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applicable to you as to the meanest of mankind. And, if at this present moment you feel averse to range yourselves under the humiliating term here accorded to you, be assured the time is not far distant when you will designate yourselves by this name with bitter emphasis, and, contrasting yourselves with the Lord's guests, will exclaim, “ We fools, counted their life madness, and their end to be without honour: but how are they numbered with the children of God, and their lot is among the saints! Therefore have we erred from the way of truth.” Let me entreat you now to humble yourselves before God, and to welcome, as especially suited to your state, the invitation which I now bring you. But that I may be sure to address you in Wisdom's own words, I will adopt the language of an inspired prophet: “ Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money ; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread, and your labour for that which satisfieth not? (Here are proofs enough of your folly.) Hearken diligently unto me; and eat ye that which is good; and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live." You will find, at the close of the chapter from whence my text is taken, that folly also has her messengers: A foolish and abandoned woman “Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: for stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. But he knoweth not that the dead are there, and that her guests are in the depths of hellx.” Yes, these invitations are soon and widely followed; whilst the invitations of Wisdom are scornfully rejected. Truly this is greatly to be lamented; and bitter will be the consequences to those who persist in their folly. Accept the invitations that are gratifying to flesh and blood, and nothing but everlasting destruction awaits you: but accept that which now in Wisdom's name I deliver, and you shall “ live :" “ forsake the foolish, and live.” Fain would I prevail with you, my Brethren, ere it be too late, and the door of her banqueting-house be shut against you. I have it in commission to “compel you to come in y." Ó, resist me not, but let me by holy importunity prevail ; that so the blessings of salvation may be yours, when the contemners of our message are wailing in everlasting darkness and despair.]
t Wisd. v. 4-6. * ver. 13-18.
u Isai. lv. 1-3.
God's CARE FOR THE RIGHTEOUS. Prov. x. 3. The Lord will not suffer the soul of the righteous
to famish. GOD, who is the author and giver of all good, dispenses his blessings no less to the evil and unjust, than to the good and just. But he promises to those who seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, that all other things shall be added unto them. To this effect he speaks also in the passage before us. But though this be the primary import of the text, we must not exclude its relation also to the concerns of the soul.
To elucidate this blessed promise, we shall shew, I. What reasons the righteous have to apprehend
that their souls may famishA sense of weakness and of guilt may greatly discourage them: for, 1. They cannot secure provisions for themselves
[The word of God, and Christ in the word, is the proper food of the soul: and, if a person can read, he need not be wholly destitute. But it is by the public ministration of the word that God principally confirms the souls of his people. Now in many places where Christ should be preached, his name is scarcely heard ; and, instead of children's bread, little is dispensed besides the husks of heathen morality. Even where some attention is paid to Christian doctrines, there is often much chaff mixed with the wheat; and “ the trumpet that is blown, gives but an uncertain sound." Those therefore who by reason of distance, or infirmity, or other insurmountable obstacles, cannot have access to the purer fountains of truth, have great reason to fear that their souls will famish.]
2. They cannot, of themselves, feed upon the provisions set before them
(Where all the treasures of the Gospel are fully opened, it is God alone that can enrich any soul by means of them: even “ Paul may plant, or Apollos may water, but it is God alone that can give the increase.” The very same word is often made a peculiar blessing to one, that was altogether useless to another. God reserves the times and the seasons in his own hands; and “ gives to every one severally as he will.” When therefore the righteous hear of the effects wrought on others,
and feel conscious that they themselves reaped no benefit from the word, they are ready to fear that their souls will famish even in the midst of plenty.]
3. They well know that they deserve to be utterly abandoned by their God
[It is not only for their sins in general, that the righteous find occasion to humble themselves before God, but more particularly for their misimprovement of divine ordinances. Perhaps there is not any other more fruitful source of selfcondemnation to the godly than this. When therefore they see how many opportunities of improvement they have lost, and how much guilt they have contracted by their deadness and formality in the worship of God, they are sensible that God may justly “ remove their candlestick," and leave them to experience famine of the word."]
But lest a dread of famishing should oppress the minds of the righteous, we shall proceed to shew, II. What grounds they have to hope, that God will
never suffer such a melancholy event to happenHowever great the grounds of fear may be which the righteous feel within themselves, they have abundant reason to “encourage themselves in the Lord their God.”
