« AnteriorContinua »
in regard to each of these particulars is, perhaps, the best criterion that can be fixed upon, to ascertain whether or not that good work be begun, and be advancing in us, which God will perform until the day of Jesus Christ. Our advice, therefore, to communicants in general, and to those of you in particular who have this day, for the first time, separated yourselves from the world, and entered into covenant with God, is, to study to preserve, by watchfulness and prayer and self-denial, and by avoiding every appearance of evil, whatever has a direct, or even a remote, tendency to weaken that holy and heavenly frame and tone of mind, which, we trust, many of you have this day felt, and which it is one great object of shewing forth the Lord's death at his holy table to cherish and confirm.
One thing is indispensably necessary in order to avoid the dreadful consequences of apostasy, the laying aside of the sin that most easily besets you, not merely for a few days before and after a communion, but for ever. Part with it you must : for so long as it is retained, you are still in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity, and have neither part nor lot in the salvation of the gospel. In vain do you hope
hope to please God, by being doubly assiduous in other duties : for, instead of accepting them at your hands, it is unto such as you that he says, What hast thou to do to declare my statutes, or that thou shouldst take my covenant in thy mouth ? seeing thou hatest instruction, and castest my words behind thee.
those, you say, 'who are once in a state of grace cannot finally fall from it, nor will God suffer his elect finally to perish. True: but who are they that were once in a state of grace ? Surely not those who turn the grace of God into licentious
And who are the elect, but they who are chosen unto holiness, through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth? The doctrines which convey wholesome nourishment to those who really love God, are thus converted into poison by men of reprobate minds. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his; and let every man that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
Ah! but says the Antinomian, there is one text that you have carefully avoided touching upon“ A just man falleth seven times a-day, and riseth up again.” I dare say there are few of you who have not heard this text quoted, and a very improper use made of it; but perhaps it never occurred to you that there is no such text to be found in all the Bible. Solomon indeed says that a just man falleth seven times, but he does not say seven times a-day; nor is he speaking of a just man's falling into sin, but into suffering or affliction. Lay not, says he, Proverbs, xxiv. 15, &c. Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous ; spoil not his resting place: for a just man falleth seven times, that is, very often into trials and sufferings, and riseth up again, or is extricated from them: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Let those, then, who pretend to quote scripture
to palliate their immoral and licentious conduct, beware lest they incur the awful penalty denounced against such conduct in the conclusion of the last chapter of Revelation, with which I close the present discourse. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
SERMON XVI. .
ON SOBRIETY AND VIGILANCE AGAINST TEMPTATION.
1 PETER, V. 8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the
devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour.
HAT we are constantly exposed, in a world like this, to temptations to evil, is seen and felt by every individual of the human race; but that many of these temptations arise from the agency of evil spirits, and that all of them are increased by their power and influence, is not so generally acknowledged. If this were a subject of mere curiosity, or a question of abstract speculation only, we might either prosecute or drop our enquiries respecting it, as fancy or inclination might suggest. But if it be a subject which materially affects our present and future interests and happiness, and if it be clearly revealed as such in scripture, then it becomes an indispensable duty to enquire what we ought to believe and know concerning the existence and agency of Satan and his angels. In prosecuting this subject, I shall,
1. Enquire whether there be any rational grounds for dismissing this doctrine from our creed.
II. I shall shew, that the existence and agency of evil spirits are clearly revealed in scripture, and supported by matters of fact and experience. And,
III. I shall direct your attention to that improvement of the subject which the apostle here suggests, Be sober, be vigilant.
I. Let us enquire whether there be
any rational grounds for dismissing this doctrine from our creed.
Is it because we do not see them that we disbelieve the existence of spiritual intelligences, whether good or bad ? To allege their being invisible as an argument to disprove their existence, would be to deny the being of a God. Is the impossibility of conceiving how immaterial spirits can receive or impart ideas, pleaded against their existence ? We reply, that it does not follow from our ignorance of the manner in which spiritual beings operate, or are operated upon, that no such beings exist. If we believe nothing but what we can fully comprehend, our belief must be extremely limited indeed. We cannot comprehend the mode of existence of almost any object in nature ; not of an ear of corn, nor of a blade of grass, nor of the light by which we see, nor of the air in which we breathe, nor of the fire by which we are warmed. We cannot tell what first gave motion to the heart, nor what continues it, nor why its motion is less voluntary than that of the lungs; nor can we comprehend the nature of the union between soul and body, nor the principle by which they were first