensibility of the evils and infirmities of our fallen nature, an
heart-felt conviction of the guilt and misery of sin, and a penitential
sorrow for our own numberless lapses and deviations from the path of
virtue, are the true Harbingers of CHRIST in our hearts. When, under
their powerful ministration, we find ourselves called, not perhaps to a
life of outward solitude and mortification, but of inward retirement and
abstraction from the world; in the language of Scripture, "we repent, we
are converted:" we turn our backs upon every gay and glittering scene,
which worldly honour, wealth, or pleasure, can exhibit; we find nothing
in any of them, that can give a moment's real peace or rest to our
"weary heavy laden" souls; we are humbled to the dust; we feel
ourselves, as "worms, and not men," as "less than the least of GOD'S
mercies."

In this mortified, penitent, and afflicted state, which is mercifully
intended to bring us to a proper sense of our helplessness by nature,
and of the indispensable necessity of Divine Supernatural assistance, we
must remain, till the happy effect is produced, and till GOD is
graciously pleased to call us out of the wilderness. The Harbinger then
hath fulfilled his office; "The Lamb of GOD" appears "to take away the
sins of the world;" "The kingdom of heaven is come" into our hearts. To
sorrow and disquietude, succeed sweet peace and heavenly composure of
mind: the understanding is enlightened; the will receives a new and
happy direction; a new principle animates our whole frame, a new conduct
appears in our whole life and conversation: the Spirit of Love breathes
and acts in every duty we are called to perform, in every little office,
which common civility and politeness requires us to do, even to those,
who have yet no taste or desire for the sublime comforts of religion.

Thus it is, that Wisdom is justified of all her Children; and thus it
appears, that the Religion of the Gospel, which is the only True Wisdom,
is a RELIGION OF LOVE. A LIFE OF LOVE, therefore, is the best, the only
evidence, which its disciples can give, of the sincerity of their
profession; and the surest method they can take of recommending it to
others. "Let your light, then, so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."



                             DISCOURSE II.
                       Evangelical Righteousness.


JEREMIAH, CHAP. xxiii. VERSE 6.

    "AND THIS IS HIS NAME, WHEREBY HE SHALL BE CALLED, THE LORD OUR
    RIGHTEOUSNESS."

The great and essential distinction betwixt the legal and evangelical
dispensation, is accurately pointed out by the Apostle, where he tells
us, that "the law is but the shadow of good things to come, and not the
very image of the things." Its types, ceremonies, and outward
ordinances, are taken from the objects of temporal nature, which are, at
best, but shadowy representations of Eternal Truth. "The comers
thereunto could never be perfected," by the most minute observation of
its external rites. The pious, spiritual Jews, therefore, must have
looked further than these, and considered every outward purification, as
figuratively expressive of an inward cleansing to be performed in their
hearts.

Moses, their inspired Legislator, and the prophets that succeeded him,
did not fail to acquaint them with the immediate and necessary reference
of these temporal symbols to Spiritual and Eternal Truths. Nevertheless,
it appears but too evident, from the whole Jewish history, that the
generality rested their hopes of salvation, merely upon their outward
law: "They went about to establish a righteousness of their own,"
founded upon a strict observance of the Levitical ceremonies, which were
only adapted to their present circumstances, without paying the least
attention to that Inward Law of Righteousness, to which these ceremonies
referred.

Hence it was, that their prophets were directed by the Most High, to
express, in the strongest terms, his disapprobation of those very
ordinances, which he himself had originally instituted for their good;
and to tell them, that "he had no pleasure in their burnt-offerings and
sacrifices, that their oblations were vain, and that incense was an
abomination in his sight." His displeasure was not with the ordinances
themselves; for, if considered and observed with proper views and
dispositions, they would have been subservient to the most glorious
purposes: but he was offended with the gross and flagrant abuses of
them, which the people were daily committing.

Hence also it was, that the same inspired prophets, when the hand of the
HIGHEST drew aside the curtain of futurity, and exhibited to their
astonished view the successive displays of Gospel Light and Truth, with
all that variety of heavenly scenery, which his INCARNATE SON was to
open upon our benighted world; hence it was, I say, that the same
inspired prophets were particularly careful to distinguish the new
dispensation, by every figure and mode of expression, that might lead
the most dark and ignorant Jew to consider it as internal and spiritual.

The righteousness of the new covenant is widely different from what the
carnal Israelite apprehended to be the righteousness of the old. With
respect to their essence, their foundation, their motives and ends, both
covenants are the same, differing only in the external mode of
revelation; the old being "the shadow," the new "the image of good
things to come;" the old, pointing to CHRIST; the new, revealing him in
all his fulness to the faithful.

CHRIST JESUS, therefore, is and must be, "the end of the law to those
that believe;" that is, he is and must be, in himself, that very
Righteousness to which the law pointed, but which it could not attain.
"As a school-master," it served to instruct its ignorant, dark, and
fallen pupils, in the outward rudiments of Divine Truth; but could never
communicate to them the Light, Life, and Spirit of that real Evangelical
Righteousness, which is only to be found in the INCARNATE WORD OF GOD.

It is for this reason, that the prophet, speaking of the approaching
kingdom of the MESSIAH, in whom all the law and the prophets were to
center, represents him as "a righteous branch springing forth from the
root of David; as a king, reigning, prospering, and executing judgment
and justice on the earth;" in consequence of whose mild and equitable
administration, "Judah should be saved, and Israel should dwell safely:"
and, as the most characteristical designation of his nature and office,
tells us, that "This is his NAME, whereby he shall be called, THE LORD
OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Let us then enquire, in the first place, why our BLESSED REDEEMER has
the name of RIGHTEOUSNESS ascribed to him by the prophet; and secondly,
what we are to understand by his being called "OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

I. A name in Scripture is generally put to express the intrinsic nature
and qualities of the object named. When, therefore, the name of the
MESSIAH is here said to be "Righteousness," we must necessarily
conclude, that Righteousness is his very nature, his essence, the
substance of all his attributes and perfections. He is not called
righteous, but RIGHTEOUSNESS itself; the source and fountain, from
whence all that is really and truly righteous, throughout the universe,
perpetually proceeds.

JESUS CHRIST is "the Brightness of the Father's Glory, and the Express
Image of his Person." All the beauties, excellencies, powers, and
virtues, which are essentially hidden in the invisible GODHEAD, are
substantially, vitally, inwardly, as well as outwardly, opened,
revealed, and illustriously displayed, in the person of the INCARNATE
JESUS. "All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing
made, that was made:" all the "thrones, dominions, principalities and
powers," possessed by angels, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, are
derived from him; for, "in, and through him, did the Father create all
things." The highest degree of Righteousness which the highest Seraph
can attain, is but a beam or efflux from this Eternal Sun. With glory
undiminished he perpetually imparts spiritual life and vigour to all
those countless myriads of intelligences, which inhabit the whole
compass of universal nature. He is himself the living law, the eternal
rule of order and rectitude. GOD THE FATHER hath "set this his King of
Righteousness on his holy hill of Sion." Every outward institute,
revealed and written, which GOD hath "at sundry times and in divers
manners," delivered to the sons of men, was but a transcript of that
original law, which lives for ever in the heart of CHRIST. "I am the
way, the truth, and the life;" "no man cometh unto the Father, but by
me; ye will not come unto me, that ye may have life; without me, ye can
do nothing--" are his own blessed words.

Nature, without this CHRIST OF GOD, is impurity, emptiness, poverty,
want, and wretchedness extreme: nature illuminated, enriched, refreshed,
glorified by him, is holy, righteous, lovely, supremely happy. Known or
unknown to our fallen race, it is HE alone, who inspires every good
thought, every righteous deed, every sentiment and action that is
amiable and endearing.

In the acts of the apostles we read of an altar with this inscription,
"To the unknown GOD!" St. Paul, taking occasion from this circumstance,
tells the Athenians, "Him whom ye ignorantly worship, preach I unto
you." In the whole frame of nature, says a truly sublime writer, every
heart, every creature, every affection, every action, is an altar with
the same kind of inscription, "To the unknown Beauty!--To the unknown
Righteousness!--To the unknown Jesus!" This is the eternal standard of
truth, order, righteousness and perfection, to which every being in
nature ignorantly moveth; this is that which all understandings, all
hearts, cannot but admire and adore. But blessed above all beings are
those, whose hearts are spiritual altars, with the righteous person of
CHRIST engraven upon them by the finger of GOD, flaming with the fire of
Heavenly Love, and bearing this radiant inscription, "To the known and
experienced Beauty and Righteousness of that JESUS, whom we know; that
Word of Life, which our eyes have seen, our ears have heard, our hands
have handled, and spiritually embraced!" And this leads me, in the
second place, to inquire what we are to understand by CHRIST'S being
called "OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

II. Under my first head, I observed to you from Scripture, that GOD
created all things "in and by JESUS CHRIST;" and that "without him, was
not any thing made that was made." Man, in particular, was "created in
the Image of GOD:" CHRIST is "the Brightness of the Father's Glory, and
the Express Image of his Person:" and, therefore, man was created in
CHRIST.

Man in himself, in his outward nature, was but an empty vessel, till the
CHRIST OF GOD became his fulness and perfection. His outward form was
from the dust of the earth; but his inward spirit was the breath of the
MOST HIGH. The Image of GOD, even CHRIST himself, was his first, his
sole Righteousness and perfection; the infallible instructor and
enlightener of his understanding, the unerring guide and director of his
will. The Name by which the SON of GOD was known to him, was "The Lord
his Righteousness." Angels themselves know no other Righteousness, than
the Righteousness of GOD in CHRIST.

The fall of man, or "Original sin," (as our church article with great
truth and propriety expresses it) "is the fault and corruption of the
nature of every man, that naturally is engendered of the offspring of
Adam; whereby man is very far gone from original righteousness, and is
of his own nature inclined to evil." We have already seen what this
original righteousness was, which man possessed in a state of innocence,
viz. that it was CHRIST, "the Lord his Righteousness," in him. This is
what Adam lost--This is what CHRIST alone can restore.

Man in his present fallen state, without CHRIST, must be naturally
inclined to evil; he has no righteousness of his own. And he can no more
be saved by any exertion of his own natural powers, than he can see by
the utmost stretch of his organs of sight, without the light of the sun.

Here then a serious and inquiring mind may be ready to ask--How is this
BLESSED REDEEMER to become my Righteousness? I feel the force of these
Scripture truths you have mentioned, and experience in my soul the
dreadful consequences of an original apostasy--But I know not, whether
CHRIST is my Righteousness, or not. I know not, whether I have the least
traces of his Righteous Image in my soul.

"Hath CHRIST, then, been so long time with thee, and yet hast thou not
known him?" Every little rebuke of conscience; every emotion of
kindness, tenderness, and love; every sympathetic feeling of the
prosperity or distress of thy neighbour; every sensibility of
admiration, esteem, and joy, from contemplating a truly wise and
virtuous character; every fervent desire of imitating what is good and
excellent in others; every weak aspiration after holiness and
perfection; nay, every little feeling of the restless cravings of thine
own nature, every little longing after happiness unpossessed; all, all
is CHRIST, speaking within thee, and waiting and watching to reveal
himself in Righteousness to thy soul. Nothing, therefore, is wanting, on
thy part, but a calm and quiet resignation of thyself, and all that is
within thee, to his sovereign disposal, to redeem, purify, and restore,
to do every thing that is necessary to be done, and which he alone can
do, for thy salvation.

Thus have I endeavoured to give the plain and obvious meaning of the
text. Distinctions upon distinctions have been multiplied; books upon
books have been published, to tell us that we are to be justified by the
Personal Righteousness of CHRIST outwardly imputed, and sanctified by
the inherent graces of the HOLY SPIRIT; that one must necessarily
precede the other; and that we must be perfect in CHRIST by
Justification, before we can have the least spark of Holiness by
Sanctification. This is, indeed, travelling in the broad and popular
road; and such kind of preaching might be to the "praise of men." Let
systems be written upon systems, and comments upon comments; let
preachers oppose preachers, and hearers wander after this or that form
of godliness; but may Heaven in mercy preserve us from taking up our
rest, or placing our dependence upon any thing less than an intimate and
experimental knowledge of "The LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" revealing
himself, with all his holy heavenly tempers, virtues, and dispositions,
in our hearts! May we never rest satisfied with a nominal profession of
Christianity, a nominal acquaintance with CHRIST, or a nominal remission
of sins; for, surely, we are not warranted, by Scripture, to look upon
ourselves as redeemed by CHRIST, and born again of him, till by a total
purification, a complete deliverance from all the evil tempers and
passions of our fallen life, he hath obtained a full and peaceable
possession of our whole nature, erected his Throne of Righteousness in
our hearts, and by the effectual working of his HOLY SPIRIT brought us
to the "measure of the stature of that FULNESS, which is in HIMSELF."



                             DISCOURSE III.
          The Religion of Jesus, the only Source of Happiness.


St. JOHN, CHAP. vi. VER. 66, 67, 68.

    "FROM THAT TIME, MANY OF HIS DISCIPLES WENT BACK, AND WALKED NO MORE
    WITH HIM. THEN SAID JESUS UNTO THE TWELVE, WILL YE ALSO GO AWAY?
    THEN SIMON PETER ANSWERED HIM, LORD! TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? THOU HAST
    THE WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE."

Happiness is the great end and aim of all those restless pursuits in
which mankind are perpetually engaged. The laborious peasant, and the
contemplative philosopher; the man that wisheth for wealth, and the man
that possesseth it; the gay votary of worldly pleasure, and the gloomy
tenant of the solitary cell, are alike industrious in exploring this
hidden treasure. Their imaginations are ever upon the stretch after this
something yet unknown. Their ideas of happiness indeed, as well as the
means which they make use of to attain it, are as different as their
prevailing tempers and inclinations. Whatever objects coincide with
their present conceptions, those they esteem, and those they pursue,
with all the eagerness of newly awakened desire. Deluded, however, by
specious appearances, mistaken again and again in their choice of
objects, loathing to-day what they pursued yesterday with ardour,
chearful and confident in prospect, disappointed and melancholy in
possession, they fondly rove from one scene of imaginary bliss to
another, unable to rest on any with permanent satisfaction. They never
once consider, that no finite objects can fill up the immense void of an
immortal soul, no temporal enjoyments satisfy its boundless desires; and
that nothing less than "life eternal" can afford an happiness
commensurate to its eternal nature.

This is not mere theory, or empty speculation. There is not one in this
assembly, but could bear witness from experience to the melancholy fact.
Was each of us to be asked, in a serious and solemn manner, Are you
really happy? very few, I am afraid, if they would speak ingenuously,
could answer in the affirmative. And yet, perhaps, most of us have
attained, from time to time, what we once deemed the height of our
wishes; and what we were then sure, if attained, would make us
completely happy.

The child wishes for the employments and pleasures of youth; the youth
longs to arrive at what he calls the freedom and independence of
manhood; the man anxiously schemes and plots, and contrives, and labours
and toils, and then wishes to see the success of his schemes, the
accomplishment of his labours. His schemes turn out to his satisfaction;
the end is obtained; the object is enjoyed: his bliss is consummate, to
be sure; he cannot be happier--No such thing--New wants succeed; new
schemes are formed; new pursuits, new labours, new anxieties and wishes,
tread close upon each other's heels. But where is his happiness all the
while? Why he loses sight, at last, of the grand and principal object,
in the pursuit of which he had set out: failing of success in this, he
foolishly adopts the means for the end; and perpetual care, toil, and
vexation, are the wretched effects of his mistaken choice.

Thus, for instance, the covetous man grasps, and saves, and fills his
coffers--for what? Not to make himself, his family, or his poor
neighbours round him, happy with the fruits of his penurious efforts.
No--he not only turns a deaf ear to the piercing cries of indigence, but
grudges even his family the common necessaries of life, and never parts
with a farthing, without uttering some ridiculous complaint of the
hardness of the times, and their want of economy. He saves therefore for
the sake of saving; his heart is shut up in his chest with his beloved
mammon, both alike inaccessible to the mild and soft approaches of
kindness and liberality.

We cannot but shrink back with horror, from a character so odious and
detestable as this. But the observation with which I set out, will hold
equally true, when applied to any of those false paths, which men pursue
in quest of happiness.

Pleasure and ambition will deceive them, as surely as avarice. Enjoyment
in every instance may pall, but cannot satisfy the restless desire. Nor
will it ever be satisfied, till the soul gets sight of the only true
beatifying object in the universe, to which she can rise, and upon which
she can rest, with the whole strength and energy of her immortal nature.

The light of another world, however, must open and irradiate her
spiritual senses, before she can have the least glimpse of this supreme
source of bliss. The vanity and deception of all creaturely happiness
must in some measure be unfolded to her view, before she can stretch one
feeble thought towards Heaven; and she must be intimately convinced of
the bondage of her fallen life, and the misery of her condition in this
fallen world, before she can feel the force, or discern the spiritual
depth of these expressions of St. Peter, "Lord! to whom shall we go?
Thou hast the words of eternal life."

There are many people, indeed, who though they are walking on in those
very paths of error and delusion which I have just mentioned, would fain
have their conduct hallowed by some religious appearances. They begin
with deceiving themselves, and then go on to deceive others. But, do
what they will, they cannot wholly divest themselves of the feelings of
truth and virtue. For they have within them a Spiritual Nature, that is
continually striving, under the influences of its native Heaven, to get
disengaged from the servitude of its corrupt companion. Call it by what
name we please, conscience, the light of nature, common sense, common or
preventing grace; or, as the Scripture denominates it, "the Light that
lighteth every man that cometh into the world, Christ in us the hope of
glory, the Incorruptible Seed of the WORD OF GOD," (for, as Christians,
I think we ought to prefer scriptural to philosophical terms;) I say,
call it by which ever of these names we like best, certain it is, that
every man at times feels this Divine Power stirring within him, and
endeavouring to awaken, reprove, inform, illuminate, and govern his life
and actions.

Now it always happens, that the counsels of this Heavenly Monitor clash
with and oppose the dictates of corrupt nature. At this contradiction,
the passions are alarmed; they demand immediate gratification, and the
trembling mortal dares not at once yield to their solicitations. A
strong sensibility of the falsehood of their claim, is felt in his
breast. Something must first be done, to stifle or quiet this uneasy
sensation.

Avarice, he will say to himself, is criminal, it is true; but a
well-timed parsimony is virtuous and commendable; and a good and prudent
man will think himself in duty bound to provide for the future support
of his children.

Sensual pleasure, vain mirth, and jovial company, are not quite
consistent with the precepts of the Gospel of CHRIST: but a few innocent
amusements can do no harm; and it is but in character for a Christian to
be chearful.

The pursuits of ambition are diametrically opposite to that meekness and
humility, which should characterize the disciple of the lowly JESUS: but
posts of honour, and exalted stations, may enable a man to be of
considerable service to his neighbours, and enlarge his sphere of
usefulness.

Thus, every evil temper and inclination, wrath, hatred, revenge, envy,
jealousy, &c. may cloath themselves in the garb of virtue. Men may first
deceive themselves, by endeavouring to reconcile their criminal pursuits
with the dictates of conscience; and then employ the same infernal arts,
to deceive and impose upon others. It is with such masks as these, that
hypocrites, pharisees, and all pretenders to true religion, step forth
upon the stage of life, dare to enlist themselves under the standard of
virtue, and even sometimes assume the rank and authority of commanders.
But when they are summoned to the field of battle; when they are called
upon, from within, or from without, to exert themselves against their
spiritual adversaries, to assert the rights of Heaven, as well in
themselves as in the world around them, to subdue the evil lusts and
passions that tyrannize in their own breasts, or to engage with that
bitter and malevolent spirit, who opposes the advancement of their
Master's kingdom in the life and conduct of others; then it is, that the
traitors drop their masks; they meanly desert the banner of the cross,
openly disavow their pretensions to religion, and "deny the LORD that
bought them." They shrink from the combat, honourable as it would have
been for them to engage, and happy as they would have found themselves
in the issue; and meanly barter away their salvation for a false peace,
short in its continuance, and ending in woe and misery extreme. Like the
cowardly disciples mentioned in my text, "they go back, and walk no more
with their Master."

Doubtless these timid Israelites were alarmed at that heavenly discourse
of the BLESSED JESUS, which we read in the preceding part of this
chapter. The mysteries of his kingdom there delivered, were too refined
for their gross conception. The nature, nourishment, and growth of the
Inward and Spiritual Man, which is there indispensably required,
militated too powerfully against their favourite passions and
prejudices. Their high-blown hopes of future preferment in a temporal
kingdom, were, by this spiritual address, entirely dissipated; and they
were taught to seek and expect nothing from their Master, but what was
opposite to the life, and spirit, and maxims of this world.

Alas, how many apostates from the religion of JESUS, have imitated the
conduct of these unworthy disciples! Past, as well as present times,
afford too many melancholy examples of this kind. A temporizing spirit
hath prevailed in almost all ages; and ecclesiastical history abounds
with examples of its venomous influence upon the minds of men. The
temporal prosperity of the church, hath, in many instances, proved its
ruin; and accessions of wealth and power have only served to increase
its corruptions. Under the profession of a religion, which breathes
nothing but purity, meekness, and benevolence, men have been actuated by
all the diabolical passions that ever inflamed the breasts of the most
ignorant and unenlightened Pagans.

Wherever the external profession of Christianity hath been attended with
any outward emoluments, its disciples have increased, and an outward
shew of zeal for its advancement, hath not been wanting. This outward
shew gives them but little trouble; and the hypocrite's garb, though
cumbersome at first, is not only made light and convenient by custom,
but even desirable for the profits and advantages it brings.

Whilst the BLESSED JESUS is distributing his bounty, and loaves and
fishes multiply under his creating hand, he will never be without crouds
of followers to partake of his royal munificence. Whilst he is riding in
triumph through the streets of Jerusalem, nothing is heard from every
quarter, but "Hosannahs to the Son of David;" every one is ambitious of
joining his train, and of being in the number of his adherents. But when
the powers of this world confederate against him; when Herod and Pontius
Pilate, and the whole nation of the Jews, rise up in arms, seize upon
the innocent victim, and drag him to condemnation, torture and death;
then, indeed, his false friends appear in their proper colours; and, O
melancholy truth! even his disciples "go back, and walk no more with
him;" some of them deny him, and all fly and forsake him.

Let us not deceive ourselves, my brethren. It is not an outward
profession of Christianity, or an outward zeal against its adversaries,
that will stand us in any stead: all this may well enough consist with
inward impurity, a worldly spirit, and an heart devoted to the service
of sin. The great trial of our faith, the sure proof of the sincerity of
our conversion, must be sought for in deeper exercises than these.

When storms arise, when dangers threaten, when inward and outward
enemies attack our peace; when we cannot maintain our discipleship
without the sacrifice of some darling passion of almost irresistible
power; when we can walk no longer with our Master, without the loss of
some considerable temporal advantages; when we are summoned by him to
fly from the soft allurements of pleasure, to burst the bonds of avarice
or ambition, to disclaim all dependence upon the world, ourselves, or
any created being; in a word, "to forsake all, take up our cross, and
follow him;" then, indeed, is our hour of trial! then the sincerity of
our attachment to CHRIST, will be made manifest to ourselves, and to the
world; and we shall learn to know assuredly, whether we are, or are not,
of the number of those disciples, "who go back, and walk no more with
him."

Therefore, O Christian, thy Beloved is then only thine, and thou art
then only his, when thou canst abide with him in the darkness of the
vale, as well as in the splendors of the mount; when thou canst walk
with him in the wilderness, as well as on the plain; and when "neither
tribulation, nor distress, nor trial, nor persecution, can separate thee
from the LOVE OF GOD, which is in CHRIST JESUS our Lord."



                             DISCOURSE IV.
          The Religion of Jesus, the only Source of Happiness.


St. JOHN, CHAP. vi. VER. 66, 67, 68.

    "FROM THAT TIME MANY OF DISCIPLES WENT BACK, AND WALKED NO MORE WITH
    HIM. THEN SAID JESUS UNTO THE TWELVE, WILL YE ALSO GO AWAY? THEN
    SIMON PETER ANSWERED HIM, LORD! TO WHOM SHALL WE GO? THOU HAST THE
    WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE."


The motives which induced many of our Lord's first followers to withdraw
themselves from his person, and wholly relinquish the connection they
had formed with him and his disciples, I have explained in the preceding
discourse. The erroneous conduct of mankind in general, their mistaken
notions of happiness, the false and dangerous paths in which they pursue
it, their delusive hopes and real disappointments; the palliative arts
they make use of to reconcile their duty with their passions, and the
various methods by which they deceive themselves as well as others;
their hypocritical pretensions to religion, and the ways in which their
deceptions are discovered, and their pharisaical professions unveiled;
in a word, the genuine sources of that error and apostasy, into which
the unworthy disciples mentioned in the text, as well as others who have
since imitated their example, have sadly degenerated; all these
particulars were suggested to my mind, from the consideration of these
words of the Evangelist, "From that time many of his disciples went
back, and walked no more with him."

The tender and pathetic expostulation which this ungenerous conduct
produced from the blessed lips of the common Friend and Saviour of Man,
breathes such a spirit of love, kindness, and compassion, towards the
souls of those whom he came to redeem, as cannot but claim our most
serious and grateful attention. The deep concern he must have felt for
such an instance of apostasy, added to his apprehensions of the fatal
influence it might have upon his beloved Apostles, awakened in him all
those innocent and delicate sensibilities, which, even in his human
nature, were the genuine offspring of that ETERNAL LOVE to which he was
essentially united.

