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and juftice fully satisfied, but a powerful, an Almighty Saviour, able to fave to the uttermoft, all that come unto God by him! He has gone through his work, in the greatness of his ftrength! He hath foiled your spiritual enemies, and made a fhew of them openly, triumphing over them in his crofs! My brethren there is the greater need earnestly to intreat your attention to this, that a flothful defpondency, and diffidence of fuccefs, is what keeps many finners from a hearty return to God. There is more of this in the hearts of many than they themselves are aware of: I do not mean despair of mercy alone, but defpair of recovery from a state of fin, of deliverance from the bondage of corruption, and attaining to the difpofition and charac ter of God's children. Are there not many of you, my brethren, who, though you, in fome meafure, fee the excellence and happiness of a state of favor with God and holy conformity to his will, yet finding how strongly you are wedded to the world and its finful enjoyments, and knowing, by experience, the unfuccefsfulness of former refolutions taken in your own ftrength, you have no hope of fuccefs, and fo, in a fullen obftinacy, refufe to attempt what you think you cannot accomplish? Do you not fee, from what hath been faid, both your former error, and what is now the proper cure? You can do nothing of yourselves; but through Chrift ftrengthening you, you may do all things. He is an Almighty Saviour: he is ftronger than the ftrong man who detains you in bondage: he is able to knock off the ftrongest fetters, and let the prifoners go free. Wherefore, I befeech you, my dear friends, as you value your everlasting intereft, that you do not fit fill and perish, but arife and be doing, and the Lord will be with you.
In the 4th place, the fame inftruction, with little dif ference, may be given to the people of God. As selfrighteousness and felf-confidence, are the ruling characters of the unregenerate: fo they are diseases never entirely cured in this world, even in the beft, and lamentably prevalent in many of God's own children. As their work is to obtain a yictory over their corruptions and grow in the exercife of every Chriftian grace, they often at
tempt both these, too much in their own ftrength. As the natural and unavoidable confequence of this, they meet with frequent difappointments; these make them ready to fit down in flothful careleffnefs, and decline the struggle to which they find themfelves unequal, nay, too often not without fecret murmurings and complaints against God, as a hard master, requiring bricks, and giving no straw; inftead of concluding, from their unfuccefsfulness, that they must have taken their measures wrong, they conclude the attempt itself to be vain, and the work impracticable. But, my brethren, here is a truth, which not only the word of God every where teaches, but which almost every part of his Providence towards us is intended to ratify, that in us dwelleth no good thing; that we can hardly have too low an opinion of our own worth, or our own ftrength; but, at the fame time, that God is able and willing to perfect ftrength in our weakness. He is able to uphold the weakeft felf-denied Chriftian in the midst of the most dangerous temptations, though he often fuffers the felf-fufficient to fall before his enemies. Wherefore, my dear friends, believe in the Almighty power of your Redeemer; and I hope you will know to your experience, that "he giveth power to the faint, and to them that have "no might, he increaseth ftrength.”
