« AnteriorContinua »
Let us consider farther what results from these rela tions. According as you are "the children of God, "or the children of the devil," you are crowned with honour, or covered with disgrace. How did David prize an alliance which made him son-in-law to the King! How vain are the people of their lineage and extraction! But to be "sons and daughters of the "Lord Almighty," confers substantial dignity, unfading honour, in comparison with which all the glory deri ved from secular nobility vanishes into smoke. Upon this principle, what infamy attaches to the sinner, who has for his father the devil, a rebel, a traitor, who forfeited his inheritance, and is bound in chains of darkness, a murderer the most accursed being in the universe! And what renders him more worthy of reproach, and draws from us execration where otherwise we should rather shew pity, is, that this is all his choice that he is not ashamed to acknowledge the relation; every time he sins, he calls him Father; eve
time he swears, slanders, takes revenge, observe, says he, my pedigree, and behold the example I copy
Upon these connections innumerable privileges or evils depend. Are you the children of God? Heaven is your home; it is your Father's house, where are many mansions. He has in reserve for you an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. And here you fhall want "no good thing." "Your heavenly Father knoweth what things ye have "need of before you ask him." Have you afflictions? He will pity you "as a Father pitieth his children.” Have you infirmities? He will spare you "as a man
"spareth his own son that serveth him." Are you to be prepared for a high calling?" You shall be all "taught of the Lord." Do you require care and attention? The angels shall be your guardians: "are "they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister "for them who shall be the heirs of salvation?" But, my dear Hearers, I leave you to fill up the remaining article, and to think of the children of the wicked one. I leave you to reflect upon the miseries they endure from their perplexities, their fears, their passions, and their pursuits in life. I leave you to look forward to the horrors which will devour them in a dying hour; to follow them HOME, and to contemplate their portion WITH THE DEVIL AND HIS ANGELS.' "The
"WAY of transgressors is hard." "The END of "these things is death." It is therefore above all things necessary for you to know in which of these classes you rank; and we are going to shew,
II. The possibility of ascertaining this. The children of God, and the children of the devil are MANIFEST. Observe, it is not spoken of as a future, but as a present discovery; they ARE manifest. There is indeed a period of separation approaching, when those who are now blended shall be detached from each "other, and mingle no more. It is called "the man"ifestation of the sons of God." "Every man's "work shall be made manifest, for the day shall de"clare it." This "will bring to light the hidden "things of darkness, and make manifest the counsels "of the hearts, and then shall every man have praise " of God." "And THEN shall ye return and discern
"between the righteous and the wicked, between him "that serveth God and him that serveth him not." But even now they are to be discovered, though not sufficiently and perfectly known. They are "manifest. You ask, To whom?
First. They are manifest to God. It is impossible to impose upon him; he " is not mocked." "His eyes are in every place, beholding the evil and "the good." He "knoweth them that are his?" "and he knoweth them that are not his; "nei"ther is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and open unto "the eyes of him with whom we have to do."
Secondly. They are manifest to others. The tree is known by its fruit. "A good man out of the "good treasure of his heart bringeth forth good
things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure "of his heart bringeth forth evil things." The partakers of Divine Grace are designed to be distinguished from others; they are to appear religious, as well as be so they are to hold forth the word of life; to reprove and convince others; their light is to "shine "before men, that they may see their good works, "and glorify their father who is in heaven." And surely there must be an observable difference between them and others. It is unreasonable to suppose that persons whose principles and aims and rules of action, áre not only so widely different, but so completely opposite, can be undistinguishingly confounded togethThe difference is not indeed so conspicuous as it ought to be, but this arises from the imperfect degree of their religion; for when they live as they ought,
"they declare PLAINLY that they seek a country;' "they are MANIFESTLY the epistles of Jesus Christ, "known and read of all men."
Thirdly. They are manifest to themselves. It will readily be acknowledged that it is not possible for a man to be wicked without knowing it. He cannot live in the practice of sin, and in the omission of the various duties of religion; he cannot love the one and hate the other, and not be conscious of it. But is the same true of a good man? In reply to this, suffer me to ask two things. First. Is it not necessary for him to be able to know his character? If promises are made to a religious state, how can he claim these promises unless he can determine that he is in this state? If privileges are suspended upon duty, how can he rejoice in these privileges, unless he can determine that he has performed this duty? Secondly. What is religion? An unintelligible mystery, a charm, an operation which passes upon us and leaves no trace behind? Is it not the most serious and impressive con cern in which we were ever engaged? Does it not excite fears and hopes, joys and sorrows, far superior to those which can arise from any other source? Does it not involve us in a succession of difficulties, oppositions, and warfare? Is it not a general and continued course of action? The business of life, to which we endeavour to render every thing else subordinate and subservient? Our prevailing aim? our chief care? And is this incapable of being known? But these are the views which you should take of religion, and by these your condition is to be tried; which brings us,
III. To consider THE MARKS OF DISTINCTION between these characters. "In THIS the children of "God are "manifest, and the children of the devil."
In what? Not in temporal success. This is given or withheld too indiscriminately to allow of our knowing love or hatred. In this "all things come alike to all: "there is one event to the righteous and to the wick"ed. As is the good so is the sinner, and he that "sweareth as he that feareth an oath."
In what? Not in religious profression. Judas and Demas were both visible members of the church of God. There have always been many who had a name to live while they were dead; and assumed a form of godliness while they denied the power thereof. In our day all this is too cheap to be valuable; too common to be distinguishing.
In what? Not in talking; not in controversy; not in a sound creed; not in the pronunciation of the Shibboleths of a particular party. How few in answering this question would have adduced the practice OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND THE EXERCISE OF LOVE! But such is the distinction of our Apostle. In THIS the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; he that DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS is not of God, neither he that LOVETH NOT HIS BROther.
And here we may observe, First. The manner in which the subject is expressed. It is held forth NegATIVELY; nor is this without design. It reminds us that omisssions decide the character even where there is no positive vice. It is the representation of the ungodly that he hath left off to be wise and to do good." The "unprofitable" servant is called a