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believers, they will remain under the condemna-'. tion of the law, aggravated by their abuse of the gospel; and so have “ their portion with hypocrites "and unbelievers.
IV. Let us then make some particular application of the subject.
It has been before remarked, that “ we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ ;” and let this reflection sink deep into every heart. Men voluntarily break the laws of their country, but dire compulsion takes place when they are convicted and executed for their crimes. The young man, rejoicing in his vigour and flow of spirits, may give a loose to his passions ; but let him remember that “for all these things God will bring him into judgment.” You may now forget God; but he will not forget you, or any of your works. You may affront his justice, and despise his mercy; but he will shortly say,
“ It is a people of no under“standing; therefore he that made them will not “ have mercy on them."Now is the day of the Lord's patience : but the day of wrath and perdition of ungodly men approaches : now he invites you to draw near to his throne of grace ; shortly he will summon you to his awful tribunal. “Seek
ye the Lord while he may be found ; call ye upon « him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake “ his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts ; “ and let him return unto the Lord, and he will “ have mercy on him, and to our God for he will “ abundantly pardon.” “ Strive to enter in at the “ strait gate, for many shall seek to enter in, and
" Isa. xxvii, 11.
“ shall not be able. When once the master of the “ house is risen up, and hath shut to the door;" it will be for ever in vain for those that stand without, to cry, “Lord, Lord, open to us." Now the Saviour pleads with you in accents of tenderest love; “ How long ye simple ones will ye love sim“plicity, and scorners delight in their scorning, “and fools hate knowledge ? Turn ye at my re“proof, I will pour out my Spirit unto you, I will “ make known my words unto you.” But ere long he will frown on the impenitent and unbelieving, and say, “Because I called and ye refused, I “ stretched out my hands and no man regarded; “ - therefore shall ye eat the fruit of your own
ways, “ and be filled with your own devices.” “Oh that men were wise, that they understood “ these things, that they would consider their latter “ end!” 1 But will
with this solemn season of discovery and decision before your eyes, deliberately put the event of it upon the goodness of your hearts and lives ? Is there not in your very soul an involuntary shrinking from so strict and awful a scrutiny Do you not feel a disposition to say, “ Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O “ Lord?” “ If thou, Lord, shouldst mark iniquity, “O Lord, who may stand?” As you value your immortal souls, do not now insist on any plea, which you feel to be inadmissible in the great day of righteous retribution. Stand not on any distinction between your case and that of your fellow sinners. Seek above all things an interest in the atonement and righteousness of Christ; and “count “ all but loss, that you may win him, and be found “ in him.” Disregard the scorn and reproach of “ an unbelieving world; anticipating that day when every eye shall see the despised Redeemer, and his favour be universally allowed to be of more value than ten thousand worlds.—“Let every one,” however, “ that nameth the name of Christ depart “ from iniquity.”
'Prov. i. 19–31. Deut. xxxii. 29.
“ If we say that we have faith, “and have not works, will faith save us,” in the day“ when the Lord shall render unto every man “according to his deeds ?" Alas ! a dead faith, a presumptuous hope, and an unsound profession, will only increase the anguish and shame of final condemnation.
Even if we be truc believers, negligence and loose walking will cloud our evidence, and weaken our warranted confidence : while the greatest possible encouragement is given to all genuine good works, by that very system which excludes boasting, and allows none of our services the least share in our justification before God. “Not a cup of cold “ water given 'to a disciple, from love to Christ, “shall lose its reward.” He will accept every kindness to those whom we look upon as his brethren, even as if we had done it to him in person: and while we forgive injuries, love enemies, deny ourselves, endure hardships, or bear any cross, from love to his name, and desire to adorn and recommend his gospel ; he notices our poor services, and will applaud and reward them before men and angels. Nay, if he observe, that we form plans and make attempts to promote his cause and be serviceable to his people ; even though he see good to disappoint our endeavours; he will kindly accept the zealous intention, and openly say, “ Thou didst well that it was in thine heart.” 1 “Let us not therefore be weary in well-doing, for “ in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” And“ may we all find mercy of the Lord in that “ day of retribution,” and have an abundant entrance into his kingdom of everlasting glory and felicity!
1 TIMOTHY VI. 6.
Godliness with contentment is great gain.
The desire of gain, in one form or another, is universal : for, though no one can seek “the true “ riches” for himself without disinterested love to God and his neighbour, yet love to himself and thirst after happiness cannot be extinguished; being essential to our nature as God originally constituted it, and not superinduced by the entrance of sin. . If, however, the apostle's compendious maxim were generally believed, how many vain projects would be superseded ! what fatigues, dangers, anxieties, envies, contentions, frauds, oppressions, wars, murders, and mischiefs might be prevented !
The context is worthy of our peculiar attention. The servants in those days were generally slaves ; and it frequently happened that Christians were the property of pagans, Such a condition is commonly thought very wretched, and slaves have seldom escaped cruel usage: yet the apostle elsewhere says,
“ Art thou called being a servant ? care “ not for it." The Christian slave is “Christ's “ freed man;" for, “ if the Son make you free, “then are ye free indeed :” but the ungodly master is in deplorable bondage ; “ for he that committeth
sin, is the servant of sin.”