Friendship, true friendship, is the HEAVEN-BORN OFFSPRING of Divine
Charity. Heaven is her native country. In that pure and gentle element
she lives and moves without constraint, free, chearful, delighting and
delighted. If ever she deigns to associate with the sons of men, it is
among the truly virtuous alone she can be found. She visits none but
those, whose "conversation is in heaven," who have within them a birth
congenial with her own, whose hearts and affections are governed by the
Spirit of Love, and can only be wooed and won by correspondent tempers
and characters. Her sacred name, indeed, is often prostituted to venal,
base, and corrupt purposes. Her fair and beauteous garb is often worn by
the votaries of avarice, pleasure, and ambition. Her sweet aspect, her
mild and winning graces, her obliging and disinterested disposition,
yea, even her peculiar warmth of affection, and glowing sensibility of
heart, are all profanely counterfeited by the selfish and sensual, the
vain and the aspiring.

Take it for granted, however, that man, whether gay, dissolute,
covetous, or ambitious, is incapable of real friendship: all his designs
and prospects center in himself, and every seeming act of kindness,
every splendid appearance of courtesy and generosity, is calculated to
promote some selfish purpose, to procure some temporal emolument.

Far different is the friendship of those who are "born of God;" who,
from a vital union with the Source of Love, derive such pure and
unadulterated streams of Charity into their breasts, as manifest
themselves in a life of general beneficence towards all men, and a warm,
affectionate, spiritual attachment towards "those especially, who are of
the houshold of faith." Such, but in the purest highest degree, were
those heavenly feelings of true friendship, with which the heart of
JESUS glowed, when he uttered this sweet and endearing expostulation,
"Will ye also go away?"

The words are few, but the sentiments are manifold, gracious, and
animating; and they cannot but appear so to those, who attend, with nice
discernment, to the common feelings of human nature. It is to these
common feelings that our Lord makes his appeal, in all his heavenly
discourses.

Though, from the general corruption, it is a case that has but seldom
occurred in the page of history, yet let us suppose a good and virtuous
man, associated with a set of good and virtuous companions, bound to him
by the strong and endearing ties of private friendship, in the defence
of some good and virtuous cause. Novelty, the love of fame, a desire of
appearing to the world in some conspicuous point of view, the prospect
of some great temporal advantages, and a variety of other motives of a
selfish nature, might suddenly prompt a considerable number of persons
to join these champions of virtue, and follow them in the glorious
enterprize. Enemies appear, dangers threaten; yea, death, perhaps, in
all its horrors, presents itself to their view. Personal security is to
be preferred before the general interest of virtue; and where virtue
cannot be supported without personal losses, her cause must be
abandoned. Upon these principles, the weak and timid multitude forsake
their gallant leader. Attached to him by no bonds, but those of interest
or ambition, when these fail, they think themselves at liberty to
abandon his person and his cause. The noble chieftain, not so much
affected with the prospect of danger to himself and his cause, as with a
real concern for the baseness of his followers, and an apprehension,
that their flight might perhaps intimidate those, whom he knew to be
attached, from principle, to virtue and himself; the noble chieftain, I
say, might with great propriety, and without the least tincture of fear
or despondency, but rather as a trial of their fidelity, and a most
powerful incentive to new and more vigorous efforts, address himself in
such words to the chosen few, as those, which the great Captain of our
Salvation delivered upon this occasion: "Will ye, also go away?" In this
address, there is not implied the least unkind suspicion of their
integrity. It is no more than an affectionate appeal to the warm and
tender sensations of true and genuine friendship.

O, my beloved Apostles! ye see the weakness, timidity, and
worldly-mindedness, of those pretended friends, who have hitherto
associated with us. So violent hath been their attachment to earthly
pursuits, that they would not suffer truths of the highest importance to
interfere with them for a moment. My last spiritual address was too deep
and powerful a stroke at their corruptions. Could they have continued in
fellowship with us upon their own terms, and made their connexion
subservient to their own views of temporal interest, they would not have
so suddenly forsaken us. But shall their conduct have the least
influence upon yours? Will ye be intimidated by their flight? Will ye
suffer your fidelity and perseverance to be shaken by their evil
example? Will ye unkindly abandon a Master, into whose service ye
entered upon the most disinterested principles, and who knows and feels
you to be attached to him by the heavenly ties of religion and love?
After having seen so many indubitable testimonies of that almighty power
wherewith he is invested, will ye doubt his ability to protect and
deliver you? After so many kind and instructive conversations, in the
course of which he hath gradually, and as he found you "could bear
them," opened to you the great truths of his spiritual kingdom; will ye
be such enemies to yourselves, and your real happiness, as to forsake
your best of friends, your kindest and most powerful protector? "Will ye
also go away?"

These sentiments, and more than these, are expressed in this pathetic
expostulation: and for our comfort, my brethren, may we ever recollect,
that, though ascended into the highest heavens, and seated at the right
hand of his Father, he continues the same loving conduct towards all his
faithful friends and followers, that he observed towards his disciples
whilst he was upon earth. The same gentle and affectionate modes of
speech, the same tender, but awakening expostulations, to which his
Apostles were accustomed, he still applies to the heart of every
believer.

If we look back to past experience, we shall be convinced, that this
very expostulation of our compassionate Master, hath frequently sounded
in our ears. When the infectious influence of evil example, the sudden
attack of some powerful temptation, some severe stroke of adversity, or
some smiling prospect of temporal felicity; when these, or any of these,
have secretly solicited our frail nature, to relinquish our religious
pursuits, to surrender ourselves to the dominion of sin, and renounce
the favour and protection of our Master; hath he not frequently, and
with ineffable tenderness, whispered this gentle reprehension to our
hearts, "Will ye also go away?" Happy, indeed, if, with Peter's
affectionate warmth, and honest faithful adherence to our Lord, amidst
the severest trials, we have been enabled to reply, from a full
conviction of our own weakness, and of his all-sufficiency, "Lord! to
whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of Eternal Life."

Peter generally spoke in the name of all his brethren. His answer here,
therefore, is to be considered as a solemn declaration on the part of
the Apostles, of their firm trust and confidence in their Master,
founded on the full evidence they had received of his Divinity. As if he
had said:

Think not, dearest Master, that thy faithful disciples are actuated by
such unworthy motives as have prompted some of their weak and carnal
brethren to forsake thee. No--we are intimately convinced of the folly
of depending upon any creaturely strength, or seeking for happiness in
any sublunary prospect. Thou hast opened upon our wondering souls such
scenes of heavenly bliss, thou hast manifested to our outward senses
such astonishing displays of thy absolute power over all temporal
nature, thou hast revived our hearts with such sweet draughts of those
rivers of pleasure that surround thy Father's throne, thou hast
enlightened our understandings with such piercing beams of truth, thou
hast placed such endearing objects before our will and affections, and
hast so enamoured our souls with the beauty and excellency of thy
Gospel; that we are perfectly satisfied to remain with thee for ever,
implicitly to follow thy blessed footsteps, to accompany thee through
all the difficulties and dangers of life, and even to meet death
undaunted at thy side. Indeed, "to whom shall we go?" Every creature
around us, bears the stamp of its own imperfection. Whatever they
possess of beauty or of bliss, it is all from thee, thou Lord of life,
and source of all perfection! They are in themselves, as poor and
indigent as we are. If we make the experiment, and go to them in quest
of happiness, our fond hopes are suddenly overthrown, and vexation
succeeds to disappointment. The life we are now in, is fallen, temporal,
and transient. The words of this life are as vain as the life itself:
for it can only speak what it knows and feels, and the sum and substance
of this is want and woe. But as thou hast in thyself the very source of
eternal life, by virtue of thy eternal union with the Father; as the
powers, sensibilities, virtues, and perfections of this life, are
completely opened in thee; as the "fulness of the GODHEAD dwells bodily"
in thee, so thy words must be the "words of eternal life:" for thou
"speakest that thou dost know, and testifiest that thou hast seen." Thy
outward words are, indeed, but the outward signs of this life eternal;
the real participation of it can be nothing less than an inward and
vital union of our wills with thine, effectually co-operating, and
gradually "transforming us into thine own image, from glory to glory."

Such was the import of the Apostle's reply; and such must be the real
heart-felt language of every sinner, that expects peace and pardon at
the hands of the Almighty. Pardon of sin, is not, as some vainly
imagine, like the cancelling of a bond, the remitting of a debt, or the
forgiveness of an injury betwixt man and man. No--It is a "dying unto
sin, and a rising again unto righteousness." It is life eternal opening
itself in the fallen soul, and extinguishing the life of sin, or at
least keeping it in due subjection, till the dissolution of the body
puts an end to its connection with this fallen world; it is, according
to the Apostle's language, "the law of the spirit of life making us free
from the law of sin and death."

That eternal life, which we have, and can have only from JESUS CHRIST,
the second Adam, can alone pardon, remit, atone, cover, extinguish, (for
all these are words of the same spiritual import) that earthly life,
which we have received from the first Adam. The very first motion of
this eternal life within us, is a conviction of the vanity, sin, and
folly of our earthly life. "They that are whole need not a physician,
but they that are sick." A sensibility of want and weakness must
necessarily precede a desire of relief: and the soul must be "weary and
heavy laden," oppressed beneath the burden of her fallen nature, and
convinced of its inability to yield her a moment's real peace, before
she will think of making this solemn inquiry, "what shall I do to be
saved? to whom shall I go?" Yea, even after she is come thus far, many a
weary step must be taken, many doubts and difficulties must be
encountered, before she will be able, from her own experience, to adopt
this declaration of the Apostle, "Thou hast the words of eternal life."

Those doubts and difficulties, with which men are frequently embarrassed
in their spiritual researches, do in a great measure proceed from that
general deviation from the primitive simplicity of Gospel Truth and
Gospel Language, which so sadly prevails among the various denominations
of Christians; in consequence of which, a multitude of useless and
unscriptural distinctions have been introduced into catechisms, systems
of divinity, and even books of practical devotion, which serve only to
perplex and confound the mind of anxious and well-disposed inquirers.

"To whom shall I go?" cries the poor penitent sinner, whom CHRIST, by
the Power of his Grace, hath brought to a sensibility of his fallen
life. Why, go to the priest, says one; confess, and get absolution, and
you will come away as innocent as a new-born babe. Go, and study the
Augsburg confession, says another, and you will soon have every doubt
and difficulty removed. Go, says a third, and read Calvin's system with
great attention, and you will soon find your soul at rest. Some advise
him to join himself to one sect of Christians, and some to another; each
maintaining, in his turn, that the life and power of religion is only to
be found among those of his own particular society.

The poor misguided seeker eagerly catches at every thing that looks like
spiritual advice; runs from one book to another, from one church and
conventicle to another, "seeking rest, but finding none," or at most, a
temporary peace, a partial truce from extreme distress; whereas after
all, a few plain words of Scripture, properly applied and attended to,
will go further towards setting him right in his researches, than all
the popes and priests, and Luthers, and Calvins, and sects and
denominations, in the world.

What then hath a minister of CHRIST, or indeed any private Christian, to
say or do, when a true penitent under such circumstances applies to him
for advice, and asks him with the utmost anxiety, "To whom shall I go?"
What can he do, what can he say, that will have a more immediate
tendency to fix his attention, and compose his distracted mind, than to
answer him in the words of the text? "To whom shouldst thou go, but to
JESUS CHRIST? it is he alone who hath the words of Eternal Life."

I know no other end of preaching but this; and I am sure, that we are
warranted by Scripture to declare to every such humbled, penitent, and
afflicted sinner, that if he thus seeks CHRIST, he shall not seek in
vain. By faithfully directing his will and affections towards his
REDEEMER, thus inwardly unfolding his graces and virtues in his heart,
he will become more and more acquainted, and more and more comforted,
with that "Life Eternal, which is the gift of GOD in CHRIST JESUS."



                              DISCOURSE V.
            True Religion, a costly and continual Sacrifice.


2 SAMUEL, CHAP. xxiv, VERSE 24.

    "AND THE KING SAID UNTO ARAUNAH, NAY, BUT I WILL SURELY BUY IT OF
    THEE AT A PRICE; NEITHER WILL I OFFER BURNT-OFFERINGS UNTO THE LORD
    MY GOD, OF THAT WHICH DOTH COST ME NOTHING."


The preceding part of this chapter presents us with an awful and
instructive example of the fatal consequences which result from an
unbelief or distrust of the providential power and goodness of GOD.
Contrary to the express command of the Almighty, contrary to the spirit
of that dispensation, which inculcated an absolute and implicit reliance
upon Heaven in all dangers and difficulties, yea, contrary to an happy
experience of the most signal interpositions of Omnipotence; David had
rashly issued a commission to the general and officers of his host, to
go through all the tribes of Israel, and take a particular and exact
account of the numbers of his people. Such a flagrant instance of
unfaithfulness to his GOD, after so many merciful deliverances received,
drew upon him a most severe chastisement. To humble the haughtiness of
his spirit, and convince him of the folly of depending upon the arm of
flesh, instead of taking the most HIGH GOD for his shield and defence, a
messenger of vengeance was immediately sent forth. From Dan even to
Beersheba, he marked his progress with carnage and desolation: seventy
thousand men, within the space of a few hours, fell a sacrifice to the
devouring pestilence. He soon reached the beloved city, and was
preparing to pour his phial of wrath upon the mount of GOD. The eyes of
the unhappy monarch were now opened: he saw the destroying angel,
humbled himself in the dust, acknowledged his guilt, and deprecated the
further progress of the contagion. "Lo, I have sinned, and I have done
wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done?" Omnipotence arrested
the Angel in his progress: "It is enough--stay now thine hand." And
David was directed by the prophet Gad, to rear an altar unto the LORD,
on the very spot where the pestilence had ceased. This spot was the
threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

Deeply sensible of the greatness of his deliverance, the king
immediately proceeded to execute the divine command. Araunah discovered
him at a distance; and with all the submission of a conquered and
tributary prince, hastened to meet him, and "bowed himself before the
king on his face to the ground." "And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord
the king come unto his servant?" And David said, "To buy the
threshing-floor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the
plague may be stayed from the people." Araunah, as a king, with a
princely generosity of spirit, immediately offered him, not only the
threshing-floor, but also his oxen for the sacrifice, and his threshing
instruments for wood. "And the king said unto Araunah, Nay, but I will
surely buy it of thee at a price; neither will I offer burnt-offerings
unto the LORD my GOD, of that which doth cost me nothing." The plain and
obvious meaning of which is undoubtedly this:

Hath GOD favoured me with such an astonishing deliverance? Hath he
manifested his goodness and loving-kindness in withdrawing his
chastising hand, pardoning my guilt, and sparing me and my people from
utter destruction? Surely, then, I will not grudge, the trifling expence
of erecting, upon this spot, a monument of his love. Surely I will not
accept of the labours of another, or testify my gratitude by
burnt-offerings and sacrifices at another's expence. The least I can do
is, to make such an acknowledgment, and in such a manner, as will best
evidence my sense of the obligation, and the honour that is due to my
Almighty Deliverer.

Those who look beyond the letter and the outward history, will readily
discern the state of David's mind. They will readily discern this
outward action of his, though adapted to the outward dispensation under
which he lived, to be highly expressive of that great and fundamental
principle, which every dispensation of Truth, from the fall of man down
to this very day, hath strongly inculcated, viz. that true religion is
an inward life, that cannot rest in external appearances, but manifests
itself in an absolute unlimited surrender of the whole man to his
Creator. This can never be accomplished without considerable cost and
expence on the part of the creature, inasmuch as his will and affections
must first be drawn off from all that variety of imaginations, desires
and enjoyments, to which his fallen nature strongly allures, and deeply
enslaves him.

Hence it is, that our BLESSED LORD makes the very first duty of
discipleship to consist in "denying ourselves, taking up our cross, and
following him:" that is to say, in bearing, with meekness, the necessary
evils of our fallen life, resisting and overcoming its sinful
suggestions, and humbly waiting for and co-operating with his Spirit
revealed in our hearts.

This is the spiritual warfare, the struggle betwixt the "law in the
members," and the "law of the mind;" the fighting "not only against
flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers," in which we are
all summoned to engage. The whole burnt-offering and sacrifice, the
whole price which this must cost us, is nothing less than the turning
our wills, with the whole tide of our affections, from the evil to the
good principle within us. And that GOD through CHRIST hath given us
ability to do this, will appear from the following considerations:

The will of man, as coming forth from the Eternal Will of GOD, must be
eternally and essentially free. The will of the fallen angels in hell,
was as free as that of the highest archangel now in heaven:

    Freely they stood, who stood; and fell, who fell.

The whole difference betwixt them consists in this, that the will of
those who fell, is freely turned to evil; the will of those who stood,
is freely turned to GOD and Goodness.

Man stands in an intermediate state, betwixt light and darkness, betwixt
life and death, betwixt heaven and hell. The whole tenor of Scripture,
from beginning to end, represents him in this critical situation;
represents his Heavenly Father, as calling to him and inviting him to
"eschew evil, and to do good;" to "love light rather than darkness;" to
"come to him, that he may have life." All which certainly implies, that
GOD, by his Grace, hath given him a power of choosing, and has made his
salvation or destruction to proceed from himself, and not from any
predetermining divine decree.

JESUS CHRIST is always spoken of, as a freely given Saviour; but
salvation, as "a treasure to be purchased, as a race to be run, as a
battle to be fought, as a work to be accomplished, even with fear and
trembling." The power or capacity of being saved, the whole merit of
salvation, comes from CHRIST; the using of this power, the availing
ourselves of this merit, from ourselves. "Why WILL YE die, O house of
Israel? TURN YOURSELVES, and live ye. Ye WILL NOT come to me, that ye
might have life. How often would I have gathered you, as a hen gathereth
her chickens under her wings, and ye WOULD NOT!"

Upon this principle of forsaking sin, and turning our will to Goodness,
are founded all those Gospel precepts, which speak of "crucifying the
flesh with its affections and lusts, destroying the old man, dying to
sin, suffering with CHRIST, cutting off a right hand, plucking out a
right eye, passing through much tribulation;" all which plainly shews,
that True Religion is a perpetual sacrifice; and that this sacrifice
cannot be "offered to the LORD our GOD, of that which doth cost us
nothing;" that the price will be far more, than "fifty shekels of
silver," the purchase of Araunah's threshing-floor and implements; yea,
that it will be no less than the "whole body of sin," which we carry
about us, with all its affections and lusts; which we must, with
meekness and humility, surrender to our BLESSED REDEEMER, to be burnt up
and consumed upon the fire of his altar.

Having thus endeavoured to establish this fundamental principle, that
"true religion is a costly and a perpetual sacrifice;" let us now, to
prevent any dangerous deception, turn our eyes to those false
appearances of it, which we frequently meet with in the world, which are
very easily assumed, and which cost nothing.

The man of moral honesty first steps forth, and puts in his claim to the
character of religious. He looks upon any Revelation from Heaven to be
quite unnecessary; and, with all the forwardness and presumption of his
own blind reason, pronounces those books, which Christians believe to be
of Divine Authority, to be idle and chimerical. His religion, he will
tell you, is, "to do as he would be done by." Poor man! it were well, if
he even practised this golden rule; it might lead him to something
further: for, by endeavouring to fulfil this, he might be brought to a
view and feeling of his own natural inability; of the evil tempers and
passions of his soul, which, in innumerable instances, hurry him on to
do to others, what he would, by no means, have them to do to him. His
religion, therefore, is properly visionary. Every thing to him is just
and right, that comes within those bounds of honesty, which have been
fixed by the laws of the land. A right life is not, with him, a right
principle in the heart; but only a set of outward actions, that in the
eyes of the world give him the character of an honest man.

The religion of such a person "costs him nothing." He has nothing to
sacrifice, but much to gain by the practice of it; at least, much of
worldly happiness; for he can have no idea of any other. Being wholly
destitute of all sensibility with respect to the evil of his fallen
life, he is not in the least desirous of purchasing a better, at the
price it will cost. Before he can form any conception of the necessity
of religion, as a real inward change and renewal of heart, he must first
be made sensible of his present error and misery: "for they that are
whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."

Next comes the nominal Christian, who hath been baptized, and professes
to believe the great truths of the Gospel, and joins with some publick
assembly of Christians in outward worship. Surely his claim to the
religious character, hath a better foundation than the preceding one: he
purchases it at an higher price; it costs him more to support it. He
neglects no outward duty, either moral or instituted; you never miss him
at church, or at the sacrament: he hath been strictly educated from his
infancy; he is sober, virtuous, kind, and charitable. In a word, he
appears to be, what it were to be wished every man in the world really
was. Thus far he is undoubtedly right: a strict observance of all the
outward duties of religion, a minute attention to things in themselves
indifferent, and a prudent abstaining from every appearance of evil, are
doubtless incumbent, even upon those who have made the greatest progress
in the Divine Life.

Let us, however, remember, that this outward strictness will avail
little, without a conformity of our inward man to the temper and
disposition of CHRIST; without being "born again," and commencing a new
life, even a life of Heaven upon earth. The nominal Christian is a
stranger to this blessed process. Talk to him of the necessity of
regeneration, of doing all that he does from a principle of Divine Love,
and with a view to God's glory, and not to any self-satisfaction, and he
will not understand you. His round of duties seems to be the God whom he
worships; at least, he makes them the _opus operatum_. He is never
tormented with spiritual doubts and temptations; he knows nothing of the
severe conflicts which real Christians sustain, and the dreadful pangs
they must suffer, before their purification is accomplished; before they
can "bow their heads," with the great Captain of their Salvation, and
say with him, "It is finished." He is willing to go to Heaven by an
easier and less thorny path, and to purchase glory at a cheaper rate.

The last I shall mention, but the most specious appearances of religion,
are those which are exhibited by the pharisaical professors of
Christianity. And here I would willingly throw a veil over those follies
and extravagancies, to which false enthusiasm frequently gives the name
of spiritual exercises and experiences. But my duty calls upon me to put
you on your guard against these delusive appearances; as I cannot but
think, that spiritual pride, or an over-weening conceit and forward
exhibition of our own fancied spiritual attainments, is the most fatal
rock, upon which the Christian can make "shipwreck of his faith."

In an age, wherein every appearance of religion ought to be encouraged
and promoted, it is melancholy to think, that we should be under a
necessity of speaking even against some appearances. But that you may
form a right notion of what I mean by a pharisaical profession of
religion, I will endeavour to draw the character of a modern Pharisee.

In the first place, he is one, who talks much in a religious strain, but
takes care to make himself the chief subject of conversation. His own
illuminations and experiences, his conviction and conversion, with all
the particular circumstances attending them, he never fails to
communicate, without distinction, to all those who will give him an
hearing; and to communicate in such a manner, as to let them know, that
he considers his own experiences as the infallible standard by which he
measures the experiences of others.

In the next place, you will generally find him insisting upon points of
controversy, rather than those of practice; urging your assent to such
and such articles of his faith, calling upon you to apply for
instruction to some favourite Rabbi of his own sect, or some favourite
system which himself has adopted, instead of sending you immediately to
him, who is the Fountain of all Wisdom, and "who giveth it liberally" to
those that ask it of him.

You will find him careful to "pay tithes of mint, and annise, and
cummin;" to go to what he calls a gospel-sermon, though he should
neglect the necessary duties of his occupation; and to spend hours in
talking about religion, whilst he passes by "the weightier matters of
the law, judgment, and mercy, and faith." Tell him of the necessity "of
dying daily to sin, of suffering with CHRIST, of mortifying the flesh,
denying himself, cutting off a right hand, &c." he will answer you, that
his peace is made, that his sins are pardoned, that he has a full
assurance of everlasting life. Tell him of the necessity of being "born
again," of having the righteous nature, temper, and disposition of the
HOLY JESUS in his heart; he will reply, that he knows of no
righteousness but that of CHRIST imputed, and that his Saviour's
personal obedience is accepted by GOD instead of his own; and though he
may not go so far as to deny the great doctrine of sanctification, but
will even allow and insist upon it, yet it is such sanctification, as
will turn to very little account. For, who that looks upon his work as
already done, will chuse to labour any longer? Who that believes his
sins to be already pardoned, will think it necessary to implore the
forgiveness of God, or to obtain the healing influences of the Spirit of
Grace?

In a word, if we may judge from his conversation, he thinks himself
perfect--if we may judge from his actions, he is indeed very far from
it. He shews the utmost bitterness against every one that happens to
dissent from his opinion; and looks upon all those as carnal and
unregenerate, who do not walk in his footsteps. Meekness, humility,
benevolence and charity, the most characteristical graces of the true
disciples of JESUS, are not to be found in any part of his conduct. His
life, therefore, is not in CHRIST, but in a set of doctrines and
opinions, supported by a "zeal that is not according to knowledge." Till
he is taught to see his own pride and presumption; till he discovers,
and strives to eradicate, the selfish principle that lurks at the centre
of his heart; he cannot be said to offer any other sacrifices to GOD,
than such as "cost him nothing."

To conclude: Having seen what those real sacrifices of religion are,
which will be acceptable to GOD, and in how many instances men deceive
themselves, and others, by false appearances; let us determine to judge
of our acquaintance with and progress in True Religion, not merely by
outward observances, nor yet by any transient fits or lively and
pleasant frames of devotion; but rather by the discovery which GOD is
pleased to make to us of our weakness and misery, by our sincere desire
of being united to CHRIST, and in heart and spirit assimilated to his
nature. Thus having followed a Suffering Master, "travelling in the
greatness of his strength," through the ensanguined paths of a spiritual
warfare, we shall at length "come forth out of great tribulation;" and,
having "washed our robes in the Blood of the Lamb," shall be partakers
of his triumphs; and receive the accomplishment of his great and
glorious promise: "To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me
in my throne; even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in
his throne."



