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Now, then, that the present hour is still in thy power, use it to the best advantage. Throw thyself into the arms of a merciful Redeemer, and beseech him to prepare thee a place in his everlasting habitations, and to fit thee for the company of God and his angels. Fear not, (if thou art sincere,) far from casting thee away, he waits to be gracious, and to seal to thy heart by his Spirit the remission of thy sins. For with the Lord there is forgiveness that he may be feared. Come, then, wash thyself by faith in the blood of the Lamb' the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.' And when thou art made clean. " go and sin no more.'
I repeat it once more-Tarry not-Eternity is at stake. God, in the twinkling of an eye, may take away the breath that is in thy nostrils. The next hour sickness may impair thy reason, and deprive thee of all power to think or pray. The next day the Lord Jesus may come to judgment, and the trump of God may sound, to put an end to time and repentance. If not, the messenger of the Lord, which day and night advances towards thee, death, will most certainly do it, ere long; and what will become of thee, if thou art found in thy blood, in thy sins, unpardoned, unconverted? What horror! But I choose to draw a curtain over the deplorable spectacle, and hope none of us will harden his heart against the prayer of Moses-and might not I say, against the tears of the Lord Jesus? Oh let us remem ber him, as he considered the sinners of Jerusalem a few days before his death; he wept over them, says the gospel, and cried out, like Moses, O that they would know, in this their day, the things that belong to their peace.' Let not those precious tears of the Son of God; let not the sacred streams that flowed from his hands, his feet, his heart, flow unregarded and despised by us. From this day, let us all be wise unto salvation. And when the wicked shall be destroyed with an everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power; when they shall call upon the hills to fall on them, and the mountains to cover them from the wrath of an offended God; in the inexpressible enjoy
ment of endless bliss we shall ascribe grace, mercy, and love to him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb; which may God grant for Jesus Christ's sake, to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one Eternal God, be ascribed all majesty and dominion, from this time forth for ever.
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him: Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.—JOHN vi. 66–68.
IN opening these words, I shall endeavour, First, to show what offended so much many of our Lord's disciples, that they walked no more with him. Secondly, I shall prove from St. Peter's words, by the grace of the Lord, that, as out of Christ there is nothing but eternal death for sinners, so in Christ there is eternal life for the chief of sinners that come to him. I shall then take occasion to make some practical reflections upon those two heads, by way of application.-And may the Lord Jesus so shine upon our understandings by the striking light of his truth, and so prepare our hearts by the softening power of his grace, that we may all join Peter in his glorious confession of faith: To whom shall we go, O Lord? Thou hast the words of eternal life; and we believe, and are sure, that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' who openest the kingdom of heaven to all believers.
I. I shall endeavour to show what offended so much many of our Lord's disciples, that they went back, and walked no more with him.
The sermons which our blessed Lord preached were plain, though deep; sharp as a razor, though smooth as oil; and the effect was the conversion or the confounding of his hearers. True doctrine will always cause a division between the chaff and the wheat of a congregation; it sifts the worldlings, puts the formalists at a VOL. VII.
stand, and makes the Pharisees and Sadducees, the secret and open infidels in all ages, to exclaim against the severity and depth of gospel trurhs: So that some, unable to bear it, run away from the disagreeable sound, as many of our Lord's disciples did; or, if they come again, it is to seek an occasion against the preacher, and, if possible, to catch him in his words as the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Lawyers tried to do by our Lord himself.
Now, if the Eternal Wisdom, the lowly, meek Lamb of God, who knew how to suit his discourses to the capacity and wants of his followers, could not declare the counsel of God without exasperating many of his hearers, how can it be expected that we, who have hardly one ray of the wisdom of the Sun of Righteousness, should preach the same gospel without any of the same inconveniences? Do not then conclude, my brethren, that ministers are false teachers, because many rise up against them, and walk no more wth them; and that a doctrine is contrary to truth, because it is hard to flesh and blood, and is exploded by the generality of the hearers. In so doing, you would condemn Jesus Christ himself, to say nothing of his apostles, whose plain ministry met every where with the greatest opposition. And as for you, my brethren, whose heart speaks still the language of the prejudiced hearers of the gospel in the days of our Lord; you who often say or think,―This is a hard saying, who can bear it ?,'— consider that, as the heart of man is the same in all ages, so is also the gospel: The same cause will produce the same effect in England, as well as in Judea : Search, therefore, your hearts; search the scriptures ; and you will find that the opposition which plain gospel-truths meet in you is not owing so much to the uncouthness or harshness of the preacher, as you think, as to a secret aversion which you have to the cross and the gospel of Christ.
St. John in the chapter out of which the text is taken, gives us a particular accont of the sermon which caused the disciples of our Lord to murmur and depart
from him. It is a close and deep one indeed, and contains many things which are foolishness to the natural man, though they are the wisdom of God to every awakened sinner. First: In the 27th verse, 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, (says our Saviour,) but for that which endureth to everlasting life.' This was more than the worldling and covetous could well bear. There are in every congregation people who bury themselves all the week in worldly cares; they think of nothing else but of adding field to field, or of enlarging their business; they have no time to say their prayers, or if they say them, it is always in a hurry; as for death and judgment, hell and heaven, eternity, and such solemn points of meditation, they do not trouble themselves about them, more than about the most impertinent story in the newspaper, perhaps not so much. Now, how could people of this stamp bear the doctrine of our heavenly Master? 'Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth to eternal life.' No doubt they murmured secretly, or went away saying, "Did you hear this Galilean, this Son of Joseph ? He tells us that we must not work. Can there be a more abominable doctrine ?" And thus grossly mistaking our Lord, who only endeavoured, by those words, to damp their desires after earthly things that they might begin to provide heavenly food for their perishing souls, they ran away with part of a distorted sentence, made him an offender for a word, and represented him as a man whose doctrines interfered with the duties of people's calling, and tended to subvert the commonwealth.
In the next verse, the Jews asked, 'What shall we do that we might work the works of God?' And they expected, no doubt, that our Lord would have said, "You must go regularly to the synagogue; you must take care to have your children circumcised the eighth day; you must religiously observe all the festivals and the Sabbaths;-you must pay tithe, and give alms, out of all you have ;"--for, thought they, if we do all this, who shall do the works of God better than we? But our Saviour who knew there were hundreds of hypo