1. He has bountifully provided even for the ungodly
[The Gospel is “a feast of fat things full of marrow, and of wines on the lees well refined ;” and God has “sent out into all the highways and hedges to invite the poor, the halt, the lame, and the blind,” and has commissioned his servants to compel men, by dint of importunity, to accept his invitation. Now has he shewn such concern for the wicked, and will he disregard the righteous? Will he not rather “ cause the manna to fall around their tents,” and “ the water to follow them” through all this dreary wilderness? Yes; he would rather send a raven to feed them, or sustain them by a continued miracle ", than ever suffer their souls to famish.]
2. He is peculiarly interested in the welfare of the righteous
[The righteous are God's " peculiar treasure above all people;” they are even “ his sons and daughters.” If they were left to perish, Jesus would lose the purchase of his blood, and the very members of his body. And can we imagine that God will be so unmindful of them as utterly to forsake them? Did he not on many occasions vouchsafe mercy to his chosen people for his own name sake, when their backslidings had rendered them fit objects of his everlasting displeasure? Thus then will he still be actuated by a regard for his own honour, and " not forsake his people, because it hath pleased him to make them his people b.”]
a 1 Kings xvii. 6, 14.
3. He has pledged his word that they shall never want any thing that is good
["Exceeding numerous, great, and precious are the promises which God has given to his people." He “will supply all their wants, according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus : he will give them grace and glory; and will withhold no good thing:” their souls “shall be even as a well watered garden :' “bread shall be given them; and their water shall be sure.” And will he violate his word ? he may leave his people in straits, as he did the Israelites of old : but it shall be only for the more signal manifestation of his love and mercy towards them. Let them only trust in him, and he “will never leave them, never, never forsake them."] We shall CONCLUDE with a word1. Of reproof
[It is certain that many do not “ make their profiting to appear as they ought. To such therefore we must say, “Wherefore art thou, being a king's son, lean from day to dayd ?” Why art thou crying continually, “ Woe is me! my leanness! my leannesse!” when thou shouldest be" growing up as the calves of the stall' ?” Some part of the blame perhaps may attach to him who dispenses the ordinances among you, as wanting more life and spirituality in his ministrations; yet even this would be no excuse to you, since if your hearts were more spiritual, God would render your mean fare as nutritious as the richest dainties. If God should even “ give you your desire, yet would he also send leanness into your soulsh," while you continued to lothe the heavenly manna. Learn then to come with more eager appetite- Be more careful to digest the word afterward by meditation and prayer---- And look, not so much to the manner in which the word is preached, as to Christ in the word; since he is that bread of life which alone can nourish your souls; and which, if eaten by faith, will surely nourish them unto life eternal i --]
2. Of consolation
c Heb. xiii. 5. See the Greek.
i John vi. 51.
[Some may put away from them this promise, under the idea that they are not of the character to whom it belongs. Now, though we would by no means encourage any to apply the promises to themselves in a presumptuous manner, and thereby to deceive their own souls with ungrounded expectations, yet we would not that any should refuse the consolation that properly belongs to them. Suppose then that any cannot absolutely number themselves among the righteous, yet, “if they hunger and thirst after righteousness, they are blessed, and shall be filledk.” This is the word of God to their souls; and we would have them expect assuredly its accomplishment in due season
Let them “ desire the sincere milk of the word, and they shall grow thereby.”---] k Matt, v. 6.
11 Pet. ii. 2.
EFFECTS OF SLOTH AND DILIGENCE COMPARED.
Prov. x. 4. He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand ;
but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. IT is certainly true, that men's circumstances in life depend on their own exertions, so far at least, as to justify the declaration in the text. Sometimes indeed God is pleased to raise men to opulence by labours not their own; and sometimes to withhold success from the industrious. But though this inequality is sometimes found in the dispensations of his Providence, we never see it in the dispensations of his grace. After the first communications of grace to the soul, men's progress or decay will always be proportioned to their own care and vigilance: the propositions in the text may be advanced without any exception ;I. Remissness will impoverish the soulMany there are who “ deal with a slack hand”,
[This may be said of men when they improve not the means of spiritual advancement. God has appointed reading“, and meditation, and prayer", and self-examination 4, as means of furthering the welfare of the soul ---- But, if we be remiss in these, we resemble a man who neglects to cultivate his fields :
a Col. iii. 16. b Ps. i. 2. c 1 Thess. v. 17.
d Ps. iv. 4. and lxxvii. 6. and 2 Cor. xiii. 5.