                             DISCOURSE VI.
                     Truth, the only Friend of Man.


GALATIANS, CHAP. iv. VER. 16.

    "AM I THEREFORE BECOME YOUR ENEMY, BECAUSE I TELL YOU THE TRUTH?"


Men are generally too apt to consider religion as unfriendly to their
happiness, and incapable of yielding them any satisfactions, equal to
those which they derive from the pursuit of worldly objects. Hence, the
aversion to exercises of piety, and the society and conversation of the
good and virtuous. Hence, the listlessness and unconcern about the state
of their souls, whilst the whole attention of their minds, their
thoughts, their desires and affections, their hands and their hearts,
are all busily and constantly employed, in making provision for the
support, ornament, and gratification, of a perishing body. Surely, such
a strange conduct as this, must proceed from a secret persuasion, that
religion will interrupt their pursuit of some present favourite objects,
and damp and deaden all the sprightliness of enjoyment. Were they,
indeed, charged with holding such principles as these, they would
doubtless take it exceedingly amiss; and look upon that man as their
enemy, who should presume thus to arraign their conduct, and ascribe it
to motives, which they would blush to own.

The tender and affectionate expostulation in my text, is evidently
founded upon an intimate knowledge of human nature. The sagacious
Apostle readily discovered the secret workings of pride and disgust, in
the hearts of his Galatian converts. After having expressed his
astonishment, that "they were so soon removed from him, that called them
into the Grace of CHRIST, unto another Gospel;" after having charged
them with folly, for suffering themselves to be "bewitched," as he
expresses it, by the artifices of deceivers; after having declared his
fears and apprehensions lest he should have bestowed upon them labour in
vain; and, after having enumerated some former testimonies of their
reciprocal regard and affection for each other; he, at length, addresses
himself to their consciences, and solemnly calls upon them to declare,
whether they could, with the least justice or propriety, change their
former sentiments of him, or deem him unfriendly to their best
interests, "because he told them the Truth;" because, by his Christian
and apostolical reprehensions, he sought to rescue them from the
dominion of passion and prejudice: "Am I therefore become your enemy,
because I tell you the Truth?"

One would think, that such well-meant remonstrances, from the ministers
of Truth and friends of Virtue, would be kindly received, and have a
salutary influence upon the hearts of sinners; but experience, alas!
tells us the contrary. There have been many instances, and some,
perhaps, within our own personal knowledge, in which resentment, rather
than gratitude, hath been awakened by such expostulations; and where,
instead of humbling the spirit, they have produced a reply that bore the
marks of passion, checked and disappointed in its favourite pursuits.

Considered with respect to the real state of his soul, every man, who
lives under the dominion of any evil passion, or suffers himself to be
drawn aside from the paths of virtue by the delusive arts of vice, is
doubtless in a situation similar to that of these Galatians. For though
his passions and prejudices may not be exactly the same, yet they
proceed from the same source, and enmity to GOD and Goodness is at the
bottom.

But, blessed be GOD! there are no Galatians without an Apostle; no
sinner without an higher messenger of GOD than St. Paul; a greater
witness, and more awful reprover of his evil ways; a friend that speaks
to him at all times and seasons, in the hurry of the day, and the
silence of the night, amidst the anxiety of expectation, and the ardour
of possession; vigorously remonstrating against every sinful suggestion,
and sharply censuring and reproving the mind for every sinful act.

The fallen spirit of man, it is true, brooks not the frequent appearance
of this Heavenly Messenger; but, as the Apostle says of the Galatians,
treats him as an enemy, and replies to all his friendly remonstrances
and affectionate warnings, with indignation and disdain.

"Go thy way for this time," was the language of voluptuous greatness to
the same blessed Apostle. "Go thy way for this time," is still the
language of every unconverted heart, when it is checked or interrupted
in its vicious and lawless pursuits, by the voice of this Inward
Monitor--why art thou perpetually intruding upon my hours of business,
pleasure, or repose, and teizing and disquieting me with thine ill-timed
admonitions or rebukes?

Who amongst us, let me ask, hath not, in innumerable instances, given
such a rash and impatient answer to the Servant of GOD within us? When
some darling passion hath importunately solicited for immediate
indulgence; some pretty fantastical object presented itself to our
desires; some impetuous call of pride, envy, covetuousness, or
resentment, demanded an immediate answer; have we not, though we were,
at the very instant, warned against the artifice and delusion, by this
constant and inseparable Friend, have we not petulantly rejected his
counsel, bid him "away for that time" at least, and treated him with
more contempt than we would dare to shew to an earthly enemy?

His meekness, however, is not discomposed by our rising wrath; his
fortitude is not daunted by our repeated insults; his persevering love
is not in the least abated by the stubbornness and obduracy of our
hearts. He still keeps close to our side, accompanies us whithersoever
we go, and, "whether we will hear, or whether we will forbear," ceases
not, at one time, to whisper to us in the soft language of heavenly
instruction; and, at another, to thunder in our ears the most alarming
reproofs and menaces.

But who is this Apostle, this Messenger of GOD, this Inward Witness and
Monitor, whom deluded mortals are so apt to consider as an enemy to
their peace?--Hear, O sinner, and let thy face be covered with
confusion! let thine hard heart break with deep compunction for its past
obduracy, whilst thou art told, that this enemy, as thou hast hitherto
deemed and treated him, is no other than the ETERNAL SPIRIT OF THY GOD
AND THY REDEEMER, who, by continually opposing the language of truth to
the suggestions of error, hath been endeavouring to emancipate thy soul
from its grievous bondage, and to bring it forth into light and liberty.

Thou hast mistaken death for life, misery for happiness, time for
eternity! Thy will and affections have been fixed upon objects of unreal
bliss; turned from thy GOD, the true and only source of Goodness and
Happiness, and working evil in the element of sin and darkness! Spirits
thus employed, must mingle with congenial spirits: there is "no
communion of CHRIST with Belial;" no fellowship or likeness betwixt thy
spirit in such a state as this, and the Spirit of thy REDEEMER. He
appears, and cannot but appear to thee, as thine enemy, because the
truth he tells thee militates against thy darling lusts, and shews thee
those dark destructive purposes, which, because thou canst hide them
from others, thou wishest also to hide from thyself.

But this seeming enemy is, indeed, thy real friend. He is only pursuing
thee with his internal counsels and reproofs, that he may snatch thee
out of the hands of the destroyer; that he may call thee out of thy
present "darkness, into his own marvellous light." When thou hast
experienced this blessed change, reconciliation will soon take place; an
union of spirits will commence betwixt thy SAVIOUR and thee; and thou
wilt gradually grow into his Image and Likeness, till thou art made
perfect in his Love.

Believe me, my brethren, till this great change hath passed upon our
souls, till we begin to feel, and admire, and love the communications of
this Inward Friend and Comforter, we must be strangers to true peace of
mind, and totally ignorant of the proper enjoyment of ourselves, and the
proper use of the world in which we now sojourn.

In our natural state, all is darkness, disorder, and disquietude. We see
every thing through a false medium. We are under a spiritual delirium.
Our heavenly physician is endeavouring, by the methods I have just
mentioned, to restore our health of mind, to open our spiritual senses,
to give us a clear and distinct view of "the things that belong to our
peace." We must, therefore, co-operate with his "labours of love." Even
the severity of his applications proves him to be our friend; for he
knows that, without them, we can never come to a "right mind." Let us,
then, recollect, how often these applications have been made; how often,
through inattention and neglect, they have failed of success; how often
we have slighted his counsels, despised his prescriptions, and cast his
medicines from us. But let us also remember, that there is a time at
hand, when, light as we may think of such a blessing now, we shall most
ardently long for his support and consolation. When languishing with
sickness, and oppressed with pain, it is he alone who can soften our
pillow, and supply us with inward strength; when tottering with age, and
bowed down with infirmities, it is he alone who can be our rod and
staff; and when the lamp of life is so near expiring, that we can
scarcely see our passage to the verge of time, it is he alone that can
light up the Lamp of GOD in our hearts, and conduct us through the dark
valley of the shadow of death, to the bright confines of a celestial
world.

In a word, if the enmity is not destroyed in our souls in this life, we
must necessarily carry it with us into the next. And to those who die
under the dominion of a fallen life and sinful nature, "our God must be
a consuming fire."

Let us lay these things seriously to heart. Let us earnestly seek
Reconciliation with GOD THROUGH CHRIST, and endeavour to perfect
ourselves in the great work of Peace and Love, "whilst it is day;
because the night cometh, when no man can work."



                             DISCOURSE VII.
                   The Strength and Victory of Faith.


1 JOHN, CHAP. v. VER. 4.

    "WHATSOEVER IS BORN OF GOD, OVERCOMETH THE WORLD; AND THIS IS THE
    VICTORY THAT OVERCOMETH THE WORLD, EVEN OUR FAITH."


All the doctrines of our most Holy Religion conspire to inform us, that
the supreme happiness of man is not to be attained without unnumbered
labours and conflicts; and all its precepts are calculated to inforce a
perpetual activity, and unwearied perseverance, in the "pursuit of the
things that belong to our peace."

"The Devil, the world, and the flesh," are the great adversaries, who
are continually plotting our ruin. The flesh, by which is meant that
corrupt nature which we bring with us into the world, is ever harrassing
us with its impure suggestions: "the Devil walks about as a roaring
lion, seeking whom he may devour:" and the world, by which we are to
understand that fallen state of things, in which we at present dwell,
never fails of opposing our progress toward Heaven, with its specious,
but delusive scenes of happiness. Against the united efforts of such
formidable enemies, where shall we find armour of sufficient proof? In a
conflict so long and arduous, where shall we meet with such supplies of
strength, as will enable us to contend and finally to overcome? The
power of contending, and the means of obtaining the victory, are clearly
pointed out by the Apostle in my text. "Whatsoever is born of GOD,
overcometh the world: and this is the Victory that overcometh the world,
even our Faith."

From these words it appears, that those who engage in this heavenly
warfare, are persons of the highest dignity, and most illustrious birth:
they are the offspring of him whose "kingdom is not of this world;" they
are "heirs of GOD, and joint-heirs with JESUS CHRIST;" they are "born,
not of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of GOD."

To be "born of GOD," is to rise out of the ruins of a fallen nature into
the glory of a redeemed one. It is to die to Adam, and to live to
CHRIST; it is to see, and feel, and to forsake our own weakness and
vanity and sin, and adhere to the strength and sufficiency and
righteousness of CHRIST. The first great work of the SPIRIT OF TRUTH, as
our LORD assures us, is to "convince the world of sin." The foundation
of that spiritual edifice which Heaven erects in the souls of men, must
be laid in humility: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the
kingdom of Heaven!" He that is "born of GOD," lives and acts in direct
opposition to him who is "born of the flesh:" meekness and love are the
prevailing dispositions of the former; pride and selfishness the ruling
tempers of the latter. A discerning mind, spiritually enlightened, and
viewing mankind as they really are, and not through the false medium of
worldly philosophy, will readily discover the manifest contrariety with
which their characters are marked by these two principles. Look round
you, my brethren; look into your own hearts; judge for yourselves: your
own experience of what is continually passing within and about you, will
afford you ample demonstration of these great truths.

Wherever we discover in ourselves, or in others, the corrupt passions of
pride, envy, ill-nature, avarice, anger, jealousy, malice, prevailing,
there we may be as certain of the marks of unregenerate nature, as we
are of a disorder in the elements, when we see the heavens overcast with
clouds, and thunders and lightnings issuing from every quarter of the
sky. On the other hand, where meekness and gentleness, self-abasement, a
forgetfulness of our own interest, and a chearful attention to the
happiness of others, an heart-felt sympathy in their joys and sorrows,
an universal love of GOD and man, testified by a life of uninterrupted
piety and charity; wherever we find these amiable graces and virtues,
there are the sure marks of Regeneration; there is the true disciple of
JESUS, "born of GOD, and overcoming the world."

The state of such a soul, with respect to its GOD, may be expressed in
words to this effect: "LORD, what is man, that thou hast such respect
unto him; or the Son of man, that thou visitest him?" "Behold, LORD, I
am less than the least of all thy mercies!" And yet thou hast had
respect even unto me; and yet thou hast visited even me, with the
greatest of thy mercies! Thou hast caused thy light to shine into the
darkness of my nature; thou hast laid open every secret recess of my
heart, and shewn me those roots of evil, from whence the innumerable
sins of my past life have sprung forth, and diffused their venom
throughout my whole frame. Yea, thou hast not only discovered to me the
depth and malignity of sin, but, with thy Light, thou hast also imparted
thy Life to my soul; thou hast supplied me with strength from above;
thou hast furnished me with armour of heavenly proof to encounter the
enemies of my peace. Thou hast taught me to despair of my own strength,
and to trust in thine arm alone for salvation; thou hast taught me to
despise my own righteousness, and to seek thy righteousness in CHRIST
JESUS. Though the world should present to me her most alluring charms;
though she should give, to her visionary forms, the fairest features
that fancy's pencil can delineate; though she should court me to accept
her proffered pleasures, in all that false tenderness of language, which
artful vice so frequently assumes; yet, armed with thy celestial
panoply, I shall be enabled to contend with the enchantress, and
overcome her magic power; I shall nobly triumph over all her devices,
assert the dignity of my heavenly birth, and preserve my heart unspotted
from her impurities. For sure I am; that whilst united in spirit with
thee, my GOD and SAVIOUR, I breathe the air of Heaven, I feed upon the
bread of angels; the strength of Omnipotence is exerted amid the
weakness of nature, and I shall go on, under thine auspicious guidance,
"conquering and to conquer."

Such is the state of the virtuous and regenerated Christian, with
respect to his GOD. With respect to man, his conduct flows from the same
Divine and lovely principle. He deems every spiritual blessing, by which
he may be distinguished from the rest of his brethren, as the gift of
GOD, to be accepted and enjoyed, not with an haughty, but an humble
mind. He does not, therefore, stand aloof from them, as if he was holier
than they. He cannot, indeed, but shrink from their vices, and, by a
prudent distance of behaviour, shew himself averse to, and even offended
with their levities. But he pities their blindness, and compassionates
the obduracy of their hearts. He is ever ready to exert himself for the
real service of wicked, as well as of good men; knowing, that his
"heavenly Father sendeth his rain, and causeth his sun to shine, upon
the unjust no less than the just."

If he is blessed with worldly affluence, he cheerfully administers to
the temporal necessities of his indigent neighbours. If he is poor, and
can give them no earthly aid, he will do all he can--he will pray for
them, and beg his GOD to shower down upon them his temporal, as well as
spiritual comforts. He suffers no ill conduct on their part to excite
his indignation, or make him forget that they are his brethren, to be
redeemed by that precious blood, whose salutary influences he has
himself experienced. He envies none their fortunes, honours, and
accomplishments; neither does he repine, because he is not so rich, or
learned, or polite, or advanced to such an exalted rank in life, as
others are. He endeavours to be dead alike to the censure and applause
of beings, mortal and fallible as himself; inasmuch as he is convinced,
that their good or ill opinion cannot make the least alteration in the
real state of his soul: he is, therefore, guilty of no mean compliances,
or time-serving practices, to obtain the one, or to avoid the other. He
gives "honour to whom honour is due." He endeavours to "owe no man any
thing, but love:" he is, therefore, careful, not only to pay every just
debt, but to avoid embarking in any worldly schemes or prospects of
advancing his own interest, to the injury of others. In a word, by piety
to GOD, justice and charity to his neighbour, and chastity and
temperance in his own person, he seeks to maintain "a conscience void of
offence towards GOD, and towards man;" to fill the station in which he
is placed, and support the character in which he appears, in such a
manner, as will do honour to the Religion of his Master.

This is Evangelical Morality, not confined, as you may observe, to the
external conduct of life; but reaching inward, even to the secret
thoughts and inclinations of the heart. What is generally called
morality, I am afraid, is little more than an external decency, and
common sobriety; and it is well, if, in every instance, it is carried
even so far. But surely none, but the truly Regenerate Christian, acting
under the immediate influence of the DIVINE SPIRIT, can properly be
called a moral man. For morality, without an inward principle, is but a
name; and the Scriptures tell us of no other true principle, but "the
LOVE OF GOD shed abroad in the human heart by his HOLY SPIRIT."

Having thus given some of the marks or characteristicks by which the
Regenerate Christian, or the "Born of GOD," is to be known, let us now
enquire what the Apostle means, by "overcoming the world," and ascribing
"the victory to Faith:" "Whatsoever is born of GOD, overcometh the
world; and this is the Victory that overcometh the world, even our
Faith."

"Overcometh the world!" methinks I hear some say--"that is
impossible--human nature has passions, and the world abounds with
objects suited to gratify them. Surely the GOD of nature hath not placed
man in his present circumstances, to make him miserable. He created us
for happiness, and hath furnished us with the means of obtaining it.
What a senseless doctrine this, that would shut us out from all the
joys, which earth holds forth for our acceptance?"

Alas, vain man! who told thee, that GOD had given thee such corrupt
passions, as now solicit for indulgence? Who told thee, that GOD created
thee for this world; and that thou art to take up thy rest in that
visionary happiness, which thou findest here? These passions are the
proofs of thy fall; for thou hast them in common with the beasts of the
field. This world is thy temporary prison, though thy disordered
imagination may represent it as a palace. Thou art dreaming, though thou
thinkest thyself wide awake. Thou art in darkness, and canst not
distinguish the true appearance of objects around thee. Let but the SUN
OF RIGHTEOUSNESS dart one beam into thy benighted soul, and thou wilt
soon discover the deception, and long for the power of his Grace to
enable thee to triumph over those passions, that have been leading thee
blindfold to destruction; and to overcome that world, which hath been
cheating thee with visionary gratifications.

"Overcome the world!" says some faint-hearted Christian--"Ah me! how
infinitely short do I fall of this glorious standard! I have been
striving for months, for years, to get the mastery of this powerful
adversary, without being yet able to discover that I have gained the
least advantage; though I have exerted my utmost endeavours to disengage
myself from his subtil, but violent assaults." Hast thou so? But didst
thou ever attend to the true and only means, by which the Scriptures
have assured thee this conquest may be obtained? "This is the victory
that overcometh the world, even our Faith."

Now, what is Faith? It is "the substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen:" that is to say, it is a full and assured
trust and confidence in CHRIST, that the things hoped for will be
finally obtained, and the things not seen will be fully manifested to
our senses. It is such a trust and confidence as realises the immediate
possession of them to our minds, so that we regard not any pain or
difficulty we meet with in the pursuit, resting upon an OMNIPOTENT GOD,
by whose strength in us every obstacle will be gradually removed, and a
complete victory at length secured. Why then, O Christian, shouldst thou
despair of success? If thou hast hitherto been striving in thine own
strength, and depended upon the power of thine own weak resolution, it
is no wonder thou hast made such small advances. "Without me, ye can do
nothing," says our BLESSED REDEEMER. "I can do all things through CHRIST
strengthening me," says his experienced Apostle.

When we repose so much confidence in a friend, as to entrust him with
the whole management of our temporal affairs, looking to him in every
instance, and upon the least appearance of difficulty or embarrassment,
running to him for counsel, and implicitly following his directions,
from a thorough conviction of our own ignorance, of his superior skill
in business, and his known regard and attachment to us; we are then said
to have faith in such a friend.

And canst thou not, O Christian, have as much Faith in thy SAVIOUR, as
one frail mortal has in another? When temptations rise, when dangers
threaten, when enemies attack us from within and from without, so that
our souls are hard beset, and we know not how to extricate ourselves
from the perilous situation; can we not fly with confidence to our
Heavenly Friend, ask his counsel, and entreat his powerful interposition
in our behalf? He is ever ready and willing to come to our succour.
Nothing is wanting but Faith on our part; and "according to our Faith,
so shall it be done unto us."

We are not, however, to expect that this Victory will be easily or
speedily obtained. The Canaanites were suffered to keep possession of
the land of promise for a considerable time, lest the Children of
Israel, instead of ascribing the glory of the conquest solely to the
LORD OF HOSTS, should vainly arrogate it to themselves, and, in
consequence of this, lose all sense of their dependence upon him. Many
strong and powerful temptations may be permitted to remain unsubdued, to
exercise the Christian's Faith, to keep him humble, and duly sensible of
his own weakness and inability.

Besides, there is a wonderful analogy betwixt natural and spiritual
things. The Child of Grace, as well as the Child of Nature, must have a
gradual growth, during which many an anxious interval, many a severe
pang, many an arduous conflict, must be endured. For let this truth be
ever present to our minds, that the Inward Man increases in strength, in
proportion as the outward man weakens and decays; and the earthly nature
must be totally subdued, before "the BORN OF GOD" can attain the
"measure of the stature of the fulness, which is in CHRIST."

Nor let what hath been said discourage those sincere and upright minds,
who have but lately turned their backs upon the world, and entered into
the school of CHRIST. Our trials are always suited to our strength: "GOD
will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to bear." The
Child, the Young Man, and the Father in CHRIST, have exercises proper to
their different states; they are led on to glory by an unerring hand,
which supports them by its invisible, but powerful influence, through
the most rugged thorny paths of the Christian course.

There is no spiritual adversary too strong for the Christian, that
engages in the Strength of his REDEEMER. David, though a stripling,
vanquished with ease the giant of Gath, because "he went out against
him," not in his own strength, but in "the Name of the LORD of Hosts,
the _God_ of the armies of Israel." The world, with all its temptations
and allurements, will be as easily overcome by him, who is truly "born
of GOD," as the uncircumcised Philistine was by the hand of David.

To conclude: A worldly spirit is one of the greatest enemies we have to
encounter, because it insinuates itself into our hearts under as many
different forms, as there are different earthly desires predominant. The
man of business, according to the more common acceptation of the phrase,
hath obtained the name of a worldly man. But the truth is, wherever a
worldly temper prevails, whether it manifests itself in the pursuit of
wealth, or honour, or pleasure, or literary applause, or indeed of any
object, interest, or end, that is confined merely to this transient
state of things; there is the Worldly Spirit, the foe to our real
happiness, the "man of sin, the son of perdition;" from which may GOD of
his infinite mercy deliver us, for the sake of the Son of his Love,
CHRIST JESUS our Saviour!



                            DISCOURSE VIII.
             Faith triumphant over the Powers of Darkness.


St. MARK, CHAP. ix. Part of VER. 24.

    "LORD, I BELIEVE: HELP THOU MINE UNBELIEF!"


The false estimate of happiness, which is made by the generality of men,
entirely proceeds from their not taking into the account the real,
though invisible, objects of another world, with which they are much
more intimately concerned than with the present temporary state of
things. Hence it is, that they judge of the seeming pleasures of this
life, not from a comparative view of them with the superior enjoyments
of a better, but according to the proportion which they bear to one
another. It is upon this principle, coinciding with the peculiar
constitutional desires of different men, that their different worldly
pursuits are formed and regulated.

The penurious grasping miser declaims, with an eloquence which avarice
alone inspires, against the rash and silly conduct of the gay and
thoughtless spendthrift. The man of pleasure expresses his astonishment
at the strange taste, and stupid employment of his neighbour, who can
sit poring over his accounts from morning till night, and values himself
upon the accuracy with which they are kept, and the strict economy with
which all his expences are regulated. The votary of ambition considers
his taste and pursuits of a far more sublime nature than those of either
of the former, and looks down with contempt upon the plodding dullness
of the miser, and the short-lived pleasures of the sensualist. In the
mean while, the sagacious enquirer after knowledge, who spends days and
nights in the most laborious researches, perpetually seeking after Truth
in the countless volumes of antiquity, congratulates himself upon the
superiority of his genius, and wonders that all mankind are not so
captivated with the charms of science, as immediately to forsake the
false and fleeting joys of avarice, ambition, and voluptuousness.

Now all these various desires, employments, and pursuits, however
superior some of them may, on comparison, appear to be to others,
terminate generally in the nourishment and growth of that fallen life,
under which man, in consequence of an original apostasy, is born into
this world; and it may truly be said, with respect to them all, that "he
is only making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof:"
for when the seeming good of this world is the sole object of his
attention and affections, he must necessarily be regardless of the real
good of another, and a better world. Whatever his desires center in,
that constitutes his life; and his own will may be said to create or
call forth, from surrounding nature, every thing that can feed and
nourish those desires. He stands in the midst of three worlds,
principles, or kingdoms, earth, hell, and heaven; and to which soever of
these he surrenders his heart, he becomes subject to its power and
influence; so that the real state of every man's soul depends upon the
exercise of his will: his will constitutes his faith; and "according to
thy faith," says the unerring Standard of Truth, "so shall it be done
unto thee."

An afflicted parent brings to our BLESSED LORD a favourite child, who
was sorely vexed and tormented by an evil spirit, and in the most
earnest manner entreats his advice and assistance. The compassionate
JESUS, after having enquired into the nature and circumstances of the
disorder, and observed the distress and solicitude of the father, tells
him, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that
believeth."

