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Sic native beauties of truth and virtue; and to deter us

from the pernicious gratifications of sin, he occasionally ai disturbs our fatal repose, and adds keener pangs to the re remorse of a polluted conscience. But these aids of of the Divine Spirit are imparted in such a manner, as 1: not to violate the freedom of our will; and, of course,

not to disqualify us for becoming the proper subjects di of punishment or reward. He opens our hearts to

attend to the truth; but this assistance supersedes not

the necessity of our own exertions. He invites by de gentle persuasion, and not compels by resistless vioEN

lence. He does not drive us, like senseless machines; but in the character of a cheering friend, accompanies us in our way to heaven. Quench not, therefore, the

suggestions of this heavenly Visitant. When he per1 suades, devoutly listen; when he invites, cheerfully

obey. They only who are led by the Spirit are the sons of God.

Again; our Lord calls us to a more intimate communion with himself; to a more habitual acknowledgment of his supreme dominion over us, by the common and daily dispensations of his wise providence. When the children of Israel were journeying towards the land of promise, Moses gives them this exhortation, “ Thou “ shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God « led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to hum“ble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in “ thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his com“ mandments, or no.

And this is still the benevolent intention of all his dispensations towards us, while we are travelling to a place of rest. Though we are not so miraculously conducted by the visible interposition of his great power and glory, we are, nevertheless, his

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people, and the sheep of his pasture. The man of humble piety, in every object around him, discovers a present Deity: he acknowledges the superintending power of God in all his ways: he has the pillar of a cloud by day, and of fire by night, to conduct him through the wilderness of this world. But they, who perversely harden their hearts and blind their eyes, perceive not the guiding hand of the Almighty. To persons of this sort, our benevolent Parent repeatedly calls—"My people are bent to backsliding from me. “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I “ deliver thee, Israel? Mine heart is turned within “me; my repentings are kindled together. I will not “ execute the fierceness of mine anger; I will not “ return to destroy Ephraim ; for I am God, and not man.'

With these compassionate sentiments, he, from time to time, endeavours to awaken our attention, and to prove what is in our hearts, whether we will keep his commandments or not. He tries our pious emotions of thankfulness and wonder, by the common bounties of nature, by the wisdom and goodness which are displayed in every part of the creation, and by the magnificence of the whole design. He proves our patience and resignation, by defeating some favourite scheme, or inflicting some unexpected distress. He solicits our gratitude by some signal blessing, or some unexpected deliverance from impending calamity. This merciful invitation is implied in every dispensation of his providenceO that my people would hear my “ voice, and learn, and perform the words of my law; " that I might do them good in their latter end.”

Another observation which naturally arises from the words of the text, is this; in our present state of pro


bation, God deals with us as rational creatures and free agents; not impelling us by absolute authority and irresistible force, but inviting us to happiness, and deterring us from misery, by persuasion and threatening; by promises of reward, and denunciations of punish

When it is said, “ If any man hear my voice, “and open the door, I will come in to him,” the words necessarily imply, that there is a possibility of our rejecting the gracious offer of his love; that we may refuse to listen to the calls of mercy; that we may keep the door of our hearts shut against the solicitations of our best friend, who comes to bring us joy and peace. Our disobedience is voluntary, and therefore our punishment is not arbitrary nor unjust.

Some, from early neglect, or an ill-directed education, entertain unreasonable prejudices against all the claims of revealed religion. Some, through long and immoderate indulgence in sensual gratifications, have fallen into a state of inattention, and almost insensibility, with respect to every religious concern. Some are so cagerly engaged in the pursuits of wealth and ambition, that they vainly imagine they have not time to turn, and listen to the gentle invitations of divine mercy. It may easily be imagined, that persons of this sort will find little difficulty in refusing admission to a guest, who would impede their vicious pursuits, and disturb the whole system of their present enjoyment. God sometimes arrests the sinner in his mad career, by miraculously interposing his strong hand and mighty arm. But let not the wicked man presume, and build his hopes of security upon such a deviation from the established order of things. If he will not attend to

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the dictates of reason, and follow that light which lighteth every man who comes into the world; if he will not weigh with candour and impartiality the pretensions of our holy religion; if he stifle the suggestions of that good spirit which prompts him to repentance; it the prospect of everlasting wretchedness, or inexpressible felicity, has no influence upon his conduct; he must not expect, that, for his sake, a miracle will be wrought-he must not imagine, that, like Elijah, he will be taken up to heaven by violence, in a chariot of fire. He resists the motives to obedience, which are best adapted to the nature of rational beings, who are to be responsible for their conduct. His condemnation, therefore, will be just. He will have no right to complain, when he hears that dreadful sentence, “Because “ I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out

my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at

nought all my counsel, and would none of my re" proof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock “ when your fear cometh.”

If, therefore, it be left to our own discretion, either to receive or reject the offers of divine mercy; and if, consequently, we are proper subjects for reward or punishment; let us abhor that which is evil, and cleave to that which is good. Since we are called upon, in this day of grace and salvation, to choose whom we will serve, let us determine, with Joshua, to serve the Lord our God. Happy will be the result of this determination.

For we observe, in the last place, the gracious promise of our Lord, conveyed in the concluding words of the text; “ If any man hear my voice, and open the

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“ door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, " and he with me.Blessed is that soul which enjoys this intimate communion with the greatest and best of all Beings! To be called the friend of God, was a distinguishing appellation of the patriarch Abraham ; but our gracious Lord has said to all his disciples, Ye are my friends, if ye do what I command you.” What manner of love is this! What astonishing condescension is here displayed to all those who receive and obey the Gospel! He who is the Head of all principality and power, reveals himself to us in the character of a companion, a friend, and brother. His faithful people are connected together in the bonds of unity and love: nor is the union less intimate with him, who is the Head of the Church, and from whom the whole body derives nourishment and strength. This heavenly intercourse is carried on by meditation ; by prayer; by receiving the holy communion; by hearing the word of God and obeying it, from a real principle of piety. The requisite qualifications, on our part, are faith, humility, gratitude, and love. The happy consequences are these; we are more and more assimilated to the divine nature; the same mind dwells in us, which was also in Christ Jesus. We

grow grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour. We have a leader, under whose guidance our spiritual adversaries will in the end be effectually subdued. We have a friend to support us under every perplexity; and, in all our temporal calamities, to inspire us with an inward and spiritual joy, which is unspeakable and full of glory. This happy state of the saints and servants of God is thus described in the strong and


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