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miracle, clear of all objections. The occasion was casual. No concert between Christ and the people can be supposed. No harmony of designs, or wishes, can be suspected. The miracle was performed in the most public manner, before a great assembly, composed of those, who were either indifferent, or hostile, to the character of the Redeemer. The event was unexceptionably miraculous. The youth was dead; and was summoned back to life by a command. The facts were seen by this great multitude ; and were acknowledged by them in a manner solemn, religious, and unequivocal. One would think, therefore, that the transaction would be received at once as a proof of the mission, and the divinity of our Saviour.
My intention, however, is, to derive from this narrative a train of considerations, widely different from all these. I propose in this discourse to consider the miracle in question as a work of Christ, strongly symbolical of one much more interesting, which by his Spirit he performs on various persons, generally in the same circumstances, as this young man.
There is a death, which all young men die in the present world ; a state of the soul, which God himself has thought it proper to call by this name. He declares mankind to be “dead in trespasses and sins." There is a life, which some of them obtain ; a spiritual life; the beginning, and the security, of life immortal. To all these Christ is the source of life as truly, as to the youth of Nain. From him must they receive it, if they receive it at all; from the same compassionate Saviour, who, passing by, sees them spiritually dead, and says to each of them, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.” With this design I shall address to the assembly before me the following considerations.
1st. Every youth, who is thus raised to life, is, before this resurrection, spiritually dead.
By this I intend, that all such youths are impenitent, unbelieving, sinners. This is the true character, the real condition, of every youth in this assembly, who has not been raised to spiritual life. It is not here intended, merely, that you are impenitent and unbelieving. It is further intended, that you are permanently of
this character ; that you are fixed, and obstinate ; that you have a hard heart, and a blind mind; a heart hard, a mind blind, in its very nature. The universal state of your views, affections, and conduct, is a steady alienation from God, an immoveable opposition to his pleasure. You are not casually sinners ; yielding to sudden and powerful temptation, in the weak, unguarded hour, and in circumstances peculiarly dangerous. You are sinners of design; of contrivance; with premeditation ; from habit ; and without mixture.
Do you receive this charge as untrue, as unkind, or even as doubtful? Look back, I beseech you, upon the whole course of your lives; and tell me, if you can remember a single day, in which
you have faithfully obeyed God, believed in the Redeemer, or repented of your sins. If you answer honestly, you will confess, in spite of all your wishes to the contrary, that there has been no such day in your lives. Let me ask you further, can you remember a single instance, in which you have performed either of these duties? Has there been a single hour in your lives, in which you have experienced such views and affections, as the Scriptures declare to be the true characteristics of the children of God? Have you ever for a moment loved God with all the heart? Have you ever chosen Christ as your Saviour, and with cheerful confidence given yourselves to him as his disciples. Have you ever loved to hear his voice, to walk faithfully in his ordinances, and bumbly to follow his example. Have you ever hated sin, mourned for it, confessed it before God, and resolved to forsake it? Have you actually and intentionally forsaken it for a single hour?
Have you ever esteemed the Sabbath a delight, and the Sanctuary honourable? Have you ever, even once, entered your closets, shut the door, and prayed to your Father, who is in secret ? Is there in the book, out of which you will be judged, a single faithful, fervent prayer of yours recorded ; a prayer, which you will be able to rehearse, and God to acknowledge, at the final day?
If these things have ever been true of you, even for a single hour; they are true of you now, You are now sincere penitents, sincere believers, and real children of God. Were God, by an audible from heaven to answer these questions; what, think you, would be his testimony? How will they be answered at that judgment, which will determine the state of your souls for ever? Should that judgment begin this day; would not these very considerations fill your minds with amazement and horror!
You have been often reproved. In what manner have you received this reproof? Have you received it with tenderness and submission, with sorrow for your transgressions and serious determinations to sin no more? Or have you been indifferent; stupid ; your heads laid down to sleep; and your minds destitute of all concern about your salvation, and all regard to your Maker, and Redeemer? Have you not in your own view “ harden : ed your necks, and deserved to be suddenly destroyed, and that without remedy ?"