This answer abundantly evinceth the truth of the observation
above-mentioned, that our state depends entirely upon the inward
exercise of our will or desires. A sensibility of distress naturally
disposes us to seek for relief. Nature, without GOD, is nothing but
restless want and anguish: and though fallen man is possessed of the
powers and principles, by which this want may be supplied, and this
anguish effectually relieved, yet he too frequently seeks the remedy in
a wrong source; and cannot be convinced of his error, till the pangs of
disappointment succeed to the delusive assurances of worldly faith, and
the vain anticipations of worldly hope. Upon this view of human nature
it was, that the BLESSED JESUS founded his reply; "If thou canst
believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." As if he had
said:

Thou appearest to be under great concern and anxiety of mind, for the
present afflicting circumstances of thy child. Thou hast a clear and
full perception of the cruel agency of an evil spirit, and canst not
doubt, but that all his torments are the effects of diabolical
influence. If thou desirest to see him rescued from this violent spirit,
and restored to a sound state of mind and body, thou must believe in the
more powerful agency of a Superior Spirit, to whose unlimited controul,
all the realms of nature, and its innumerable beings, are subjected,
and, consequently, that none but This Spirit, or those to whom he
imparts his healing powers, can possibly restore thy son. When this
belief rises in thine heart, by a living sensibility that carries its
own evidence along with it, thou wilt not entertain a doubt of the will
and ability of such a Divine Spirit to perform this miracle of Love,
but, in the full confidence of Faith, wilt apply to him, and to him
alone, for relief. This very turning of thy will and desire to the
Fountain of Goodness, makes it unite with those emanations of spiritual
health and vigour, which are perpetually flowing forth from his
all-merciful and compassionate heart. "All things are possible" to a
soul thus disposed and attempered; and thy child's health, and thine own
peace of mind, will be the sure and blessed consequence.

The affectionate parent, overjoyed at a declaration which was
accompanied with such a Divine Power as awakened new sensations in his
breast, burst into a flood of tears, and cried out, "LORD, I believe,
help thou mine unbelief!" I am sensible, deeply sensible of the absolute
necessity of a supernatural interposition; and the mild Majesty of Love,
which shines so conspicuous in thy person and address, and whose
efficacy hath already passed from thy lips to my poor heart, more than
convinces me, that this Supernatural Power of Goodness is lodged with
thee. To thee, therefore, and thee alone, I apply! In thee I desire to
place my full confidence, earnestly entreating thee to remove from me
all darkness, doubt, and uncertainty, by further and brighter
manifestations of thyself, and thy heavenly virtues, in my weak and
unbelieving heart!

We are very apt, when we read this, or other such passages of Scripture,
to consider them merely as historical facts, in which we are in no wise
particularly interested. What have we to do with evil spirits, or
possessions, at this day? Such things might have been permitted, whilst
our SAVIOUR was upon earth, to give him an opportunity of displaying the
Divine Powers with which he was invested.

Alas! my brethren, human nature is just the same now, that it was then:
"the prince of the power of the air," and his infernal associates, are
as maliciously bent upon our destruction as ever they were; and the same
miraculous interposition of the same powerful and compassionate JESUS,
is still equally necessary for our security and relief. These spirits of
darkness are continually "walking about, seeking whom they may devour:"
they enter into all our worldly schemes and views; nay, they are
themselves frequently the first projectors of them: they enter into our
very blood and spirits, strive to gain possession of the very essence of
our souls, and to bring the whole man in subjection to their infernal
sway. They have deceived the wise men of this world, whom they have
taught to call them by some honourable appellation. Philosophy itself
seems, in some instances, to aid them in carrying on their dangerous
delusions. Pride, envy, covetousness, lust, malice, which are real
spirits of darkness, operating by real, though invisible, influences in
the human frame, have made their appearance in a fashionable dress, and
have been suffered to keep what is called the best company, when
introduced by the names of honour, decency, taste, dignity of sentiment,
virtuous resentment, free-thinking, and free-acting: they are, however,
devils in disguise, and are secretly undermining the real felicity of
man.

Had we such a view of their cruel treatment of us, as the father just
mentioned had of their treatment of his child, you may think, perhaps,
that we should take the same steps which he did, towards obtaining
relief. And what is it that hinders us from having such a view of our
real misery? What, but that fascinating charm, which these very spirits
throw before our eyes to deceive us? They surround every worldly object
with a false lustre, and thus dazzle, in order to ensnare. Yea, though
we frequently detect the imposture, a succeeding one blinds us again. A
future world lessens to our view, in proportion as we become attached to
the present. Nor is the charm totally dissolved, till, by frequent
disappointment and vexation, we have learned to read and understand the
true name and character of worldly bliss, even "Vanity of vanities!" As
long as we have Faith in this world, we can have no Faith in another; as
long as ever we "think ourselves whole," we shall not apply to a
physician, or have the least confidence in his skill.

But, blessed be GOD, there is a time, when the evil spirit tears and
wounds the child, and casts him into the fire, and into the water,
insomuch, that the affrighted parent is constrained to fly to JESUS for
aid. In pain, in sorrow, in distress, in temptation, or upon a sick and
dying bed, the sad effects of every diabolical delusion frequently
appear in their true colours. Though the infernal spirits themselves
then work within us with aggravated rage; though they seem to avail
themselves of our bodily indisposition, to storm the citadel of our
hearts; yet they are, in these instances, often egregiously deceived
themselves. The trembling sinner, destitute of every outward comfort,
which sun, and air, and animal spirits could give him, beholds every
sublunary object in its genuine colours, stripped of its false glare,
and emptied of its delusive treasure. He cries aloud for help?--"What
shall I do to be saved?" The Child of GOD, the offspring of Heaven
within me, will be torn to pieces and destroyed by the spirits of
darkness. LORD, if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on me and
help me! "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that
believeth," is the soft answer whispered to his soul. A beam of Heavenly
Light and Love accompanies it; sweet silence and stillness succeed; till
at length the soul, overpowered by an inexpressible sensibility of
meekness and humility, breaks forth in the language of my text, "Lord, I
believe, help thou mine unbelief!" The storm ceaseth; the evil spirits
are cast out, and the Child of GOD is delivered from their oppressive
bondage.

"Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief," should be the constant
language of every Christian's heart. No words can more emphatically
express the weakness of man, and his absolute resignation to the will of
GOD, than these: they take every thing from the creature, and give all
to the Creator. Whenever the human will is thus effectually turned to
GOD, it soon manifests its origin, as coming forth from the essentially
and eternally Free Will of GOD. It brings down Heaven into the soul; it
triumphs over all opposition; and, through the greatest weakness of
human nature, it evidences the all-conquering power of DIVINE LOVE.

Why then, O man! O Christian! Why shouldst thou despond in the hour of
trial? "Faith is, indeed, the gift of GOD;" but it is a gift, which he
bestoweth liberally upon all that ask it. Light and darkness, life and
death, heaven and hell, are set before us: freely to chuse, and freely
to reject, belongs to that free particle of the Divine Essence, which
"stirs within us." It was, originally, before the fall of man, the gift
of GOD IN CHRIST JESUS. It was the constitution of our nature in its
unfallen state: it was, if I may so speak, the Great Charter of Heaven,
freely delivered by the King of Heaven, to all his sons and subjects;
and though blotted, obliterated, lost by an original apostasy, it is now
restored, regained, and purchased by a REDEEMER'S blood.

Shall we then tamely suffer these Rights of Heaven to be invaded by the
powers of darkness? Shall we suffer the Child of GOD, the Redeemed of
the HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, to be taken captive by the armies of aliens?
Shall the splendor of accumulated wealth, the gay circle of worldly
pleasure, the tinsel trappings of honour, or the fading breath of
popular applause, make us forget our native home, forget that we are but
"strangers and pilgrims upon earth," and that we are "fellow-citizens
with the saints, and of the houshold of GOD?" Shall we continue the
willing slaves of the spirits of darkness, of pride, envy, covetousness
and wrath, whilst Heaven is declared to be our inheritance, and our
REDEEMER hath assured us, that we have "mansions prepared for our
reception in his Father's House."

Regardless, however, as many of you, my brethren, may be of these
illustrious privileges now, the time may come, when a proper sensibility
of your present bondage, will make you cry aloud for deliverance; when
the service of earth and hell will appear base, dishonourable, and
unworthy the free-born sons of Light.

When the good Providence of GOD, in kind commiseration of your secure
and thoughtless state, shall send sorrow and affliction to your houses
and to your hearts; when the shaft of anguish shall wound you, either in
your own persons, or in the persons of those whom you love; when duty,
when affection shall call you to some solemn death-bed scene, where you
shall behold expiring life just quivering upon the lips of a dear
departing friend or relative; or when your own frail tabernacles shall
be shaken by disease, and you shall feel death approaching to take
possession of the throne of life; when the counsels of the wise, and the
sorrows of the tender-hearted, can stand you in no stead; when the
immortal tenant of your earthly mansion is just ready to take his
flight, and stands trembling on the confines of a world unknown; at
these, or such like awful seasons, those amongst you, who have not
heretofore experienced the power of Divine Faith, will then, if ever, be
made sensible of your want of it. The visionary scene of earthly bliss
will vanish like a morning cloud, and deep heart-felt anguish will wring
the soul, and make it feel the full horrors of its bondage. But to
those, who have already tasted the comforts of religion, and who have
long been groaning for deliverance from the captivity of an evil nature,
and an evil world, Faith will open the doors of their prison, let in the
Light of Heaven as they are able to bear it, and sweetly sing this song
of consolation to their departing spirits: "I will ransom them from
death; I will redeem them from the power of the grave. O death! I will
be thy plague; O grave! I will be thy destruction."



                             DISCOURSE IX.
                The Flourishing State of the Regenerate.


PSALM i. VER. 3.

    "HE SHALL BE LIKE A TREE PLANTED BY THE RIVERS OF WATER, THAT
    BRINGETH FORTH HIS FRUIT IN HIS SEASON: HIS LEAF ALSO SHALL NOT
    WITHER, AND WHATSOEVER HE DOTH SHALL PROSPER."


Whatever seeming inequality there may be in the dispensations of the
Almighty, or however partial he may appear to the eye of human reason,
in his distribution of spiritual or temporal blessings among the sons of
men; it will, nevertheless, be found, at the consummation of the great
scheme of Providence; that he has done every thing "in number, weight,
and measure;" and that every part and period of the Divine
Administration hath been planned by unerring Wisdom, and conducted by
universal and impartial Love.

Minute philosophers, and men who value themselves upon what they call a
liberal and enlarged way of thinking, may imagine, that this is no more
than a religious dream; and argue, from present appearances, that "all
things happen alike unto all men, and that there is but one event to the
righteous and to the wicked, to him that serveth GOD, and to him that
serveth him not." But the Heaven-taught philosopher, whose inward eye is
illuminated from above, can see into the secret springs, by which the
vast machine is perpetually kept in motion, and by which all the
infinite variety of workings in intelligent and inanimate nature, are
rendered subservient to the Glory of GOD, and the final consummation of
his eternal plan in the supreme felicity of his creatures. By virtue of
that heavenly euphrasy with which his visual ray is purged and cleansed,
he sees, and is intimately convinced, that notwithstanding the frequent
vicissitudes with which the life of a good man is sadly checquered, he
is nevertheless "like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that
bringeth forth his fruit in his season; that his leaf also doth not
wither, and whatsoever he doth shall prosper."

There is a peculiar beauty and propriety in this similitude, and every
part of it bears a wonderful analogy to that spiritual life, into which
fallen man hath been reinstated by the MEDIATION OF THE SON OF GOD.

Man, by turning his will from his Maker, lost that paradisiacal glory,
in which he was originally created; and found nothing left, in its
stead, but a wrathful spirit within, and a dark disordered world
without. By this act of his own will, he transplanted his nature, if I
may so speak, from the delightful garden of Eden, in which the ALMIGHTY
had placed him, into the midst of a thorny barren desart. He deprived it
of all that nourishment it received from those waters of life, which
surrounded the blissful spot; and, in consequence, it must have been
parched up and have withered away, had not DIVINE LOVE affectionately
interposed, and put him once more into a capacity of recovering his lost
inheritance, and regaining the vital streams, by which alone his
heavenly nature could be preserved and cherished.

It is true, man still continues in the desart of fallen nature: the
first Adam is still condemned to till the ground from whence he was
taken. But the second Adam, the LORD from Heaven, hath caused those
rivers of water, which are solely at his disposal, to flow through the
dry and comfortless waste, that "the wilderness and solitary place might
thereby be made glad, and the desart rejoice and blossom like the rose."

When man, therefore, convinced of his dark and barren state by nature,
and the sovereign efficacy of these waters of life to chear and restore
him, freely opens his heart for their reception, he is then, indeed,
like "a tree planted by the rivers of water:" his roots shoot deep, and
his branches spread fair and luxuriant in the heavenly element: the
kindly moisture insinuates itself into every part, and leaves, and
flowers, and fruits, manifest the internal operation of the life-giving
stream.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches"--says the LORD OF LIFE.--"As the
branch cannot bear fruit, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye,
except ye abide in me." There must be an intimate union betwixt CHRIST
and his redeemed offspring; an union not suddenly formed, and as
suddenly broken, but piously and constantly maintained; an abiding
union, without which there can be no communication of his Heavenly
Virtues, and, consequently, no fruits of holiness. But wheresoever this
blessed union effectually takes place, the regenerated nature soon
springs forth; the bud, the blossom, the leaves, the fruits, all appear
in their proper season: the man of GOD stands forth content, and, like a
tree nourished by a living stream, imparts his refreshing shade, and
pleasant wholesome fruits, to all around.

Would you know what these fruits are? They are fully enumerated by the
Apostle, who tells us, that "the fruits of the SPIRIT are love, joy,
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness,
temperance." These fruits, says my text, are "brought forth in their
season." The sun must shine upon the tree, the air must breathe, the
dews and rains must descend, and the rivers of water must rise through
the roots into the trunk and branches. All this process must be
performed, before the fruit will appear.

It is just so with that "plant of celestial seed," which is sown in the
human heart. Meekness, humility, resignation, love, &c. are not the
growth of an hour: days, and months, and years, must pass, before they
will begin to appear. I well know, that the first faint manifestation of
these graces in an awakened soul, hath frequently been mistaken for the
whole of a sinner's conversion. It has been called the "Witness of the
SPIRIT," testifying to the sinner, that the act of his justification is
past, and that his pardon is sealed in the courts of Heaven. The Witness
of the SPIRIT it undoubtedly is, because it results from an union of the
human spirit with the Divine. And as the DIVINE SPIRIT is meekness and
love supreme, so it is no wonder that such an union should produce such
a spiritual sensation. But we are not to conclude from hence, that a
sudden, and seemingly instantaneous sensibility of Heavenly Peace and
Love, can be the whole of our conversion. It is, doubtless, a sweet
token of Divine Grace; an happy earnest of the residence of the DIVINE
SPIRIT, who, perhaps, for years before, had been seeking to manifest
himself in our hearts, and now gives this present consolation, as the
result of previous and frequent operations. Our salvation is so far from
depending upon these momentary sensations, that our LORD expressly
assures us, that though we are united to him by as intimate an union as
"the branches are to the vine;" yet, except "we abide in him, we shall
be cast as withered branches into the fire."

"Let him, then, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall." Let
us not value ourselves upon past experiences, or think that we are GOD'S
children, and that our names are indelibly written in his book of life,
merely because we were once under spiritual distress, and were once
rescued from it by the consolations of his SPIRIT. Nothing can preserve
us in a state of union with our Divine REDEEMER, but an inward, constant
thirsting after those "waters of life," which he alone can give us.
Whilst we stand before him in such a frame of soul, meekly and humbly
waiting for such portions of his Grace, as he sees necessary and
expedient to impart, we may then be assured, that "our leaf shall not
wither, and that whatsoever we do shall prosper." For when the will of
man coincides with the Divine Will, and is implicitly resigned thereto
in every situation, circumstance, and event of life, he must necessarily
prosper, because GOD wills nothing but Good, and Good Supreme is the aim
and end of all his dispensations.

Well, but say some, How can this be? Do we not daily see the best of
men, groaning under the most grievous calamities, pining away with
sickness, worn out with pain, or afflicted with some sad reverses of
fortune? On the other hand, do we not daily behold men, who shew not the
least regard to religion, who have no fear of GOD before their eyes, who
neither in private nor in public testify the least sense of their
dependance upon him, or their connexion with another world, who violate
his sabbaths, deride his Revelation, and scoff at every thing that bears
the appearance of seriousness or sobriety; do we not daily behold such
men advanced to the pinnacle of preferment, abounding in wealth,
favoured with health and strength, and surrounded with every good thing
this world can afford? Yes--we certainly do; and so did David many ages
since. But attend to David's reflections upon this subject, and you will
find them rational and satisfactory.

"I was grieved at the wicked: I do also see the ungodly in such
prosperity. For they are in no peril of health, but are lusty and
strong. They come in no misfortune like other folk, neither are they
plagued like other men. Lo, these are the ungodly; these prosper in the
world, and these have riches in possession: and I said, then have I
cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency. Yea, I had
almost said even as they; but lo, then I should have condemned the
generation of thy children. Then thought I to understand this, but it
was too hard for me, until I went into the sanctuary of GOD; then
understood I the end of these men, namely, that thou dost set them in
slippery places, and castest them down and destroyest them. O, how
suddenly do they consume, perish, and come to a fearful end!"

These are David's reflections on the condition of wicked men in his day;
and the experience of preceding, as well as of after-ages, does
abundantly confirm them. Vice will, sooner or later, meet with its
recompence, even in this world. But supposing this should not be the
case, and that good and righteous men should have a much larger share of
temporal misery than the wicked; yet it may with truth be said, that by
this very misery they prosper; yea, that their inward prosperity keeps
pace with their outward sufferings.

Every thing that has a tendency to disengage the heart and affections
from this transient scene of things, ought to be deemed a real blessing.
Now, who can deny, that sickness, pain, sorrow and affliction, have in
their very nature this tendency? and, when seen by the happy sufferer in
a true point of light, they never fail of producing this effect. Hence
it is, that many a pious soul is enabled to rejoice in such visitations,
and to thank GOD for them as the richer blessings: for, "though no
chastisement for the present is joyous, but rather grievous; yet it
afterwards yields the peaceable fruits of righteousness to those that
are exercised thereby." True it is, that the outward man suffers, and is
sadly weakened and distressed; but the Inward Man, the Child of GOD,
thrives and prospers. The riches of eternity appear more and more real,
in proportion as he discovers the vanity of time; and his disappointment
in any worldly concern, is sure to render him more prosperous and
successful in matters of eternal moment.

Alas! methinks I hear some say, it would be well if it were always so.
But are not many good men afflicted inwardly, as well as outwardly? Are
they not often destitute of spiritual as well as of worldly comforts?
Are not their souls as much bowed down by the weight of their sinful
nature, as their bodies by temporal evils and infirmities? And can these
men be said to "prosper in whatsoever they do?" Surely, they are alike
unfortunate with respect to the present and the future world.

Suspend thy judgment, poor partial observer! reason not from
appearances. Inward darkness, and distress, and anguish, are the proper
inlets through which the CHRIST OF GOD is received into the heavy-laden
soul. A sensibility of its burden makes it groan for relief: and the
very moment that "patience hath done its perfect work," and the human
will is thereby brought to yield itself with implicit resignation to its
GOD, the burden drops, and sweet peace and tranquillity of soul succeed.
GOD never willingly afflicts his children; he deals with them as a most
indulgent parent. Sin must be known and felt, before it can be shunned
and conquered. And it is by repeated strokes, that the wayward child is
taught to avoid what may prove injurious and destructive to its
happiness.

To conclude with the apt similitude of my text: the real Christian is
"like a tree planted by the rivers of water;" they afford it all the
nourishment that is necessary. The stormy wind and the beating rain,
while they try its strength, increase it; they make it cling closer to
the kindly soil, take deeper root, and bear fruit in greater abundance.
Thus, "all things work together for good, to them that love GOD;" and
"whatsoever they do," notwithstanding the many apparent disappointments
and disquietudes they meet with, "shall finally prosper," and terminate
in never-fading bliss.



                              DISCOURSE X.
          The Cause and Cure of the Disorders of Human Nature.


St. MARK, CHAP. vii. VER. 34.

    "AND LOOKING UP TO HEAVEN, HE SIGHED; AND SAITH UNTO HIM, EPHPHATHA!
    THAT IS, BE OPENED."


A serious and philosophical mind, contemplating the innumerable evils,
physical and moral, to which men are exposed during their short
continuance in this world, would very naturally conclude, that the
present state could not be that for which the ALMIGHTY originally
intended them. Storms and tempests, sickness and pain, darkness and
disorder, in the natural world; and the various and destructive effects
of pride, envy, covetousness, and wrath, in the moral world; are so
contrary to the Divine Nature, which is Life, Light, and Love, eternal
and unchangeable, that it would be almost blasphemy to say, that such a
system was the original finished workmanship of his adorable hand.

To such contemplations as these, philosophy might lead her sober
votary--But Divine Revelation alone can carry him back to the origin of
things, and give him the true information with respect to their present
appearances. By this we learn, that the beautiful order and harmony of
creation were marred by the creature's transgression; who turning his
will from the source of infinite GOODNESS, lost that first gate in which
his Maker had placed him, and wherein all was light and joy; and found
himself in subjection to an evil nature within, and a world of darkness
and distress without. By this Revelation also we are informed, that
nothing less than a return to his Original Source, could reinstate him
in his original bliss; that this return could be rendered possible in no
other way, than by a ray, a spark, a seed, an earnest, a taste or touch
of his first life, imparted or inspoken into his fallen nature by the
GOD OF LOVE, to be gradually opened and unfolded by such a Redeeming
Process, as, with the co-operation of his own will, would effectually
restore him to his primeval felicity; and that this was undertaken, and
only could be undertaken and accomplished, by that ETERNAL SON OF THE
FATHER, in and by whom man was originally created, and in and by whom
alone he could be redeemed.

Accordingly we find, that when this Express Image of the Hidden Deity
appeared on earth, cloathed in our fallen flesh and blood, he was
invested with an absolute and uncontroulable power and authority over
the whole system of temporary nature. His wonder-working Fiat was
sufficient to calm, in an instant, the most aggravated fury of the winds
and seas; and, as proceeding from the same wrathful source, to assuage
the violence of raging fevers; to heal, by a mere touch, by a word, the
most inveterate diseases; and to restore every organ of sense, which had
been injured or destroyed, to its true state, and proper use and
function. And as all outward disorders primarily proceed from a wrong
state of the human spirit, his influence pervaded the inmost recesses of
the soul, and awakened and called forth that precious spark of his own
Heavenly Fire, which had lain buried under the ashes of sin; and bade it
enlighten, invigorate, and restore health and peace to, the whole man.

The gospel for the day presents us with a very remarkable instance of
the amazing effects of these redeeming powers--"JESUS, departing from
the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, came unto the sea of Galilee, through the
midst of the coasts of Decapolis: and they bring unto him one that was
deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put
his hand upon him. And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his
fingers into his ears, and he spit and touched his tongue: and looking
up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha! that is, Be
opened!"

There are three circumstances in this miraculous cure worthy of our
serious attention, viz. the looking up to heaven, the sigh, and the
Ephphatha.

I. The looking up to heaven, was beautifully expressive of the real
situation, in which this great Restorer of human nature stood before his
Heavenly Father. It was intended, no doubt, to communicate to every
attentive observer, this great lesson of instruction; that all the
powers and virtues of which he was possessed, came down from above; that
they were communicated to him "without measure;" and that he could have
no authority over the evils of human life, so as either to mitigate or
remove them, but by standing continually in the Heavenly World,
inspiring its air, receiving its beams of light and love, and sending
them forth into every human heart, that was truly desirous of their
salutary influence; and that it was by such a communication alone, that
he should be enabled to restore hearing and speech to the unhappy
patient they had brought before him.

II. This look was accompanied with a sigh. A sigh seems to indicate
distress. An anxious oppressed and afflicted heart is sometimes so full,
as to deprive the tongue of the power of utterance; it vents itself,
therefore, in a sigh. But what could oppress or afflict the heart of the
Meek and Innocent JESUS? His body, though a fallen one, does not seem to
have been sick or in pain; his soul was sweetly attempered to Divine
Love, and could have felt nothing but inward peace and serenity--and
yet, he sighs!--The poor deaf and dumb sinner, who stood before him, had
reason enough to sigh: but he was insensible of his misery, and
therefore sought not for relief. The truth is this: The BLESSED JESUS,
as the Second Adam, the Father and Regenerator of our whole lapsed race,
voluntarily assumed our nature, and became as intimately united to it,
as the head to the members of the body. In consequence of this union,
"he knows whereof we are made, he remembers that we are but dust." His
sympathetic heart is sensible of every want and distress of every son
and daughter of Adam. He is persecuted with the church that Saul
persecuteth; and who--"so toucheth his children, toucheth the apple of
his eye." Yea, he feels for those, who feel not for themselves; and
sighs over the sad state of those, who are blind to their true
happiness; "who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for
light, and light for darkness."

It was from such a tender sensibility of human woe, that our Lord
sighed; whilst he was preparing to perform this miracle of love. This
look, this sigh, seem to have uttered some such language as this: "O
Heavenly Father! I am come into this world to fulfil thy blessed will,
in the restoration of fallen men to their primeval light and glory. My
desire of accomplishing this great work, which is continually called
forth by a general view of their complicated misery, as well as by the
particular wants and distresses of individuals, now solicits, in favour
of the poor mortal that stands before me, the application of those
healing powers, which I have received from thee!" This expression of our
LORD'S desire, coinciding with the Eternal Will to All Goodness,
immediately produced the Divine Ephphatha.

