Images de page

them? If any such partnership has subsisted, it is high time that you dissolve it-that you withdraw yourselves and reclaim your associates from so fatal a confederacy. If you have destroyed much good, it concerns you, by all means in your power, to restore it. Perhaps you cannot undo all the evil which you have done, nor recal the virtue which you have ex elled. But, at least, by repentance save your own sou; and, by your good conversation, encourage the repentance of others.

Let all be persuaded to a different kind of fellowship, a fellowship in the fruitful works of holiness and light. Consider one another to provoke unto love and good works. Exhort one another daily, lest any be harden. ed through the deceitfulness of sin. Take heed lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bit, terness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. Give diligence to reclaim the wicked and encourage the virtuous. He who converteth a sinner from the error of his ways, shall save a soul from death and hide the multitude of sins.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light ; for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saithe Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

THE words, to which the Apostle here alludes, are in the beginning of the sixteenth chapter of Isaiah. "Arise shine," or be enlightened, "for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee." To the Gentiles the Apostle applies these words, as a call to awake from their slumbers, and enjoy the light of the gospel newly risen upon them.

This call addressed to the Ephesians may with equal propriety be addressed to multitudes in the Christian* world; for though the light shines, they open not their eyes, but continue in the same dead sleep as if darkness still covered them.

Sleep and death are metaphors often used in scripture, to express the moral state, not only of Heathens, but also of sinners in general; and especially of such

To such

as are secure and thoughtless in their sins. slumbering souls I shall now apply the call in the text: And I beg that you will watch one hour.

I shall describe the character of the persons to whom the call is directed, open the call itself; and press the argument in the text.

I. Let us attend to the character of the persons here addressed They are such as are in a state of sleep.

In vain is the call in the text addressed to you, unless you are convinced, that you are the men. The most exact description of your character, unless you hear and apply it, will give you no conviction. If you can sit inattentive to a subject in which you are so nearly concerned, it is manifest, that you are under a Spirit of slumber, and, with respect to you, the inquiry may stop here. But let me hope better things of you, though I thus speak. To proceed then,

1. If you allow yourselves in the practice of known wickedness, your conscience is asleep.

"The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness." If you had any just apprehension of this wrath, you would not take pleasure in unrighteousness: You would be anxious for deliverance from it. While therefore you indulge iniquity in your heart, you are in a state of sleep; your conscience is unfeeling to guilt, your reason is blind to interest, and your soul is dead to a sense of danger.

Think not that your condition is safe, because there are some vices which you avoid." Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?“ If you are such, in any respect, you must be renewed and sanctified by the Spirit of God.

You say, "Good men are imperfect-they offend in many things." This is true; but they pursue not a course of sin; they yield not themselves servants to it; they obey it not in the lusts thereof. When through infirmity or temptation they are led astray,

they think on their ways, and turn their feet unto God's = testimonies. A conviction of their transgressions brings them on their knees before God, and their pious sorrow works in them carefulness, Is this your character? There is then ground of hope and comfort. But if, on the contrary, in your general resolutions, you make reserves in favor of this or that sinif you deliberately contrive the commission of iniquity -if you repeat it often without remorse, and run into temptations without caution-if, when you have done. evil, you seek excuses to pacify your conscience-if the imperfections of good men, instead of exciting you to vigilance, encourage you to selfflattery-if the mercy of God, which should lead you to repentance, emboldens you to continue in sin-what will you say?

Do you not love and choose wickedness? Is not your heart set in you to do evil?

[ocr errors]

2. If you live in the customary neglect of selfexamination, you are in a state of slumber.

One who is awake to religion, regards it as the one thing needful. He is solicitous to know, whether he possesses the temper, and is entitled to the blessings of it. He examines himself, whether he is in the faith, and proves his works, whether they are wrought in God. That sense of the importance of religion, which engages him in the practice of it, makes him attentive to the exercises of his heart and the actions of his life, that he may know what manner of man he is. This is his prayer, "Search me, O God, and try. my heart; prove me and know my thoughts: See if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Inquire then whether under a serious concern to know your state, you are conversant with your own hearts--whether you often bring them to the law and to the testimony, and try them by the rules which you find there.

But here, I would observe to you; though the entire neglect of selfexamination proves you to be in a VOL. III.

3 н

state of sin, it is not every kind of selfexamination, that will prove the contrary. Sinners, who are usually asleep, may at times rouse up, and spend a few thoughts on their dangerous state, and then sink back into their slumbers. Yea, there is such a thing as making selfexamination a mean of selfdeception. If you attend only to those things which seem favorable, and overlook every thing of a contrary aspect- if you dwell upon the good actions you have done, and spread them as a cloak over your iniquities-if you regard only your external conduct, and never explore the motives by which you have been governed-if you compare yourselves with others, and conclude that all is well, because you see in them certain vices, which you have not practised; you are but like the Pharisee, who trusted in himself, that he was righteous, because he was not as other men were, extortioners, unjust and adulterers; and yet never considered the pride, uncharitableness and arrogance, which were in his heart. Your aim, in such a kind of examination, is only to persuade yourselves, that your state is good; not to know whether it really is so. This examination will terminate in stronger delusion.

3. If you have never been, in any degree, affected with a sense of your guilt, and of your dependence on the mercy of God in Christ, you are among those who are asleep.

The gospel supposes men to be sinners, and as such to need the salvation which it brings. It is absurd to offer pardon to the guiltless, and vain to offer it to those who think themselves so. Christ came, not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentancenot to save those who are out of danger, but to seek them who are lost. In order to repentance, you must be convinced, that you are sinners. In order to your accepting salvation from Christ, you must see yourselves to be lost. Nothing can be more manifest, on the least reflection, than that, by violating God's holy

« PrécédentContinuer »