In the 5th place, fuffer me to improve this fubject, for the comfort and refreshment of every difconfolate and mourning foul. As weary and heavy laden finners are the perfons to whom the call of the gofpel is addreffed, so furely it also speaks peace to weary and heavy laden faints. This world was plainly defigned as a place of trial and difcipline, and not of complete reft to the children of God. It often pleases him, in his fovereign and holy providence, not only to afflict them with outward trials, but to hide his face from them, and vifit them with diftrefs of foul. May not all fuch fee, from what has been faid, that they are but conformed to their Redeemer; that they are but treading in the path which he hath fanctified: and is it not" enough for the difciple, that he be as his Mafter, "and for the fervant, that he be as his Lord?" It would be a great point gained, if we could but be convinced, that
afflictions are what we must look for, and fo not haftily and rafhly conclude, that he is "rebuking us in his wrath, "and chaftening us in his hot displeasure." Is it not comfortable, and is it not true, that Chrift hath taken away the fling of death, and of every fuffering from his people, and left nothing but that correction which is healthful and neceffary? Above all, ought you not to look to the power of your Redeemer, and his almighty ftrength, as fufficient to fupport you now, and at laft work your complete deliverance? Banish every thought that tends to represent your cafe, either as fingular to abate your fenfe of the divine goodness, or as defperate to weaken your hands in feeking relief; and make your request to God, "with ftrong crying and tears, that he, as the God of hope, "would fill you with all joy, and peace in believing, that you may rejoice with joy unspeakable, and full of glory." 6th. I fhall now conclude all, with an earnest invitation to all intending communicants, to come to the table of the Lord, and, by faith, to feed upon the rich entertainment that is there provided for them. See here the price of your redemption; the evidence and fecurity of your pardon; the feal of God's love to you; and the certain pledge of every neceffary bleffing. "It pleased the Fa"ther, that in Chrift fhould all fulness dwell, and of his "fulness you may all receive, and grace for grace." His body, broken, is the bread of life, that must nourish your fouls to their everlasting state. His blood, fhed, is a never failing cordial to a broken spirit, and a moft excellent refreshment to the foul that pants in a parched wilderness. May the Lord himself meet with us and blefs us, vifit us with his gracious prefence, and make us joyful in his house of prayer. Amen.
HEBREWS iii. 13.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called to day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of Sin.
E fee many myfterious things in the frame of nature, and the course of Providence. But nothing can be more mysterious and wonderful than what we may often fee in the state of our own hearts. When there is no present foliciting temptation, and when we confider, in a cool and deliberate manner, the confequences of vice and wickedness, even barely from the dictates of natural confcience, it seems furprizing, that, in any inftance, we fhould yield to it; that we fhould be induced to break the peace of our own minds, and provoke the vengeance of an Almighty Judge; nay, to do fo for a trifling, momentary, and uncertain fatisfaction. But if it be unreasonable to offend God at all, and to take but a few steps in the paths of fin, how much more above measure astonishing is it, that men should adhere to their former mistakes, and fhould not open their eyes after repeated admonitions of their danger, and daily experience of their own folly!
I believe every body will be fenfible, that many finners, even fetting afide the confideration of fome of the most im
portant religious truths, act in a manner fo directly oppofite to their own prefent interest as is not to be accounted for, without fuppofing them under an amazing degree of blindness and infatuation. This is to be refolved into the deceitfulness of sin, a circumftance on this great fubje&t well worthy of our most serious attention.
In entering on the deceitfulness of fin, let us reflect a little on the meaning of the expreffion. Who is it that is deceived; It is the finner himself. Does he need to be deceived? Is there not in us all a ftrong enough direct inclination to that which is evil, ready to burst asunder every restraining tie? There is fo; and yet there is more in our danger than merely a propenfity to fin. There is also a deceit and impofition which over-reaches us, and infnares us into the commiffion of what, but for that miftake, we would have avoided or abhorred. There is very frequent mention made of this in fcripture; many cautions against being deceived; and indeed all fin is reprefented as error and delufion, in which a deceived heart hath turned us afide.
Again, if the finner is deceived, who is it, or what is it that deceives him? Here we muft obferve, that when we fpeak of fin's being deceitful, it is not fo much any thing without us, taking the advantage of our weakness, but it is the effect and evidence of the strength of corruption within us, which makes us fee things in a wrong light and draw unjust and pernicious confequences from them. Let us always remember, that the whole frame of nature, although it be the scene of temptation, and even the fuel of concupifcence, is faultlefs in itfelf; nay it prefents us every where with leffons of piety and obedience to its Author. The mistake here arifes wholly from ourselves. There is a remarkable difference between the deceitfulness of fin and deceit of any other kind; in worldly tranfactions, the perfon deceived is never fuppofed unfaithful to himself, but is impofed on by the fuperior art and cunning of the deceiver. But it is otherwife in fpiritual matters, where the deceitfulness of fin is but another form of speech for the corruption and treachery of our own hearts. It is true, in fome inftances of delufion, there is