III. "And he saith unto him, Ephphatha! that is, Be opened." Whatever
salutary efficacy there may be in medicine, it must proceed from that
Heavenly virtue, which rises from the re-union of divided properties.
This re-union is the source of health, and the restoration of aught that
may be impaired in any of our outward organs, or inward faculties. To
him, who had all nature under his controul, who knew how to bring
together and unite, in an instant, those properties which have been
separated, a single word, the mere motion of his will, was sufficient to
produce the desired effect. The same Majesty that said, "Let there be
light!" when "darkness was upon the face of the deep," now uttered the
authoritative cure, "Be opened!" The injured organs were instantly
renewed; "his ears were opened, the string of his tongue was loosed, and
he spake plain."

The same Supernatural Powers, which the BLESSED JESUS displayed upon
this occasion, he still continues to exercise in the hearts of his
redeemed offspring. This look, this sigh, this Ephphatha, is spiritually
fulfilled in the relief of every one, who is convinced of his spiritual
disorders, and applies to CHRIST for a cure.

Deaf and dumb with respect to our inward and spiritual senses, we all
are by nature. We can hear and speak, in deed, of worldly things, with a
quickness and facility, which manifests, in innumerable instances, the
strong attraction by which they hold our attention and affections. The
calls of business and of pleasure, we are ever ready to answer: our
earthly senses are continually open; but our heavenly faculties are
closed by a thousand obstructions, which we suffer the world, the flesh,
and the devil, to form in our hearts.

The great Shepherd of Israel, who is perpetually employed in "seeking
and saving that which was lost," makes use of a variety of means and
methods to bring the soul to a conviction of its loss. The efficacy of
these depends, indeed, upon the concurrence of the human will; because
nothing can come into the soul, but what itself wills or desires. The
different dispensations of Providence are wisely and affectionately
adapted to the different circumstances of individuals: the end and
design of them all is one and the same, viz. to bring the wandering
creature to a sense of his deviations, and "to guide his feet into the
ways of peace."

By whatever means this conviction is wrought, the soul soon becomes
sensible of its mistaken choice, and soon determines to withhold its
attention from the calls of earthly objects. In vain does the Syren sing
her delusive song; it ceases now to charm; for the finger of GOD stops
the outward ear, that the inward ear may be opened to a sweeter note.
The awakened sinner "looks up and lifts up his head, for his redemption
draweth nigh"--looks up to Heaven--For what? for the healing hand of his
Redeemer to interpose, and remove every remaining obstruction--looks up,
and sighs--No desire of deliverance, without a previous sensibility of
distress--a sigh is the true language of desire; it is more effectual
than long prayer; it is prayer itself, in its true spirit: words do
frequently render it less spiritual. The sigh of a contrite sinner
brings down Heaven into his heart. JESUS often sighed. He loves a sigh;
it invites him into his own Temple; and "Ephphatha, Be opened!" is the
blessed voice that precedes his salutary entrance.

Be opened!--Opened, to what?--To the Harmony of Heaven; to the
symphonies of angels; to "the Voice of the Bridegroom." "The marriage of
the Lamb" is come; the Bride is prepared; the silver chord is tried; the
blessed union is completed! The soul is now all eye, all ear, all heart,
all tongue; and eye, and ear, and heart, and tongue, are all employed in
receiving the gifts and graces, and celebrating the beauties and
perfections of him, who is "fairest among ten thousand, who is
altogether lovely."

O BLESSED JESUS! vouchsafe, we beseech thee, so to manifest thy power in
opening our ears, and loosing our tongues, that we may henceforth hear
no voice but thine, and offer up our sacrifice of praise and
thanksgiving to none but thee, who, with the FATHER and the HOLY SPIRIT,
art ONE GOD, blessed for evermore!



                             DISCOURSE XI.
                 The Riches and Glory of the Christian.


1 COR. CHAP. iii. VER. 21, 22, 23.

    "THEREFORE, LET NO MAN GLORY IN MEN. FOR ALL THINGS ARE YOURS;
    WHETHER PAUL, OR APOLLOS, OR CEPHAS, OR THE WORLD, OR LIFE, OR
    DEATH, OR THINGS PRESENT, OR THINGS TO COME; ALL ARE YOURS, AND YE
    ARE CHRIST'S, AND CHRIST IS GOD'S."


These words contain a complete and beautiful enumeration of those
distinguishing privileges to which human nature is exalted, by virtue of
that glorious plan of Redemption, which JESUS CHRIST THE SON OF GOD hath
accomplished for our whole fallen race. They were occasioned by some
little jealousies and envyings, which had broken out among the
Corinthians, in consequence of an undue attachment to particular
apostles and preachers of the gospel; some declaring themselves
publickly in favour of one, and some of another; some saying they were
of Paul, others of Apollos, and others of Cephas. Upon this occasion the
blessed Apostle, in the true spirit of Christian Love, and free
disinterested impartial Charity, reminds them of this grand and
important truth, "that no man can lay any other foundation, than that is
laid, even JESUS CHRIST;" that whatever difference there might be in the
particular gifts and talents of their different preachers, yet no
preference was to be given on this account, but their attention was
solely to be directed to those fundamental principles, which all were
labouring to inculcate, though all were not equally agreeable and
captivating in their modes of communication and address. These
differences were to be considered as accidental and external, and by no
means sufficient to warrant any partial personal distinctions. He makes
use of a variety of the most sensible and cogent arguments, to dissuade
them from a conduct so illiberal and unchristian; and in order most
effectually to silence such a spirit of contention, he reminds them, in
my text, of the high and exalted privileges to which they themselves
were called in CHRIST JESUS--"Therefore let no man glory in men." As if
he had said:

Let none of you value yourselves upon your personal attachment to this
or that favourite Apostle; let none of you boast of the superior
spiritual excellencies of those particular teachers, to whom you have
fondly surrendered your affections; or look upon the spiritual knowledge
you have acquired, as proceeding from any powers or virtues in them,
superior to those of their brethren: for let me assure you, such vain
distinctions are beneath the character of those, who are themselves
united to that very Source and Fountain, from whence the living streams
of real knowledge, holiness, and happiness, do alone proceed: "For all
things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or
life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and
ye are CHRIST'S, and CHRIST is GOD'S."

What a glorious inheritance is here! the whole universe of things
declared to belong to the Redeemed Race of Adam! No prophecy is of
private interpretation. From the beginning to the end of the Bible,
every prediction, every promise, every truth therein delivered, equally
belongs to every individual of the human race: they are addressed to all
without exception. What a senseless distinction then is that, which some
narrow minds have adopted, and are fond of propagating, that the
promises of Scripture are made to none but believers? Whereas, these
promises are the very foundation of every one's faith, and the ground
upon which every one's hope of Salvation rests.

No son of fallen Adam can apply for pardon upon any other ground, than
that the promises of Scripture, which are founded upon the Universal and
Impartial Love of God, are made to him, and every other person in the
like circumstances. His faith in these promises makes a glorious change,
with respect to himself; but, on the part of GOD, who is "the same
yesterday, to-day, and for ever," they were made to him before he
believed, or thought any thing about them: "We love him, because he
first loved us." He hath elected all mankind to salvation, in his Son
JESUS CHRIST. An immortal inheritance is secured to all, by the Merits
of this BLESSED MEDIATOR; and if any fall short of this salvation, or
lose their inheritance, the blame must lie at their own door: "They
would not come to CHRIST, that they might have life."

Should an affectionate parent, with the utmost care and anxiety, make
such an ample provision for the sober and virtuous education of his
children, as, if accepted and improved by them, would secure to them
knowledge, esteem, and happiness in this world; would not such a parent
be thought to have done all that love and tenderness could do in this
respect, for the future welfare of his offspring? The provision is
equally secured to all; and yet, if any thoughtless, perverse,
disobedient child, should refuse to avail himself of these paternal
blessings, and prefer an idle, dissolute, and abandoned life, to all the
advantages which the father had taken care he should be furnished with,
he might justly be told, as the Apostle tells the Corinthians--"All
these things are yours." Your Father hath made you equal with the rest
of his children--knowledge, esteem, and happiness, is as much in your
power as in theirs; your falling short of them, therefore, is owing to
nothing but your own perverse disposition--"they are yours," but you
will not enjoy them.

The same might be said of a temporal inheritance equally divided among a
family of children; each has an equal portion: and yet if any child
should be so weak and silly, as to chuse to forego the enjoyment of his
share, and prefer penury and contempt to opulence and honour, he might
still be told, that the portion was his, though he was so foolish as to
neglect and forsake it.

Even so, "an inheritance incorruptible, immortal, and that fadeth not
away," is secured, in CHRIST JESUS, to every individual of our fallen
race: "All things are ours," by virtue of that Heavenly nature, which we
inherit from JESUS CHRIST the second Adam. Upon the birth, growth, and
maturity of this Heavenly Nature, depends our possession of this Eternal
Inheritance; and this birth, growth, and maturity again depend upon the
co-operation of our wills, which are eternally and essentially free,
with the Divine Will.

What I have here asserted, is fully consonant to the very letter of
Scripture: "GOD is not willing that any should perish, but that all
should come to repentance." But if GOD is willing to save all, Why are
not all saved? Why do not all men come immediately to repentance?--The
reason is obvious: it depends not, as some vainly assert, upon a Secret
Will of GOD, distinct from his Revealed Will. Such an idea of the GOD OF
TRUTH AND LOVE, is unscriptural, and even blasphemous--No, it depends
wholly upon the co-operation of our wills, with the unchangeable Will of
GOD. The promise is made to all; the inheritance is secured to all; but
the possession and enjoyment can never come, till the will of the
creature is united to the will of the Creator; till from a deep
conviction of his own nothingness by nature, he freely opens his heart
to the influences of Grace--and then he finds, by a blessed experience,
that, "having nothing, he possesseth all things."

When a minister of CHRIST, therefore, addresses himself to a sinner,
insensible of his fallen condition, and strongly attached to that
earthly life, which he inherits from fallen Adam, he cannot use a more
effectual argument, than that which the Apostle in my text presses upon
the divided and contentious Corinthians--For so far as these jealousies
and disputes prevailed among them, they were doubtless under the evil
influences of the same corrupt nature, to which the unregenerate are in
bondage.

Why, vain mortal, why, alas! art thou so strangely blind to thy best
interests, so amazingly neglectful of thy real happiness? Thou fleest
from the substance, and embracest a shadow; thou pursuest the vanity of
time, and despisest the riches of eternity; thou preferrest the life of
a beast to the life of an angel; thou art content to feed upon husks
among swine, whilst in "thy Father's house there is bread enough, and to
spare."--Thou art in search of a false and delusive happiness in this
world, whilst, if thou wouldst but attend to and "know the things that
belong to thy peace," thou wouldst soon discover, that "all things are
thine." For poor, wretched, sinful, polluted as thou art in thine
outward nature, thou hast, within thee, a Seed of Eternal Life, a Birth
of the TRIUNE GOD, a Son of the Second Adam, a Reconception of the Light
and Love of GOD, an Angel near its birth. To this seed, this birth, this
son, this reconception, this angel in thy breast, belongs the Kingdom of
Heaven, the pure element of Life, and Light, and Love. JESUS CHRIST, thy
Ever Blessed Redeemer, hath sown in thy heart, and in the hearts of all
thy fellow-sinners, this Seed of his own Heavenly Nature, by means of
which, he affectionately purposes to redeem thee from the bondage of
corruption, and exalt thee to a glorious state of life and liberty. As
he is invested with "all power both in heaven and in earth," so this
offspring of his, which is within thee, will become a partaker of his
Power, in proportion as it becomes a partaker of his Life and Spirit, in
proportion as it increases in Heavenly Wisdom and Stature.

If thou shouldst ask, how this growth and increase is to be obtained,
and how all things are thine?--I could answer thee, that as the
earth-born babe could never grow and increase in bodily strength,
without a perpetual supply of the light, and air, and food, which this
outward world affords; so it is as really and physically true, that the
Heaven-born offspring of the Second Adam, can never grow or increase in
spiritual strength, without the light, and air, and food of the heavenly
world, imparted by its tender and affectionate parent, JESUS CHRIST: and
as nothing disposes the earthly infant to receive that nourishment which
is suited to its nature, but the hunger of that nature, earnestly crying
for a supply; so nothing can dispose the Heavenly babe within, to
receive the precious influences of Divine Life and Grace, which alone
can satisfy its nature, but an hunger and earnest desire of this
Heavenly Food; or, in other words, the spirit of the will turning to
CHRIST, loathing all other nourishment, and desiring only to be fed with
his Bread of Eternal Life.

Thus fed, supported, and strengthened, by a Vital Union with thine
adorable REDEEMER, thou standest not in thine own strength, but in his;
not in thine own righteousness, but the Righteousness of CHRIST within
thee; not in thine outward and perishing nature, but in thy inward,
Angelical, and Divine Nature. In this nature, sweetly mingling with its
own kindred element, thou art safe, firm and collected; all temporal
objects are beneath thy feet; like Adam in his paradisiacal state, the
earth, and all that is therein, is subject to thy will. Health and
sickness, prosperity and adversity, storms and calms, spiritual comforts
or spiritual distresses, the vicissitudes of life, the horrors of death,
the vanity of time, and the riches of eternity, are all at thy command,
and thou makest them all subservient to thy spiritual growth and
consolation.

All these powers, virtues, and enjoyments, are thine; thine by the Free
Gift of GOD in CHRIST JESUS, imparted to thee; and made thine, at the
very moment the "Seed of the Woman" was inspoken into Adam's fallen
nature. It is true, they are in an hidden state, and require the
strongest exertion of thy will co-operating with thy Saviour, in calling
them forth. They can only appear and manifest themselves, in proportion
as thy will is given up to CHRIST, in proportion as thou diest to thine
earthly nature, and its earthly desires, and becomest one Desire, one
Will, one Spirit with thy REDEEMER. This is not a sudden and
instantaneous work: the process is slow and painful. Many a right hand
must be cut off; many a right eye must be plucked out; many a favourite
passion must be sacrificed, many a weary step taken, many a temptation
baffled, many a victory obtained against the devil, the world, and the
flesh, before "all things are thine" by actual possession.

The combat is tedious, and the victory sometimes appears doubtful. But
be not discouraged at this--darkness as well as light, doubt as well as
assurance, weakness as well as strength, will help thee on thy way. Thy
REDEEMER is perpetually watching over his own offspring; he eyes thee
with ineffable compassion throughout thy whole progress, and renders all
its vicissitudes subservient to thy real and eternal welfare.

Think not, that it is necessary to thy spiritual growth, that thou
shouldst walk in perpetual sun-shine, beneath a clear unclouded sky. The
howling winds, the beating rain, are equally necessary at times; and are
as powerful and operative in spiritual, as in earthly vegetation.
Through these, and worse than these, even the gloomy vale of the shadow
of death, the invisible hand of an Omnipotent REDEEMER shall conduct
thee safe to a region of uncreated light and glory, where eternal
nature, in its essential and unchangeable splendors, manifests the
Beatifying Presence of FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST, in their full and
undivided Trinity of Glory.

What though pain of body, and inward anguish of soul, should assault
thee; what though disease should blast the bloom of health, and
convulsion rack and rend thine earthly frame; what though death, with
all his grim attendants, should knock at thy door, summon thee to
relinquish all thy temporal prospects, and to enter at once into the
world of spirits; this single reflection, that CHRIST has made "all
things thine," will be sufficient to support thy sinking frame; nay,
more, thou wilt rejoice in thy deliverance from the captivity of the
body, look forward with transport into the Paradise to which thou art
hastening, nor "cast one longing lingering look behind."

Such an address as this, from a minister of CHRIST, to a poor
thoughtless sinner, I cannot but think, by the blessing of GOD, would
have a more sure and certain effect upon his hardened heart, than all
the terrors of eternal damnation, thundered, as is too frequently the
case, with more than brutal violence and impetuosity against him. For
such a method would open two things to his mind, which are equally
necessary to be revealed to him, neither of which he can attend to in
his present thoughtless condition, viz. the sin and vanity of his fallen
life, and the comfort, happiness, and glory of his redeemed nature--one
should never be opened without the other: it would only be probing the
wound, without administring the restoring balsam. This method which I
have mentioned, was that which our dear REDEEMER and his blessed
Apostles always used; and if Christian ministers would more carefully
tread in their footsteps, they might be sure of greater success: not
perhaps in the way of extraordinary awakenings, violent convictions, and
instantaneous joys; but in the still, calm, and soothing ways of the
Gospel of Peace and Love.

We should never tell the sinner, that he is by nature under the bondage
of the devil, the world, and the flesh, without acquainting him, that he
has in him an High and Heavenly Nature, to which he would do well to
attend, as to a Light shining in the midst of his darkness: When we
point out the destructive consequences of sin, we should enlarge at the
same time upon the delights of holiness, and the exalted privileges of
those that follow it. Thus we should imitate the Apostle in my text,
who, upon giving this advice to his Corinthian brethren, "Let no man
glory in men," immediately adds this high and encouraging motive to
their practice of it, "For all things are yours."



                             DISCOURSE XII.
                 The Riches and Glory of the Christian.


1 CORINTH. CHAP. iii. VER. 21, 22, 23.

    "THEREFORE LET NO MAN GLORY IN MEN: FOR ALL THINGS ARE YOURS;
    WHETHER PAUL, OR APOLLOS, OR CEPHAS, OR THE WORLD, OR LIFE, OR
    DEATH, OR THINGS PRESENT, OR THINGS TO COME; ALL ARE YOURS, AND YE
    ARE CHRIST'S, AND CHRIST IS GOD'S."


My former discourse from these words contained a general view of the
Apostle's reasoning in this chapter. I observed, that this part of his
epistle was occasioned by some envyings and jealousies which had crept
into the Corinthian church, in consequence of an undue distinction and
preference which different persons had shewn to different Apostles and
Preachers of the Gospel; and that, in order to silence these
controversies, the Apostle, after a variety of other excellent
arguments, concludes with enumerating the high and distinguishing
Privileges, to which the Corinthians themselves were called, in common
with those very teachers, whose excellencies they were so injudiciously
magnifying.

He tells them, that they ought not to "glory in men;" that is, to boast
of the superior excellencies of this or that favourite Preacher, because
"all things were theirs;" that by virtue of that Heavenly Nature, which
they, as well as their teachers, inherited from JESUS CHRIST, the Second
Adam, they were provided with a glorious inheritance, and invested with
high powers and privileges, whereby this world, and every thing in it,
was subject to their will, when in union and co-operation with the
Eternal and Unchangeable Will of their REDEEMER: so that all personal
distinctions among men, all personal admiration of their peculiar
talents and most shining endowments, were beneath the character of such
high-born souls, and ought not to come into competition with the
Heavenly Graces of love, meekness, humility, mutual forbearance,
condescension and peace, by which alone the dignity of their birth could
be asserted, and the actual possession of their spiritual privileges
known and ascertained.

I endeavoured likewise to explain to you, the glorious and comfortable
meaning and import of this general proposition of the Apostle, "All
things are yours:" and shewed, by several similitudes and observations,
that this was not only applicable to the Corinthians, and the most
effectual motive that the Apostle could make use of, to disengage them
from their narrow and carnal notions and jealousies, but that it is
equally applicable to all men, at all times, and in all places and
circumstances; and the most effectual method that a Minister of CHRIST
can make use of, to awaken thoughtless sinners, and engage them to
pursue the things that belong to their peace.

Let me now, therefore, entreat your attention, whilst I enter upon the
consideration of those particular Privileges, which are enumerated under
this general head.

As the immediate design of the Apostle, upon this occasion, was to put
an end to that strife and division, which subsisted among them from the
attachment of different persons to different preachers, so the first
Privilege he mentions, is this, that in whatever light they might
confider the matter, these Apostles and Preachers were nothing in
themselves, but were furnished with peculiar talents and endowments for
the service of their brethren: they were "theirs," because instruments
in the hands of Heaven, to awaken their attention, and engage their
pursuit of real spiritual knowledge and happiness; and they were only to
be considered in this light, without any other personal respect and
veneration, than that which their character, as instruments, might
claim: for "all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas."

That this is a true and just representation of the Apostle's design, we
may learn from his reasoning in the preceding part of the chapter. He
charges them with acting under the immediate influence of earthly and
carnal motives; and though he had adapted his preaching to their slender
capacities, though he had fed them with milk, as being yet in the Rate
of infants, and incapable of receiving or digesting the strong meat of
the great and glorious mysteries of the Gospel, yet they did not profit
even by this; for they had acquired no new spiritual strength from
thence; nay, they not only remained in their infant state, unable to
bear a further revelation of Gospel Truth, but gave themselves up again
to the principles and dictates of corrupt nature. "Ye are yet carnal:
for whereas there is among you envyings, and strife, and divisions, are
ye not carnal, and walk as men?--For while one faith, I am of Paul, and
another I am of Apollos, are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is
Apollos, but ministers, by whom ye believed, even as the LORD gave to
every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but GOD gave the increase.
So then neither he that planteth is any thing, neither he that watereth,
but GOD who giveth the increase. Now he that planteth, and he that
watereth, are one." As if he had said:

I am truly sorry, O Corinthians! to find that such unexpected
animosities have risen among you: they are too flagrant proofs of your
deviation from that path of Gospel Truth and Love, into which you had
but just entered. Certain, indeed, it is, that I have laboured among you
with unceasing vigilance and care; and "by the Grace of GOD that was
given me," have planted a Church of CHRIST in the midst of you. The glad
tidings of the Gospel were sent from my lips to your awakened hearts:
you were taught to see, and feel, and relinquish the vanity and
corruption of your fallen life, and to look for and experience the birth
and growth of an Heavenly Nature within you. To this Heavenly Nature, I
administered much mild and gentle food and nourishment, as I knew was
best suited to its tender opening state. In this situation I left you to
the Grace of CHRIST, and the affectionate labours of those other
Apostles and preachers; who seconded my ministry among you. The labours
of Apollos and Cephas were as necessary to your growth in Grace, as
mine: for as ye "are GOD'S husbandry, as ye are GOD'S building," so GOD
hath bestowed different talents and endowments on those several
labourers or workmen, whom he chooses to employ for the culture of his
vineyard, and for the progress and completion of his great spiritual
edifice. "We are all, therefore, labourers together with GOD:" We have
all our different tasks allotted us by the great Husband-man and
Master-builder, under whom we labour, and from whom alone we receive
strength and wisdom to execute his will. My business was to plant,
Apollos's to water; but what could it avail to plant or to water, unless
GOD gave the increase? The Sun of Righteousness must shed his genial
light and warmth, and the Divine Spirit must breathe its refreshing
gales upon the tender plants, or they will wither and die. "He that
planteth, and he that watereth, therefore, are one," united in the same
blessed work. The culture, growth, and perfection of the plant, are
equally the care and concern of both, though their business or
employment in this work be different. Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, are
only "ministers, by whom ye believed, even as the LORD gave to every
man," and prospered their several labours. Paul, and Apollos, and
Cephas, are yours: they are equally concerned, and equally laborious,
for your Growth in Grace, though their particular talents and exercises
may be different. Away then with your vain and unchristian distinctions!
for the planter, and the waterer, are equally necessary, and equally
estimable. Consider them always in these characters; entertain an equal
love and respect for them all; and beg of your Heavenly Father to give
increase to their respective labours."

I need not take up your time,--my brethren, in endeavouring to ascertain
the peculiar and characteristical gifts of these several Apostles: this
would neither augment, nor diminish the weight of the argument. Whatever
these gifts were, they were not their own, but only intrusted to them by
JESUS CHRIST, for accomplishing his own wise and salutary purposes
towards the children of men. Some might be eminent for one kind of
usefulness, and some for another. But it is probable, that those who
possessed such talents, as most captivated the attention and affections
of animal nature, were most followed; and this merely on account of the
talents themselves, without any respect to those spiritual salutary
truths, which, through them, were intended to be conveyed to the
hearers.

This conduct, however, is not peculiar to the Corinthians. The same evil
carnal principle, that raised so many unchristian animosities in that
infant church, has ever since been working in every part of Christendom.
It is the fatal source of all that variety of sects, opinions, and
doctrines, into which the outward church has been, and is still, sadly
divided. But Truth is One--it has been so from the beginning, and will
continue so for ever. The different sentiments and conceptions of
mankind about Truth, can no more alter its nature, or make it cease to
be what it is, than the looking through a variety of glasses of
different colours, forms, and densities, can change the real colour,
form, and proportion of objects. Every man admires and esteems his own
glass most; and not content with this, quarrels with his neighbour,
because he does not make use of it as well as himself. This is but too
true a picture of the present state of Christianity--while its
professors are disputing and differing about their own peculiar opinions
and notions of Truth, which are no better than the glasses through which
they contemplate it, they lose sight of the fair and beauteous object
itself.

The ministers of JESUS CHRIST ought to have but one end in view, and
that is, the conversion of hearts to his Redeeming Love. Their talents
for this great work may differ as much as their persons; but by this
diversity of gifts, they are better enabled to do the different kinds of
work that are necessary to be done in their master's vineyard. They
should be careful, however, not to run before they are sent, not to
intrude upon the labours of their brethren, but be content to be
employed in a way suitable to their peculiar talents, and in the field
which Heaven hath assigned them. He that planteth, should be sent out
only to plant; he that watereth, to water; he that giveth milk, should
continue to give it till he has something stronger to give, and his
hearers are better able to receive it. At the same time, neither he that
planteth, nor he that watereth, neither he that giveth milk, nor he that
giveth strong meat, should interfere with, depreciate, or counter-act
each other's peculiar work; but rather should faithfully and lovingly
co-operate, each in the use of his particular gifts and experiences, to
edify and perfect the body of CHRIST.

