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heaven. I do not mean that thou must reform thy life as presumptuous sinners, for I suppose thee to be free from all intemperance and dishonesty, and averse to all profaneness. But this Jesus affirms, that, notwithstanding thy morality and form of religion, thou must experience also an inward change before thou canst enjoy happiness in heaven; for the joys of saints there are all spiritual and religious, but thou hast no taste or relish for religious pleasures: It is weariness to thee to spend some part of the Lord's-day in hearing God's word, or conversing with him by prayer and praise. And dost thou think thou art likely to be happy in heaven, where loving, admiring, and praising God will make all the happiness of saints through the ages of eternity. Besides, thou art carnally-minded; and to be carnally-minded is death. Thy sins are not forgiven thee, for if they were, thou wouldst love much. Thou art, then, still unreconciled to God and an enemy to Christ; if not by thy conversation, at least by the tempers of thy heart. Thou must, then, be born again, even as any other person, for the word of God bears this testimony to thee, that thy inward parts are very wickedness, thy heart is full of the love of the world, and of a thousand foolish and hurtful desires; in short, thou art alive unto the things of earth; and drowsy, stupid, and dead to the things of God.
20. Do not say, "I was born again in baptism;" for, besides that the most abandoned sinners can plead as much, does not St. Peter say, that the 'baptism which saves us is not the outward washing of the body, but the answer of a good conscience, besprinkled with the blood of Jesus in the new birth?' And does not St. Paul affirm, that in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision avails any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation, a thorough change of soul? Or to use the words of the church, a new and contrite heart, with which God always bestows entire pardon and forgiveness of all our
Now, brethren, if these things be so, if none can deny them, but those who trample under foot the truth as it is
in Jesus, how miserably deluded are those who trust in a form of godliness, in an outward reformation, or in the strictness of their morals! All these things, though very good in their proper place, without a change of heart, are but broken reeds which will pierce the hands of those that lean upon them, and let them fall into the bottomless pit. For let no one deceive himself. If the unregenerate soul cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven, it must be shut up in that of darkness, there is no middle place. And it will be sufficient not to have known Christ experimentally in the new birth, to be ranked with the reprobates at last.
'Depart from me,' shall the meek, the loving, the merciful Jesus be forced to say to all those that shall not be qualified for his kingdom by regeneration― Depart from me, I never knew you.' Depart with those fallen angels, whose dark, proud, and sensual nature you never put off by regeneration.
But let me put an end here to these sad, yet necessary reflections and hasten to conclude, by laying before you in few words, the glad tidings of salvation: For the ministers of Christ are messengers of peace; and God knows that if ever they are obliged to awake drowsy sinners, and to probe their spiritual wounds by speaking plain words, it is only to apply with more success the remedy which God's mercy has prepared for them.
Know, then, that the Lord is merciful, and that he delighteth not in the death of a sinner, but chooseth rather that he should be converted and live. Know that he has prepared an infallible remedy, to recover every fallen soul; and that if you will apply in earnest to him for it, you shall attain to a life of happiness and holiness here, which shall be crowned with eternal glory hereafter.
Know that that remedy cost him no less than the blood of his Son-his only Son-and that faith, a living faith, is the only means to apply it to your souls. the word of God: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. He that believeth is born of God.
To them gave Jesus power to become the sons of
God, even to them that believe in his name. We are the children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.' But beware that you mistake not faith. It is not the dry, speculative, barren faith, which every drunkard and every worldly-minded sinner profess to have. No, it is a close union with Christ, and a receiving him in the heart upon God's own terms, whence arises a humble confidence that our sins are forgiven us, and that we, who were once afar off, are now reconciled to God through the blood of Christ. From this faith follows a loving heart to God and all mankind; a desire stronger than death to live henceforth only to the glory of Him that loved us unto death; and a happiness, which is the earnest and the foretaste of heavenly joys.
