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the punishment which we have justly incurred, as to convince us of the necessity of fleeing from the wrath to come, and of seeking some better refuge than any which our own merits, or doings, or resolutions can provide ? In a word, have we ever been brought seriously and earnestly to put to ourselves this most important question, What shall I do to be saved ?
2d. Have we been made sensible of our own spiritual blindness and weakness; of our natural ignorance about spiritual things; and of our utter insufficiency of ourselves to think or to do any thing that is good ? Have we felt our need of divine teaching? Under an humbling consciousness of the darkness and hardness of our minds, have we been willing to be enlightened with the wisdom which is from above; and like little children to be led into the knowledge and love of the truth ? Have we felt our need of divine strength? Deeply experiencing our own inability to serve God with our spirit, and to offer to Him spiritual sacrifices, have we longed for supernatural help, have we desired to be strengthened with might from above in the inner man ?
3d. Has the love of sin been broken in our hearts? Have, we so seen the evil of our depraved nature, as to be dissatisfied with it? Have we so felt the burden of
sinful habits as to have groaned under their weight? Have we been ashamed and grieved at the recollection of the many iniquities which we have committed, and have we looked back with contrition and regret on the influence which sin has had over our wills and affections? Have we been convinced of the beauty of holiness? Have we conceived a taste for spiritual duties and pleasures ? Have we longed to be released from the slavery of corruption, and to enjoy that liberty, which consists in a freedom from the power of sin ?
4th. What have been our views of Jesus Christ, and of His sufficiency in respect to these our many spiritual wants ?
Have we seen His fulness as revealed to us in the Gospel? Have we been persuaded that He is able to bestow on us that pardon and peace, that wisdom and strength, that liberty and holiness, of which we stand in need ? — Under this persuasion have we come to Him for these spiritual blessings? Have we committed ourselves, our souls, and all its interests, to His mercy and power, and faithfulness? — Are we now actually living in dependence upon Him, as our prophet, priest, and king, for the supply of all our wants, for support under all our temptations, for direction in all our difficulties, for victory over all our enemies ? In His blood are we trusting
for forgiveness? In His strength are we struggling against sin? In His steps are we endeavouring to walk ?
My brethren, have such been the feelings and convictions, the wishes and desires, which have been wrought in our souls ? Is such the present state and disposition of our heart? Then have we Faith in Christ. Then have we received Him, and have believed in His name. And what is the conclusion which follows? Then are we born of God, and are adopted into His family. This is a conclusion, which we cannot resist, without resisting the Scriptures themselves. Why, indeed, should we attempt to resist it? If the Spirit of God in the word bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God, why should we doubt or oppose this testimony ? Rather let us thankfully receive it. Rather let us rejoice in our privilege. Bearing in mind the grace which has been vouchsafed to us, and the dignity to which we have been raised, let us strive to live worthy of our holy calling ; and labour to show that we are indeed the regenerated and adopted children of God, by walking in His Spirit, and bringing forth the fruits of righteousness.
On the other hand, does conscience bear witness against us? In reference to the questions which have been put,- does it se. cretly say to any of us, “ You know nothing of all these things. You are a stranger to all these feelings, convictions, and desires?”Then it is plain, that we have not Faith in Christ : and, being destitute of Faith, we are not the children of God. This is a conclusion as certain as the one which we before considered. We may deny, but we cannot refute it. We may disbelieve, but we cannot set it aside. The testimony is
We believe not in Christ: therefore we are still in our sins; still in the flesh, and consequently as yet shut out from the family of God. We are peither regenerated by His Spirit, nor adopted by His grace. O let us consider, before it is too late, the awful misery of such an apostate condition. Let us humbly cast ourselves before the throne of mercy, and earnestly pray for a blessing from above. Let us pray that we may be born of God. Let us pray that we may have Faith to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, and to believe in His name. Let us pray that we may have power to become the children of God. And may the Lord both teach us to pray, and send us an answer of His name and His mercies' sake!
THE LOVE OF GOD IN REDEMPTION.
John, iii. 16.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his
only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The great fundamental truths of the Gospel are few and simple, easily understood and readily remembered. At the same time, because they are fundamental, because they lie at the very foundation of our faith and practice, they cannot be too clearly explained, or too frequently inculcated. Those who know their value, will never be weary of hearing them stated; for “ they love the joyful sound :" while such as are satiated or disgusted with the repetition of them, plainly show that they have never as yet heard or understood them to any real purpose. I shall therefore deem no apology necessary
for leading you to a consideration of those plain, but momentous truths, which the words of