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more noble way, declare his praise. But hear, O O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, but they have rebelled against me. My hearers, look to your domestick animals. Are they as unmindful of you, as you are of your God? Do they treat you with the neglect with which you treat your heavenly Parent? But remember this truth, To him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
2d. Then the only reason why men neglect the duties of religion, and concerns of their souls, must be their extreme and criminal aversion to them. Surely the motives are sufficiently great to excite the most sluggish into activity and diligence, unless they have unfeeling, obdurate hearts. If any plead their blindness, they virtually plead guilty; for the voluntary opposition of the heart to the light and duties of the gospel, induces men to stop their ears, shut their eyes, and blind their minds. But who for this is to be blamed ? Sinners, in gospel lands, see and confess that the great concerns of religion and their souls, are of unspeakably greater importance than any or all of the pursuits and enjoyments of this present world. But if they confess these things, what makes them sleep in awful security, when the torments of hell should alarm, and the joys of heaven allure the most stupid sinner. This kind of blindness discovers great wickedness; for it discovers a willingness to treat the ever blessed God with continued contempt, and to be the murderers of their own souls, when they are convinced they ought to take heed. The ants assist each other in laying up a store for the future; but how unwilling are men to do any thing for their own salvation or that of others. They mutually agree to lay up treasures upon earth; yet how do they fold their hands together and say, Yet a little sleep, a little slumber; when the thought of encouraging each other to walk in the straight and narrow way,comes to
their view. Then mankind are not only to be pitied but blamed, for their moral stupidity and blindness.
3d. From this subject we see, that as natural sloth tends to poverty, so spiritual sloth proves ruinous to the soul. If impenitent sinners were truly awake, and not in a state of despair, they would be much excited to do something in order to escape the wrath to come. Perhaps some are ready to wonder why the Lord does not give them a new heart, and pardon their sins; because he appears in behalf of others, and shows mercy. But were they not criminally stupid and blind, they would wonder why a holy and just God has so long spared their forfeited lives, and not cut them off in their sins as cumberers of his ground. How many thousands have acted the part of the sluggard, sleeping in their sins, till they have opened their eyes in torment. And is it not now as dangerous to say, Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep? Says Solomon to every one of this description, Go to the ant, thou sluggard, consider her ways, and be wise.
4th. Let all take the alarm, and awake to righteousmess, lest the wrath of God come upon them to the utmost. Let saints arise and trim their lamps. They should ever be greatly engaged in laying up a trcasure in heaven, that they may reap a rich harvest, a great and glorious reward. Their redemption is now nearer, than when they first believed; hence, they should give all diligence to make their calling and election sure. The present, especially calls for extraordinary exertions and zeal in the cause of the Redeemer. The Lord Jesus is doing great and wonderful things for Zion. In a very special manner is he blessing the exertions of his people, and enlarging the borders of his glorious kingdom. And is this a time for his people to sleep? Let them awake, be up and doing, and not tarry to make excuses, but prepare to meet the bridegroom. Let impenitent inners awake, and speedily flee to the mountain of
safety. Have they not folded their hands together long enough, crying, Yet a little sleep, a little slumber. It is now almost impossible to awake some, and will they yet sleep? Are they determined not to awake, till the light of eternity opens their eyes ? Yonder, methinks I see the Saviour with very solemn but cheerful looks. What heart-felt expression flows from his lips? Rise, sinner; he calleth thee. Come, U come to Jesus. The Spirit and the Bride say, Let him that heareth, say come.
And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely. 'If any will yet sleep, it must be to their own cost. But awake, thou that sleepest, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee life. Awake to righteousness; lay up for yourself a treasure in heaven, that your soul may live, and for ever feast and rejoice with
, that innumerable company at the great marriage supper of the Lamb. Amen.
HUMAN ACTIVITY A MEANS, OF OBTAINING BLESSINGS
Mark iii. 5.
Streich forth thine hand. All the ways of God are perfect and right, whether man be reconciled to them or not. He is the Lord and Sovereign of the universe, and all his intelligent creatures are bound to render implicit obedience to all his commands; for no one of them is unreasonable. All the general laws and positive precepts of the supreme Ruler are such as are worthy a Being supremely wise and good. Notwithstanding there is a controversy between the
supreme, moral Governour, and his rebellious subjects on the earth, his foot-stool. Their language is, His ways are hard and grievous; not suited to the state and condition of weak and erring mortals. But says the Lord, Come now and let us reason together. ways equal? and are not your ways unequal ? In infinite compassion he condescends to reason with men, even the rebellious, who find fault with his
ways, and call him a hard master. The words of the text with those in connexion, are an interesting narrative, and serve to show the depravity of the human heart, and the benevolence of God towards man. Jesus entered into the synagogue; and there was a man there, which had a withered hạnd. And the Phari. sees watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man, which had the withered hand, stand forth. And he said unto them, is it lawful to
Are not my
do good on the Sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill ? But they held their peace. And when he looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand, And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. By this miraculous restoration at the exertion of the man we are taught, that human activity is a means of obtaining blessings from God. The subject will be illustrated with considerable variety.
ist. The conduct of mankind in natural life, may serve to illustrate and evince the necessity of human activity, in order to obtain what are denominated natural blessings. The comforts and conveniences of life are not obtained by idleness and sloth; but by industry and activity. The earth would not yield her increase in such rich profusion, were it not cultivated by the hand of inan. There must be ploughing and sowing, harvesting and ingathering, that the wants of her numerous inhabitants may be supplied. Not only activity, but times and seasons are to be observed, for committing seeds to tlie earth, and for gathering her precious fruits.
Hence the husbandman at a suitable time casts forth seed, and then patiently waits for the early and latter rain, and in due season reaps a rich harvest, as a reward of his lahours. The earth is a vast and inexhaustible store-house, from which, by proper means and exertions, the whole human family may derive the necessities and comforts of lite. But without human activity only a small portion of the globe could subsist. Even in paradise Adam was to till the ground; and since the fall, human labour is necessarily increased. After the flood the promise was made, While the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not
But this does by no means imply, that should mankind fold their hands together as the sluggard and call for a little more sleep, that the earth would