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tongues, and say, He saith. Behold I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness ; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them; therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.” Are there not false teachers, at this day, who preach as false doctrines as the false prophets did? Do they not preach their own dreams and delusions, while they profess to preach the pure word of God? But what is this chaff to the wheat ? is it as heavy as the wheat, and as nourishing to those who love the truth? No religious error ever carried the same conviction to the conscience, as the

opposite truth. God appeals to hearers, to distinguish those who

, feed them with chaff, from those who feed them with wheat. There are many light preachers, as well as erroneous ones, who neither use the words, nor express the sense, of scripture, in their sermons. And do these preachers make the same deep impression upon the minds of their hearers, as those do, who preach the word of God faithfully? Hearers are capable of forming the best judgment of preaching; and if they would judge according to the dictates of their reason and conscience, rather than according to their fancy, they would seldom judge amiss. They are able to distinguish truth from error, whether they prefer truth to error, or not. Our Saviour's hearers were able to distinguish his preaching from that of the scribes and pharisees. They felt that he preached as one having authority.

4. If the word of God is like a fire and hammer that breaks the rock in pieces, then sinners have a heart harder than a rock. Though the word of God is suited and designed to make deep impressions on the hearts of sinners, yet it is not powerful and weighty enough to break their hearts. The best of sinners do always resist the Holy Ghost, and refuse to submit to the word of God, which demonstrates that their hearts are harder than a rock. Many imagine, that sinners are not so

, stubborn and stout-hearted as the scripture represents them to be, and that if they can only be made to understand the word of God, they will not resist, but cordially embrace its doctrines. And sinners generally have the same good opinion of themselves. But how is this consistent with plain stubborn facts ? Neither the works of God, nor the providence of God, nor the word of God, have ever been sufficiently powerful to break their hard and stony hearts. God asks, “Why should


be stricken any more ? ye will revolt more and more.” And speaking of their obduracy he says, “ Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people.” This God said after he had tried the force of his word

for more than three thousand years, and had found it totally incapable of breaking the stony hearts of sinners. He seems to be at a loss what to do with them after their hard and im. penetrable hearts had resisted the most powerful means he could use to bring them to submission and obedience. It could never have been known in this world, that the hearts of sinners were totally depraved and harder than a rock, if they had not universally opposed and resisted the word of God, which exhibits the most solemn, the most interesting, and the most weighty and powerful truths, that God himself could exhibit before their understandings and consciences. It is only in the view of, and in opposition to, divine truth, that awakened and convinced sinners become really alarmed at the hardness and obstinacy of their depraved hearts.

5. If the word of God is suited and designed to make deep impressions on the minds of men, then it is not in vain to preach the gospel in the most stupid times. For though it will not break hard and stony hearts, yet it generally makes some impressions upon them, and often deep impressions, which may answer important, if not salutary ends. Accordingly, God requires ministers to preach, whether men will hear or forbear. For he means to try them by his word, and prepare them to be converted, or given up to judicial blindness and condemnation. Though in a time of general stupidity, men make light of preaching, and imagine it does little good or hurt, yet preaching does not make light of them, but produces impressions, which are, and will be felt to be heavy, insupportably heavy and important. The preaching of the word of God will in all cases, and in respect to all persons, answer the very purposes which he means to answer by it, and become a savor of life unto life, or a savor of death unto death. The word of God is equally adapted to change or harden the hearts of men, and infallibly does produce the one or other of these effects, whether they are sensible of it or not. This both speakers and hearers ought to realize; and if they did realize, they would be ready to tremble, to speak and to hear the word of eternal life, or eternal destruction.

6. If the word of God is suited to make deep, important, and everlasting impressions upon the minds of men, then delaying sinners act a most unwise and criminal part in despising, opposing, and resisting the influence of divine truth. They despise the word of God, when they neglect to read it, and when they neglect to hear it. They oppose the word of God, when they employ all their ingenuity and knowledge in reasoning against it. And they reject the word of God, when

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they read it, hear it, understand it, but refuse to embrace it. In some or all these ways, every sinner exerts himself to evade and resist the force of divine truth, and by fighting against God, fights against himself. This is extreme folly as well as extreme guilt. So God himself tells them: “Al they that hate me love death." “Wherefore is there a price in the hand of a fool to get wisdom, seeing he has no heart to it?”—“How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity ? and the scorą. ers delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge ?" Though sinners are guilty of ten thousand sins, yet the sum and substance of their guilt consists in their despising, opposing, and rejecting the everlasting truths of the gospel ; and of this sin the best as well as the worst, the most sober and amiable, as well as the most vain and profligate sinners are really guilty in the sight of God, who looketh on the heart.

