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who do not hear him. Thereforeit must be our duty to listen to his words, and study his doctrine, that we may understand it and receive the benefit of it for the salvation of our souls. We may put this off as a matter of no consequence, and escape for the present. The man who tells us of these things out of a pulpit, has no power to punish us; but nevertheless God will not be neglected: he who vindicated his law, shall vindicate his gospel; and then what will become of us? what shall we say for ourselves in that dreadful day, when the reasonings and reserves of every heart shall be exposed and confuted? If the question is demanded of us, how it came to pass that we were so ignorant of the gospel, and so inattentive to its instruction? shall we answer, that we were too busy? What greater business can any man find in this vain world, than to provide for the saving of his soul? If his business could bring the whole world into his possession, what good would that do him? The man that had the whole world for his own, would probably be the greatest fool in it; and care or pleasure would soon destroy him. Yet they who can get but a very small part of the world, and must soon lose even that, make their business an excuse, and have no time to bestow upon their everlasting interest.

The importance of the salvation spoken of in the text is farther shewn by the manner in which it was recommended to the world. It was attested by signs and wonders and divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost; all intended to raise the attention of mankind, and convince them that they must be lost if they neglected to hear what was so powerfully recommended. Add to all this the amiable, as well as the excellent character of its great Preacher; whose

life was spent in teaching; whose only business in the world was to save those, many of whom are too busy to hear him. He condescended to the ignorance of the poor; was compassionate to sinners; argued patiently with the perverse and obstinate; and accommodated himself to the wants of all. At last he tasted death for every man; for you that hear, and for me that speak; and by his exaltation after his sufferings hath shewed us the encouragement we have, and the reward we shall receive, if we follow his example. Nothing but hardness of heart can hinder us from partaking of the benefits of our heavenly calling; as it hindered the people in the wilderness from reaching the promised land. We are therefore to take heed, as the Apostle forewarns us, lest there be in any of us an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. This Egypt, this wicked world, in which we live, must not withdraw our affections, and put us out of humour with the manner and the way of trial, by which God shall be pleased to carry us forward in our progress through this wilderness. And we are to exhort one another against the deceitfulness of sin. We can see how grossly the disobedient Israelites were deceived, in preferring Egypt to Canaan; and we wonder at them, that they should be so perverse and brutish: let us then not be cheated as they were beguiled of their inheritance? They did not believe the promises of God; and if we are deceived it must be for the same reason. The rest of Canaan was better than the bondage of Egypt; and the service of God is better to us now than the bondage of sin; which can only interrupt the happiness of the servants of God, and fill them with disappointment

*Heb. iii. 13.

and bitterness. Miserable is the situation of a Christian, who does not look forward, and press forward, to the promised Rest. He has left Egypt; and there is no better entertainment in this wilderness, than the hope of getting well out of it. But if instead of this, he is only looking back and wishing for the world which he has renounced; he is that double minded man, who is unstable in all his ways; neither a man of the world, nor a Christian; neither easy with God, nor without him. There cannot be a more unprofitable and unhappy character. It is said of the Israelites in the wilderness, that their heart was not whole with God, neither continued they stedfast in his covenant. How many fall under the same censure! they give a portion of their heart to God, and another much greater to the world.

When the Apostle is entering upon the more mysterious parts of this Epistle, he upbraids the Hebrews with their unskilfulness in the word of God. They contented themselves with the first elements of Christian instruction, and neglected the mysteries of the scriptures; living, as children do, upon milk, with little appetite and strength to admit more solid nourishment*. Some think they are learned enough, if they never get beyond their catechism: some never get so far. And it is common to plead in excuse, that little as their knowledge is, they know more good than they do, and have already more learning than they practise: not considering that the scripture abounds with many great and excellent mysteries, which have nothing practical in them, but so far only as they elevate the mind, and by bringing our affections nearer to God, dispose us to do his will

See chap. v. 12, 13.

with more love and cheerfulness; and consequently to do more of it, and to better effect: which is a matter of infinite importance, and now too little attended to. The Christian must be progressive; he must go on from the beginning of knowledge to the perfection* of it. He ought to know more of God every day; otherwise he may think of him less, till he totally forgets him and then he is in danger of falling into that state, out of which men cannot be renewed unto repentance. When the gospel, which a man had received, has not power to lead him forward, there is no new gospel to awaken him: when the most powerful medicine God ever made hath lost its effect, what other can we apply?

So long as the soul is in a growing state, the blessing of heaven continues with it, and the grace of God brings it on to farther improvement: but if it is out of culture, thorns and briars get possession of it, and its end is to be burned. When thorns and briars shall be planted in Paradise, then such careless Christians may expect to be admitted into heaven.

From the consideration of Christ's Priesthood we are exhorted to draw near with faith, and partake of his blessing, by attending upon his church and his ordinances; not forsaking the assembling ourselves together as the manner of some is t. The Jews, I fear, in the worst of times, were more zealous in attending their public services and sacrifices, than some of those who call themselves Christians. In the best days of the Church, it was always the manner of some few to absent themselves from the religious assemblies of the Christians: but what would St. Paul have said, if he had lived to these times, when perhaps not one half of the people are at the public prayers; not one quar+ Chap. x. 22, &c.

• Chap. vi. I.

ter of them at the sacrament? and they have no persecution to fear, as the primitive Christians had; who attended their worship at the hazard of their lives. It must be owing to mere idleness and indifference; for however business may be pleaded on the ordinary days of the week, it cannot be pleaded on the Sunday. This truth I must suppose them to know; that if their Saviour is a Priest, they must partake of the sacrifice he offers for their salvation. But there is another dreadful truth, which they do not think of; that, to those, who do not partake of this sacrifice for sin, there remaineth no other; but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. If he who despised Moses' law died without mercy, of how much sorer punishment shall they be thought worthy who do this despite to the spirit of grace*, by neglecting the great atonement that was made by Christ himself for the sins of the world? It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living Godt, and be made an example of divine vengeance: and what else can they expect, who refuse to accept of the sacrifice of Christ, by which alone the fiery indignation of God can be turned away from their own persons? No words are sufficient to express their danger: O that they could see it themselves, and would consider of it, and not trust to such frivolous excuses as will stand them in no stead in the day of visitation!

To encourage us in our Christian warfare, the Apostle sets before us at large the examples of the Saints of old, who were all saved by leading a life of faith enduring every trial and conquering every enemy, on this great principle. There never was

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