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that a hope connected with the love of God, may be safely indulged, and can never make us ashamed. For this love is the proof of the divine favour; the character of the heirs of promise; the preparation for future glory; the commencement of heaven, the dawning of the day, the first fruits of the Spirit, the earnest of our inheritance.
Men and Brethren, attend to a few reflections, which naturally arise from this important subject. The first is awful and distressing. We have reason to fear that the hope cherished by the greater part of mankind, and by too many profressors of religion, is such as will cover them "with everlasting shame and con"tempt." Perhaps there are some of this deluded number in this assembly. You are ready to say, "our "minds are easy; we feel no forebodings; we hope "to be saved, and are not inclined to question the "propriety of our conclusion." Even this circumstance looks suspicious. This reluctance to examine your state betrays apprehension of its goodness. And who in a case of such moment, would leave things doubtful and uncertain? Suffer me then to ask you what your hope is? Will it bear investigation? Is it sanctioned by the word of Truth? Has it been formed in the light of conviction, or is it the offspring of darkness? Is there no danger of its proving false and fatal? Such the hope MUST prove, that is accompanied with no suitable influence, productive of no proper effects; in other words, that is not in alliance with the love of God. But alas! if the love of God was in you, it would be impossible for you to live as you now do. You could not banish him from your re
membrance; your meditation of him would be sweet, and your thoughts of him would be precious. You could not love the world; "for if any man love the "world, the love of the Father is not in him." You could not transgress the divine laws; "for this is the "love of God, that we keep his commandments." You could not be regardless of the welfare of your fellow creatures; for "if a man say, I love God, and "hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth "not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love "God whom he hath not seen." "Whoso hath this "world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and "shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how "dwelleth the love of God in him?" Destitute of the love of God, it matters not what you are. If this be not the grand influencing principle of your lives, your orthodoxy is only a December's night, equally clear and cold; your religion is vain; your hope presumption, delusion, destruction.
Secondly. You may learn from hence, how to attain "the full assurance of hope unto the end." It is not by dreams and visions, sudden suggestions, mysterious impressions, and an inexplicable consciousness; but by keeping yourselves in the love of God, and abounding therein more and more. It is absurd to imagine that your hope of Heaven will be lively, if your love of God be weak and languid. Every worldly conformity will impede the exercise, and darken the prospect of this hope; every sin will give Satan an advan-, tage over you, and rob you of much evidence and consolation. Though the blessings of salvation are all of grace, they are to be enjoyed only in the way of obe
dience. "Then shall we know, if we follow on to "know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the "morning and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and the former rain upon the earth." "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, ❝he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall "be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and "manifest myself to him."
Thirdly. There are some of you, in whose hearts the Holy Ghost has shed abroad the love of God. By a display of infinite benevolence, he has slain the enmity of your minds, enlightened your understandings, and renewed your dispositions. It is now your chief aim to please and to enjoy him. And your language is, "whom have I in heaven but thee, and there "is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. The "Lord is my portion, saith my soul, THEREFORE will "I HOPE IN HIM.Yes; and you have rea
son to do so. Let the exercise of this hope be constant and increasing. Though you have much in possession, you have infinitely more in reversion. In whatever sense you are poor, in one you are certainly richHOPE. From the emptiness of the creature you can turn to the fullness of the Word, and say "Thy testi"monies have I taken as my heritage for ever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart." You have now supplies, and in a little while you will be "Lord "of all." Give vigour and scope to this principle in all the circumstances which can awaken thy concern. Hope for strength equal to thy day. Hope for succour in trouble; for assistance in duty; for help in death. Hope for a joyful resurrection, a blessed
immortality, a crown of glory that fadeth not away. "Now THE GOD OF HOPE FILL YOU WIth all “JOY AND PEACE IN BELIEVING, THAT YOU MAY " ABOUND IN HOPE, THROUGH THE POWER OF THE "HOLY GHOST."
THE PARABLE OF THE TWO SONS.
MATT. xxi. 28. 38.
WHAT THINK TE? A CERTAIN MAN HAD TWO SONS; AND HE CAME TO THE FIRST, AND SAID, SON, GO WORK TO-DAT IN MY VINEYARD, HE ANswered and SAID, I WILL NOT; BUT AFTERWARD HE REPENTED AND WENT. AND HE CAME TO THE SECOND, AND SAID LIKEWISE. AND HE ANSWERED AND SAID, I co, SIR; AND WENT NOT. WHETHER OF THEM TWAIN DID THE WILL OF HIS FATHER; THEY SAT UNTO HIM, The first.
MY Brethren, it is no very easy thing to lodge an obnoxious truth in a mind armed with prejudice. "Lovers of themselves," men are averse to the knowledge of their imperfections, and remain willingly ignorant" of discoveries which would interrupt their pursuits, or disturb their slumbers. Hence the wise have contrived a species of instruction by which they conceal their design, till the sentiment they wish to convey has taken possession of the mind. Then they strip off the disguise, and exhibit their meaning; and the man finds to his surprise and confusion, that he has admitted a conclusion which crim