« PreviousContinue »
in good earnest desire that we should forfeit our own souls,
and incur the wrath of Almighty God, from a false tengiderness to your delusive peace. No, my brethren, this au cannot be done; or if it be done, eternal wo will be our
portion, eternal reproaches will pass between us. I had rather hear from one in the spirit of Ahab, “Feed him with the bread and water of affliction;" or from one in
the spirit of Amaziah, “Forbear, why shouldst thou be a smitten;" than to hear from my own conscience, Thou
hast betrayed souls to damnation; than to hear from an
incensed God, “ Their blood will I require at thine min hands;" than to hear from the chief Shepherd, when
he shall appear, “Cast the unprofitable servant into outer darkness, there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” Let a man, therefore, so account of us in the spirit of candour of equity, “as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God."
II. Christians, you are required to entertain a just eshr
teem for the office and character which we bear. I am aware how delicate a subject it is to talk of that estimation which we claim from you on this account. I am sensible that our highest glory consists in our humility, and our best dignity in stooping to be useful: "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." We claim no obsequious homage, we arrogate not dominion over your faith, but we expect that no man should despise us; we account our office venerable enough to entitle those to respect, who do the duties of it with propriety. Indeed we have not diffidence enough to apprehend, in the least degree, that such respect will be denied, where the proper virtues of our station appear in our conduct; and we know it to be both vain and absurd to expect it on any other terms.
Leaving therefore a theme, which cannot be pursued long to advantage, we are still more desirous,
111. That you would make a proper improvement of the truths which we deliver. Take beed then, brethren, how
ye hear. The time is coming, when we must all meet before the judgment-seat of God, to give an account of the advantages which we have enjoyd, and of the manner in which we have improved them. In what way this decisive trial shall be conducted, cannot be certain. ly known in the present time. We are told in general, that the great Shepherd, who shall then sit in judgment, will separate the sheep from the goats, placing the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. But besides this grand division, it seems probable, from the analogy both of reason and Scripture, that those who were members of the same Christian society, and enjoyed the same ordinances and means of grace, shall then be brought together and confronted, that the evidence upon wbich the different sentences shall proceed, may be the more unexceptionable and convincing to all. The impenitent sinner shall then have nothing to plead in his own defence, when it shall appear that many of those with whom he lived have been converted and saved by those very means which he neglected and abused. It will be impossible for him to plead any singularity in his own case, when he shall behold some of those persons crowned with glory, whom he remembers to have seen in the same church he frequented, receiving the same ordinances of religion which he did, and who perhaps, in many outward respects, had fewer advantages for salvation than himself. This, my brethren, is a very solemn consideration, and, if duly attended to, can hardly fail to have a powerful influence on our minds. We who are entrusted with the care of your souls, shall then be called to give an account of our stewardship. But you,
too, my dear friends, must then appear with us; and as we must declare the message we have delivered, so you must answer for the reception you gave it. Wo will be unto us if we did not preach the gospel; and if we did, wo will be to you if you did not receive it. In these views, it is no slight or transient relation which was solempized so lately in this place; and happy indeed will it be, if the same sentence of the Judge shall acquit us both at the great day.
In the mean time, remember, and lay it to heart, that my task is not to please or to amuse you, but to dispense to you the word of life, which is able to save your souls.
Many, I doubt not, will come to this, as to other churches, merely to sit in judgment as critics of the speaker's abilities. But I hope God will save us from an undue respect to any of you in this capacity.
I bope he will save you from that disdainful nicety which scorns to be instructed with plain exbortations. A professed declaimer may justly be censured if he fails to entertain his audience. For this purpose, it is his part to make wbat excursions he pleaseth into the regions of imagination. But we have a dispensation committed to us, a form of sound words, from which we must not depart; a doctrine which we must deliver with uncorruptness, with gravity, with sincerity. Permit us, therefore, to aim only at the praise of faithfulness, wishing indeed to please you, but at the same time to please you only to edification.
Brethren, pray for us that we may be found faithful. Pray for yourselves, that ye may be able to suffer the word of exhortation, and to profit thereby. And may the great Master of the vineyard watch over us with a propitious care, to direct our labours, and in you to give the increase of fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life. Amen.
ROMANS vi. 12, 13.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye
should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instru. ments of righteousness unto God.
THE Apostle had, in the preceding part of the Epis tle, opened at great length that fundamental doctrine of our holy religion, the justification of a sinner through faith in Jesus Christ. In the chapter from which the text is taken, he proceeds to guard the Christians to whom he wrote against those false conclusions which they might be in danger of inferring from this doctrine. And, that none might pretend to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, he shews, with great strength of evidence, that the truths which he had been stating, so far from giving encouragement to a licentious life, on the
ontrary, laid peculiar obligations on all who embraced them to a strict and universal holiness. This he argues from the nature of Christian baptism, the initiating seal of the covenant of grace, showing, that by this rite we are solemnly engaged to die unto sin and live unto righteousness, in conformity to Christ's death and resurrection, signified in that ordinance. Afterwards he goes on to dissuade them from giving indulgence to sin in any kind or degree, and to enforce the obligations to univer.
sal purity by a variety of weighty arguments. “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body.” Sin is said to reign, when it bears chief sway in the soul, and the person is wholly subject to its influence. The best and most sanctified Christian on earth hath still some remainder of corruption abiding in bim: For perfection doth not belong to the present state; and he that saith he hath no sin, deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him. The Apostle therefore expresseth bimself in this qualified manner, Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Beware of giving way to your sensual appetites, otherwise you forfeit all the comfort of the doctrine which I have been teaching, and must be concluded strangers to that grace of God, which effectually teacheth those who are partakers of it, to
« depy ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live so& berly, righteously, and godly, in the world."
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that 1 ye should obey it in the lasts thereof: neither yield ye
your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto
sin; “ but yield yourselves unto God.” It is this last 5
exhortation which I propose to make the subject of the present discourse; and I intend, in the
First place, To explain what is implied in yielding ourselves to God;
Secondly, To offer some directions as to the right manner of performing this duty; and
Thirdly, To enforce the exhortation by some arguments.
I begin with explaining the duty itself, And, in general, it implies, that whatever we possess, all that we are, or have, or can do, should be consecrated to God, and devoted to bis service and honour. The being which we bye is derived from him; every blessing which we en