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they hate it, till the Lord gives them up to judicial blindness!
My beloved fellow sinners, as you value your immortal souls, do not yield to such temptations. Do not shrink from the discovery of your real character and condition, while hope remains. The knowledge of the disease is the first step towards recovery: but a groundless imagination that there is no danger, is the common prelude to an incurable prevalence of the malady. As reasonable agents, examine this matter with an accuracy and impartiality proportioned to its importance: that in case your confidence of safety should be found a mere presumption, you may now seek and obtain that inward satisfaction which the prophet felt, when assured that "his iniquity was taken away, "and his sin purged." Can you doubt, whether it be better to discover your danger now, or to remain strangers to it, till God shall call you to receive your eternal retribution?
But are any of you so deeply convinced of sin,
as to be ready to say, "Woe is me, I am undone!" Let me caution you, my brethren, against despondency. The wreck and ruin of self-confidence makes way for evangelical hope. The Son of God came into the world to save sinners, to seek that which was lost, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance, to reconcile enemies by the blood of his cross, to receive gifts for the rebellious,
to justify the ungodly, to sanctify the unholy: to give life to the dead, strength to the helpless, liberty to the captive, and felicity to the wretched. He invites all who are athirst, yea, all that are willing, to come and buy of him the blessings of salvation, without money and without price. "Him "that cometh unto me," saith the Saviour, “I "will in no wise cast out." "Behold then the "Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the "world!" He is "the Author and Finisher of "faith;" and he hath pointed out to you the proper way of seeking peace and salvation, in these most instructive and encouraging words; "Ask "and it shall be given you; seek and you shall "find; knock and it shall be opened unto you: "for every one that asketh receiveth, and he that "seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it "shall be opened'."
But some hearers of the gospel are sufficiently confident that their sins are forgiven, and that they have experienced that change which is described in the scripture: yet they are not disposed to say, "Here I am, Lord, send me." They shew no zeal for the honour of God; no readiness for self-denying services, no tokens of being constrained by the love of Christ to live as his devoted servants. It does not appear that their terrors were accompanied by humiliation and
Matt. vii, 7, 8.
hatred of sin, or their comforts by the sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience. But let us all beware of this delusion; "for every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and "cast into the fire."
Finally, my Christian brethren, I beseech you by the mercies of God, to desire an increase of that spiritual knowledge which produces humility; but at the same time to watch against discouraging fears, while conscious of integrity in your professed faith and love, and your desire to honour the Lord by thankful obedience. For, these indulged and needless apprehensions render the mind too feeble for active service or patient suffering; and they give religion a forbidding and unamiable aspect. Let us therefore unite all our contemplations on other subjects, with frequent meditations on the mercy and grace of God our Saviour; be very careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit by evil tempers or a selfish behaviour; and be diligent in every means of grace. Above all, let us pray without ceasing for such a sweet sense of the Lord's pardoning mercy and abundant grace, as may animate all our endeavours to shew the holy tendency of our principles, and to make those "ashamed who would falsely accuse our good "conversation in Christ."
I JOHN, iv, 8.
GOD IS LOVE.
THE sacred writers do not enforce practical religion, by such inducements as are commonly suggested by moralists and philosophers. The beauty of virtue, its utility to mankind, and its benign effects on the health, peace, interest, and reputation of the possessor, may be mentioned with propriety as subordinate recommendations: but the authority, command, example, and glory of God, constitute the primary motives and ultimate object of genuine holiness; and every duty is inculcated in the New Testament, by the encouragements and obligations of the gospel. "Beloved," says the aged apostle, "let us love one another, for "love is of God, and every one that loveth is born "of God, and knoweth God; he that loveth not
"knoweth not God: for GOD IS LOVE.-In this "( was manifested the love of God towards us; be"cause that God sent his only begotten Son into "the world, that we might live through him." Let us then,
I. Enquire how such compendious propositions as this in the text, should be understood.
II. Illustrate the truth and importance of it, from the dealings of God with his creatures, especially with mankind.
III. Point out certain perverse inferences, which are frequently deduced from it.
IV. And lastly, make some practical use of the subject.
I. In what manner ought we to understand such compendious propositions, as this in the text?
There is a peculiar curse, as it were, connected with indolence and levity in the grand concerns of religion. If a man will trifle in matters of the last importance, and if, instead of carefully examining the meaning of an expression, as it stands in the context and forms a part of a consistent revelation,