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in heavenly places ;" what it is to live in field: but your condition will be destitute of pleasure, to die in hope, to obtain "glory, all resources. And with no business to enhonour, and immortality.” These are the gage, no amusements to beguile, blessings you give up. And what do you
-"Say, ye gay dreamers of gay dreams, gain by the surrender? Solomon tells you, How will ye weather an eternal night, * vanity and vexation of spirit.” Worldly Where such expedients fail ?" things are less than the soul, and cannot fill
Then your application will be useless. You it; worse than the soul, and cannot satisfy may supplicate; but you will be rejected, it. They have no relation to our grand and no place will be found for repentance in wants
, or our best interests. They please, the mind of your Judge, though you“ seek it only to poison; they elevate, only to depress. carefully with tears. They " perish in the using." You can carry Hence we see what a difference there is nothing of them with you. You are not cer- between the origin and the issue of an irretain of holding them for life; and if you ligious course. “A prudent man foreseeth were, " what is your life? It is even as a the evil and hideth himself, but the simple vapour that appeareth for a little time, and pass on and are punished.” The wise will then vanisheth away.” View them in the always judge of things by their end. It is light of Scripture; view them under the an- the end that crowns the action. Sin is never guish of conscience; view them from the profitable ; but its beginnings are flattering. borders of the grave; view them from the "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten vastness of eternity,—and they are nothing in secret is pleasant—but he knoweth not Nevertheless for these—and often without that the dead are there; and that her guests obtaining them you sin away your everlast- are in the depths of hell. Though wickeding portion. “What is a man profited if he ness be sweet in his mouth, though he hide should gain the whole world and lose his it under his tongue: though he spare it, and own soul ?" If the whole cannot indemnify forsake it not; but keep it still within his him-can a partra particle? “O ye sons mouth: yet his meat in his bowels is turned, of men, how long will ye love vanity and it is the gall of asps within him.” “What seek after leasing ?-Have the workers of fruit had ye then in those things, whereof ye iniquity no knowledge ?"
are now ashamed ? for the end of those things III. Let us CONSIDER ESAU IN HIS MISERY, is death.” AND COMPARE YOUR DOOM WITH HIS DOOM. Again. Sin unavoidably brings a man " For you know how that afterward, when sooner or later to lamentation and regret. he could have inherited the blessing, he was “ Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, rejected: for he found no place of repent- and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: ance, though he sought ii carefully with know therefore and see, that it is an evil tears." Read the relation in the book of Ge- thing, and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the nesis. Nothing could be more affecting than Lord thy God, and that my fear is not in his expostulations, and his bitter cries—but to thee, saith the Lord God of hosts.” And no purpose does he urge his petition or press bence, if we studied our true comfort, we his father to retract: the benediction is pro- should never sin: we should reason thus : nounced, and Isaac acquiesces in the decision “ If ever I am saved, I must be brought to reof Heaven. For repentance here refers to pentance, and every sin I now commit will Isaac, not to Esau: the meaning is, not that then give me pain: and if I have not that Esau humbled himself in vain for his sin, and godly sorrow which worketh repentance unto could not obtain forgiveness—but that he life, what will be the self-condemnation and could not prevail upon Isaac to change his anguish of a dying bed and a judgment day? mind, and reverse what he had spoken : that, Sin, like Ezekiel's roll, is written, . within with regard therefore to the birthright which and without, with lamentation and mourning he had sold, his loss was irretrievable. and wo.'"
