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ceeding broad, and reach the inmost recesses of the human heart. They are not like human laws, which regard only the overt act, but require truth in the inward parts, and forbid every selfish and sinful affection. When our Saviour preached the law in its true meaning, extent, and spirituality, it pierced and impressed the minds of all who heard it. They acknowledged that he spake as one having authority. That law, which requires all men to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, and condemns them to everlasting destruction for the least failure of obedience, is infinitely binding and weighty, and sufficient to render every impenitent sinner speechless and confounded. “For what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” Paul and a thousand other sinners have found this effect from the law. He says, “I was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died.” The law is clothed with all the authority of God, and has all the weight of an infinite Being, to impress the mind of a rational, sinful, and dependent creature.
5. The word of God contains the terms of salvation. These cannot be found in any other book on the face of the earth. They cannot be found in the book of nature, or the book of providence; they cannot be found in any heathen writers; they are to be found in the word of God alone. And it is highly interesting to creatures placed in a state of probation, and preparing for a future and eternal state, to know the only grounds of acceptance with God. The terms of salvation are expressed in a great variety of ways in the word of God; but they are comprised in one short, plain, comprehensive sentence. “He that believeth and is baptized, shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned." Nothing short of a cordial approbation of the gospel scheme of salvation, can entitle any person to pardoning mercy. No external performances, no desires, prayers, seekings, or strivings can be of any avail, without that faith which worketh by love.
6. The word of God describes the character and condition of mankind, by nature. These important points, which it is indispensably necessary for them to know, cannot be known without the Bible. After all the most wise and learned heathen have said concerning the immortality of the soul, it would still remain doubtful, were it not for the declarations of Him, who formed the spirit of man within him. He has told us, that though the body may be killed, yet the soul cannot be destroyed. Christ established the truth of the future and immortal
existence of the soul. This renders the nature of men infinitely more important, than they are naturally willing to believe. How much ingenuity and learning have been employed, and are still employed to prove the mortality of the soul ? Mortal deists are numerous and increasing, who profess to believe, that the soul dies with the body. But the word of God demolishes all their sophistical and fine-spun reasoning; and assures them that they must exist, and be spectators of the divine character and conduct forever. Besides, the Bible fully describes the characters of men. This is the only book in which the total corruption of the human heart is clearly laid open; and it is a clear discovery of this truth, which destroys all their supposed good works, and places them upon a level with the spirits in prison, in point of criminality and ill-desert.' Nor can they resist the force and pungency of Christ's pointed address : Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ? Though sinners wish to feel safe and happy; yet when they go into the sanctuary, it cuts them to the heart to hear, that their feet stand in slippery places, and their end is to be burned. They cannot help trembling, when they hear the tremendous curses of the divine law denounced against them.
7. The word of God unfolds the invisible scenes of the invisible world. If the light of nature could give us full evidence of a future state; it could not open to our view the eternal world, and discover the scenes which lie beyond the grave. But the gospel has brought life and immortality to light; and described the state of the blessed and of the damned. The glory and blessedness of heaven are represented in the most beautiful and glowing language; and the regions of misery are described as gloomy and terrible in the highest degree. These descriptions of a future and eternal state which God has given us in his word, are designed and calculated to make deep and solemn impressions upon every rational and thinking mind; and cannot be read, or heard, without joyful, or painful emotions of heart. I may add,
8. The word of God reveals a future resurrection, and general judgment, which are scenes of the highest concern to all intelligent creatures. They will all be not only spectators of them, but deeply and eternally interested in them. When this world shall be burnt up; when all that are in their graves shall hear the voice of God, and come to judgment; then angels, men, and devils, will be placed before the supreme Judge of all the earth, and all hearts will be made manifest, for the great purpose of rewarding and punishing all according to their works. The righteous will be received into the king. dom of glory; and the wicked doomed to the kingdom of everlasting darkness and despair. And he who has the keys of heaven and hell, will shut both, never to be opened again. This will finish the works of creation, providence, and redemption; and fix all created beings in a state never to be changed. Such are the great and important truths which are contained in the word of God, and in that only. For no other being but God was able to reveal them. And now they are revealed, they have the most direct and powerful tendency to penetrate and solemnize the minds of all the intelligent creation, and will sooner or later produce this effect. The word of God has carried conviction to some of the most stupid and hardened sinners, wherever it has been plainly and properly preached. While Paul reasoned of temperance, righteousness, and judgment to come, even Felix trembled. And while other ministers have preached the word of God with plainness and pungency, they have often carried conviction to the hearts and consciences of sinners, and thrown them into the deepest anguish and distress of mind. The word of God is still like a fire and a hammer, and capable of breaking the most rocky and adamantine heart in pieces.
