« السابقةمتابعة »
5. In the last place, you may fee the reason why every truly good man, the more he groweth in religion, the more he groweth in humility. Growth in religion implies, or carries in it, a growing discovery of the glory of God, as it fhines in his works, his word, his ordinances, his providence. This neceffarily leads to felf-abafement. O how contrary to religion is pride! But, above all others, how abfurd, criminal, intolerable, is fpiritual pride? what a proof of felf-ignorance, as well as forgetfulness of God! The first views of a penitent are fixed on the enormities of his life; but when these are, in fome measure, fubdued, additional discoveries of the glory of God bring forth the latent corruptions of his heart. What affecting complaints does that eminent, zealous, faithful minister of Chrift, the apostle Paul, make in the following well known paffage, Rom. vii. 18. "For I know that in me (that is,
in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is pre"fent with me; but how to perform that which is good, I "find not." And verse 23, 24. And verse 23, 24. "But I fee another law "in my members, warring against the law of my mind, "and bringing me into captivity to the law of fin, which "is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who
fhall deliver me from the body of this death?" Nay, the cleareft views which a believer can take of the riches of divine mercy through a Redeemer, though they afford unspeakable confolation in God, tend alfo deeply to humble him, under a fenfe of his own unworthiness. The doctrine of the cross is not more refreshing to the broken in heart, than it is abafing to the proud; for it was chofen of God for this very purpose," that no flesh should glory
in his prefence."
On the whole, my brethren, as you cannot live under the direction of a better habitual principle, fo you cannot prepare for any act of folemn worship more properly, than by deep humility. To improve this difpofition, let me intreat you to make a ferious and impartial fearch into the fins you have been guilty of, in heart and conversation, by omiffion or commiffion; by neglecting your duty to God, or the ill performance of his worship, in public, in family, or in fecret; by neglecting your duty to your
neighbour, to yourselves, to your relations; or doing that which is wrong, by indulging, in any measure, the "luft "of the flesh, the luft of the eye, or the pride of life." To conclude all, you will never have a more fatisfying evidence, that your acts of worthip, ordinary or more folemn, have been acceptable to God, than if they ferve to clothe you with humility, and make you adopt and relish the words of Job in the text: "I have heard of thee by the "hearing of the ear; but now mine eye feeth thee. Where"fore I abhor myself, and repent in duft and ashes.”
REV. iii. 17.
Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.
N order to preach the Gospel with fuccefs, it is neceffary that we should begin, by establishing the great and fundamental truths, on which all the reft are built, and to which they conftantly refer. Nay, it is necessary, that we fhould often look back to these, and fee that we be not off the foundation, or that it be not weakly, or imperfectly laid. Of this fort, I take the guilt, mifery and weakness of our nature to be; and therefore have chofen the words now read, as the fubject of difcourfe, in which the fpirit of God reproves the felf-fufficiency, and self. righteousness of the church of Laodicea.
Because thou sayest I am rich, and increased with goods, &c. I fuppofe you will all eafily underftand, that the words are figurative, and are spoken entirely with a view to the fpiritual ftate of that church. In this light, let us confider what is precifely their meaning.
We may either fuppofe, that this charge is brought against the church of Laodicea, because there were many there, under the profeffion of the Gofpel, who were, notwithstanding, ftill in a natural and unrenewed ftate
ftrangers to the power of religion; of which, their being thus unhumbled, and infenfible of their guilt and mifery, was the evidence; and for which the remedy is prescribed in the following words: "I counfel thee to buy of me "gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich, and white "raiment that thou mayeft be clothed, and that the shame "of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes "with eye falve, that thou mayeft see."
Or we may fuppofe, that this reproof was in a great measure applicable to them all, in general; believers and unbelievers; the best of them being exceedingly prone to truft in themselves that they were righteous; instead of that humble dependance on the merit and grace of their Redeemer, which ought not only to be the refuge of the finner, but the confidence of the faint. And there is no queftion, that this is a proper caution to profeffing Chrif tians in every age, to beware of fplitting on the rock of felf-fufficiency.
But as this difpofition reigns in the heart of every one, that is yet at a diftance from God-is the foundation of their fecurity and impenitence, and is what they must be brought off from, before they can be reconciled to God; it is for their benefit, that I chiefly design this difcourse, though it may also be useful, and fhall be in part, applied to the children of God. It is an affecting thought, when purfued to its confequences; yet alas! it is unquestionably true, that in every affembly, fuch as this, of profeffing Christians, there are not a few, who are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity, under the wrath of God, and liable to the condemning fentence of his law; and at the fame time, that the far greateft part of them are ignorant of it, and know not, that they are wretched, and poor, and blind, and naked.
In difcourfing farther upon this fubject, therefore I shall
I. Endeavor to prove and illuftrate this truth: that all mankind are by nature in a ftate of fin and mifery, under the bondage of corruption, and liable to the wrath God.
II. I fhall briefly fhew you, that being brought to a lively fenfe, and genuine conviction of this, is the first, and a necessary step, to the faving knowledge of God, in Chrift-And in the last place, fhall make fome practical improvement of the subject.
I. In the first place then, I am to prove and illuftrate this truth; that all mankind are by nature in a state of fin and mifery, under the bondage of corruption, and lia ble to the wrath of God. What is faid in this paffage of the Laodiceans, is univerfally true, of the pofterity of Adam. Unless an inward and effential change has been wrought upon them by the grace of God, they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. It is also true of them, as well as the Laodiceans, that they know it not but vainly prefume themselves to be rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing. If these two things are jointly true of many of you my hearers, there is nothing in which you can have fo great a concern therefore, let me earneftly befeech your most serious attention, to what fhall be faid: as the fuccefs of this conviction is neceffary, to your understanding or profitting by any other part of divine truth, as I fhall afterwards fhew you.
The proof of the truth here afferted, can be only of two kinds. 1. From fcripture which is the teftimony of God declaring it. 2. From the visible state of the world, and our own experience finding it to be fo.
1. That all mankind are by nature in a flate of fin and mifery, appears from the exprefs, and repeated teftimony of the word of God. And this teftimony we have, not only in particular paffages, carrying the truth, but in the ftrain and fpirit of the whole, and the feveral difpenfations of Divine Providence there recorded, which are all of them, built upon this fuppofition, and intended to remedy this universal evil.
See what God declares: Gen. vi. 5. "And God faw "that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and "that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart, was "only evil continually." And again, "the imagination