And did God thus by his righteous judg. Let us also remark, that there is a repentment exclude from all his claims the profane ance which is unavailing. Paul tells us of a Esau because he had despised them“How "sorrow of the world which worketh death." shall we escape if we neglect so great salva- Some are fretting because every one will not tion! Of how much sorer punishment sup- submit to their humours. Some grieve over pose ye shall he be thought worthy, who hath their temporal losses, and never ask "where trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath is God my maker, that giveth songs in the counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith night?" Évery remorse of conscience is not he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath the effect of saving grace. Judas“ repented, done despite unto the Spirit of grace ?" Are and went and hanged himself." The eyes you disposed to pity him? Yea, rather, weep which sin closes, eternity will open. But for yourselves. Your loss is inestimably then grief comes too late. The blessing once greater than his loss. After all his disap- lost, cannot be recovered. pointments he had something left, and could I know that many unguarded things have entertain himself with the diversions of the been said of the loss of a day of grace. The subject is alarming. I do not pretend to do near.” For there is a season when, if you justice to it, or to answer any curious ques“ call upon him, he will not answer, and if tions which may arise from it
. What I think you seek him early, you will not find him." I am authorized to say from the Scripture is And how soon you may be in this unalterable this. First. That while there is life, there state it is impossible to determine. We know is hope ; nor can we imagine that God would your breath is in your nostrils; you are exprolong existence but to afford us space for posed to a thousand accidents and diseases. repentance. This indeed he has assigned as But your harvest is not yet past, your sumthe reason. God " is longsuffering to us-ward, mer is not yet ended. Still he bears with not willing that any should perish, but that you. Once more he invites you. It is time, all should come to repentance.” “ The long- it is high time, and, blessed be his name, it suffering of our Lord is salvation.” Secondly. is not too late, to seek him. I see him now It is always dangerous to delay the work of standing with the door wide open, beseechrepentance; since, by repeated acts, habits ing you as you love your souls to enter inare formed, and dispositions rendered more You refuse-and he shuts to the door, sayand more unfavourable. The disease neglect-ing, “O that thou hadst known, even thou, ed, becomes inveterate; and the shrub suffer- at least in this thy day, the things which beed to stand, grows into a deep-rooted tree. long unto thy peace--but now they are hid “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the from thine eyes !" leopard his spots ? then may ye also learn to do good who are accustomed to do evil.” But we should not only consider repentance as a
DISCOURSE XIX. work to be performed by us, and the delay of which multiplies difficulties; but also—and
NATHANAEL. without this our repentance cannot be saving And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any -as a blessing and an influence to be imparted
good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip from God. Now your criminal delay in seek- saith unto him, Come and see. Jesus saw ing this renders it less probable that you will Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, ever find it: for though you cannot deserve Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no grace, you may grieve it: and after so many
guile! Nathanael saith unto him, Whence invitations scorned—what wonder if he should knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said say, “None of them that were bidden shall unto him, Before that Philip called thee, taste of my supper!" Thirdly. There are when thou wast under the fig-tree, I saw cases and circumstances in every man's life thee. Nathanael answered and said unto more friendly to religion than others. On him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou these much seems to turn; and these may be art the King of Israel. Jesus answered lost even in this life. I have no doubt but ihat and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, when Felix trembled, he felt as he never did I saw thee under the fig-tree, believest thou ? before, and never did again. But he wilfully
thou shalt see greater things than these.strove to do away the impression. And have
John i, 46–50. not some of you had convictions which have Much of the excellency of the Scripture for the time filled you with fear? Have you lies in this—that it does not state things in not had such relishes of good things as have general representations, but descends to parled you to “call the sabbath a delight,” and ticulars—that it does not place them before to “hear the word with joy?" Have not your us in speculative notions, but in practical efclosets occasionally seen a bended knee? fects—that it does not describe them only, Have not your walks witnessed your tears but exemplifies—so that we see them alive and vows? 'Your earthly hopes withered, and and in motion. your comforts removed—have you not been The passage of Scripture which is now to constrained to turn aside from the world, de- engage our attention is peculiarly interesting ploring its emptiness, and sighing for a nobler and instructive. It is a narrative of the inter. good ? Now when he draws, we should run; view between our Lord and Nathanael. It when he knocks, we should open. Fourthly leads us, Death, it is certain, ends all your opportuni