Were ministers thus tender, charitable, affectionate, and helpful to
each other; were they truly fellow-labourers in CHRIST; it is more than
probable, that there would be less divisions and jealousies among the
people. Much depends, under GOD, upon their prudence and-forbearance
with respect to each other: and though such is the corruption and
perverseness of human nature, that the closest union among themselves
may not entirely prevent disputes among their hearers (as was the case
at Corinth, though the Apostles did, no doubt, affectionately harmonize
in all their labours) yet such an union would have a great tendency to
heal or disperse them.

But how dreadful must be the consequences, when any ambitious aspiring
preachers do themselves raise and foment these divisions; when they
limit the Mercies of JESUS, and call upon men to join and associate
themselves to their particular sect or party; as if the streams of
Spiritual Life had left every other channel which Providence had opened,
and, by their direction, taken entirely to one of their own
construction! If a preacher of this class happens to possess any popular
talents, he is capable of abusing them to great mischief--to impose his
own doctrines and opinions upon the ignorant multitude, by first
captivating their passions, and then leading their judgments and
consciences as he pleases. Many a soul has been awakened, indeed, under
such preachers, but few have attained to any solid or substantial piety.
Their minds have been kept in bondage to certain peculiarities of
doctrine and practice, but their hearts and wills have never been
surrendered to their true and only Master JESUS CHRIST. They have
blindly followed the commandments of men, of their clamorous and
enflamed leaders; but have neglected the weightier matters of Love,
Peace, and Spiritual Union with CHRIST and all true Christians. Paul,
Apollos, or Cephas, they are ready enough to magnify and extol: but the
Master of Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, they too easily forget--their
attention and affections are too much engaged by the instrument, to
observe and adore the Hand by which it is, or ought to be, directed.

To conclude this head: As the best of teachers, even the Apostles
themselves, found it so difficult to controul the passions and
prejudices of men, and disengage them from partial distinctions and
preferences among their ministers; how careful should all ministers be,
to inculcate the Apostolical doctrine contained in this chapter, upon
their hearers! to caution them against depending upon, or glorying in
man; against trusting to the piety, zeal, or elocution, of the most
liberal teachers, and much more against giving up their consciences to
those, whose views are partial and confined, and who publickly avow them
to be such, by endeavouring to draw a deluded multitude into the narrow
limits of their own misguided sect. How often should they remind their
hearers, that they are no more than their servants, men of like passions
with themselves, though selected by Divine Providence to convey the glad
tidings of Salvation to their hearts: that they can, at most, but plant
and water; nor even this, without the continuance of Divine assistance;
but that it is to GOD alone they must look for the increase!

O my brethren! let these truths sink deep into your hearts. Without a
thorough conviction of them, all the preaching in the world will be of
no service to you. You may hear a sermon every day, and every hour in
the week, and be as far from CHRIST as ever, if you continue to depend
upon preaching and preachers alone for your salvation. The utmost they
can do, is to direct you to CHRIST. Regard them only when they give you
this advice. Value them not for their natural or even spiritual
endowments; you may be deceived in both. The surest and most profitable
way you can take, is to consider them as mere planters and waterers; and
to follow them, so far only as they follow CHRIST.



                            DISCOURSE XIII.
         The Riches, Privileges, and Honours of the Christian.


1 COR. CHAP. iii. VER. 21, 22, 23.

    "THEREFORE LET NO MAN GLORY IN MEN: FOR ALL THINGS ARE YOURS;
    WHETHER PAUL, OR APOLLOS, OR CEPHAS, OR THE WORLD, OR LIFE, OR
    DEATH, OR THINGS PRESENT, OR THINGS TO COME; ALL ARE YOURS, AND YE
    ARE CHRIST'S, AND CHRIST IS GOD'S."


The scope and design of the Blessed Apostle in this passage of his
epistle, together with the true meaning and import of his general
proposition, "All things are yours," hath been already explained in my
first discourse from these words. In my second discourse, I entered upon
the consideration of those particular privileges of the Christian, which
are enumerated under this general head: And as the first of these
privileges had a more immediate and striking reference to the great end
he here had in view, which was to convince the Corinthians of the sin
and folly of attaching themselves to particular and favourite preachers;
I enlarged upon this head, and endeavoured to prove, that Paul, and
Apollos, and Cephas, and all other ministers of the Gospel, were no more
than the servants of their brethren; that they were "theirs" by a
particular privilege, inasmuch as their office, their labours, talents,
and several endowments, were entrusted to them for no other purpose, but
that God, through them, might communicate "the unspeakable riches of his
Grace" to the whole body of Christians. In this character, and in this
alone, they were all equally entitled to their esteem and love, but not
to any personal preference, or undue exaltation of one above another.

Not content with this, however, the good Apostle, under the full
inspiration of Divine Truth, and the glorious enlargement of Divine
Love, breaks forth into a further declaration of those still higher
privileges, to which the meanest member of the church of CHRIST is
equally and in common entitled, with the greatest and most advanced
believers: not only "Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, are yours; but the
world, and life and death, and things present, and things to come: all
are yours, and ye are CHRIST'S, and CHRIST is GOD'S."

"The world is yours!"--Is it so, thou Blessed Apostle? Alas! this
strange assertion seems not to be confirmed, either by thine own
experience, or the experience of thy fellow-labourers; or of any of
those, who have since trod in the footsteps of thy Suffering Master. If
bonds and imprisonments, if stripes and persecutions of various kinds,
if cruel mockings and insults, if outward and inward tribulations might
be admitted as proofs of their having the world in their power, these,
alas, will not be found wanting. Sad privilege, indeed! Wretched
consolation! to be told that misery is our portion, and that distress
and affliction are the Christian's birth-right!--Let us, however,
endeavour to solve this seeming paradox, and reconcile the Apostle's
declaration with the common experience of Christians.

Whence was it, O Christian! (for I now appeal to the real sensibilities
of every believing soul that has tasted of the Good Word of GOD) whence
was it, that thou hast acquired that power and dominion over the world,
by which thou canst sustain its adversity and prosperity, its evil and
its good, with equal calmness, fortitude, and complacency--for this is
that power and dominion, by which alone the world becomes thine! Was it
not by those very sufferings, which seem so diametrically opposite to
this triumphant state? Thy victory rose from thy defeat; thy
consolation, from the depth of thy distress; thy conquest of the world,
from its conquest of thee.--Yea, the world furnished thee with arms
against itself. Every new affliction gave thee some new acquisition;
every sigh, every tear, vanquished some mortal foe.

Bonds and imprisonments, scourging and insults, hunger and thirst, cold
and nakedness, war, pestilence, and shipwreck, and all the dire
vicissitudes which the world can bring upon us, serve no other purpose
than to subdue the pride, envy, covetousness, and wrath of our fallen
life; to open the eyes of our inward man, and teach us to look upon this
world in its proper light, to fly its visionary pleasures, and support
with patience its substantial miseries.

To suffer, therefore, is to triumph; to be distressed, is our glorious
privilege; to "be weary and heavy-laden," is the only way to rest and
happiness! Sure I am, that there are many here, who can bear witness to
this great and awful truth; who can say with the Psalmist, "It is good
for me that I have been afflicted." My God hath manifested his love in
all my sufferings. I should never have come to the knowledge of his
Truth; I should never have experienced the Light of his Grace; I should
never have overcome the world, abandoned its delusive prospects, and
gained a sure and everlasting inheritance; had not my GOD made this very
world to frown upon me, had he not beset me with its troubles behind and
before, and by making me deeply sensible of its evil, taught me to
despise even its good. Thus, and thus alone, "the world is the
Christian's," because he knows, that every thing in it, under the
administration of his BLESSED REDEEMER, is made subservient to his real
happiness, which he is convinced is more effectually promoted by its
storms than by its calms, by its frowns than by its smiles.

And if "the world" is thus his, by particular privilege, consequently
"the Life" which he lives in it must be so too. The vicissitudes of life
arise from the natural instability of worldly enjoyments: but even this
instability the believer knows to be under the immediate Guidance of
ALMIGHTY LOVE. The real enjoyment of life depends upon the temper and
disposition of mind, with which its vicissitudes are received. The
Christian, therefore, who knows, that "not an hair of his head can fall
to the ground without his Heavenly Father," and whose will is secretly
resigned to his Father's, meekly and patiently, daily and hourly giving
himself up to his sovereign disposal, he alone can be said to have a
true enjoyment of life.--In sickness and in health, in prosperity and in
adversity, he alike beholds the hand of his REDEEMER opening to him, by
these various dispensations, the way to never-ending rest; unfolding his
misery by nature, and his happiness by Grace, and rendering every change
of outward life instrumental to some blessed change in the life of his
inward and spiritual man.

But he has not only the highest enjoyment of this "world," and of "life"
in this world, but what is a still more surprising and more glorious
privilege, "death too is his." Not, indeed, in the sense in which it
belongs to the wicked and unregenerate, to whom it is solely the
consequence of guilt, and the dreadful introduction to misery extreme.
No--to the real Christian, it is the consequence of a new life, the
completion of happiness, the deliverer from woe, the gate that opens
into Paradise, the messenger of REDEEMING LOVE. Death, therefore, is the
believer's, because, by the strength of his REDEEMER, he hath been
enabled to make him, who was once his enemy, become his reconciled
friend.--The King of Terrors hath dropped his envenomed sting; and his
dart flies now for no other use, but a kind and friendly one, even to
dislodge the heavenly inhabitant from its frail tabernacle of clay, and
open the world of light upon its spiritual senses.

But still higher privileges, still higher prospects, open to the
Apostle's view. "Things present, and things to come, are
yours."--Whatever the present moment brings to light, as well as what is
concealed in the womb of futurity, is equally in the Christian's power.
He is prepared to receive the former with thankfulness and gratitude,
because he knows, that it must operate for his good, be it painful or
pleasant: and from the same conviction of the kind and loving
Administration of his REDEEMER, he, can wait with patience and
resignation for the future dispensations of his Providence.

I cannot, however, but think, that these words have a much deeper and
more comfortable sense than this. "Things present, and things to come,"
generally denote, in Scripture, the visible and the invisible world; and
though they are equally present, yet, with respect to our common
apprehensions, the latter must be called future, because it cannot be
unveiled to our senses, till we have laid aside these garments of sin.
The believer, however, by virtue of his Heavenly Nature, united by Faith
to his REDEEMER, stands in the heavenly world at the same time that he
is in this. Its light, and life, and air, its powers, and virtues, and
glories, are opening themselves, though invisibly, in his heart. Hence
it is, that the Apostle speaks of "tasting the powers of the world to
come," even in this present state and that not metaphorically, but as
really and physically as our outward bodies may be said to taste the
powers of this present world. O, what an high and glorious privilege
does this appear, when considered in this point of light! An Heavenly
Man within us, standing upon heavenly ground, breathing the heavenly
air, and rising, by its animating influences, far above that sink of
evil and corruption, in which the earthly nature still remains a
prisoner; and with heavenly fortitude and resignation, supporting the
painful union, till his true parent and deliverer rescues him from his
captivity, and admits him into the liberty of kindred spirits in glory.

Well, therefore, might the Apostle, at the close of this enumeration,
again repeat his general assertion, "All things are yours."--But he
repeats it, not only with a view of impressing the truth more powerfully
upon the hearts of Christians, but also to let them know, that their
privileges are in the most effectual manner secured to them; that their
title is indisputable, their inheritance unfading and eternal--"And ye
are CHRIST'S," says he.

Think not, that your title to this inheritance is founded upon any thing
in yourselves, considered separately and distinctly in your own natures;
no, "Ye are by nature dead in trespasses and sins--The wages of sin is
death." No other inheritance, but destruction and misery, can you derive
from your fallen nature. This inheritance, therefore, which is "Eternal
Life," is solely the gift of GOD, through JESUS CHRIST. "Ye are
CHRIST'S," therefore, not only as being originally created by him in his
own image, which image ye lost by sin; but ye are now his by REDEMPTION,
which is in truth a second creation; for he hath planted his own seed in
your fallen nature. By this, he is become your Father, your Spiritual
Regenerator, your Creator anew in Righteousness and true
Holiness.--Thus, by turning your will to this SAVIOUR, the heavenly seed
springs forth, under his mild and genial influence, into a beautiful
plant, partaking of all the virtues, powers, odours, and colours of its
Eternal Parent, uniting, rejoicing, and living for ever in the same
Heavenly Glory.

Nay, that your faith, and hope, and love, may rest upon an eternal
ground, and that your title may appear to you still more firm, and your
inheritance still more certain and glorious; I must tell you, that as
"Ye are CHRIST'S, so CHRIST is GOD'S."--Here rests the glorious climax,
rising by a fair and beautiful gradation, till its last step is fixed to
the throne of the Highest!

The essential powers virtues and excellencies of the Invisible and
Supernatural GOD, manifest themselves in his eternal and only-begotten
Son JESUS CHRIST, GOD of GOD, GOD-MAN, uniting himself to human nature,
redeeming, glorifying, and exalting it, with himself, to the throne of
the Eternal Father; from thence they are communicated, in copious
streams of light and love, to the whole race whom he has condescended to
redeem; awakening, illuminating, sanctifying, restoring, and investing
them with the same kind of powers and excellencies, which he possesses
himself in an infinite degree, and thus accomplishing what he before had
prayed to his Heavenly Father might be accomplished--"That they all may
be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be
one in us--that they may be ONE, even as we are ONE--I in them, and thou
in me, that they may be made perfect in ONE."

Thus you have seen, my brethren, the nature, extent, and excellency of
the great Christian privileges here enumerated, together with the
eternal and immoveable foundation on which they are built. Need I,
therefore, now call upon you to put in your claim to this vast
inheritance? Alas! I fear there is too much occasion for the most solemn
calls.--So various are the pursuits of the sons of men, and so foreign
to their real happiness; so mistaken are they in their conceptions of
good, so blind to real evil, so easily deluded by specious appearances,
and led astray by so many false lights; so prone to obey the dictates of
a corrupt nature, and so averse to every thing that is spiritual and
heavenly; that the weightiest Truths of the Gospel, the most animating
promises, the most glorious privileges there recounted, seem to have but
very little influence upon their hearts. O why, my brethren, why will ye
"spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that
which satisfieth not?" why, with deluded Esau, "will you sell your
birth-right for a mess of pottage," an heavenly for an earthly
inheritance? When "all things are yours," why will you take up with the
scanty provisions which a poor perishing nature can give? An immortal
soul, redeemed by the blood of the Son of GOD, spending its strength,
exerting its faculties in the pursuit of such fleeting momentary
enjoyments as this world can afford, is a spectacle at which Angels
might weep.--O that every thoughtless sinner might be induced to weep
for himself, to mourn his wretched, forlorn condition; and, from a deep
conviction of the insufficiency of all earthly possessions to make him
happy, that he might be led to seek that "peace of GOD which passeth all
understanding! that inheritance immortal, incorruptible, and undefiled,
which fadeth not away!"



                             DISCOURSE XIV.
            Christ, known or unknown, the Universal Saviour.


St. JOHN, CHAP. xiv. Part of VER. 9.

    "HAVE I BEEN SO LONG TIME WITH YOU, AND YET HAST THOU NOT KNOWN ME,
    PHILIP?"


"Except ye see signs and wonders ye will not believe," said our BLESSED
LORD to those earthly-minded Israelites, who were ever looking for some
external display of supernatural power, as the only means of conviction
in matters of religion. This fatal mistake hath prevailed too much in
the world; and still maintains its ground, even among those, whose views
are more spiritual, and who have been taught to look upon religion as an
internal operation, the work of GOD'S SPIRIT upon their souls. They do
not, indeed, seek for an outward sign, as the Jews of old did; they see
the impropriety of this under a spiritual dispensation: their delusion,
however, though perhaps more refined, is equally dangerous. They cannot
conceive that the Divine Power and Presence can be manifested to the
human soul, in any other way; than by extraordinary impressions,
visions, or extasies. Thus, whilst they are looking out for the
appearance of their GOD in a whirl-wind, a fire, or an earthquake, their
attention is wholly withdrawn from that "Still Small Voice," in which he
usually addresses himself to the hearts of his creatures.

Such was the sad delusion under which poor Philip seems to have
laboured. "Lord, shew us the Father, said he, and it sufficeth us." Give
us some visible sign, some sensible demonstration of the Father's power
and presence with thee. Let him rend the heavens and come down; and if
thou art indeed his Son, let him own and honour thee as such, by placing
himself near to thy sacred person, and breaking forth in a flood of
glory upon our outward senses. Poor mistaken disciple! Little didst thou
think of the dreadful consequences which might have attended the
granting of thy request. It might have over-whelmed thy weak nature, but
could never have wrought any salutary conviction in thy soul: thy
outward senses could not have sustained the shock, and thy mind would
have continued as dark as ever, notwithstanding the heavenly effulgence
that surrounded thee.

Ignorant, weak, and deluded, as Philip seems to have been, his BLESSED
MASTER bore with his infirmities, and answered him with all that
sweetness and gentleness, that usually accompanied even his censures and
reproofs--"Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not
known me, Philip? He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father. How sayest
thou then, shew us the Father?"

Not one of all those excellencies and perfections, which constitute the
Divine Nature, but thou mightest have beheld manifested in me. The
healing of the sick, the raising of the dead, making the deaf to hear,
the blind to see, and the dumb to speak, instructing the ignorant, and
preaching the gospel to the poor, all these are the surest marks and
evidences that can possibly be given of the immediate presence of the
Divinity within me. He, therefore, who hath seen me thus manifesting the
Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of my Heavenly Father, in these works of
wonder, tenderness, and love to his children, "hath seen the Father;"
inasmuch, as in the present state of things, there is no other way in
which GOD can manifest himself to you his fallen creatures, but by
awakening your attention to every act and sensibility of goodness, which
you may discover either in yourselves or others. And as all these divine
communications are imparted from the Father through me; so in my
miracles life and conversation, had you yielded a proper attention, you
might have seen "the Brightness of the Father's Glory, and the Express
Image of his Person." "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast
thou not known me, Philip?"

From this particular conversation of our LORD with his disciple, as well
as from the whole tenor of the Gospel, arises this grand and fundamental
truth: that our real knowledge of CHRIST depends upon an attention of
the mind to those Tempers, Qualities, Dispositions and Actions, which he
manifested in his life here upon earth, and which are recorded in
Scripture for our instruction, accompanied with a surrender of our will
and affections to those inward calls, motions, and sensibilities of
Goodness, by which he reveals himself with all his heavenly tempers in
our hearts. CHRIST, therefore, makes himself known to us in these two
principal ways, in his Word, and in our Hearts.

His Word, or what is known by the name of the Holy Scripture, is only
the outward testimony--the rule or standard providentially transmitted
to us, by which we are to judge of the reality of his Presence in our
Hearts. It tells us of a CHRIST, who lived, and suffered, and died in
our human nature, in order to teach us how to live, and suffer, and die.
It assures us, that our everlasting salvation depends upon our knowledge
of this CHRIST; that this knowledge can only be attained by seeking him
earnestly; that the place where he chuses to be found, where he loves to
reside, is in the human heart;" that "his kingdom is within us;" that he
is "the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" that
he is the "hope of glory," in every son and daughter of fallen Adam.

The Scriptures likewise testify of the manner of his appearance and
residence within us--that he manifests himself as a destroyer of that
evil work, which the Devil has wrought in our nature; first convincing
us of sin, of the darkness and misery of our fallen life, and then
pointing out to us the paths of righteousness; opening and unfolding all
those sweet and lovely qualities, of which himself is the great Fountain
Spirit, and which he distributes to every man according to his capacity
and desire of receiving them.

To know CHRIST, therefore, is carefully to cultivate those holy and
heavenly tempers and dispositions, which he manifested in his outward
life here upon earth, and which he now continues to manifest in the
breasts of all those who diligently seek after him. To know CHRIST, is
to know and feel the power of "love, joy; peace, long-suffering,
gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." Wherever these
Graces take up their residence, there is the Temple of JESUS. These are
the ministring servants that wait at his altar: and the sacrifices which
they there present and offer, are all the earthly and diabolical
passions with which human nature is polluted and oppressed,--pride,
envy, covetousness, jealousy, lust, wrath, bitterness of spirit, and all
the rest of the infernal legion. Love, Love Divine, is the vestal fire
which there burns pure and perpetual; which cleanses, refines,
sublimates, and glorifies every thing that comes within its reach.

In this sense, CHRIST has been a long time, indeed, among the sons of
men, though they may not have known him: He has been long "come to his
own," though his own have not universally received him. Where is the
man, who hath not, in innumerable instances, felt the powerful
suggestions of vice; and, in innumerable instances, been inwardly warned
against them, and pressed to the exercise of virtue?

Speak, thou unthinking, careless mortal! Hast thou never felt thyself
swoln with pride, or burning with envy? Hast thou never coveted, been
jealous, angry, revengeful, bitter, and implacable? Hast thou never
found thyself bound to this world, by such strong and numerous ties,
that the parting from it would be like tearing away thy very
heart-strings? Amidst all that storm and confusion, into which this
restless croud of evil passions has frequently thrown thee, hast thou
never once felt a monitor within, that would have let thee know, if thou
hadst attended to his voice, that all this uproar was from an evil
principle, and that thou wert injuring thy soul by submitting to its
power?

Hast thou never been led to admire and revere the amiable graces of
Meekness, Humility, Love, and Peace, in the life of thy neighbour; and
secretly to wish, that these plants of Heaven would spring up in thy own
barren soil? Hast thou not frequently envied the happy frame and
circumstances of some, whom thou hast seen devout and pious in their
conduct towards GOD, and affectionate, mild, and gentle, in their
behaviour towards their brethren? And hast thou not, in such a
situation, been constrained to sigh out some such wish as this: O that I
could feel, and live, and act, as these men seem to do! Would to GOD
that this evil nature of mine, with all its horrid lusts and passions,
was wholly subdued, eradicated, or changed!

Let me tell thee, then, poor mortal! that all these senses,
sensibilities, and secret desires, are from CHRIST, and that this is the
way he takes to invite thee to his friendship and communion. He is in
thine heart, waiting there with all the condescension, tenderness, and
compassion of a most indulgent father, to deliver thee from thy sins,
and shew himself to thy soul in reconciliation and peace. He hath been
waiting there ever since thou wert born, seeking to make himself known
to thee, sometimes by the frowns of conscience, sometimes by its
approving smiles, sometimes by the endearing intercourse of Christian
friendship and love, and sometimes by the sweet emotions of his own
Charity, kindled within thee, at the sight of an object in distress;
sometimes by providential deliverances from imminent dangers, sometimes
by providential visits of health and prosperity. Whence is it then, O
sinner, that, though thy SAVIOUR hath been so long time "with thee, yet
hast thou not known him?" Whence is it, though he has made thee such
frequent offers of his Love, thou hast still slighted or rejected them?

Various are the obstacles and impediments which prevent us from coming
to a true and saving knowledge of CHRIST. In some persons, the
unrestrained sovereignty and dominion of fallen nature, leads them
captive at its will, makes them deaf to the voice of conscience, and
blind to every ray of light that seeks to illuminate the dark region of
their heart. They know not CHRIST, because they have not the least
desire to be acquainted with him.

In others, the grand and principal impediment to the knowledge of
CHRIST, is their absolute dependence upon an external decency of
conduct, to which they have given the name of morality. If they
cultivate those seeming virtues, which are the faint images or shadows
of the True Graces of the Gospel, it is solely from a selfish principle,
a desire of being noticed and respected by the world: they have no view,
in any thing they undertake, to that real inward change of heart and
temper, in which alone the Knowledge of CHRIST consists. Such persons,
being unacquainted with the intrinsic evil and corruption of their own
nature, cannot have the least desire to be delivered from it; and, till
they are providentially awakened to a sense of this, they cannot find
themselves disposed to enquire after a Saviour, in and through whom
alone these evils and corruptions are to be healed or removed.

Others again there are, who are kept from this saving knowledge of
CHRIST, by an attachment to external forms, modes, and opinions of
religion; who, provided they are found faithful in the observance and
belief of these, excuse themselves from the cultivation of those inward
and heavenly graces and virtues, which alone constitute the life and
power of religion. Such persons frequently fall into the grossest
inconsistencies. They can be angry, in the defence of meekness; proud,
whilst they are discoursing on humility; and can speak of all the
sublime truths of religion, and sometimes of its vital influences on the
heart, with the utmost elegance and pathos of sentiment and expression,
and yet remain totally insensible of their efficacy respecting
themselves. Such persons know not CHRIST, because they do not seek him
in the only way in which he can be found, viz. in a conformity to his
Heavenly Character.

The last impediment which I shall mention, that excludes many serious
minds from the knowledge of CHRIST'S personal power and presence with
them, is that under which poor Philip laboured; even an expectation of
some unusual display of supernatural agency, to produce their conviction
and conversion.--He, indeed, looked for an external sign; they are
anxious for something internal and spiritual; but the nature of the
desire is the same in both, and is equally delusive and dangerous. Such
persons, solicitous for nothing but an assurance of the forgiveness of
GOD, expect to have it communicated by some vision, ecstasy, or sudden
illumination.

