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ened to behold its own deformity, dares no longer rest on such a sandy foundation. Others may go presumptuously into God's presence, “thanking him that they are not as other men;" but the true convert “ stands afar off," and, with an unfeigned sense of his own unworthiness, “ smites on his breast, and cries for mercy.” Instead of preferring himself before others, he now " prefers others before himself,” and accounts himself “the very chief of sinners." Nor, however eminent his attainments af. terwards may be, will he ever exalt himself. Paul indeed, when compelled to assert the dignity of his apostolic of. fice, did declare that he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles:" but, to shew how far such declarations were from being either agreeable to himself, or voluntary, he repeatedly called himself “ a fool in boasting,” and said, that, after all, “ he was nothing.” Thus any other Christian


be necessitated on some occasion to vindicate his own character; but, so far from prid. ing himself in it, he will lothe himself in dust and ashes, crying with the convicted leper, “ Unclean, unclean:" the habitual frame of his mind will be like that of Job, “Be. hold, I am vile.”

Further, the mouth of every true convert will be shut with respect to the raising of objections against the gospel. The doctrine of the cross is foolishness in the eyes of the natural man. To renounce all dependence on our works, and rely wholly on the merits of another, is deemed absurd. The way of salvation by faith alone is thought to militate against the interests of morality, and to open a door to all manner of licentiousness. On the other hand, the precepts of the gospel appear too strict; and the holiness and self-denial required by it are judged impracticable, and subversive both of the comforts and duties of social life. But real conversion silences these objections. When the gospel is “ seen and considered” in its true light, Christ is no longer made “ a butt of contradiction:" the glory of God as shining in his face is both seen and admired; and the union of the divine perfections as exhibited in the mystery of redemption is

Luke ii. 34.

deemed the very masterpiece of divine wisdom. The believer finds no disposition to open his mouth against these things, but rather to open it in devoutest praises and thanksgivings. As for the way of salvation by faith alone, how suitable, how delightful does it appear! He is convinced that, if salvation were less free or less complete than the gospel represents it, he must for ever perish. He sees that it is exactly such a salvation as was most fit for God to give, and for man to receive; for that, if it were not altogether of grace, man would have whereof to boast before God; and that, if one sinless work were required of him, he must for ever sit down in utter despair. Nor does he now think the precepts of the gospel too strict: there is not so much as one of them that he would dispense with; not one which he would have relaxed. He would account it an evil, rather than a benefit, to be released from his obligation to obey them. He never now complains, “ How strict are the commandments!" but rather, “How vile am I, that I cannot yield to them a more cordial and unreserved obedience!" And so far is he from condemning those who are most holy and heavenly in their deportment, he wishes that he were like them; and strives to follow them as they follow Christ.

Such are the fruits that are found on all true converts without exception; even “Kings shut their mouths.” They, indeed, from their high station, are less under the controul of human laws, and are ready on that account to suppose themselves less amenable also to the laws of God: but, when the gospel comes with power to their souls, they no longer ask, “Who is Lord over us?" but prostrate themselves before the Saviour with unreserved submission both to his providence and grace.

Let us learn then from hence, The evil and danger of

prejudice. It is difficult to conceive what destruction this evil principle brings upon the world. Thousands of persons in every place take up exceptions against Christ and his gospel without ever examining for themselves; they even shut their ears against every thing which may be said in vindication of the truth; and thus harden them

selves in their iniquities, till they perish without a remedy. Whence is it that so many have their mouths opened against the followers of Christ, stigmatizing every godly person as an enthusiast or deceiver? Have they searched into, and acquainted themselves with, the real effects of the gospel ? And have they been careful to distinguish between the tendency of the gospel itself, and the faults of those who embrace it? No; they have never considered, never seen, perhaps scarcely ever so much as heard, the gospel: they have listened to some vague reports ; they have gladly entertained every story which could in any wise confirm their aversion to the truth; and then they think they cannot exclaim too bitterly against it. But let us guard against indulging such an unreasonable disposition: let us hear and examine candidly for ourselves: let us consider whether the gospel be not suited to our own particular case: and let us beg of God to open our eyes, and to“ give us a right judgment in all things.” If we use not these means of conversion, we shall be utterly inexcusable before God: but if we use them in dependence upon God, we shall surely be brought at last to the knowledge of the truth, and to the enjoyment of those blessings which it is designed to convey.

