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of God, which is better than life itself, a favour fit to be despised? And yet do not we plainly despise him and his offers of mercy, when we despise the means laid down for our salvation?
The gospel is, with great reason, styled the Gospel of Peace; because the terms of peace and salvation are contained in it. And yet, it seems, these terms may be hid, or cannot be perceived by some. But who are they? Why, only such as are lost-lost to all concern for themselves, all gratitude to God, all sense of virtue. As to all others, who have the eyes of their understanding enlightened, they see the reasonableness, the exceeding mercy, of the terms of reconciliation proposed in the gospel; they find, by experience, that the work of righteousness (as the prophet Isaiah speaks*) is peace; and that the effect of righteousness is quietness and assurance for ever.
Having therefore made their peace with God by a sincere repentance; having received the gospel with a full resolution to be governed by its laws; and lastly, being intent to subdue their wills and affections to the will of God; having these testimonies of their repentance, faith, and obedience, they find themselves upon good grounds easy; being truly freed from the tyranny of their corruptions, from the prevailing power of the devil, from the terrors of an evil conscience, from the wrath of an angry God, and from the fears of what may come hereafter.
* Chap, xxxii. 17.
These motives, to well-disposed minds, will be sufficient to oblige them to set about the work of their conversion with fear, and a concern worthy of so great an interest.
I shall therefore conclude this discourse, after I have made a few useful observations from what has been said.
And first; as this blessing of peace is the gift of God, so the conditions on which we may hope to attain it are set down in his word. And if an angel from heaven should tell me that I might obtain pardon and peace, upon any other terms than repentance and holiness of life, I should have reason to suspect
his message. How miserably disappointed then are they like to be, who continue in sin, depending upon God's mercy, upon the prayers of the faithful, or upon any other method which God has no where declared he will accept of!
2dly. If obedience to the laws of God be necessary to obtain such dispositions as shall fit us for heaven, what will be the lot of those who put off their conversion to the last moment of their lives? If becoming a new creature, (which is absolutely required in the Christian dispensation,) if that be necessary, sure it will require time to be formed, as all other creatures do.
Our third observation may be this: that such as make their whole lives a course of sinning and repenting, depending upon God's goodness, should consider, that this is a very
odd way of reasoning, That because God is merciful, I may therefore be less careful to please him. 4thly. That such as dare not look into the state of their souls, may depend upon it, they are not in the way of peace, however easy they may be; because peace of conscience ariseth from a knowledge and assurance, that God will be favourable to me according to his word; because, upon considering my ways, I find that they are ordered in some good measure according to that word.
Lastly. This blessing is attainable by all sorts and conditions of men, who shall set their hearts upon it. For as we may have all worldly blessings, and yet want this, which is better than all besides; so we may want those worldly blessings, and be possessed of this, which will make us sufficient amends.
Our weakness cannot hinder us, when God has promised to hear and to help us.
Want of spare time to seek after it should not discourage us, since God, the author of peace, has appointed us our lot in this world.
Want of learning will be no excuse; for God has given us a conscience to supply that want in a good measure; and he that attends to that will in most instances know what will please God.
What have we then all to do, but with an humble faith to embrace those truths, which lie open to the meanest capacities; with a willing obedience to do what we believe will
please God; and, with an unfeigned sorrow, to beg God's pardon, whenever we know we have offended him, and strive in earnest to do
so no more.
Then the Peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will be with us, and remain with us for ever.
WORKS, NOT WORDS ONLY, NECESSARY
MATTHEW vii. 21.
NOT EVERY ONE THAT SAITH UNTO ME, LORD, LORD, SHALL ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: BUT HE THAT DOETH THE WILL OF MY FATHER WHICH IS IN HEAVEN.
OW often do we hear these words of H Christ! That you may you may attend to what is going to be said to you upon this subject, pray take notice, that the salvation of every soul of us will depend upon our understanding this declaration of our Lord, and upon our ordering our lives accordingly. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord; that is, who professeth himself a Christian, and observes the outward duties of Christianity; shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father: he that leadeth a Christian life, he, and he only, shall be saved.
There is a most sad mistake, which people of all religions and professions do naturally fall into; namely, to satisfy themselves with performing the outward parts of religious worship, without considering, that the strictest observation of such duties will avail us nothing in the sight of God, if we are not by these, and
See Matth. vii. 23; x. 33; xxiii, 26, 29. Luke vi. 46, 48; viii. 21; xi. 28. 1 Cor. iv. 20. 2 Tim. il. 19. James i. 22. 1 John i. 6.