Far be it from me to call in question the reality of such
manifestations, which good men in all ages have experienced. But at the
same time I must confess, that I cannot look upon them as essential to
Salvation. CHRIST JESUS reveals himself to sinners in various methods,
and by various means: but the end of all these means and methods is the
same, even to produce his own Image of Righteousness and true Holiness
in their hearts. Let us hear his own blessed words: "Come unto me, all
ye that labour and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest"--Ye that
labour under the evils of fallen life, seduced by its temptations,
enslaved by its passions, and heavy-laden with its accumulated guilt and
woe, come to me, deeply sensible of your deplorable condition, and
earnestly desiring deliverance, and I will give you rest! From the same
Oracle of Truth, we learn too, wherein this rest, deliverance, or
forgiveness must consist--"Learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in
heart, and ye shall find rest to your souls." Meekness and lowliness of
heart, therefore, is the true rest which CHRIST gives; for, wherever
these are, there is Faith, there is Hope, there is Heaven-born Charity.

Tell me, ye favoured souls! who have been "called out of darkness into
the marvellous light of GOD;" who have experienced his "Peace, that
passeth all understanding;" who have received the sweetest tokens of his
Forgiving Grace; tell me, wherein did this marvellous Light, this Peace,
this token of Forgiving Grace consist? what kind of sensibility was
awakened in you at that happy season?--Was it not a sensibility of Love
intense, and Meekness unutterable? a Love, that would have clasped
universal nature in its charitable embrace; a Meekness, that would have
forgiven the grossest injuries and insults, and condescended to the
meanest offices of tenderness and kindness to your brethren?

This, then, is the Knowledge of JESUS CHRIST: in this Gentle Element he
delights to move! Let but your souls be attempered to these Divine
Sensations, and CHRIST is yours! Seek not for any sudden and
extraordinary impulses or ecstasies, but "learn to be meek and lowly in
heart!" Ask for Divine Grace to subdue your corrupt and boisterous
passions!--Be weary of, and groan under, the burden of your evil
nature!--Fly from pride, envy, covetousness, and wrath; and cherish the
opposite tempers of meekness, humility, resignation, and love!--Wander
not after an imaginary forgiveness: but know assuredly, that there is no
other way, in which the All-atoning Blood of the HOLY JESUS can be
applied for the pardon of sin, but by inwardly cleansing, redeeming, and
purifying your corrupt natures, from every bestial as well as diabolical
impurity.

It is in this process alone, that you can know, and be known by your
SAVIOUR: and unless you enter upon this, and seek in good earnest to be
intimately acquainted with him, thus revealing himself in your hearts;
he will one day have good reason to say to you, as he did to his
disciple in the text, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have
you not known me?"



                             DISCOURSE XV.
                        Human Life a Pilgrimage.


PSALM xxxix. Part of VER. 12.

    "FOR I AM A STRANGER WITH THEE, AND A SOJOURNER, AS ALL MY FATHERS
    WERE."


In every age of the world, and among people of every nation and language
under heaven, (if we may credit the testimony of history and experience)
there have been found many virtuous, thoughtful, and enquiring minds;
who, from an attentive observation of the moral as well as physical
disorders incident to the present system of things, from a personal
experience of the unavoidable miseries consequent thereupon, and from a
secret irresistible desire and longing after some superior but unknown
state of being, have been led to form these most philosophical and pious
conclusions:

That their present mode of existence could not possibly be as that for
which they were originally intended by a being of Infinite Wisdom,
Goodness, and Love; that the intelligent and immortal spirit within
them, could not have been created merely to animate a dark terrestrial
body, and to be subject to the clamorous demands of animal nature; that
the fair signatures of beauty, order, and love, which they still saw,
and felt, and admired, within and without them, could not have been
originally impressed by the Divine Fiat upon that mixture of darkness,
deformity and confusion, in which they now appear; that the primeval
harmony and lustre of the creation must, by some means or other, have
been marred and spoiled; and that, for these reasons, they could not but
consider themselves as the fallen inhabitants of a fallen world.

That these strange disorders must have proceeded solely from the
depravity of some created intelligences, they concluded, not only from
their own conceptions of the spotless purity and goodness of the Divine
Nature, but from their own observation and experience of the innumerable
evils that were produced in themselves and others, when ever their wills
and affections deviated from the strait paths of virtue, and wandered in
the mazes of vice. And yet they saw--and yet they felt--that so numerous
and powerful were the temptations and suggestions on the side of vice,
that nought but the kind interposition of their good and powerful
CREATOR, nought but the super-natural illumination and direction of his
BLESSED SPIRIT, could rescue them from the dominion of their passions,
open their understanding to the sight of TRUTH, and incline their will
to the pursuit and practice of GOODNESS. This affectionate intercourse
with their CREATOR, they considered as the only source of their virtue
and happiness in this life, as the only earnest of their future and
final felicity in the next. Hence they regarded themselves as strangers
and exiles in a foreign land, and looked upon death as the season of
their deliverance, of their return to their native country, and re-union
with their Father and kindred spirits in glory.

Many traces of this sublime philosophy do we meet with in the lives and
writings of the virtuous heathen. For, however they may differ from us
in their modes of conception and expression, a discerning mind will soon
discover, that their feelings were congenial with our own; and that they
wanted but the aids of external revelation to enable them to "speak what
they knew, and testify what they saw," in the same language which we are
instructed to use.

The Sacred Writings, however, afford us the noblest and most indubitable
testimonies to the great truths mentioned above. For whatsoever
scattered rays of knowledge or of goodness are found here and there
gleaming through the shades of paganism;--whatsoever the thrice-great
Hermes delivered as oracles from his sacred tripos;--whatsoever
Pythagoras, Socrates, Epictetus, Zoroaster, or Confucius, have laboured
to inculcate upon the hearts of their disciples--all this, and
infinitely more, without any corrupt or superstitious mixture, do we
find expressly revealed, with all the marks of Divine Authority, in the
Holy Scriptures--all this, and infinitely more, do we find beautifully
exemplified in those lives and sayings of patriarchs, prophets, and
apostles, which are recorded for our instruction and imitation in the
Old Testament as well as in the New.

These venerable teachers and patterns of Truth and Virtue, do all, with
one voice, express their deep sensibility of the evils and miseries of
their present state of existence, and their ardent aspirations after
another and a better state. They all, with one voice, acknowledge the
vanity and insufficiency of every sublunary enjoyment, and the
indispensable necessity of "setting the affections on things above, not
on things on the earth." They all, with one voice, pronounce their state
in this world to be that of strangers and exiles; and consider their
temporary pilgrimage here, as only intended to purify and prepare them
for a state of eternal peace and happiness hereafter. In a word, they
all, with one voice, declare, that there is no other method, by which
they can be redeemed from the evils of their present life, and qualified
for the blessings of a future, but by a perpetual communion with the
great FATHER OF THEIR SPIRITS, kept up on his part by kind and liberal
effusions of his own essential goodness; and on theirs, by an
affectionate and ardent inclination of their wills and desires towards
him, and a grateful reception, and faithful improvement of his loving
communications.

Under the Old Testament, this blessed intercourse was understood and
felt by patriarchs and prophets, through the outward means of
sacrifices, types, and various ceremonies and ordinances; all predictive
and expressive of a certain Redeeming Process, which, "in the fulness of
time," was to be accomplished for human nature, in the person of a
suffering and triumphant MESSIAH. Under the New Testament, it broke
forth, with meridian lustre, in the incarnation and nativity, life and
conversation, sufferings, death, resurrection and ascension of the
BLESSED JESUS; in whose sacred person the divine and human natures were
most happily united, to the end, that as the SON OF MAN and the SON OF
GOD, he might communicate to every Son of Man, that should receive his
testimony, and believe in his Name, the power of becoming a SON OF GOD,
John i. 12.

His life and conversation upon earth must, therefore, be the true and
only standard, by which ours is to be regulated. As he lived, so should
we live also; and consider this world in the same point of view, and
treat it in the same manner, that he did.

So far, indeed, as the worthies of the Old Testament have lived or
spoken according to the spirit of his Gospel, so far, without doubt, we
are bound to follow their example: and a very little acquaintance with
Scripture will be sufficient to inform us, that "they did all eat of the
same spiritual meat, and did all drink of the same spiritual drink," and
had all entered upon the same Redeeming Process, with those, who have
since lived under the Light of the Gospel, and have known and found this
meat and drink to be no other than those spiritual emanations of Truth
and Love, which we all receive, or may receive, from CHRIST OUR COMMON
SAVIOUR.

When David, therefore, confessed, that he was "a stranger and a
sojourner with GOD, as all his fathers were," what was this, but an
express declaration, that, though he was encircled with a diadem, and
clad in the robes of royalty; though he had his residence in the
metropolis of Judea, and exercised an absolute sovereignty over the
whole realm; he considered himself, nevertheless, as a stranger in a
strange land, far distant from his native country, surrounded by a
multitude of enemies, who were perpetually upon the watch to take
advantage of any little mistake he might commit, perpetually in arms
against him, and determined, if they possibly could, to rob him at once
of his kingdom and his peace? What was it, but an humble acknowledgment
of his own spiritually helpless and indigent condition? and at the same
time an affectionate intimation of his secret hope, that, as his
forefathers had been in the same circumstances he was now in, and had
experienced the kind interposition of Heaven for their relief and
comfort, GOD would be graciously pleased to continue to him the same
loving-kindness, accompany support and protect him through his painful
sojourn, and conduct him safe to those blessed abodes, which he had
prepared for the reception of every true spiritual Israelite? "For I am
a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were."

Upon this view of things, and under the influence of these principles,
he composed the pathetic psalm, from whence my text is taken; which
exhibits to us a lively representation of the vanity and shortness of
human life, the difficulties that attend our pilgrimage through this
world, the prudence and circumspection which the pilgrim must observe,
the enemies he must expect to encounter on the way, and the confidence
he must repose in the strength of a superior and Almighty arm, in order
to secure to himself Success and Victory.

The truth of this representation we find abundantly confirmed by the
whole tenor of Scripture. The grand apostate seraph is there called "the
prince of this world, the prince of the power of the air;" from which,
and other expressions of the like import, we may justly conclude, that
he was once in possession of this very system which we inhabit--it was
the sphere of glory, in which he moved, whilst his lustre yet remained
unfaded. Envious, jealous of its new inhabitants, he is perpetually
"walking about, seeking whom he may devour." He avails himself of that
earthly nature which we inherit from our fallen ancestor, insinuates
himself through its foul channels into our inmost hearts, seduces us
from the paths of innocence and virtue, and, unless timely rescued by a
Superior Power, will hurry us headlong into the depths of his own dark
and fiery kingdom.

On the other hand, the GOD of LIGHT and LOVE, who reigns supreme in his
own KINGDOM of LIGHT and LOVE, is most affectionately anxious for our
preservation. For this gracious purpose, he causes his light to shine
forth in the midst of our darkness; discovers to us the secret hostile
intentions of our malicious enemy; calls upon us to fly from his
infernal wiles; and invites us to walk with himself in his own
delightful element, with sweet assurances of peace and consolation here,
and glory, honour, and immortality hereafter.

Ill fares the man, whose mistaken heart too easily opens to the false
friendship of his flattering foe--he walks upon enchanted ground--there
is no reality in the surrounding scene--every object is visionary--the
flowers have no real fragrance, the fruits no real flavour or
nourishment.--He plucks and eats, but still remains unsatisfied--he
plucks and eats again--he discovers the delusion, and yet the delusion
pleases him.--The wily enchanter leads him at one time into the gardens
of pleasure--at another, conducts him to the pompous edifice of
ambition--at another, opens upon his ravished sight the splendid
treasures, which Mammon offers to his foolish votaries.--With this
pretended friend and guardian he walks the tiresome round, pleased and
transported with every new prospect, but loathing the objects as soon as
possessed. In the mean while, the calls of a superior nature are totally
disregarded, and the soul is suffered to famish within the pampered
body.

Not so the wise and virtuous candidate for sublimer joys. His breast is
no sooner penetrated by a ray of that Universal Light, "which lighteth
every man that cometh into the world," than it opens, with chearfulness
and gratitude, to receive more and more of the salutary effulgence. He
finds within himself a source of sensibilities, which correspond to a
world of objects far more real and sublime, than aught that meets his
outward senses in this shadowy scene. He finds, he feels the presence of
a true friend and guardian, whose unlimited power can controul the open
or secret attacks of his false friend and seducer; whose wisdom can
furnish him with every kind of knowledge that is necessary to his real
felicity; and whose ineffable love is perpetually feeding and refreshing
the angel that is within him, with such fruits and flowers as are of
celestial growth, and suited to its celestial frame. With this GUARDIAN
GOD, he walks the wilds of nature, unappalled, regardless alike of the
smiles and frowns of his spiritual adversaries. He considers himself as
a stranger and sojourner in this vale of misery; and under the conduct
of Unerring Wisdom, and Almighty Love, pursues his painful pleasing
journey to a better country, even an heavenly one.

But this is not all. Care, prudence, circumspection, and confidence in
GOD, are not only indispensably necessary to secure to us a safe and
happy pilgrimage through life; but they are likewise the best, the only
preparatives for an happy and comfortable death.

As strangers and sojourners, we ought to live under a constant
expectation of being called home to our native country. This expectation
will be either pleasing or painful, according as we are more or less
prepared for the awful summons. The summons we cannot dispense with: the
time in which it may be pronounced, is altogether uncertain.

Some of us, within a very few years, and some, perhaps, within a very
few days, may behold the curtain drop, and shut out every scene of
temporal nature from our view. With respect to us, "the heavens and the
earth will then pass away with a mighty noise; the sun will be darkened,
and the moon turned into blood; the stars will fall from heaven, and the
powers of heaven will be shaken." Death, judgment, heaven, or hell, will
then be realized to our disembodied spirits. "He that is holy will be
holy still, and he that is filthy will be filthy still." The dissolution
of this outward body will close the season of Divine Grace; the hopes or
the fears, the happiness or the misery of man will be determined by his
expiring breath; and his GOD will be manifested to him, either in the
mild majesty of his Love, or in the consuming fire of his Wrath.

What adds to the solemnity of this dread moment, is the frequent
suddenness of its approach. The king of terrors often knocks at the
door, when the master of the house is by no means prepared for the awful
visit. Nay, he frequently passes by the habitations of age, infirmity,
and distress, and thunders forth his tremendous summons in the ears of
the young, the gay, and the robust. Neither superior fortune, nor
superior station, can protract the fleeting date of life. The monarch
tumbles from his throne; and, after the momentary honours of a pompous
funeral, makes his bed in the dust, and lies there as poor and
undistinguished as the late tenant of the homely cottage. Even piety and
virtue cannot screen their votaries from death's unerring shaft; but he
is sometimes permitted to snatch away the most amiable patterns of both,
in order to awaken the attention, or chastise the carelessness, of their
friends and neighbours.

Happy would it be for mankind, if these frequent indiscriminate strokes
did but produce a more general and serious attention to "the things that
belong to their peace:" and happy for you, my dear brethren, if the
solemn truths that have now been delivered, are permitted to have a due
weight and influence on your lives and practice!

Examine yourselves, then, by these principles. Look well into the
present state of your souls. Be these important reflections continually
present to your minds--that you are but "strangers and sojourners upon
earth;" that every object, that attracts and engages your desires and
affections here, must very shortly be removed from you for ever; that it
is folly and madness to take up your rest in such poor perishable
things, as the present world affords, inasmuch as death must soon put an
end to their shadowy forms, and translate you to a world, where all is
real--all is eternal.

Do not deceive yourselves. A gay and thoughtless life is no suitable
preparation for death. The heart must be gradually estranged from the
vanities of time, before it can turn its desires towards the riches of
eternity. You have heard of the difficulties you may expect to meet
with, of the enemies you will have to encounter, on your way to heaven.
Up then, and be doing. No time is to be lost. Every moment is precious:
"it carries Heaven on its wing." The victory is secure, if you will but
arm yourselves for the conflict. Your Heavenly FATHER is perpetually
drawing and inviting you to enter the lists, and contend for the prize.
His Eternal SON hath promised to be with you, and in you. And the
blessed SPIRIT, proceeding from both, will inspire you with all that
celestial strength and ardour, which alone can render you "more than
conquerors." Thus are you furnished, from the armoury of heaven, with a
divine panoply, which, upon trial, you will find impenetrable to "all
the fiery darts of the wicked."

"Fear not, then, thou worm, Jacob! Be not dismayed, for thy God is with
thee!" Blessed encouragement, this! What though you are strangers and
sojourners upon earth, yet remember for your consolation, that you are
strangers and sojourners with GOD--"For I am a stranger and sojourner
WITH THEE."

O MY brethren! what ineffable peace and satisfaction would spring up in
your hearts, could you once realize to yourselves, could you once feel,
the perpetual presence of an OMNIPOTENT GOD, travelling with you on the
journey of life, supplying all your wants, supporting you under all your
difficulties and distresses, and, with the affectionate fondness of a
father, minutely entering into all your real interests and concerns! To
know, that you are his offspring, fallen indeed, but redeemed by his
BLESSED SON: that his love for you is so ardent, that "whoso toucheth
you his children, toucheth the apple of his eye; that in all your
afflictions he is afflicted, and that the angel of his presence saves
and delivers you; that he will never leave you comfortless, but will be
with you always, even to the end of the world!" These are such sweet and
delightful assurances, as you could never have collected from the vain
reasonings of worldly philosophy, or the vain confidence, which many
pretend to derive from mere unassisted human virtue.

Upon this ground you may rest secure; and, in the strength of an
Almighty arm, bid defiance to the open assaults, or secret stratagems of
the enemies of your peace. Whilst the SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS continues to
impart his chearing beams, and fountains of living water spring up on
every side to refresh the weary pilgrim, you may pursue your journey
through the VALLEY OF BACA, with peace and confidence; you may "lift up
your heads with joy, as the Ransomed of the LORD;" and "proceed from
strength to strength, till you appear before the GOD OF GODS in SION."



                             DISCOURSE XVI.
           The true Knowledge of God internal and practical.


JOB, CHAP. xlii. VER. 5, 6.

    "I HAVE HEARD OF THEE BY THE HEARING OF THE EAR; BUT NOW HATH MINE
    EYE SEEN THEE: THEREFORE I ABHOR MYSELF, AND REPENT IN DUST AND
    ASHES."


We can scarcely open any part of the Scriptures, but we meet with the
following great and leading truths of Religion: viz. that the LOVE OF
GOD is universal; that his "GRACE, which bringeth Salvation, hath
appeared unto all men;" that he hath given a "manifestation of his
Spirit to every man, to profit withal;" that "GOD so loved the world,
that he hath given his ONLY-BEGOTTEN SON, that whosoever believeth in
him should not perish, but have everlasting Life:" that he is "the True
Light, that lighteth every man that cometh into the world;" that GOD
"wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he would be converted
and live;" that his call has been, and now is to "every man," every
where, "to repent;" and that every man may partake of this Universal
Love, may be saved by this "Grace which hath appeared," may profit by
the manifestation which GOD hath given him.

To these great and leading truths we are continually called and exhorted
to attend; and that there is a possibility of attending and yielding to
them, is implied in the very nature and spirit of the declarations
themselves. For, certainly, all is in vain--the call to all in vain, the
appearance of Grace to all in vain, the gift and manifestation of the
Spirit to every one in vain, and the shining of the Light in vain, if
fallen man is not put into a capacity of obeying it, and walking
therein.

"Man's destruction is of himself"--If his distempered nature is not
healed, if his soul continues unredeemed, it is not because there is no
"Balm in Gilead;" it is not because "the arm of the LORD is shortened,
that it cannot save," or the fountain of LOVE so exhausted, that its
streams have ceased to flow--but because men will not avail themselves
of the healing Balm; because they refuse to be gathered by that
compassionate Arm, that is continually stretched forth to save; because
they will not open their souls to receive the Waters of Life. Their eyes
are so blinded by the false glare of earthly beauty, that they cannot
see the surpassing excellency of the Divine Glory--their ears are so
deaf, that they have no delight in hearing or obeying the Divine
Voice--they are content to walk on in the broad way, and suffer the
enemy of their souls to take them captive at his pleasure. Thus entered
sin at the beginning--thus it continueth, increaseth, and prevaileth.

No man, in his present deplorable state, can open that eye which was
blinded by sin; nor unstop that ear which was sealed by his apostasy
from his Maker; nor save or deliver himself from the bondage of
corruption. Herein, therefore, is the UNIVERSAL LOVE OF GOD made
manifest, that "he hath laid help upon one that is Mighty, who is able
to save to the uttermost those that come to him;" that he hath appointed
and prepared a "Seed that can bruise the serpent's head;" that he hath
caused his Light to shine in the Hearts of all men; and hath called all
men every where to repent--Now if man still continues to shut his eyes,
and harden his heart, and refuse to be reconciled, "his destruction is
of himself, and GOD will be just when he judgeth."

But here the grand question may be asked--How doth GOD manifest himself
to his creatures? There is no Revelation in these days--no spiritual
visions now.--no such Sight of GOD, as Abraham, Moses, the Prophets, and
the Primitive Christians were favoured with--GOD forbid!--for surely
where there is no vision, no sight or sense of heavenly things, there is
the Lost State indeed!--where there is no Revelation, there can be no
True Knowledge of GOD-for what saith the Scripture--"None knoweth the
Father but the Son, and he to whom the SON will reveal him?"

Ever since the vail was spread over the human heart, there never was any
other way in any age, nor can there be in this age, of coming to the
true Knowledge of GOD, but by Revelation; that is, by taking off the
vail, and removing the covering that hides the Face of GOD from
man.--Men "have sought out many inventions," and devised many ways and
means of coming to the knowledge of the Deity; moral and even
mathematical demonstrations of his existence, have been attempted; but
all in vain. As such inventions and devices have increased, sorrow and
perplexity have increased also: and even if they have succeeded so far,
as to satisfy the natural understanding, what is it, at best, but a kind
of historical knowledge, a strong conceit or imagination of something
concerning GOD, without any thing like a sensibility of his Presence, or
an intuitive self-evident conviction of his nature and attributes?--Far
different this from the knowledge which Job experienced, and which every
real Christian may express in his language: "I have heard of thee by the
hearing of the ear; but now hath mine eye seen thee: therefore I abhor
myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

It is not improbable, but Job might have amused himself, like some of
our modern philosophizing Christians, with fine-spun theories and
speculations upon the nature and attributes of the DIVINITY; and whilst
the tide of temporal prosperity continued to flow in upon him, whilst
"he washed his steps in butter, and the rock poured out for him rivers
of oil," whilst his health continued unimpaired, and his domestic bliss
uninterrupted, such empty researches might have been sufficient to
entertain his imagination; and such an outward knowledge of the MOST
HIGH, might satisfy a soul, that was yet insensible of any spiritual or
temporal wants or distresses. But let the hand of GOD fall heavy upon
him; let his body be visited with pain and sickness, and his soul
wounded with grief and disappointment; let him be stripped of all his
worldly affluence, and deprived of all his domestic comforts; and he
will soon find, that the wants of nature, when deeply felt, are not to
be supplied by reasoning and speculation; that an outward hearsay
knowledge of GOD is of no avail; that it cannot administer the least
relief either to the body or the mind; that it cannot sooth or mitigate
one bodily pain, or send one ray of light into the dark and comfortless
regions of the soul.

Go to the chambers of sickness, visit the melancholy retreats of
indigence and woe! produce there your strong reasonings--strive, with
learned labour, to open and convince the understandings of your
suffering brethren--enumerate to them all the outward evidences, that
you can collect, of the great truths of religion--give them proof upon
proof, demonstration upon demonstration--talk to them of the Nature and
Attributes of GOD, and the immortality of their souls--tell them what
the SON OF GOD hath done and suffered for sinners; what are the means of
reconciliation, and what the sure grounds of an happy death--give them
all that they can receive "by the hearing of the ear"--and what have you
done, and what have they gained?--Why you have done just as much as an
unskilful physician would do, who entertained his patient with a learned
dissertation upon the virtues and excellencies of a certain medicine,
which he had somewhere read or heard of, as admirably adapted to the
disorder, but which he had never seen with his eyes, and of the nature
of which he knew nothing by his own experience. Thus it is with this
outward knowledge of GOD: the poor soul is left to feed upon words or
ideas, and to seek comfort, in vain, in empty speculations.

Fruitless, indeed, are such attempts as these! Till the soul is shaken
to her very center, till the stone is removed from the door of the
sepulchre, that GOD who "makes darkness his secret place," can never be
seen. The eye must be turned inwardly, to view what is passing in the
inmost soul, to discover what its wants and necessities are, as well as
what will supply them, and yield it peace, and yield it happiness, from
an inexhaustible source. It must feel its own darkness, before it can
seek to have it enlightened--The same Light that breaks in upon it like
the dawn of day, gives it the first sensibility of distress, as well as
the first sensibility of consolation "now hath mine eye seen thee,
therefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes"--I now feel the
misery of nature without GOD--I feel nothing but darkness, and want, and
hunger, and thirst! But in this darkness, under this want, in this
hunger and thirst, the soul must wait, without reasoning, without
repining, in stillness, in silence, till the invisible GOD shines into
the darkness, and till the darkness comprehends and eagerly imbibes the
Light, and he, in whom is no darkness at all, manifesteth his Presence
by a self-evident sensibility.

Thus it is, that man, by virtue of the Redeeming Power of the Second
Adam, implanted in his heart as a spark of Heavenly flame, hidden under
the flesh and blood of fallen nature, is revived, quickened, and
enlightened. The Heavenly Birth soon perceives and owns its parent--the
outward knowledge gives way to the inward manifestation--and GOD, and
Heaven, and Goodness, and Grace, are seen and known, and felt by their
own incontestible workings in the human Heart. Hence, the fruits of the
SPIRIT, the fruits of Heaven, begin to bud and blossom: "love, joy,
peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness," are felt
and practised; and the soul lives and breathes in the Heavenly world,
even whilst she inherits this frail tenement of clay.

