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Can they plead that, notwithstanding their neglect or rejection of the Gospel, they still fear God and work righteousness! What must be that fear of God which rejects the record that God has given of his Son; which ranks among the tricks of knavery, or the delusions of superstition, those mighty signs and wonders that attested the mission of the Son of God; which hesitates not to brand as an impostor him whom the Father hath glorified and sent into the world! What must be that righteOusness which daringly violates the command of God to believe on his Son; which disclaims those exalted means of piety and virtue afforded in the revelation of Jesus Christ, and which, under the pretence of doing the will of God as obscurely intimated by the lights of reason and conscience, opposes that will clearly and forcibly proclaimed from heaven; teaching men to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live righteously, soberly, and godly in the world! Surely if justice be an attribute of the Governor of the universe, signal must be the punishment of those who contemn his authority, who reject his merciful counsel for their salvation, the rules of righteousness, the messages of peace, the glories of eternity! Even they who despised his law proclaimed by Moses, who was but his servant, perished; of how much sorer punishment shall they be thought worthy who trample under foot the Son of God, and count the blood of the covenant an unholy thing !
But, my Christian brethren, aggravated also will be our guilt, and severe our punishment, if, while we profess to believe in the revelation of the will of God contained in the Gospel, we do not fear him nor work righteousness. VOL. III.
The luminous pages of God's written word, delineating our duty and exciting us to perform it, lie open before us. The interesting truths, the holy laws, the powerful aids, the cheering promises, the awful threatenings of this word, are constantly promulgated to us. The ordinances of the church, enforcing holiness, dispensing grace, offering mercy, are administered before us. God calls us in the warnings of his providence and the strivings of his Holy Spirit: he calls us to receive his counsel, to hearken to his reproof. He, the Son of God, manifest in the flesh, who died to redeem us from the sorrows and sins of the world, invites us to follow him, to be like him holy, that with him we may be for ever happy. Heaven displays its glories
hell unfolds its terrors. If thus urged, invited, warned, we do not fear God and work righteousness, reason will brand our conduct with shame; conscience will fix on it the stain of the blackest ingratitude, folly, and guilt: and he whose name we have dishonoured, will finally, as the Judge of the world, seal our eternal condemnation. For assuredly a day is approaching, when, in the everlasting bliss assigned to the righteous, and the everlasting misery allotted to the wicked, the truth will be proclaimed with awful power—"God is no respecter of persons : but in every nation, they only who fear him and work righteousness, are accepted with him.”
THE CALLED AND THE CHOSEN
Matt. xxii. 14.
For many are called, but few are chosen.
This solemn admonition of our blessed Lord was delivered at the conclusion of a parable, in which, under the appropriate figure of a marriage feast, he set forth the blessings of the Gospel; the earnest calls of God to mankind to accept these blessings; the rejection of these calls by some, and the forfeiture by others, of the blessings promised. One had married a wife, another went to his farm, and another to his merchandise. The pleasures, or the cares, or the business of the world, induced many to reject the Gospel call. And many of those who regarded and accepted it, were not finally chosen, were not finally advanced to the participation of its eternal joys, because they wanted the wedding garment—that spiritual righteousness which is an indispensable qualification for the enjoyment of the holy presence of God in the kingdom of heaven.
Who are the called? And
Are the inquiries which my text naturally leads us to consider.
In a general sense, all men are called to the service of God: they are all bound by the law of their nature to serve him who is the gracious
Author of their being: they owe him gratitude as their Preserver and Benefactor, who gives them richly all things to enjoy: they are all amenable to him as the omniscient and almighty Judge of the universe which he has made.
Thus bound to obey the Being who made, preserves, and blesses, and who is finally to judge them, it would be contrary to every idea which reason can form of his benevolence and justice, to suppose that he has left his reasonable and accountable creatures entirely ignorant of his glorious attributes, and of the service which they are required to render him. No; the word of God on this point harmonizes with the voice of reason. It represents the Almighty as the benevolent Father of the whole human race, and as accepting, in every nation, those who fear him and work righteousness, according to the measure of natural light or Gospel grace vouchsafed to them. “ Jesus Christ" his eternal Son, who undertook the work of propitiating divine justice, offended by man's transgression, is held forth in that blessed Gospel which he promulgated, not only as “the Saviour of those who believe,” but as “the Saviour of all men.” “ Jesus Christ,” says the apostle, “is the Saviour of all men, especially of them that believe."* Through the infinite efficacy of his merits, and influences of his grace, salvation is rendered possible to those who, though they never heard of his name, seek to obey, according to the measure of light which they have received, that supreme Lord who hath given them life, and breath, and all things. God, the gracious Father of mankind, calls them all to his fear and service.
*1 Tim. iv, 10.
He calls them by that primeval revelation of his being, attributes, and will, which, though obscured by error and disfigured by superstition, has been extended throughout the earth, and handed down through all ages.
He calls them by the voice of nature, bearing testimony in all her works to the existence, the attributes, and will of. that almighty Lord, the knowledge of whom universal tradition had thus preserved.
He calls them by the voice of conscience, the law written on the heart, prompting to good and restraining from evil.
He calls them by the monitions of his Spirit, exerting in their hearts its secret but powerful sway.
Thus does the gracious Father of mankind call them all to his fear and service. No nation, however enveloped in ignorance, or debased by superstition and'vice, has totally extinguished the knowledge of a supreme Maker and Lord of all things. His being, attributes, and will, at first proclaimed by revelation, have been preserved by tradition, and confirmed by the voice of reason, of nature, and of conscience.
Even in the wilderness you behold the savage bowing in adoration before the great Spirit whom his fathers' worshipped; who hath spread before him the extended forest; who rewards with success his labours in the chase; who preserves him through the summer's heat, and through the winter's cold ; and who has provided for him, beyond the distant horizon that bounds his view, a country of rest and peace. Enter the temples embellished by the arts, and celebrated in the strains of pagan genius; in the incense that ascends from the censers of their