First, to observe TAE ADVANTAGES OF 0Cties. After this, no pardon will be offered; CASIONAL SOLITUDE.—What was Nathanael no motives will be urged. Time is for sow- doing under the fig-tree? We are not informing, and eternity for reaping; and “what a ed. Perhaps he was reading the Scriptureman soweth that shall he also reap.” Hence perhaps he was engaged in meditation-perthe distinction always maintained in the haps he was praying-perhaps he was joining Scripture between this world and another: himself to the Lord in a perpetual covenant, the one is a state of probation, the other of saying, “Lord, I am thine, save me: and decision. Hence the importance of life. manifest thyself to me.” Some purpose had Hence the wisdom of complying with the allured him there which our Saviour noticed admonition, “ Seek ye the Lord while he and approved; he saw him “in secret,” and may be found, call ge upon him while he is he now " rewards him openly.” Does he see
as! Are we strangers to retirement? Surely, who can know it? I the Lord search the if we are Christians, and concerned for the heart, I try the reins, even to give every mar. welfare of our souls, we shall often retire, and according to his ways, and according to the find that we have much to do alone. I pity fruit of his doings." And what says our the man whose life is full of action, and void Lord, in his address to John? “The churches of thought. I pity the professor who lives only shall know that I am he who searcheth the in public; who is always hearing sermons; reins and hearts; and I will give unto every who pays very little attention to the duties one of you according to your works.” In the of the family, and none to those of the closet. days of his flesh, actions were not necessary
It is alone that we disengage ourselves to inform him, nor did he derive additional from the dominion of the world. The world discovery from the declarations of others : conquers us in a crowd. When our senses “ he knew all men, and needed not that any are dazzled, and our minds amused, we are should testify of man: for he knew what was too much occupied to find out the cheat; but in man.". when we are drawn back from it, when we Let us remember therefore, that “the eyes calmly consider it as an object of lonely con- of the Lord are in every place, beholding templation, oh! how is its importance dimi- both the evil and the good.” Of this he will nished, how is its influence reduced! It is give proof hereafter, when he shall bring then we sigh—“vanity of vanities, all is va- every work into judgment, with every secret nity.” It is alone that conscience operates, thing, whether it be good, or whether it be that motives impress, that truth is examined evil.” It will be in vain for the sinner then and applied. It is alone that we obtain a to say—when his wickedness is published to knowledge of ourselves; it is there we can the world—“Whence knowest thou this ?" examine our condition, investigate our cha. I saw thee, says the Judge, devising misracters, discover our follies and our weak- chief upon thy bed; I saw thee walking in a nesses. Alone, we can be familiar with God, way that was not good; I saw thee endeaand divulge to him secrets which we could vouring to stifle every conviction of connot communicate to the dearest friend, or ex- science, and to banish every serious reflecpress in any public or social exercises of re- tion from the mind; thou hast always stood in ligion.
my presence; thou hast always sinned under I love the fig-tree. I love to go forth from mine eye. I beheld all thy actions, I heard among the works of man, to enjoy the crea- all thy words, all thy thoughts were open to tion of God: to enter a wood—to walk through my view--and here they all are a field of standing corn-to follow the wind- But let the righteous rejoice. He sees ings of a river-to view the playfulness of their situations, their trials, their dangers, the lambs—to listen to the varied melody of their fears, their desires. He has "engrathe birds. Here is nothing to vex, nothing to ven them upon the palms of his hands, their pollute. What an innocency, what a softness walls are continually before him.” does it spread over the mind! How disposed Let the broken-hearted penitent be enis the heart to welcome and cherish every couraged. Godly sorrow affects loneliness. devotional sentiment!
Into many a corner you retire to pour out "O sacred solitude! divine retreat!
tears unto God. Well, thither his eye folChoice of the prudent, envy of the great
lows you—“To this man will he look, even There from the ways of men laid safe ashore, We smile to hear the distant tempest roar:
to him that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, There blest with health, with business unperplext, and that trembleth at his word.” “ And the This life we cherish, and insure the next."
Lord said unto Ananias, Arise, and go into Secondly. Let us remark HOW PERFECTLY the street which is called Straight, and inACQUAINTED OUR SAVIOUR IS WITH OUR MOST quire in the house of Judas for one called PRIVATE CONCERNS. “ Whence knowest thou Saul, of Tarsus : for, behold ! he prayeth.” me?" asks Nathanael, when our Saviour had, Thirdly. SINCERITY IN RELIGION IS A in few words, developed his character. Je-QUALITY WHICH OUR Saviour CALLS UPON US sus answered. When thou wast under the TO OBSERVE AND ADMIRE.
