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of reprobation—“ Depart from me, I know you not."
5. There are also professing Christians who fall very far short of the claims of their Christian calling.
Contented with low attainments in piety and virtue, with only such a measure of obedience as they think will save them from the penalties of the divine law, they are indifferent about attending to its highest demands, and fulfilling its sacred spirit. Aiming at the fruitless task of serving God and mammon, while they wish to rank themselves among the humble followers of Christ-for it is their wish to die the death of the righteous, and to have their last end with his—they are yet loth to relinquish the corrupting circles of sensual enjoyment. But it is the indispensable characteristic of Christians to aim at the highest standard of holiness-at being pure, as the holy Being whom we serve is pure-at being perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect; and not to “ love the world, nor the things of the world : for if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”* And though this injunction cannot be intended to separate us from the indispensable duties and innocent enjoyments of life, it was surely designed to forbid all those indulgences that corrupt the purity of our hearts and weaken the fervours of our piety. We 'must then be prepared, in all these cases, to deny ourselves, to take up our cross and to follow the path of holy obedience and patience marked out by our crucified Lord, or we cannot be his disciples.
6. Even the sincere followers of Christ are the objects of the injunction—"Cry aloud, spare not, show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins."
* 1 John ii. 15.
For how far short do they fall of that perfection in piety and goodness after which they should aspire! How warm is their attachment to earthly pursuits and pleasures, and how feeble their love for spiritual and eternal objects-for the truths that will save them from error, and sin, and death—for the objects that will make them happy to all'eternity! How many secret imperfections alloy the virtues that shine fair unto the world! How often have they to lament the inconstancy of their pious resolutions, the feebleness of their holy desires, their susceptibility to the many allurements of a tempting world!
Yes, Christian brethren, sincere as is your devotion to your God, supreme as are your resolutions to serve him, you must bear testimony to the truth, that “there is no man that liveth and sinneth not." Let the reflection on your numerous frailties and imperfections teach you the deepest humility, and while it excites to increased watchfulness and circumspection, lead you to seek the powerful succours of that grace which only can keep you from falling. Let your prayers, your desires, your exertions in the great duties of your Christian calling, be sincere, and earnest, and constant; and then, whatever may be the frailties of your nature, you may take comfort in the assurance, that he who hath called you, is faithful as he is merciful, and will not suffer you to be tempted above what you are able to bear, and to resist, and to overcome.
Finally, brethren, while the servants of the sanctuary are diligent and faithful in the execution of that commission for which they must render at account—that commission which enjoins them to
cry aloud and spare not, to show the people their transgressions and their sins”—let each individual carefully examine his own heart and life, that he may humbly repent of the trespass which he hath committed, and of the sin in which he hath sinned.
This sincere, deep, and faithful examination of our spiritual character and state is a paramount duty at all times, essential to our advancement in the great work of our Christian calling—the putting off the sins of our corrupt nature, the putting on the graces of the new man in Christ Jesus. Yet wise is the institution of the church, which at this holy season calls us to more serious and frequent exercises of self-examination, meditation, and prayer, lest uninterrupted occupation with the scenes of the world should weaken the ardour or tarnish the purity of our spiritual affections, or confirm us in our indifference to the things that belong to our
Deep repentance, leading, through divine grace, to newness of life-faith unfeigned in the merits and power of the blessed Redeemer, working by love, and bringing forth the fruits of righteousness -are the indispensable conditions of salvation. • Turn then, turn then from your evil ways, lest iniquity prove your ruin."* “ As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but had rather that he should turn from his evil ways and live. Turn then, turn then; for why will ye die, O house of Israel ?”+ “ Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved."IIf the guilty children of men would listen to the affec
* Ezek. xviii. 30. † Ezek. xxxiii. 11. Acts xvi. 31.
tionate invitations of God their Saviour, and turning from their iniquities, would fulfil the purpose of their being, and devote themselves to the Lord iheir God in righteousness and holiness—if the professors of the Christian name would walk worthy of their holy vocation, adorning the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things the ministers of the Most High would be absolved from the necessity of fulfilling the injunction, “. Cry aloud, spare not-show my people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins." Theirs would then be the more delightful duty to fulfil the commission of peace and reconciliation, to proclaim the glad tidings of mercy and salvation. “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."*
“ For the Lord will redeem Jacob, and will glorify himself in Israel.”+ “ Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.”I “ They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles ; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." “ The redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away."||
Even so, blessed Lord, hasten this glorious consummation of the felicity of thy people-if not in this world of sin, of sorrow, and of tears—in that new heaven and new earth, wherein dwelleth for ever the perfection of righteousness and the fulness of joy.
# Isa. xl. I. # Isa. xliv. 23. Isa. xli. 10.
Isa. xl. 31. 11 Isa. li. 11.
Lam. ii. 40.
Let us search and try our ways.
He who, in the career of worldly business or pleasure, never pauses and reflects on the character of his actions, and the tendency of his course, would be regarded as guilty of great folly, and as seriously endangering his welfare. But considering man in his character as a spiritual, and his destiny as an immortal being, what shall we say of those who never pause and reflect whether they are acting worthy of their spiritual character, and making preparation for their immortal destiny. If to hazard our temporal prosperity, through want of reflection, be folly, what must that heedlessness be denominated, which puts in jeopardy the interests of eternity?
My brethren, we are candidates for an immortal existence-we are to live for ever in a state of happiness or' misery-our destiny is to be decided at the tribunal of the Lord of the universe; but him, our Maker and our Judge, we have offended by our transgressions; the sentence of his just displeasure is proclaimed against us. search and try our ways, and turn again unto the Lord.”