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needy souls, – of enriching them through eternity; and of doing all this without any diminution of its stores.
The gospel is also a communicative treasure. It not only exbibits its riches to attract our admiration, but it kindly invites us to partake of all that it contains ; – it requires no previous merit, or worthiness, to entitle us to this privilege ; - it forbids our unbelieving scruples, and encourages us to take freely and largely of all its invaluable stores; it is sent from Heaven for the purpose of communicating its blessings to the souls of men. Many have been enriched by it already; and still it is continned, for the purpose of enriching more.
Let a person once possess the blessings of the gospel, and he can' never be impoverished. It contains durable riches; treasures which neither moth nor rust corrupt, and which thieves can never steal :- its blessings have eternity stamped on their nature ; and the title of those to whom they are conveyed, is scaled by the immutable porpose of God. Many mércies they may fosé; but not the treasures of the gospel. Their sense of interest in them inay sounctimes be lost, but not the blessings themsclves.
The treasures of the gospel, when sensibly enjoyed, are satisfying The small degree in which they are experienced on earth, affords the believer a kind of satisfaction, which nothing besides can possibly communicate. When fully possessed in Heaven, the soul can desire no more.
From all these considerations we may justly conclude, that the gospel is a treasure of incomparaóle worth. It is more precious than gold; yea, than much fine gold: - it is better ihan rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. All the blessings which God bestows are valuable; but this is supereminently so. Worldly enjoyments are the brass, natural endowments are the silver; but the gospel and its blessings are the gold,- the most valuable of all ihose blessings which divine liberality confers on the chil. dren of men. - Though possessed of all that the world calls good or great, if destitute of the gospel, we should be miserably poor indeed; but favoured with this treasure, and interésted in its blessings, we are rich in all situations, - eminently rich; and rich for eternity.
How thankful then should we be for the revelation of this gospel-treasure! How diligently should we explore and dig into this mine! God forbid that the Gospel should be in our hands as a price in the hands of a fool, who has no heart to it! Let us never rest satisfied, without a well-grounded persuasion that we are interested in all the rich blessings it contains. Possessed of this treasure ourselves, let us, by every possible means, compassionately endeavour to impart it to others.
( 469 )
TO PREACHERS OF THE GOSPEL.
I SINCERELY congratulate you, my friends, on the success which, in so many instances, attends your labours in the Lord's vineyard. Blessed are the feet that carry the glorious light of the gospel into the benighted corners of our land, where the Sun of Righteousness never shone! Blessed are the lips that preach the glad tidings of salvation to the poor !
With pleasure and thankfulness I have witnessed your crowded congregations and your active zeal. Many, I doubt - not, under your ininistry have been born again, are fighting the good fight, and will be your joy and crown in the great day.
But, amidst the splendid profession of the present day, have you not observed and lamented a superficial religion that promises but little real or solid effect; a religion that leaves the heart unsanctified, the passions unsubdued, and the life unrenewed? We hear much of convictions of sin; but let us trace these convictions to their source, and follow them in their effects : - In many instances, they are the alarms of terror, which, like the transient blaze, soon vanish, rather than the “ godly sorrow that worketh repentance unto life.” Too often they fall short of that new birth which is represented by “ putting off the old man, and putting on the new.”. Sin, though called by every term that is vile, is not mortified; the easily besetting ‘sin is still predominant, and the self-denying duties of the gospel are neglected.
In other instances, these convictions are as suddenly changed into the joys of assurance ;- doubts and fears are dismissed, and the absolute and unconditional promises of the gospel are the only food that is relished. While many thug boast of being carried out of themselves, Satan is spreading his suares within, pride is growing, corruption is gaining strength; the Christian armour is laid aside, or not used with effect; the heart is not guarded, prayer and watchfulness are not kept up, duties are neglected ; and, while they think themselves walking in the light, their spiritual life is going to decay: they grow in assurance, but not in grace. In many, this unhappy delusion lasts too long; and, like a false light, leads the un. vary traveller astray. All is inviting ; – the Valley of Humiliation is soon passed ; - no self-denying duties occasion ter
the crown is held out, but the cross is kept back. With this easy religion, many join the number of gospel professors. While the gospel offers wine and milk without money, and without price, they are ready to come at its call; but when i says, “ Take my yoke upon you,” they turn a deaf car to its commands, and “ go away sorrowful.” While they glory in Christ, as loving the vilest of sinners, they forget that no uno sanctified soul can be a subject of his kingdom.
Can we wonder if, in other instances, these sudden transports of light and joy are as suddenly followed by darkness and gloom? This sad change is inmediately attributed to the absolute will of him who doth all things according to his good pleasure; or to the great enemy of souls, who is permitted to practise his arts upon the minds of believers. Instead of examining every corner of the heart for that secret iniquity which separates between God and the soul, every page in the Bible is turned over, that the eye may be directed to some word of comfort, that may operate as a charm to dispel the gloom. Have you not observed a dangerous enthusiasur, that mistakes a heated imagination and agitated nerves, for divine influence and the work of the Spirit? - an enthusiasm by which the blessed Jesus is wounded in the house of his friends; by which his holy Spirit is grieved ; – that divine Spirit who can be traced only by his fruits and effects, and who will not dwell in the careless and negligent soul!