7. If the word of God has a powerful tendency to impress the minds of men; then they have the best opportunity of determining their spiritual state, while they are hearing his word preached. They have, indeed, an opportunity of determining this interesting point, while they are seriously and attentively reading his word. But when they read his word, they are apt to read it in favor of themselves, and construe it according to their own hearts, which are extremely deceitful. The case is very different, when they hear the word explained and incul. cated according to its genuine meaning and importance, without fear or favor of any man. And let me ask, my readers, what is your experience upon this subject, and what have been your feelings and opinions of yourselves, under the clear exhibitions of the word of God on his day, and in his house? Have you loved or hated it? You can all answer this question and must answer it.




“YE serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation

of hell ?"--Matt. xxiii. 33.


CHRisT was the most benevolent person that ever appeared on earth. He went about doing good, expressing his benevolence to men of every character and condition. He rejoiced with them that rejoiced, he mourned with them that mourned ; and

l he wept with them that wept. He fed the hungry, he healed the sick; he removed the disorders of the eye, of the ear, and of the understanding; he raised the dead from the grave; and wherever he went, he preached the gospel to the poor and perishing. He never gave an unnecessary pain to a single individual of mankind. But yet he said many things which were extremely displeasing to those who heard him preach and

This displeasure increased to such a degree, that they attempted to stone him, to push him from a precipice, and to take away his life. All this he foresaw and foretold. Why then did he lay open the hearts of sinners so fully and plainly? No other reason can be assigned, but the importance of doing it. He saw the importance

of telling them how they appeared in his heart-searching eye, notwithstanding all their external beauty and excellence. He freely allowed that they paid tithe of mint, of anise, and cummin; that they made clean the outside of the cup and of the platter; that they appeared beautiful without; that they built the tombs of the prophets, and garnished the sepulchres of the righteous; and that they thought, if they had lived in the days of their fathers, they would not have been partakers with them of the blood of the prophets. Nevertheless, he addresses these outwardly fair and amiable persons in the plain and pointed language of the text,


“ Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell ?" Would the kind and benevolent Redeemer have represented the character of sinners in this odious light merely to displease them? Would he have disclosed their real, inward feelings, had it not been a matter of great necessity and importance ? And could he, who knew all things, be under any misapprehension of what was, in this case, really necessary and important? If such was the knowledge and benevolence of Him who came to seek and save them that are lost, then we may safely draw this conclusion from the language of the text:

That it is important to exhibit the character of sinners in a clear and intelligible light. I shall,

I. Endeavor to set their character in a clear and intelligible light; and,

II. Show the importance of doing it.

I. I am to set the character of sinners in a clear and intelli, gible light. Here I shall take Christ for my guide, who perfectly knew what was in man. I begin with observing,

1. That sinners are absolutely destitute of pure love or true holiness. Man was originally created in the moral image of his Maker, which consisted in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness. But that image was lost to all the posterity of Adam by his first offence. They are now by nature entirely destitute of the moral image of God, or of that pure, holy love which Adam originally possessed, and which forms the moral beauty and excellence of his Creator. “God is love." All his moral character consists in pure, disinterested, universal love. His goodness, his justice, and his mercy are branches of his holy love or benevolence. Of this holy, virtuous love sinners are wholly destitute. Christ expressly said to them, “I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.” He knew them better than they knew themselves. Though they thought they loved God, and were his dutiful children ; yet he knew that they were totally destitute of every holy and benevolent affection. We are therefore authorized by Christ himself to say to all who are in the state of nature, that they have not the least degree of that love to God or man which the divine law requires, and in which the moral image of God consists.

2. All sinners are under the entire dominion of an unholy and depraved heart. Though they are destitute of holy affeotions, they are not destitute of all affections. They love and hate with all their hearts ; but all their love and hatred are entirely selfish. There are but two kinds of moral exercises in the universo. These are benevolent and selfish affections. God is possessed of benevolent affections, but Satan, his first and

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