1. If the word of God be suited and designed to make deep impressions upon the minds of men ; then all gospel sinners have had real convictions of their guilt, their danger, and duty. The word of God always answers the end whereunto he sends it; and he always sends it to produce conviction in the minds of those who hear it. When the gospel is plainly and solemnly preached, it seldom fails of exciting attention; and if it excites attention, it will excite convictions. Sinners cannot hear and understand the great truths of the gospel, without feeling their weight and importance, and receiving those impressions in which genuine convictions consist. How many who followed Christ from a vain curiosity, could not hear him preach, without feeling the force of the great truths which he taught and inculcated ? How often were they constrained to say, “ Never man spake like this man ;" for he spake as one having authority ? How many who came to hear Peter preach on the day of Pentecost, went away convinced and confounded though not converted ? Felix, who expected to be highly gratified with the preaching of Paul, his prisoner, could not hear
him, powerfully reasoning of righteousness, temperance, and of judgment to come, without a trembling conviction of his guilt and danger. Such effects Christ predicted would be produced by the word of the gospel wherever preached. In the parable of the sower, he represents divine truth as deeply affecting not only the good ground, but the stony ground and thorny ground hearers. In the most stupid times, the word of God operates as a fire and hammer upon the most secure and thoughtless. Though they come to the house of God with full confidence of being able to resist the force and energy of divine truth; yet in spite of their hearts, the truth often finds its
way to their conscience, and gives them powerful conviction of their guilty and perishing condition. And though they very soon stifle such transient conviction; yet the same conviction is repeated and increased from Sabbath to Sabbath. And all these convictions are accumulating guilt, and will, sooner or later, rush upon them with overwhelming and irresistible force, and throw them into the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. The fire which the word of God so often kindles in their breasts, -will ere long burst into a flame, that cannot be quenched, but burn to all eternity. It is not a trifling matter to sit under the preaching of the gospel; it will draw after it consequences of most serious and solemn importance. Hence,
2. If the word of God does actually make deep impressions upon the minds of sinners; then they can never eradicate these impressions from their minds. They are made by truth, and truth is permanently and immutably the same.
The impressions made by the world and the things of the world ; by vain imaginations and false reasonings, may be and will be eradicated by the force of divine truth ; but truth and the impressions made by it, will last forever. Sinners will eventually find, that they have been under strong delusions respecting the vanities of the world, and the hopes and expectations they have placed upon them, and the impressions they have received from them. But when these false impressions vanish, the impressions of divine truth will revive in their full and most powerful and painful force. The convictions, which the word of God has impressed upon their minds, will continue as long as they remain his sinful creatures, and as long as they retain their memory, their understanding, and their conscience. What they have once been convinced is true respecting God, they will always be convinced is true. What they have once been convinced is true respecting their guilt and ill-desert, they will always be convinced is true. And what they have once been convinced is true respecting a future and eternal state, they will always be
convinced is true. For though they may at times forget that God exists; yet he will always exist; though they may at times forget that they are sinful and guilty creatures; yet so long as they continue impenitent, they will continue to be sin. ful and guilty creatures; and though they may at times banish future and eternal realities from their view; yet those realities, and their inseparable connection with them will always exist. Their convictions of these divine truths, are an essential part of their rational and moral existence, and can never be separated from it. They must get rid of themselves, before they can get rid of the convictions of divine truth, which the word of God has lodged in their minds. Though they may strive to stifle their convictions, by neglecting to read and hear the word, and by giving their whole attention to the pursuits and amusements of the world; yet the divine truths, which they have heard, understood, and felt, will continue to bind and condemn them forever, unless they become cordially reconciled to them. Now consider this, ye that forget God, and what he has said to you in his word, and what impressions his word has already made upon your hearts and consciences, lest he tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver.
3. If the word of God is calculated and designed to make the deepest impressions upon the minds of men; then there is nothing which ministers can preach, which is calculated to impress the minds of their hearers so deeply, sensibly, and profitably, as the plain and important truths of the gospel. They may, indeed, preach many things more pleasing to the ears and hearts of men, than the pure word of God; but those things will be as light as chaff in comparison to the weighty truths, which God has revealed in his word, and commanded them to preach. God severely reproved the false prophets for doing this. “ I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in
my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. How long shall this be in the heart of the prophets that prophesy lies? yea, they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart'; which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams, which they tell every man to his neighbor, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully : what is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord. Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord ; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophet, saith the Lord, that use their