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was no truth or solidity in religion-no essential difference between sin and holiness-no future retribution; but that, at death, all would cease to exist, or be alike happy; why is he not as well pleased with recounting the vices, as the virtues of his deceased friends?
There is a story recorded in the book of Acts much to our purpose. A woman named Tabitha died at Joppa. This woman was full of good works and alms deeds, which she did for the poor. Soon after her death, the apostle Peter came to the house; and the friends of the deceased took him into the chamber, where her corpse lay; and they stood by him weeping, and shewed him the coats and gar. ments, which she made, while she was alive, to distribute among the poor. They took a mournful pleasure in contemplating and relating her past works of charity and goodness.
This sentiment is not peculiar to the godly: It is common to mankind. It is a sentiment wrought in us by the Author of nature to be a standing mon itor of a future state, and of the necessity of religion to future happiness.
When we hear of the death of a person, whom we knew, it is a common inquiry, how he felt in his sickness, and what views he had of another world. If a child or near friend is taken from us, we catch hold of every pious expression which dropt from him in his sickness, and apply it to strengthen our hope, that he died in the exercise of religion. We observe, with attention, every cast of the countenance, every motion of the hand, every elevation of the eyes, which seems to indicate the exercise of devo tion; and hence we encourage a persuasion, that he died in faith, commending himself to the mercy of Even they, who in the ordinary course of life, discover no great regard to religion, will make
such observations on their dying friends. Hence it appears, that all men, when their minds are softened, composed and solemnized by an afflicting proyidence, unavoidably entertain a sense, that there is a future state, and that religion is the one thing needful.
7. We will make one reflection more and conclude. How different is the treatment, which Christ gives to us, from that which we give to him!
When we knock at his door, he readily opens to us. He makes us welcome to his arms-takes us into his chambers-stretches over us the banner of his love-spreads a feast before us, and bids us eat abundantly, without money and without price. But when he comes to the door of sinners-when he knocks and urges for admission-when he calls to them, "Open the door, and I will come in and sup with you;" do they as readily open to him? Nay; they often spurn him from their door. There are some, who bid him depart out of their coasts.
May he not often complain even of his professed friends. To them he calls in such language as this; "Open to me, my love, my undefiled, for while I wait at the door, my head is wet with the dew, and my locks with the drops of the night." But how indifferent and thankless is the answer too often returned. "I have put off my coat for repose; how shall I put it on to meet thee? I have washed my feet for my bed; how shall I tread the floor and defile them, to let thee in ?"
Could such ingratitude be expected from those, who have experienced the grace of Christ in their application to him?
Remember, my Christian friends, the kindness of your youth, the love of your espousals, when you went after Christ in the wilderness. Remember your former fears and distresses under a conviction VOL. IV.
of your sins. Remember what earnest applications you made to your Savior, and what kind answers, in due time, you received. Remember what comfort you felt, when you could call him your Savior and friend, and could appropriate the evidences and tokens of his love. Remember your former zeal for his service, and your professed dedication to him. Has your zeal languished, and your love waxed cold? Remember, how you have received and heard how you have resolved aud promised; and hold fast and repent. If sinners treat with indifference the calls and invitations of the Savior; yet who would expect this from you? Did you not promise, that you would be holiness to the Lord, and that all your works, like the first fruits, should be consecrated to him? What iniquity have ye found in him, that you should depart from him and walk after vanity? I beseech you by the mercies of Christ, by your own experience of his mercies, and by the promises, which you have made, that you present yourselves living sacrifices holy and acceptable which is your reasonable service.
Now the Lord establish hearts unblameable in holiness before God, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Baby SERMON XIV.
Avarice and Dishonesty covered with the Pretext of Prudence and Charity.
MATTHEW xxvi. 8.
-To what purpose is this waste?
A SERIOUS question, one would at first
suppose, importing a prudent concern, lest the bounties of heaven be misapplied or thrown away. And certainly the blessings, which God bestows, ought to be received with thankfulness, and used with discretion. In the present case, however, the complaint was without foundation: It proceeded wholly from dishonesty and avarice; not from benevolence and gratitude. The occasion of it was a costly offering which a godly woman made in honor of the Savior.
As Jesus was sitting at table in the house of a friend, named Simon, there came a woman with a box of precious ointment, which she poured on Jesus' head, in testimony of her esteem of him, love to him, and faith in him. There were others at the table; but him she distinguished from all the rest by this peculiar token of regard. If the disciples right
ly calculated the value of the ointment, when they said, "It might have been sold for three hundred pence," it was certainly a precious offering; for three hundred Roman pence were in value equal to about ten pounds sterling. Precious as it was, Jesus, whose frugality never suffered the fragments of a meal to be lost, did not consider this as a waste of property; for he justified the woman's conduct against those who complained of it: "Why trouble ye the woman? She hath wrought a good work upon
In the eastern countries it was a custom for a people, at entertainments, to pour fragrant oils on such guests as they designed to honor. To this usage there is an allusion in the fortyfifth Psalm; "God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows:" And in the twentythird Psalm; "Thou preparest my table, thou anointest my head with oil, my cup runneth over."
By pouring this ointment on Jesus, the woman expressed her sense of his high dignity, as the Son of God, the promised Redeemer," who was anointed to preach the gospel to the poor, to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and to set at liberty them who are bound." Honor paid to this Savior is here called "a good work."
Neither institution, nor custom requires of us the particular offering made by this woman. And as Christ is no longer on earth, we cannot directly address him with the ceremony which she used. There are other ways, however, in which we may honor him with as much significance, and to as good acceptance, as she did. Our profession of his gospel, obedience to his precepts, imitation of his virtues, zeal in his cause, support of his worship, attendance on his ordinances, liberality to his friends,