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in love, that you might be saved. You have kept up the profession of something that has been called Christianity, without feeling yourselves under any necessity to proceed farther: but now your outer-court will, probably, be taken away, and you will feel yourselves impelled, as it were, either to come in, and be Christians in reality, or to go out, and take your portion with the unbelieving and the abominable.
THE CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE OF REWARDS.
[Preached at the Circus, Edinburgh, Oct. 13, 1799.]
GAL. VI. 7, 8.
Be not deceived, God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh, shall of the flesh reap sorruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit, shalt of the Spirit reap life ever. Lasting.
COMMON Subjects, my brethren, are the most important, and need to be most inculcated. We are apt to think we have heard enough of them, and can expect but little, if any farther improvement from them. But such imaginations are founded in mistake. Though, generally speaking, we assent to the important truth which is here suggested, yet there are but few of us who feel its force, or properly act under its influence.
The solemn warning here given, is not unnecessary. Perhaps, there is nothing to which depraved creatures are more addicted, though nothing be more dangerous than self deception. It is from this predilection in favour of something that shall prophesy good concerning them, that the truth is disrelished, and those doctrines
and systems of religion which flatter their pride and cherish their security, are so eagerly imbibed. The human heart loves to be soothed. The pleasing sounds peace, peace though there be no peace, will be gratefully received. But let us not be our own enemies. To impose upon ourselves is all that we can do: God is not mocked. When all is said and done, whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Some men venture to hope that there is no hereafter, no harvest to follow; or that, though they persist in sowing to the flesh, yet they shall not of the flesh reap corruption: but this is a most forlorn hope. Uhappy men! Every thing around you proves that there is a God; and something within you, in spite of all your efforts to stifle its remonstrances, tells you, that you are accountable to him, and must give an account before him. To you the words that I have read are particularly addressed: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap!
Others, who admit a future state, yet hope to escape the just reward of their evil deeds, from an idea which they entertain of the general mercy of God. It is true, God is merciful; but his mercy is not connivance. He is merciful; but it is only through a mediator: while, therefore, you neglect his salvation, there is no mercy for you. You confess uot your iniquity upon the head of the substitute; therefore it will be found upon your own head. Your religion is no better than that of Cain, who brought an offering without a sacrifice: The Lord will not accept it. He is merciful; but it is to men of a broken and contrite spirit. Of others, he says, He that made them will not have mercy upon them; and he that formed them will show them no favour. O ye formalists! heathens under a Christian name! the passage that I have read looks hard at you: Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Others have derived a hope from the performance of certain superstitious rites, or from the bestowment of a portion of their wealth on some religious object. Much of this kind of delusion has been practised in Popish countries. Men who have lived a life of injustice, or debauchery, or both, have hoped to balance accounts
with the Almighty by performing a journey to the tomb of some departed saint, by building a church, or by endowing an hospital. It were well if this kind of sulf-deception were confined to Popish countries: but, alas! it is natural to unrenewed minds, of all nations and religions, to substitute ceremony in the place of judgment, mercy, and the love of God; and to hope to escape the divine displeasure by the works of their own hands. Are there any of this description here? We shall have a collection, this evening, for the printing of the New Testament in the Bengalee language. If I only wished for your money, I might say, Give, whatever be your motive! No, I am not so concerned for the salvation of the Heathen, as to be regardless of that of my own countrymen! I ask not a penny from such a motive: and, moreover, I solemnly warn you, that if you give all your substance in this way, it will avail you nothing. Be not deceived: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Finally Others flatter themselves that their iniquity will not find them out, seeing Christ has died. And true it is, with regard to all who believe in him, and who sow to the Spirit, that they will not be dealt with according to their deserts, but according to the merits of him in whom they have believed. Of this we shall have occasion to speak more particularly, hereafter. At present, let it suffice to observe, that unbelievers, who continue to sow to the flesh, have no interest in this mercy. There might as well have been no Saviour, nay, better, so far as their future happiness is concerned, than a Saviour not believed in, loved, nor obeyed. Iniquity, unlamented, will inevitably be our ruin. It is as true as though Christ had never died, that whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
It is a very serious and impressive truth which is here held up,
THAT ALL WHICH IS DONE IN THIS LIFE IS PREPARATORY TO ANOTHER: OR, THAT THE SORROWS AND JOYS OF A FUTURE WORLD BEAR A SIMILAR RELATION TO WHAT IS WROUGHT IN THIS, AS THE HARVEST BEARS TO THE SEED SOWN.
This is the subject to which I wish to call your serious attention and surely I may presume that such an attention will not be withheld.