And now, my brethren, is not such a Knowledge of GOD worth possessing? A
Knowledge, that unites you to him; makes you One Heart and Spirit with
him; gives the highest relish to all the joys, and the firmest support
under all the evils of life; which will stand by you, when every outward
comfort fails, when relations, friends, wealth, power, and all that
earth is able to supply, can no longer yield you the least support or
satisfaction.

Some of the great obstacles and impediments to the attainment of this
Knowledge, I shall enumerate in my next discourse.



                            DISCOURSE XVII.
           The true Knowledge of God internal and practical.


JOB, CHAP. xlii. VER. 5, 6.

    "I HAVE HEARD OF THEE BY THE HEARING OF THE EAR; BUT NOW HATH MINE
    EYE SEEN THEE: THEREFORE I ABHOR MYSELF, AND REPENNT IN DUST AND
    ASHES."


In a former discourse from these words, I explained to you the
difference between that Knowledge of GOD which is obtained by "the
hearing of the ear," and that which arises in the human heart, from a
spiritual sensibility of his Presence and Power within us. I observed,
that the former was, at best, but a kind of historical knowledge, or,
perhaps, nothing more than a strong conceit or imagination of something
concerning GOD; far different from that intuitive, self-evident, saving
Knowledge of him, which Job speaks of in the text, and which every truly
pious foul cannot but feel. I endeavoured, likewise, to point out the
Rise and Progress of this Knowledge, as well as the blessed Fruits or
Effects of which it is certainly productive. I then concluded with
asking you, whether such a Knowledge of GOD as I had been describing,
was not worth your possessing? A knowledge, that would unite you to him,
make you One Spirit, One Will, One Nature, with your heavenly
Father--that would give the highest relish to all the joys, and support
you under all the evils of life; that will stand by you, when every
outward comfort fails, when friends, and relations, and wealth, and
power, and all that earth is able to supply, can no longer yield you the
least support or satisfaction.

Convinced, as I think you must needs be, of the infinite value of such a
possession as this, I would now ask you, what it is that keeps you from
desiring and seeking to obtain it. Your answer, if you knew yourselves,
would be, that you did not at present feel the want of it.--This state
of insensibility, therefore, to "the things that belong to your peace,"
must arise from certain obstacles and impediments, which, agreeable to
my promise, I now proceed to enumerate.

We are told, that the famous Selden, on his death-bed, sent for
archbishop Usher, and, in the course of a most serious and affecting
conversation, assured him, that he had accurately surveyed almost every
part of literature and science, that was held in the highest esteem by
the sons of men; that he had a study filled with the most valuable books
and manuscripts in the world; and yet, that, at that time, he could not
recollect one single passage out of any volume in this large collection,
upon which he could rest his soul, or from which he could derive one ray
of consolation, except some that he had met with in the Holy Scriptures;
and that the most remarkable passage that then made the deepest
impression upon his mind, was this: "For the GRACE OF GOD that bringeth
Salvation, hath appeared unto all men, teaching us, that denying
ungodliness, and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and
godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the
glorious appearance of the great GOD, and our Saviour JESUS CHRIST."

"The GRACE OF GOD," indeed, "hath appeared unto all men." One of the
principal impediments to their sight of this Grace, is what poor Selden
complained of, viz. a looking for it in the writings of human reason,
and expecting to find it by the same learned labour with which we
investigate some mathematical or logical truth. Selden, with all his
learning, therefore, was obliged to seek for a True Knowledge of GOD, in
the volume of his own heart; and, agreeable to the direction of an
outward revelation, to look for the appearance of that Grace which it
promised, in a place, which his genius had not yet explored, and which
could never have been revealed to his outward eye. He had, no doubt,
"heard of GOD by the hearing of the ear," and could have accurately
demonstrated his existence and attributes--but, till that blessed
moment, "his eye had never seen him."

Thus, all those fine literary accomplishments, which feed the pride of
the scholar, (though, when properly applied, they have their uses, and
great uses too) must, nevertheless, be sacrificed, when they prove, as
they frequently do, very great impodiments to a spiritual knowledge of
GOD. The most towering genius upon earth, can never gain admittance into
the Kingdom of Heaven, till he condescends to the simplicity of a child,
and with faith and humility opens his heart to his Heavenly Father for
that true wisdom, which can only come by immediate revelation from him.

But the "wisdom of this world," or "science falsely so called," is not
the only impediment to our spiritual sight of GOD. There are many, who,
under a specious pretence of making a proper and honourable provision
for their families, involve themselves so deeply in business, as it is
called, that they will not allow themselves a single moment to attend to
the concerns of another world. And were we to enquire the reason of this
strange conduct, they might very properly make us the same answer, which
the Duke of Alva made to King Henry IV. upon another occasion: Did you
observe, my Lord Duke, said the Monarch, the great eclipse of the sun,
that lately happened?--No, may it please your Majesty, replied the
Duke--I have so much business to do on earth, that I have no leisure to
look up to heaven. In truth, my brethren, your mere men of business, and
a trading city like ours abounds with temptations to this kind of life;
I say, your mere men of business, either forget, in the hurry of
affairs, that their souls are immortal, and ought therefore to be fed
and attended to at least as much as their bodies; or else, to quiet
their consciences, they reason themselves into a belief that their souls
may die with their bodies, and therefore all thought or concern about
religious matters, is useless, and will only interrupt their worldly
pursuits.

Success in trade introduces wealth, and, with it, its never-failing
attendant, luxury. From this fatal source proceed a thousand impediments
to a religious life, that are more readily felt than enumerated. Hence
an amazing increase of expence, with an increasing taste for high
living, sumptuous apparel, and splendid entertainments. By an immoderate
attention to these, the minds of men are gradually weaned from those
good impressions, which they have received in their earlier years, from
sober, frugal, and industrious parents.--The peasant treads close upon
the heels of the courtier; and such is the reigning fondness for what is
called fashionable life, that people of the most affluent circumstances,
and who move in the highest sphere, are scarcely to be distinguished
from those of the most scanty fortunes; and even indigence itself puts
in its claim for a share of the outward glitter.--And it were well, if
the evil proceeded no further than this.

But if things should come to such a pass, that Religion itself, nay,
even the very appearances of it, should be deemed unfashionable; if
people should be afraid to come to the house of GOD, lest they should
have their taste called in question, lest they should be suspected by
their gay and worldly friends, of entertaining one serious thought about
another world, about GOD and their own souls; if the Sabbath, instead of
being wholly dedicated to, and spent in the service of, that GOD by whom
it was instituted, should be either lolled away in indolence, or spent
in posting of books, settling of accounts at home, or devoted to
entertainments and parties of pleasure abroad; if such should be the
consequences of an immoderate pursuit of business, and an inordinate
fondness for a fashionable life, would you not conclude, that these were
surely the greatest and most dangerous impediments to a true and saving
knowledge of GOD? If these evils have not appeared in such a degree, as
I have described them, I think, at least, they are not far from it; and
I begin to fear, that the time is approaching, when many amongst us will
be so far from "seeing GOD," as Job expresses it, "with their eyes,"
that they will not even "hear of him by the hearing of the ear." For
believe me, my brethren, we cannot know GOD, we cannot even desire to
know him, whilst our whole hearts and minds are engaged in the things of
the world, whilst we turn, with all the eagerness of desire, to the
senseless pageantry and pleasures of a vain and trifling age.

Shall I spare myself the pain of telling, what ought not to be an
offence to you to hear?--or will you give me leave to point out to you,
in plainer terms, what I apprehend to be your principal impediments to
such a view of the Divine Majesty, as would lead you to "abhor
yourselves, and repent in dust and ashes."

It cannot be denied, that luxury, extravagance, and dissipation of every
kind, have, within these few years, made a most rapid progress amongst
us.--Your ministers have long, perhaps too long, been silent upon these
subjects.--But though preventive medicines are sometimes given with
success, yet the symptoms of a disorder, as they appear in its process,
are what must principally direct the application. What they have now to
say, comes to you with this corroborating circumstance in its support,
that we speak not from what we have apprehended might be, but from what
we have seen hath actually come to pass.

We have observed, with real heart-felt concern, a general proneness to
pleasure, and a general indifference to the very forms of religion.--Our
discourses, though without particular applications, have been adapted,
as far as we were able to judge, to the circumstances of the people whom
we addressed.--We have not, however, been unconcerned spectators of your
conduct. We have observed, with what eagerness many of you have crouded
to scenes of amusement and dissipation, and what backwardness you have
shewn in attending the publick worship of GOD. Even the man of business
could devote many hours in the week, to the calls of worldly pleasure,
whilst he refused to give one to the calls of GOD upon his own Sabbath.

Matters are, indeed, too serious to be passed by in silence. We are your
ministers, we are your servants; we should not be faithful to you, nor
to ourselves, were we to neglect giving you the alarm, when we saw, or
even apprehended, that you were in imminent danger. The enemy hath
already entered your houses--he hath entered your hearts! Under the
specious disguise and appellation of innocent amusements, he is secretly
drawing off your hearts from GOD, and carrying you away captive at his
will--Use not, I beseech you, the word innocent, in vindicating your
pleasures--Nothing can be innocent, let it be ever so seemingly
trifling, that wholly engrosses the mind, and takes it off from
attending to the great concerns of Salvation. Amusements, though they
may be innocent at first, become more or less criminal, as they have a
greater or less tendency to wean the heart from GOD. Upon this maxim, I
leave it to your own experience to determine, what particular kind of
amusements has had the greatest tendency to effect this in you.

Far be it from me, to declaim, with an affected pharisaical severity,
against innocent recreations of any kind. But, Gracious GOD! can a
Christian complain of want of amusements, that has a family round him;
that has a dear child, or children, to educate; that has brothers, or
sisters, or relations, or friends; with whom he can live in a most sweet
and delightful intercourse of endearing offices? What a strange
perversion of nature, sense, and reason, to take delight in going
abroad, to have our affections excited by imaginary objects and romantic
representations, when we have so many real ones at home, in the course
of every day, and in the way of our duty, to call forth and promote
their best and highest exercise? I do not descend to particulars--let
these few hints suffice.--I have delivered them in love--in love, I
hope, they will be received.

Permit me, however, once more to repeat--that it is this immoderate
fondness for pleasure and dissipation, that keeps you from feeling the
real wants of your nature, and, consequently, from applying to the true
and only Source, from whence they can be fully satisfied. But this
deception cannot last long; false happiness has no sure foundation; it
must, therefore, totter and fall at last. You will not always be as gay,
as healthy, and as prosperous, as you are now.--The vigour of the best
constitution cannot long preserve you from sickness, and from
death.--Neither the abundance of wealth, nor the increase of power, nor
the support of popularity, can long protect you from disappointment and
distress. You may think as lightly as you please of religious duties
now; but, depend upon it, the hour is at hand, when every little neglect
of them, every little preference you have given to the solicitations of
pleasure, will wound you to the very heart. You will then be convinced
of the danger of trifling with that immortal spirit that is within you;
and deeply regret, that you have been so far from having "seen GOD,"
spiritually manifested in your hearts, that you have scarcely "heard of
him by the hearing of the ear."

I cannot dismiss you, without one observation more. Hypocrisy, and a
pharisaical righteousness, are as great, and perhaps greater impediments
to the true Knowledge of GOD, than any of those I have already
mentioned. The root is deeper, the evil more difficult to be eradicated.

Should any of you, therefore, have been solacing yourselves with the
view of your own fancied virtues, and thanking GOD, that you have not,
like others, been running after this or the other new and fashionable
amusement, but have kept yourselves strictly within the pale of outward
duties; I beseech you not to be too liberal of your censures, nor too
forward in prying into the conduct of your neighbours; but to look at
home with a jealous and watchful eye, to examine your own hearts, and
see, that whilst ye are "paying tithe of mint, and annise, and cummin,"
ye do not "neglect the weightier matters of the law, mercy, justice,
forbearance, and charity." Whilst ye have "heard of GOD by the hearing
of the ear," your eyes, perhaps, may not yet have seen him; whilst you
are abhorring and standing aloof from your brethren, as if ye were
holier than they, ye do not "abhor yourselves, and repent in dust and
ashes." Remember, that a censorious spirit, and a disposition to think
and speak evil of others, is as foreign to the Spirit of Christianity,
as any other evil temper or disposition can be.

To conclude: A true Christian will lament the general decline of
Religion, and wish and pray for better times, without being angry, or
shewing any marks of unkindness to his brethren. Yea, so far from
keeping himself at a distance, he will mingle, as occasion or duty
calls, with men of every class. He will be religious without severity,
and chearful without dissipation; he will instruct without seeming to
dictate, and reprove with such mildness, that his very censures shall be
received as the highest tokens of his love.

In this sweet Spirit of the Gospel of JESUS, Heaven grant that we may
mutually receive and impart such truths, as "belong to our peace," both
here and hereafter!



                            DISCOURSE XVIII.
                       On the Nativity of Christ.


St. LUKE, CHAP. ii. from VER. 6 to 20.

    "AND SO IT WAS, THAT WHILE THEY WERE THERE, THE DAYS WERE
    ACCOMPLISHED, THAT SHE SHOULD BE DELIVERED," &c.


In the first chapter of his Gospel, the Evangelist has given a
particular account of the conception and birth of John the Baptist, the
Salutation of the BLESSED VIRGIN, and her miraculous conception of the
HOLY JESUS. According to a regular series of historical facts, this
second chapter opens with a like circumstantial narrative of the
nativity of our BLESSED REDEEMER.

An edict is issued by Augustus Cæsar, enjoining all the subjects of the
Roman empire to repair to their several cities, in order to have their
names enrolled for a general taxation. In obedience to this imperial
decree, Joseph, the espoused husband of Mary, is obliged to leave
Nazareth, the place of his residence, and take a journey to Bethlehem
the city of David, to be enrolled there, because he was of the house and
lineage of David. Mary, his espoused wife, though "great with child,"
accompanies him. A most remarkable interposition of Divine Providence
appears in the whole transaction. The prophets had foretold, that the
MESSIAH should be born at Bethlehem, and that he should descend from the
family of David. The Roman emperor's decree was rendered subservient to
the accomplishment of these prophecies. Mary was thereby brought to
Bethlehem, and delivered of the MESSIAH, and her descent from the royal
line of David was publickly recognized.

Ver. 6. "And so it was, that while they were there, the days were
accomplished, that she should be delivered."

Ver. 7. "And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in
swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room
for them in the inn."

A plain but affecting narrative! The apartments of the inn, we may
suppose, were occupied by more honourable guests. The Virgin Mother was
content to retire to a stable, and to lie down among brutes. Hapless
Mary! we are ready to exclaim--is it thus, that the promises of the
Angel are to be accomplished? Is this to be "highly favoured?" And are
these the blessings, by which thou art to be distinguished from the rest
of thy sex? Must thy spotless Babe, at the very instant of his birth,
enter upon his Labour of Love? and must the stable at Bethlehem be the
first scene of that awful drama, which was afterwards closed on the
trembling top of Calvary?

But in what manner was the appearance of this illustrious Babe made
known to the world? Should not the princes and great ones of the earth
have had proper intelligence of his arrival, that they might have
hastened from their several kingdoms and provinces, thrown themselves at
his feet, paid him the homage due to his exalted character, and obliged
all their subjects to do the same? No--."GOD'S thoughts are not as man's
thoughts, neither are his ways as man's ways." The same reason for which
he thought proper to send his Angel to the humble Mary, induced him now
to give the first notice of his SON'S birth to a few simple shepherds.

Ver. 8. "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the
field, keeping watch over their flock by night."

Ver. 9. "And lo, the Angel of the LORD came upon them, and the Glory of
the LORD shone round about them, and they were sore afraid."

The pastoral life was once thought to be the happiest and most innocent
life upon earth. Far from the noise of cities, and the hurry of the busy
world, free from its anxieties, and ignorant of many of its vices, they
enjoyed the full tranquillity of the rural scene. As their flocks were
their only care, they had abundant leisure for meditation and prayer. As
they had no schemes of interest or ambition to accomplish, they were
plain, unprejudiced, and undesigning men. A few of these shepherds were
in the fields, bordering upon Bethlehem, watching by turns their sheep
the whole night, as was the custom of the country; when their senses
were suddenly struck with a great and unusual glare of light, in the
midst of which appeared an Angel of GOD, bright and glorious. They were
confounded with the excessive splendor. They trembled, and were sore
afraid. But the Angel, with all the sweetness and chearfulness of Heaven
in his countenance, thus comfortably addressed them:

Ver. 10. "Fear not: for, behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people."

Ver. 11. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour,
which is CHRIST the LORD."

Be not afraid! I am come, not to terrify you, but to bring you great and
joyous tidings, in which not yourselves only, but the whole nation of
the Jews, yea, all the inhabitants of the world, are deeply interested!
For he, of whom all the prophets prophesied, and whom all the people of
Israel have, according to the promise of GOD, long and ardently
expected, even the MESSIAH, the Saviour and Deliverer, is this night
born in Bethlehem, the city of David.

Ver. 12. "And this shall be a sign unto you--" a sign, by which you
shall know him, the moment you enter into his presence--"ye shall find
the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger."

Scarce had the Angel delivered his message, when a whole choir of his
celestial brethren burst forth with additional splendors from the
midnight sky, and saluted the shepherds' ears with a birth-day anthem.

Ver. 13. "And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the
heavenly host, praising GOD, and saying:" Ver. 14. "Glory to GOD in the
highest; and on earth peace, good-will towards men!"

No expressions of joy could have been more admirably adapted than these,
to so glorious an occasion: for the glory of the Divine Majesty was most
eminently displayed in that gracious message of peace and
reconciliation, of Love and Good-Will, which was here published to the
world. If those pure and perfect Intelligences could thus testify their
transport upon an event, in which an inferior order of beings were more
immediately concerned; surely, that order are continually bound to
render the highest and most grateful returns of praise, acknowledgment,
and love!

For us men, and for our Salvation, a GOD becomes incarnate. The ETERNAL
WORD clothes himself in clay. He assumes our nature in its most helpless
state; and is born, like one of us, a naked, weak, and wailing Babe.
Thus began the mighty process of Redeeming Love! To rescue us from the
misery of a fallen life; to restore the Divine Image to our souls; to
regain, for us, that state of rectitude, of union and communion with
GOD, which we had lost in Adam; and completely to repair the ruins of
nature were the benevolent purposes, which the GOD of LOVE determined to
accomplish by sending into the world his only-begotten SON. Well,
therefore, might the inhabitants of Heaven, at the prospect of such
ineffable goodness and condescension, break forth, enraptured, into
these sublime and joyous strains: "Glory to GOD in the highest; and on
earth Peace, Good-Will towards men!"

Ver. 15. "And it came to pass, as the Angels were gone away from them
into Heaven, the shepherds said one to another: Let us now go, even unto
Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the LORD hath
made known unto us."

They did not stay to "confer with flesh and blood;" to reason, and
doubt, and hesitate, whether this might not be a delusion; but, in the
true simplicity of faith, improved the heavenly warning, and hastened to
Bethlehem, in full assurance of meeting with every thing conformable to
the notice they had received.

Ver. 16. "And they came with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the
Babe lying in a manger."

Glorious confirmation and reward of the shepherds' faith! O that all who
call themselves Christians, would with the same child-like simplicity
surrender themselves to JESUS CHRIST! They have frequent and sufficient
warnings of his kind intentions towards them. They are assured, that he
is the Light and Life of men; and that if they apply to him, they will
receive the most salutary manifestations of this Life and Light in their
souls. Were they to listen and obey these warnings, and go as they are
directed, they would as surely find this Heavenly Babe in their hearts,
as the shepherds found him in the stable at Bethlehem.

Ver. 17. "And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying
which was told them concerning this Child."

In like manner, the true Believer, who hath experienced the operation of
the Spirit of GOD bearing witness with his spirit, that the Child JESUS
is born in his heart, cannot but "make known abroad," what he has felt
and experienced of this spiritual birth, though his testimony rarely
produces any better effects upon his hearers, than that of wonder and
astonishment.

Ver. 18. "And all they that heard it, wondered at those things, which
were told them by the shepherds."

"They were greatly amazed, and at a loss to know, what to make of the
report. They could not think it likely, that such a set of plain,
honest, undesigning men should have formed the story, and should go
about to impose it on the world. They could not but know, indeed, that
their testimony was strengthened by a general expectation, at that time,
of the MESSIAH'S appearance, and by the prevailing opinion that his
birth would be at Bethlehem: yet they were astonished, that he should be
born of such mean parents, and in such despicable circumstances; and
that persons of such low figure as these shepherds, should be the men to
whom GOD had sent an Angel to reveal it."

From the conduct of the shepherds, the Evangelist passes to that of the
Blessed Virgin, which differs much from theirs, as might indeed be
expected from her different situation and circumstances. For whereas,
"they made known abroad the saying that was told them concerning this
child," we are assured, that

Ver. 19. "Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart."

By "these things," we are doubtless to understand the whole series of
astonishing events, from the first salutation of the Angel, to this
visit of the shepherds.

Under the power of these reflections, methinks I see the Blessed Mother,
bending disconsolate over her shivering infant! Her countenance speaks a
thousand tender emotions of her heart! It is a look, composed of deep
anxiety, maternal fondness, compassion and love inexpressible! In her
varying features one may read too the varying sensibilities of her soul.

Sweet heavenly babe! How mild, how serenely soft thy aspect! How
seemingly satisfied with thy hard allotment! Surely the bleak winds will
pierce thy tender frame! Surely the rugged winter means not to relent
for thee! And yet the Messenger of Heaven hath assured me, that thou
shouldst be a JESUS, a SAVIOUR; that thou shouldst be called the SON OF
THE HIGHEST; that thou shouldst sit upon the throne of DAVID, and that
of thy kingdom there should be no end. But where are the ensigns of
royalty? where are the tokens of thy illustrious birth? Instead of a
sumptuous palace, thou art lodged in a loathsome stable. No bed of down
receives thy precious limbs! No warm and comfortable apartments shield
thee from the rude inclemencies of the air! A manger is thy cradle! And
thy poor indigent mother seems, under Providence, to be thine only
support! No courtiers attend to bow the knee, to pay the customary
homage due to royalty, and bid thee welcome to the throne of Israel. A
few simple shepherds have indeed been here, and tendered thee their
honest obeisance! They told too a wondrous tale, from the several
circumstances of which, I am now more and more persuaded, that the
finger of GOD is here; that his Veracity spoke in the salutation of the
Angel; that his Power and Goodness will be exalted by thy present
Humiliation; and that I must henceforth feel more than a mother's
fondness, and look upon thee, sweet Babe! as my LORD, my LIFE, and my
REDEEMER.

Such were the astonishing circumstances that employed the attention of
Mary; and thus it was, that "she kept all these things, and pondered
them in her heart." She did not publish her sentiments to the world. She
did not court the honour and respect of men, by displaying the dignity
of her babe, or telling abroad what she knew concerning him; but
satisfied with her own conviction, humbly waited, till Providence should
make use of some other means to acquaint the world with these "tidings
of great joy."

If now, like Mary, we seriously attend to, and ponder in our hearts all
the amazing circumstances of this great event, we cannot fail, I think,
of learning from thence a lesson of Humility. This amiable and
peculiarly Christian grace, is the foundation and ground-work of every
other excellence and perfection. Without it, we can have no pretensions
to Christianity; we are strangers to the Truth and Spirit of the Gospel:
"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye cannot be my
disciples!" As long as pride, vanity, arrogance, and inordinate
self-love, keep possession of thy soul, be assured, O man, that the Babe
of Bethlehem will not take up his residence with thee! In order to
invite this Heavenly Guest to thine heart, it must be as empty and free
from worldly ornaments, as was the stable in which he was born. "Be ye
then cloathed with humility." This plain and modest garb best becomes
the disciples of so meek a Master. Thou must feel thyself very poor,
before thou canst be rich in CHRIST. Thou must part with all that thou
hast, for this Pearl of great Price; and must come to him as naked and
helpless as a new-born babe, in a true child-like simplicity of faith.
It is this alone can give thee sweet tranquillity of soul, even that
"peace of GOD, which passeth all understanding;" that "white stone and
new name, which no man knoweth, save him that receiveth it." Thy soul
will then "magnify the LORD, and thy spirit will rejoice in GOD thy
SAVIOUR."

This inward spiritual change, is not the consequence of a bare
meditation upon the circumstances of our Lord's nativity, a simple
assent to, or belief of, the historical account given by the Evangelist.
No, it arises from an experience of the whole process in our own souls.
In vain was this Divine Infant born into the world, unless he is
likewise born in our hearts, not figuratively born, which is no birth at
all, but manifesting himself by a vital and essential union with our
spirits. This is regeneration, our new-birth, our birth to light, and
life, and glory. Those who have experienced this, must taste and feel,
in some degree, the raptures of those exalted spirits, who dwell
continually in the Beatifying Presence of their Master. They are raised
above flesh and blood: "It is not they that live, but CHRIST that liveth
in them." They are sensible of the daily growth of that Heavenly Nature,
which they receive from him, and which diffuseth a light through their
souls, that "shineth more and more unto the perfect day." Like the
shepherds returning from Bethlehem, they are continually "glorifying and
praising GOD for all the things that they have heard and seen."


The End of VOL. I.



Transcriber's Notes:

Missing or obscured punctuation was silently corrected.

Typographical errors were silently corrected.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent only when a
predominant form was found in this book.

Text that was in italics is enclosed by underscores (_italics_).





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