Imatges de pÓgina
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believest there is one God; thou dost well. The devils also believe, and tremble*." Are there any here whom it is needful to address in this harsh manner? My dear brethren, bear with me; I wish you well, and would willingly rejoice in every good appearance; but, alas! how little does it signify what you believe, or what you say, unless your acknowledged principles have an effect upon your conduct!

Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ? so does Satan? Do you believe the election of God, the sovereignty of grace, the perseverance of the saints? It is possible the devil may have a more extensive knowledge in these doctrines than the wisest of men; yet this benefits him not; it is not want of knowledge, but want of love, that makes him what he is.

The only effect mentioned of the faith of devils is, that it increases their terror, and aggravates their guilt. They believe (there are no sceptics in hell), and tremble. Is not this too much the case of some of you? If you knew less, you would be easier at least, and less inexcusable; and yet perhaps you mistake your state, and think yourselves on this account far less blameable than you really are. Perhaps sometimes, when you reflect sincerely on your ways, and how strangely you are hurried to act contrary to the convictions which the preaching of the Gospel forces upon you, you are ready to charge the Lord and his dispensations hardly, and to say, O that he would give me his grace! but if not, what can I do without it? Let conscience now speak faithfully, and it will tell you, that if you are condemned, it will not be for what you cannot do, but for wil

* James ii. 19.

fully refusing to improve the power already given you. When I tell you, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord with comfort, and that you must break off from your vain company and evil practices, if you expect or desire to be saved, you know that I speak the truth; and your looks often testify that you feel the force of it. Now, while the word of God is sounding in your ears, you perhaps are thinking, "It is time, high time indeed, to break off; though the Lord has forborn me long, he will surely strike at last, if I go on thus." And yet, alas! what I have formerly seen gives me much cause to fear, that to-morrow, or the next time they entice you, you will consent again. But could I tell you, that by going a different way you might gain a sum of money; or could I make it appear, that the next time you went to such a place your house would certainly be robbed, I make no doubt but you would forbear. And yet gold is not grace. It is then plain, that you have power, but your will is in fault. God has enlightened your conscience; but you rebel against it. O repent, while there is yet space afforded. Call upon the name of Jesus; who knows but he may even yet deliver you?

2dly, He compares it to a dead carcase, which is not only unprofitable, but loathsome and offensive. May God shew you to-day, how odious your profession is in his sight! for by assenting to the truths of the Gospel, and outwardly favouring the cause, and the instruments whom the Lord has raised up to promote it, you are so far professors. May he enable you to be not only almost, but altogether Christians! for while you thus halt between two opinions, and stand divided between God and the world, you are an abomination to God, a grief to his people, a stumbling-block to

the ignorant, and are (if this was of any weight in comparison of what I have already said) secretly despised by those who pretend to court your acquaintance. Your guilt is in some respects more aggravated, and your example unspeakably more mischievous, than either would be if you openly rejected the truth. You stand in the rank of those wicked servants who know their Master's will, but do it not. The great Judge has determined concerning these, that they shall be beaten with many stripes*." Awake to righteousness, and sin not; look up to Jesus, who is exalted to bestow both faith and repentance, that you may no longer be torn in pieces by those inward contentions, but experience that peace which passes all understanding †.

SERMON XIX.

GUILT REMOVED, AND PEACE RESTORED,

PSALM li. 15.

O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

THE history of David is full of instruction. Every thing recorded of him affords us either consolation or caution. In his example, we see much of the sovereign power and providence of God. When a youth, though the least of his father's house, he was singled out, and called from following sheep, to rule a kingdom. We see him supported through a variety of difficulties, and at length established in his throne, to the amazement and confusion of + Phil, iv. 7.

*Luke xii. 48.

his enemies.

In him likewise we have a striking proof of the evil that is in the heart of man. Who would have thought it, that David, the man so highly favoured, so wonderfully preserved, the man after God's own heart, who in the time of his distress could say, "My soul thirsteth for God, even for the living God *;" that he should be in an unguarded hour seduced, surprised, and led captive of the devil! From gazing he proceeds to adultery, from adultery to murder, and at length sinks into such a stupid frame of mind, that an express message from God was needful to convince him of his sin. And in this circumstance we farther see the riches of Divine grace and mercy; how tenderly the Lord watches over his sheep, how carefully he brings them back when wandering from him, and with what rich goodness he heals their backslidings, and loves them freely. David was fallen, but not lost. "The thing which he had done displeased the Lord t." Yet his loving kindness and faithfulness were unalterable. He was interessed in that covenant" which is well ordered in all things and sure t;" and therefore, when he confessed his sin, the Lord assured him, by his servant Nathan, that " he had put away his sin, and he should not die for it §."

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However, though the Lord is thus gracious in passing by the iniquity of his children, yet he will let them know, by sorrowful experience, that "it is an evil and a bitter thing to sin against him.' Though he will not cast off, he will chasten; he will withdraw his presence, and suspend his gracious influences; and this to a sensible heart is a heavy punishment. Though David was delivered,

* Ps. xlii. 2.

+ 2 Sam. xi. 27. § 2 Sam. xii. 13.

2 Sam. xxiii. 5.

Jer. ii. 19.

from the fear of death and hell, he penned this psalm in the bitterness of his soul. He did not consider the Lord as his enemy, but as a friend and father whom he had greatly offended. He longed to be reconciled, but could not as yet recover his former confidence. He hoped, indeed, that a time of refreshment would come from his presence; and therefore he continued waiting; but for the present he made heavy complaints, that his bones were broken, and his mouth stopped. He had lost his strength and life, and found he could not restore himself. He was struck dumb by his late fall; and therefore he breathes out this prayer, "O Lord, open thou my lips, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise."

From these words I propose to consider that mournful case, which too often happens in the Christian life, when the believer's mouth is stopped, and his lips closed, so that he cannot shew forth the praises of his God. And in this view,

I. I shall point out to you the persons who have reason to make this complaint.

II. Explain what is implied in their lips being thus shut up.

III. Shew you by what means the Lord opens the closed lips. And,

IV. Ishall observe, that when a person's lips are thus opened, his mouth, and all that is within him, will certainly shew forth the Lord's praise. May the Holy Spirit apply the word, and command a blessing upon the whole!

I. This petition especially suits two sorts of persons.

1. The backsliding believer; one who has formerly known the goodness of God; has rested in his love, and rejoiced in his salvation; has" tasted

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