It is true, that the living faith by which we are thus born again, is the gift of God, and the work of his Holy Spirit; but what said our blessed Lord, 'Seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for your heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them that ask him.'
Why should we then delay, brethren? If God is ready, as he most certainly is, now, while the door of mercy is yet open, while the Lord stretches still to us the arms of his patience and love, let us not harden our hearts. Let us break off our sins by repentance. With shame and sorrow let us arise and go to the blessed Jesus; resolved to wait at his feet in all the means of grace, till he is pleased to make us whole, and to prepare us for heaven by causing us to be born again of his Spirit; which if we do, I take heaven and earth to witness, with all the promises of that Book by which we are to be judged at the bar of God, that the Lord will be faithful on his part, and will bestow his grace upon us, so that we shall rejoice in the midst of all the misfortunes of life-exult in sickness-triumph in death, and shout for joy with all the sons of God, when this earth is burnt up in the day of the Lord-Which may God grant, for his infinite mercy's sake, through Jesus Christ our Lord; to whom with God the Father, and God the Holy Ghost, be ascribed, as is most due, all honour and praise from this time forth for evermore.
And thou shalt speak my words unto them whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, for they are most rebellious.-EZEK. ii. 7.
LAST Sunday I delivered to you, my dear brethren, the most awful message that was ever sent from God, the mighty God, to his undone creature man. I offered you life in his name, and upon his terms: I offered you Jesus Christ, the Prince of life,' the way, the truth, and the life." I besought you to enter into covenant with him, yea, to accept your Maker for the husband of your souls, that being espoused and joined to him in one spirit, you might for ever dwell in him and he in you. How you received the message, whether you heartily accepted the gracious proposal, and have walked since as people who are new creatures in Christ; or, whether the impressions which I would hope were made on some of your hearts, have already vanished away like the early dew, is not my business to determine. Another messenger of the Lord, death, follows me. He will, ere long, summon you to the bar of Him, who knows men's hearts, and judges righteous judgment. There you will give an account of your accepting or rejecting the message I delivered to you in his name; there you will find (may it not be to the endless confusion of any one !) that the matter was indeed for life and death, for eternal life or eternal death. However, as it is to be feared, that the last sermon we have heard, and the last communion we have received, have not had a better effect upon most of us than the foregoing ones; the want of outward reformation among us last week having visibly betrayed the want of inward conversion, I propose to-day to expostulate with these my unconverted hearers,
and to shew them that, notwithstanding their coming now and then into the house of the Lord, they are most rebellious against him. The task is not pleasant to me, nor do I suppose it will be so to you; but be this as it may, it must be performed; and though it be not agreeable, I trust it will be useful, the bitterest medicine often proving best for the soul as well as the body. And if any of you, my brethren, suppose we choose uncomfortable subjects, because we love to displease our hearers; not to mention that it is very unlikely ministers should thus endeavour to set their flocks against them; I answer, that we are the servants of God, and servants must not do what they please, but what their master commands, whether it be agreeable or disagreeable to them or to others. Our heavenly Master himself preached to convince and reprove, as well as to comfort, his hearers, and he will have his servants do the same; witness the commission God gave again and again to Ezekiel in the chapter whence the text is taken. 'Son of man, they are stiff-necked children, unto whom I send thee, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus says the Lord, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, for they are most rebellious.' Having, therefore, last Sunday invited you to accept of Jesus Christ, and come to the marriage-feast of the Lamb upon gospel terms, I know not how I could one day answer it to God and your own souls, were I not to testify to those who make light of the invitation, whether they will hear or whether they will forbear, that they are most rebellious. Bear with me, my guilty brethren ; and if you regard not my apology, regard, at least, the command given to Ezekiel in the text, and in him to all the ministers of God's word. There we are sent to our stiff-necked hearers, and whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, we are commanded to say unto them, Thus says the Lord, you are a most rebellious house.' Permit me, therefore, my brethren, to consider myself at this time, as an advocate of God, as one employed to plead against you who are such, and to charge you with nothing less than being rebels and