I am not proposing the case of strangers. The character belongs eminently to you. No assembly of youths probably contains and exhibits higher proofs of these truths, than this. Your advantages for attaining spiritual life have been exceeded by none. The instructions, calls, warnings and reproofs, of the Scriptures have been often, and most solemnly, repeated to you. You have had “ line upon line, and precept upon precept.” What has been their effect? What has God seen it to be?
I am neither disposed to deny, nor to doubt, that some of you may, at times, have been solemnized; or that some of you may in a slight degree, and for a short period, have meditated on a change of life. You may in such cases have wondered at your former stupidity ; and seriously thought, perhaps resolved, to be gin the work of salvation. All this, however, you have soon forgotten. Again you have betaken yourselves to the same courses of sin; cherished the same lusts; yielded to the same temptations; and given yourselves up to the same hardness of heart.
Some of you, probably, have not advanced even so far as this ; but in an uniform, quiet course of wickedness have heard, but not
attended; have thought but without emotion ; and have pursued sin, without an alarm, a resolve, or even a solemn reflection. Almost all of you, (and to your own consciencs be the appeal for the truth of the charge) are mere children of this world. Instead of being seriously concerned for your salvation, you are not even thoughtful : instead of repenting, you sin with new eagerness : instead of believing in Christ, you treat him with contempt: instead of yielding to the life-giving influence of the Spirit of grace, "you always,” like the Jews of old, “resist the Holy Ghost:" instead of " loving God with all the heart, and soul, and strength, and mind,” you say to him daily, “ Depart from us: for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” In the house of God your true character is discovered, with an evidence which cannot be questioned. The holy, heavenly, season, which God has mercifully appointed for the attainment of eternal life, you spend in a man. ner, which unanswerably proves your ignorance, your voluntary forgetfulness, that." God is in very deed in this place.” Immediately beneath the all-searching eye of Him, who has commanded you to keep the Sabbath holy, and to reverence the sanctuary, you quietly lie down to sleep ; or wake, only to loll, to sport, to stare, to whisper, and to wander in your thoughts and affections, with “the fool's eyes, to the ends of the earth.” In all these ways you proclaim to every observing eye your absolute disregard to Gop and your own souls, to life and death, to heaven and hell. Nor is this your conduct at times only ; under the pressure of peculiar temptation; or in seasons of peculiar languor and stupidity. It is repeated from week to week, and from the begin. ning of the year to its end. The Sabbath has always found you thus stupid and worldly. These walls have always witnessed this wretched course of sin, from the time when you first entered them. The God, who inhabits them, will be a tremendous wit. ness, that these declarations are true, at the final day. How evidently, while continuing in this deplorable state, are you “without God, and without hope, in the world.”
Among the evils, which attend your miserable condition, none is immediately more dreadful than this ; You know neither your VOL. II.
guilt, nor your danger. Nay, you are utterly unwilling to be informed of your situation; or to believe the information, when it is given. You say daily in your hearts, with the church of Laodicea, “ I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing:" and, like the members of that church also, "know not, that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Christ with infinite compassion has called you, from the morning of life, to faith and repentance. He is even now saying, " How often would I bave gathered you, as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings ; but ye would not.” The day is hastening, when you will hear him proclaim with a voice of thunder, “Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded: but ye have set at naught all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity ; I will mock when your fear cometh ; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction as a whirlwind ; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD.” The day is coming, when you will sleep beneath the
of God no more. The day is coming, in which you will neither sport, nor whisper, in his presence. Then you will listen, but not to the calls of mercy. Then you will " call to the rocks, and to the mountains, to fall on you, and hide you from the wrath of the Lamb."
In the spiritual death, with which you are afflicted, there is, in many particulars, a strong resemblance to what is termed natural death. Of all those, who labour under incur able diseases, which mock the utmost skill of the physician, and defy the power of the most balsamic remedies, we customarily say, that they are gone. This we often say, while lise yet remains; and while, perhaps, there are some means, unknown to us, by which, if administered in season, they might still live. There are also cases, in which, by swooning or by fits, life appears to have vanished, but in which by means of skilful applications it may nevertheless be restored. There are other cases still,