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vanity of the world, but also the excellency of true wisdom, says, "If thou criest after knowledge, and lifteth up thy voice for understanding; if thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."The Lord giveth wisdom, he has promised to give it to them that ask it, and that liberally. And are you really willing to part with any thing, to part with every thing, that stands in the way of your enjoyment of Christ? If you were suffered to retain only one thing in the world, what would that one thing be? I can readily answer for every true believerIt would be Christ. Let every thing else go, he would say, give me Christ, and that is enough.
But perhaps you are discouraged at the terms proposed. The text directs you to make a purchase; and when you contemplate the infinite value of the pearl in question, you say, I can offer nothing in the least degree valuable. I have nothing. I am nothing. I can do nothing. How can I presume to purchase the pearl of great price? You say truly. You have indeed, as was before observed, no valuable consideration to offer. But let not this discourage you. In another scripture, resembling this, wherein the blessings of the gospel are compared to food and drink of the richest quality, and sinners are invited to come and purchase them, the terms run thus-" And he that hath no money; come ye; yea, come, buy wine and milk, without money, and without price." Isaiah lv. 1. which is as much as to say, You shall be welcome to these great benefits, though utterly unworthy of them. Accept them as God's free gifts, and be content to be for ever indebted to grace-only saying, "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!"
Finally-How rich and how happy is the believer in Jesus! We congratulate our friends when they have made a prosperous voyage; or when, in the course of providence, an addition is made to their
wealth; but O how much rather is a child of God to be congratulated "I know thy poverty," said Jesus Christ to the Church of Smyrna, "I know thy poverty, but thou art rich;"-they were poor in this world, but they were rich in faith; rich towards God; and if thus rich now, how will the glorified believer be enriched; this jewel will retain its value and its lustre beyond the grave, and will enrich and adorn the soul for ever and ever; yea a brilliant crown of glory awaits every believer in Jesus. God grant that this may be our final happiness, through Jesus Christ. Amen.
SINNERS ARE SELF-DESTROYERS, BUT SALVATION IS OF GOD.
Hos. xiii. 9. O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help,
HATEVER was written aforetime was
W written for our learning." Those things,
especially, which were written to the Jews, are full of instruction to us. The literal meaning of the words is this" Israel," that is to say, the ten tribes, exclusive of Judah and Benjamin, were awfully prone to idolatry, and it proved their destruction. In the 16th verse of this chapter it is said, "Samaria shall become desolate, for she hath rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces. Notwithstanding which, God was pleased to promise that he would be "their help ;" and in the words which follow our text he says, "I will be thy king."-God himself would graciously reside in the midst of them, to rule and to save them.
It may appear to us very strange, that a people so singularly favoured of God as Israel was, should be so prone to depart from him-that a people so signalized by mercies, who were brought forth out of Egypt, sustained in the wilderness, and introduced into the promised land, by a series of miracles, that they, of all people on the earth, should forsake the God of their mercies, and fall into abominable idolatries! But alas! in this they were but a picture of fallen nature in general; indeed we may say, a picture T
of ourselves, who have received so much from God and yet made so ungenerous a return. The words of the text are directed to us; it may be said to every one of us-"Sinner, thou hast destroyed thyself;" but, for thy consolation hear this, "in me is thy help found." These words may be said to include both law and gospel; they describe the sad condition of man as a fallen sinner, and yet they open to him the door of hope.
From these words I shall shew,
First, That sin is a most destructive evil.
Secondly, That every sinner is a self-destroyer.
And Thirdly, That there is help and salvation in Jesus Christ, even for self-destroying sinners. "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thine help."
In the first place we shall shew that sin is a most destructive evil; and if men were convinced of this, the great point in religion would be gained: but men's persistence in sin; their false peace; and their neglect of the gospel, all prove they are not convinced of this; and we ourselves, in fact, seem to be but half convinced.
To prevent the impression of this awful truththat sin is a destructive evil-Satan interposes with his first lie" Ye shall not surely die," said he to our first mother, though God had said, "In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die ;" and in the same way, Satan has ever maintained his destructive system; it is by this means, chiefly, that he has "deceived the whole world." We are likewise cautioned against "the deceitfulness of sin;" and we are told that "the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." O when these three notorious deceivers meet together, woe be to mana deceitful heart, deceitful sin, and a deceitful devil, aided by the general
opinion and practice of a deceitful world in every successive age! Transgressors think it very hard that their beloved pursuits should be deemed so dangerous and destructive; but we appeal to "the word and to the testimony." The same word which assures you that there is a God, that you have an immortal soul, that it is appointed for men to die and come to judgment, that there is a future resurrection, that there is a heaven and a hell; the same word assures you that sin is a most destructive evil. What was it but sin that destroyed the happiness of angels in heaven-transformed them into infernal demons, and rendered them miserable for ever? What was it that destroyed the happiness of our first parents in the garden of Paradise? Why did God drive them out? What destroyed the image of God in human nature? for man was made in the image of God; but what is he now? an awful mixture of the brute and the fiend. Now we find darkness instead of knowledge, depravity instead of holiness, guilt instead of righteousness.
Turn your eyes to the surface of the earth. What destroyed its original fertility, and made it productive of "thorns and of thistles?" The ground was "cursed for man's sake," because he was a sinner. What has destroyed the general tranquillity of man? It was sin that opened the door to millions of evils. The poor babe enters weeping into the world, while it risks the life of its mother! What legions of fierce and loathsome diseases assail us in every stage of life-in infancy, in youth, and in old age! Behold the youth carried headlong by his tumultuous passions into vice, extravagance, and destruction. See then the man in middle age, struggling with labour, poverty, care, vexation, and disappointment; and then behold age, bending under the weight of ininfirmities, and saying, "Thou art righteous O God, but thou writest bitter things against me, and makest me to possess the sins of my youth.''