What an honourfig-tree I saw thee.” This good man ima- able character, as he approaches him, does he gined himself alone there: he supposed no give Nathanael ! “ Behold an Israelite ineye saw him. No wonder therefore he was deed, in whom is no guile.” By calling him surprised, to hear a person, who appeared only an “Israelite,” he distinguishes him from a man like himself, announcing the whole af- other nations; and by calling him an “ Israfair: no wonder he was immediately convin- elite indeed,” he distinguishes him from his ced of his Messiahship, and exclaimed, “Rab-own. For all “ were not Israel, who were bi, thou art the Son of God, thou art the of Israel.” From the beginning, “he was King of Israel.” To know all persons and not a Jew who was one outwardly; neither things infallibly, is the prerogative of God was that circumcision which was outward in only. He therefore claims it, in distinction the flesh: but he was a Jew, who was one infrom all creatures: “The heart is deceitful wardly; and circumcision was that of the above all things, and desperately wicked ;) heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter ;
whose praise was not of men, but of God.” (“according to what he has, and not accord Now Nathanael was one of these true Israel- ing to what he has not." ites; he was in reality, as well as by profes- And this leads us to a fourth remark. sion, one of the people of God. And the evi- THERE MAY BE TRUE GRACE, WHERE THERE dence he gave of this was, his freedom from IS AT PRESENT VERY LITTLE LIGHT. This guile. But our Saviour does not say he has was the case with Nathanael. His knowno guilt-a man may be freckled, or have ledge as yet was small; his mind was conspots, and not be painted. A Christian is tracted; and he laboured under low prejunot sinlessly pure; he has many unallowed dices. He had no apprehension of a Messiah, and bewailed infirmities; “but guile he has distinguished by poverty and suffering. And not: he is no hypocrite. He does not, in re- because Nazareth was a wicked place, and a ligion, ascend a stage to assume a character place of obscurity, he concluded, nothing which does not belong to him. He is what good or great could originate thence. Neverhe appears to be. There is a correspondence theless he was open to conviction—he combetween his professions and actions ; lis plied with the invitation, “Come and see"meaning and his words. He is upright in he iinmediately “believed with the heart, his dealings with himself—in his dealings and confessed with the tongue"-and our Sawith his fellow-creatures and in his dealings viour, pleased with his proficiency, promises with his God. He is all of a piece. He is the to “ lead him into all truth.” same alone as in company: the same in his Now this may be the case with others. own house as in the house of God: the same And indeed, so far am I from supposing it in prosperity as in adversity.
necessary, to evidence the reality of a man's This is the character that stands fair with conversion, that he should in every thing see his own conscience. This is the character clearly at first, that I commonly suspect those that enthrones himself in the esteem of that are all at once so ripe in knowledge, others. This is the character that the King and so high in doctrine. These disproporof Glory delights to honour. * The prayer tionated notionalists remind me of those unof the upright is his delight.”. Light is happy children, whose heads grow so much sown for the righteous, and joy for the up- faster than their bodies—the effect of disright in heart.” “ The upright shall dwell ease, or weakness of constitution, not of in thy presence.”, “The Lord God is a sun health and vigoar. I love to see knowledge, and shield: the Lord will give grace and experience, and practice advancing together glory: no good thing will he withhold from "unto a perfect man, unto the measure of them that walk uprightly.” Hast thou,” the stature of the fulness of Christ.” That said he to Satan, " hast thou considered my which comes up in a night may wither in a servant Job, that there is none like him in night-we dislike mushroom piety. If we the earth, a perfect and upright man, one look into nature, we shall find things slower that feareth God, and escheweth evil ?" And in their growth, in proportion to their excelplacing such a character before us, in a situ- lency. How rapidly nettles, and thistles, ation the most sublime and awful, he says, and reeds, and osiers spring up to maturity! " Mark the perfect man, and behold the up but the oak is as much slower in attaining its right, for the end of that man is peace." perfection, as it is more firm in its grain, There are two reasons why he calls upon us more durable in continuance, more important to admire a Nathanael. The one is, The in its use. RARENESS OF THE CHARACTER. It is not to be Let us not then conclude that a man is a seen every day. Many make no pretensions stranger to divine grace, because he is unable, to religion; and many have only a form of at present, to go all our lengths in sentiment godliness," while “they deny the power It is not possible for us to determine, in certhereof."
tain disadvantageous circumstances, with how “ Broad is the road that leads to death,
much ignorance in the judgment true grace
in the heart may be connected. How little • But wisdom shows a narrower path,
of the plan of salvation did Peter know, when With-here and there-a traveller."
