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believed on him? The meanness of Christ's outward appearance, and that of his followers, was a stumblingblock to the Jews. But there is nothing solid in this objection. The design of God in the gospel is to humble the pride of man, and therefore, he hath chosen the foolish, weak, base, and despised things of the world, to confound the things of the wise, mighty, and honourable, that no flesh should glory in his presence. Christ rejoiced that the poor had the gospel preached unto them, and that divine things were revealed unto babes.'
2. Some are ashamed of the gospel, because it is, as they pretend, foolish and irrational, such as none but weak and ignorant people can embrace. So the Greeks, who were learned and wise, accounted it at first. So many, who are 'wise in their own conceit,' now reckon it. They pretend that there are mysteries in it which cannot be understood, such as the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Atonement, Regeneration, the Resurrection, &c. To this we answer-there are mysteries in nature which the wisest man cannot explain; and is it any wonder that there should be mysteries in religion, especially that God, who is an infinite Spirit, should be above our comprehension ? It is true that there are many things in the gospel above our reason; but we defy any man to prove that there is one thing in it contrary to reason. Besides, it should be remembered that man is a fallen creature; that the thoughts of his heart are evil continually; that the natural man (the animal or rational man) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.' Hence we see that reason, though a noble gift of God, is insufficient to guide us in matters of religion; and he who would be saved, must humble himself as a little child, and pray to be taught of God. But,
3. The true and greatest cause why many are ashamed of the gospel is, that it requires a holy life. It requires a separation from the world; the denial of self; the mortification of sin. It would not allow a man to live, like a brute, in the indulgence of his carnal lusts. requires a life of faith, repentance, devotion; in a word, Christ says to every professor of his religion, 'Give
me thine heart.' Now, while a men remains in his natural state, he loves the world, he loves sin, and his heart is emnity against God: he loves darkness rather than light, because his deeds are evil.'
But this holy tendency of the gospel, is so far from being an objection to it, that we should prize it on this very account; this proves it came from God, and on this account St. Paul gloried in it. God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I am crucified to the world.'
And now, men and brethren, suffer the word of exhortation. Has God, in his infinite mercy, sent us his glorious gospel? Then let us be very thankful for it, and very attentive to it. Let it be the study of our lives, and the delight of our hearts. Nothing so justly demands, nothing can so well repay our best regards as this. It is God's greatest and best gift to a lost world. And he takes particular notice how we receive it. Olet us beware of neglecting it! Angels desire to look into these things, and shall not we study them diligently, who are so much more interested in them? Compared with the gospel, all other books are waste paper; compared with the gospel tidings, all other news is trifling. This alone can teach us how we may he pardoned and sanctified; this alone can secure our happiness in time and eternity.
We have now heard that the gospel is the power of God, it is that which he works by, and renders effectual to the salvation-of whom? To whom is this gospel the powerful instrument of salvation? It is only to them that believe. Let infidels tremble! they, alas ! have no part nor lot in this matter. Faith begins in an assent, a cordial assent to the truth of the gospel. It is received as a divine testimony. The believer sets his seal to it, that it is true. Faith proceeds to affiance or trust in Christ. He first gives a firm assent to the gospel, then cordially accepts its blessings: from a conviction that the doctrine is true, he passes to a persua
sion that the privileges are his own. The believer then cleaves inseparably to Christ, depends incessantly on Christ. Gladly does he renounce all dependance on himself, all ideas of human merit: he flies to this refuge, there he is safe; he builds on this foundation, and he shall never be removed. This done, sweet peaee takes possession of his conscience; hope enlivens his breast; love warms his heart; zeal fires his soul; and he cries, Dearest Saviour, I am thine. 6 Henceforth I will follow thee. I will serve thee all my days on earth, and I desire to be with thee for ever in Heaven.'
And are any ashamed of this gospel; a gospel so wise, so holy, so honourable to God, so safe to man? Let them be ashamed of it who never knew its nature, who never felt its power. No man can be ashamed of it, if it be the power of God to his soul. No: he that believeth, hath the witness, or testimony, in himself; he can give a reason of the hope that is in him; and being baptized unto Christ, he will not be ashamed to confess the faith of Christ crucified, and manfully to fight under his banner against sin, the world, and the devil; and to continue Christ's faithful soldier and servant unto his life's end.' O, beware! beware, young people, lest any seduce you from the faith, by the pride of reason, and the sophistry of wicked men. Ever be on your guard, and remember those awful words of Christ,—' Whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him shall also the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father, with the holy angels.' Finally. Let every one that nameth the name of Christ, depart from all iniquity.' As we must not be ashamed of the gospel, neither let us be a shame to it. Many are too much prejudiced against the Bible, even to read it; but they love to read the lives of professors Let them see the gospel transcribed in our daily walk. So shall we adorn and recommend it to the world, and constrain them to say, that Christianity is all divine.
O THAT the gospel of Christ may be the power of God to our salvation! To this end, be pleased, O Lord, to grant that every one here present, may truly and heartily believe it, embrace it, and hold it fast.
We praise thee for the ministry of reconciliation, for the glorious truth that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them. We thank thee that, in thy great condescension and compassion, thou hast sent thy Messenger to invite us to be reconciled to thee. Be thou, gracious God, for Jesus' sake, reconciled to us.
We also entreat thee to subdue our iniquities. Let them not have dominion over us. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.
Save us, O Lord, from the folly and guilt of being ashamed of thee and of thy word. Help us patiently to submit to all the reproaches which may come upon us for an attachment to thy truth; and grant, that instead of being ashamed of the gospel, we may be so thoroughly satisfied, from happy experience, of its transcendent excellency, that in the face of a scoffing world we may say with thy servaat Paul, God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ: and that, in the last great day, when the enemies of the Saviour shall be ashamed before him, it may be our unspeakable happiness to be owned by him as his disciples and friends!
ROMANS viii. 13.
If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
THESE words set before us LIFE and DEATH;
-eternal life, or eternal death: they plainly show us what will be the eternal consequence of a life of sin, or of a state of grace: and therefore it is of the greatest importance to us clearly to understand them, in order that we may know what will be our future portion. It is a question (said an old divine) you ought seriously to put to yourselves, Shall I be saved, or shall I be damned? If you have any spark of conscience left, when you are sick or dying, you will put it with an anxious and trembling heart: 'Poor soul, whither art thou going? It is better, my friends, to put this question now, while you have opportunity have opportunity to correct your error, if hitherto you have been wrong. And nothing will sooner determine it than this text, If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die,' &c. These words contain two things, which I shall express in two plain sentences.
I. If sin live in us, we must die eternally; and,
I. If sin live in us, we shall die; that is, if it reign and rule: if we live after the flesh, we shall die.' By the flesh, we are to understand human nature in its present fallen state. Man is made up of two parts, body and soul, or flesh and spirit; but man is now called flesh, because the spirit is dead to God, and he lives only a fleshly, or animal life. So God spake of the wicked