In consequence of this superficial religion, do you not observe a sad deficiency in the characters of gospel professors, in their closets, in their families, in the world! Oh! what is become of that noble spirit which animated the Christians of the first age, of whom so many things are said in the Acts of the Apostles ? Where is that Heavenly mindedness, that self-denial and mutual love that distinguished them for the world? Where is that" charity that suffereth long and is kind, that envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not pulled up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, believeth all things, bopeth all things, and endureth all things?” Where is that scrupulous fear of sin that shunned even the appearance of evil, that kept a strict guard over every avenue of the soul? How rare now are bright examples of unaffected holiness! How many professors cause the enemies of the gospel to blaspheme by their uneven and unsteady walk and conversation in the world!
Have I drawn the picture of some gospel-professors too strong ? Do you not join in lamenting this superficial religion? Would
you not rejoice in the revival of that primitive piety, that puts on the gospel yoke while it receives the gospel promises?
Will you then, my friends, perinit me to enquire, with you, What are the most likely means, with the divine blessing, to revive this primitive piety? I have frequently thought, that a more scriptural strain of preaching would be likely to have this happy etteci, --- would produce a more solid profession, more humble believers, and more Bible Christians.
In representing the conversion of a sinner, you justly begin
ADDRESS TO PREACHERS OF THE GOSPEL. 471 with conviction of sin. But, my friends, are you not too easily satisfied with the strong language of terror, - with convictions, that, in many sad instances, fall short of conversion, of that great and regenerating change “ that creates the soul anew in Christ Jesus,
- of that “ repentance which is unto life?" Do you endeavour to lead the sinner to those secret chambers of iniquity, where no eye but God's can penetrate, where secret faults lie concealed, where the seeds of iniquity are preparing to “ bring forth fruit unto death?” Convinced that such an intimate and heart-searching view of his depraved nature is not to be obtained by a superficial review, do you urge him to much self-examination, to prove himself diligently by the word of God? In those secret retirements, he would find out the deceitfuluess of his heart; and especially that easilybesetting sin, which calls for all his watchfulness: he would be more aware of the devices of his spiritual enemy, and more carefully watch against temptation : he would feel more need of the Christian armour of watchfulness and prayer : he would feel his need of “ the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit:" he would feel his need of a better righteousness, and of that blood that cleanseth from all sin.
From a foundation thus laid, in a thorough conversion of heart to God, might we not expect a firmer superstructure of piety and holiness?
Permit me further to enquire, Whether, in the general course of your preaching, you do not too much keep back those selfdenying duties that are so strongly enforced by the gospel? As followers of the Lamb, as soldiers of the cross, are we not calJed out to a dangerous and painful warfare with Aesh and blood; with inbred corruptions, to pluck out right eyes, to cut off right hands, to crucify the old man with its affections and lusts ?
This is a subject, my friends, that calls loudly for your attention. Many of your professing hearers seem to know liitle of this spiritual wartare. "They talk much of the great enemy of souls, but they seem unacquainted with the devices with which he ensnares them. To him they attribute all their doubts of salvation ; these are the only weapons of the adversary which they seem to fear; and they seek for assurance, as the only shield against bis fiery darts. When he attacks them with heart-sins, they are not aware of his designs. When he makes war upon them with fleshly lusts, they are not prepared for his assaults, -- and too oftep fall: or, finding the contest difficult, they leave off
' striving, and sit down with this sad conclusion, that grace will do all; and thus “ continue in sin, that grace may abound," Many thus walk, of whom we may say, weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ."
Oh! that upon this subject you would cry aloud and spare not; that you would shew God's professing people “ their fransgressions, and the house of Israel their sins!" Cry aloud
against that hypocrisy, which says, Lord! Lord! yet doth not the things that he commandeth; against that insincerity which spares some beloved sin.
Be not content, my friends, to hear your people take the gospel on their lips; be not content till you see it shine in their Jives, regulating their tempers, subduing their corruptions, sanctifying them in soul, body, and spirit. Rest not till you see “ Christ formed in thein” in all holy dispositions; in all the graces of the Christian temper.
Let them hcar much of heart-religion. For want of this, vital godliness decays, closets are neglected, the spirit of prayer is departing, secret sins are not discerned, duties are neglected, and “ many have a name” only “to live, while they are dead.”
You will, I am sure, excuse the liberty I have taken with you. I write under the strongest impressions of the importance of the subject; under a paintul feeling of that superficial profession; that neglect of gospel-holiness, which disgraces the religion of Jesus.
O, iny friends, be not afraid to preach the whole gospel, in all its sanctifying influences, as well as its saving love! You may be reproached for it as legal. Some will say, “ this is a hard saying, who can bear it?" And, many who cannot give up their evil passions and corrupt affections, may depart and walk no more with you. But none of these things will move the faithful ambassadors of Jesus. While they declare faithfully all his counsels, - while they keep close to him and his gospel, they have nothing to fear. While you are bis zealous and faithful labourers, you have much to hope. His blessed assurance is, “ Lo! I ain with you always, even to the end of the world.” May you, my friends, after being made the honoured instruments of turning many to righteousness here, be received by your divine Lord and Redeemer, to shine for ever in his kingdom above!
4 HINT TO TROUBLESOME PROFESSORS OF THE GOSPEL,
He that troubleth you shall bear his own judgment,
Gal. v, 10. CHRISTIANITY, at its commencement, had to oppose not only the natural pride apd obstinacy incident to corrupt națure ; but prejudices arising from the practice of Gentilism, and from mistaken views of the Mosaic dispensation. Many of the Jews believed the gospel, or professed to believe it; but, from im perfect notions of its pature and freeness, and from an