Let us further learn from this subject the excellency of

the gospel. If we compare the effects of the gospel with those wrought by philosophy, we shall see that the latter never was able to produce any general reformation, while the former, in the space of a few years, triumphed over all the lusts and prejudices of mankind. And, at this hour, the gospel has the same power, wherever it is faithfully preached, and cordially received: there is no lust, how. ever inveterate, which it will not subdue; no enmity, however rooted, which it will not slay ; no pride, however stubborn, which it will not humble. The more it is examined, the more it prevails: it needs only to be “ seen and considered;" and it will soon remove every objection, and commend itself with irresistible evidence to the soul. Let us then consider, and reflect upon this glorious subject: let us meditate on it, till our hearts are

inflamed with love towards our adorable Redeemer; and Jet our mouths be never opened more, but in thanksgiving to God and to the Lamb.


Isai. liii. 1. Who hath believed our report? and to whom

is the arm of the Lord revealed? WHEREVER we turn our eyes, we find much occasion for sorrow and lamentation. The miseries which sin has brought into the world, and which are daily multiplied by the follies and wickedness of man, have rendered this state a vale of tears, not only to those who most feel their weight, but to those, who, exempt from their pressure, are yet disposed to sympathize with their afflicted brethren. But there is one subject in particular, that affords matter for the deepest regret to every benevolent mind; it is, the unconcern, which men in general manifest for their eternal interests. This caused “ rivers of tears to flow down the eyes” of David, and “great horror to take hold upon him.” It was on account of this, that Jesus, unmindful of the acclamations of surrounding multitudes, stopped to weep over the murderous Jerusalem. The prophet Isaiah laboured much to counteract this awful infatuation : but, except to a very few, who“ were as signs and wonders" in the land, his efforts were unavail. ing; and he was constrained to take up this lamentation over them, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"

For the fuller understanding of these words we shall enquire, What is the report here referred to? In what way it obtains credit ? and what reception it meets with in the world? I. What is the report here referred to?

When our Lord expounded the scriptures to the two disciples in their way to Emmaus, he shewed them, that, according to the prophecies, “ Christ ought to have

Vol. II.


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suffered, and by sufferings to enter into his glory.". Indeed, that was the general testimony of all the prophets; • and more especially is it opened to us in the chapter now under our consideration.

A more wonderful report never reached the ears of man. God was manifest in the flesh. The Son of God,

Jehovah's Fellow,” not only assumediour nature, but, in our nature, died; “ he became obedient unto death, even the accursed death of the cross.” To this he submitted for our sake, and in our stead ; to expiate our guilt, and, by the sacrifice of himself, to reconcile us unto God. Well might the apostle say, “Great is the mystery of godliness ;' for indeed it almost exceeds the bounds of credibility,

But, strange as this report may seem, there never was any other so well authenticated, or established by such a variety of evidence. A series of prophecies respecting it, respecting not only the general outlines, but even the minutest, and most contingent circumstances of it, have been given to the church during the space of four thousand years. Every one of these has been fulfilled; and that too by the very persons who laboured to the utmost to destroy the credit of the report itself. The typical representations of it also were so numerous that no human foresight could have contrived them, nor could any human power have caused a combination of such various, and, to all appearance, contradictory circumstances in one event. Without noticing therefore the miracles wrought in confirmation of it, we may well affirm that " it is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation.

With respect to its importance, never was there any other report so universally interesting as this : for it is not confined to a single state or kingdom, but to all the kingdoms of the earth, and to every individual from Adam to the latest of his posterity. Nor does any thing less than their eternal salvation depend upon it: they, who welcome it, will find acceptance with God; and they, who reject it, will be “punished with everlasting

a Luke xxiv. 26, 27.

bi Pet. i. 11.

• Zech. xii. 7.

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