our Saviour said, “ Blessed art thou, Simon The other is, THE EXCELLENCY OF THE Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed CHARACTER. It is indispensably necessary, in it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaall religious concerns-nothing can be a sub ven!” As the sanctification of the soul, so the stitute for this integrity-nothing that we can illumination of the mind is gradual; and say, nothing that we can do, nothing that we surely intellectual defects are no more woncan suffer. Without this, every thing else will derful than moral ones. only render us the more vile and abominable. Nor let us be anxious to force upon him Judas is called a devil. On the other hand, doctrines which at present he is not prepared where this is found, and God sees that a man to receive. Our Saviour said to his disciples, acts conscientiously, and from a sincere desire “ I have yet many things to say unto you; to please and glorify him, he will pass by mis- but ye cannot bear them now.” Where the takes, pardon imperfections, and accept him heart is right with God, a growing experience
And thousands walk together there;
in divine things will, after a while, make room tain proper apprehensions of the evil of sin. for the admission of every important truth. Hence the Scriptures are so large and parti
And therefore, we remark, finally, That cular in describing it. They place it before WHERE GRACE IS REAL, IT WILL IN DUE TIME us in every quality, and express it under every BE ATTENDED WITH CLEARER LIGHT. “ Be- allusion that can rouse our indignation, or cause I said unto thee, I saw thee under the awaken our fear and our flight. Witness the fig-tree, believest thou? Thou shalt see language of the Apostle: "What fruit had greater things than these.” Grace is an ac- ye then in those things whereof ye are now tive principle, and leads us to use what we ashamed? for the end of those things is have-and" to him that hath shall be given, death." and he shall have more abundance." It dis- Behold the enemy. Sin is here arraigned poses us to go on, " and then shall we know, and condemned in all the periods of time: the if we follow on to know the Lord.” It inspires past, the present, and the future. For the reverence and humility, and a dependence on past—here is unprofitableness; for the present Divine teaching—and the secret of the Lord -here is disgrace; and for the future here is with them that fear him, and he will show is perdition. Let us, then, consider sin under them his covenant: the meek will he guide these three characters. I. As UNFRUITFUL. in judgment, and the meek will he teach his II. As SHAMEFUL. III. As DESTRUCTIVE. way.” Let not thy deficiencies therefore And I. The Apostle asks, " What fruit had cast thee down. You are under the care of ye in those things ?" The question implies one who will " not break a bruised reed, nor an undeniable negative, and suggests that sin quench the smoking flax, till he send forth yields no real benefit, no solid satisfaction. judgment unto victory.” He has your wel. It should be otherwise. Sin ought to produce fare at heart. The convictions and desires something: for it costs much. It requires the which he has produced in you are tokens for sinner to wage war with himself, to overcome good. He will never leave nor forsake you, innumerable difficulties, 'to make the most «till he has done all that which he has spoken expensive sacrifices. Now, for a man to lato you of: he will perfect that which con- bour and toil, to give up all the advantages cerneth you.” It is now only the dawn; but of religion, to sacrifice his soul, his God, his the dawn is the pledge and the beginning of everlasting welfare, and plunge into the noon. “ And the path of the just is as the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" shining light, which shineth more and more —for nothing! is hard indeed! unto the perfect day.” And whatever dis- And is not this the case ? Read the hiscoveries he has already made, remember, you tory of wicked nations, families, individuals. shall see a greater things than these"- What does the sinner ever gain or enjoy ?
first, greater in this world; more of him- What that is valuable and satisfactory! self, of his word, of his grace, of his provi- What that deserves the name of “fruit?" dence. He can enable us to see divine things What that even corresponds with his own more clearly; more impressively; with more expectation ?—The enemy told Adam and confidence, and with more appropriation. Let Eve that they should be as gods," when us not limit our desires, or our hopes. his design was to degrade them“ below the
Secondly, greater in another world. After beasts that perish." And thus we read of all our attainments, this earth is only a land "the deceitfulness of sin :" it attracts by flatof obscurities. But heaven is everlasting tery; it destroys by delusion. It looks on light. In those happy regions there is no with blandishing smiles, but conceals the darkness at all.”_" Now we see through a cloven foot; it presents the bait, but hides the glass, darkly; but then face to face: now we hook; it talks of liberty and indulgence, but know in part; but then shall we know even this is only to favour its inroads; once admitas also we are known. And when that which ted, slavery and desolation spread all around. is perfect is come, then that which is in part It promises much, but how does it perform? shall be done away.'
" Though wickedness be sweet in his mouth, Then he will fully reveal himself. “We though he hide it under his tongue; though know that Messiah who is called Christ shall he spare it, and forsake it not; but keep it still come; and when he is come, he will tell us within his mouth: yet his meat in his bowels all things.”
is turned, it is the gall of asps within him." Sinful gratifications continue no longer than
the actions themselves: for then, conseDISCOURSE XX.
quences begin to be thought of: reason ascends the throne, and scourges; conscience
awakes and condemns. Nor is it easy for the THE CHARACTERS OF SIN.
sinner to creep along to the commission of What fruit had ye then in those things whereof his crimes unseen by reason, unobserved by
ye are now ashamed? for the end of those conscience; and, oh! when they are lookers things is death.—Romans vi. 21.
on !-how, by their warnings and reproaches, It is of the greatest importance to enter- I do they imbitter his enjoyment! He finds