« PreviousContinue »
languishing. How many, once your companions in folly and sin, have been removed! where are they now? O let this goodness encourage you, not to sin Þut to pray. Approach and kneel before him. :“O “thou, who hast given me space, give me also grace “to repent. I am now sensible of my guilt, and of
thy goodness. I now know what misery I have dee served. and what a blessedness thy mercy is ready to " bestow. I am filled with sorrow and shame and “self-abhorrence, to think that I have so long trans
gressed thy Law, and despised thy Gospel; provo“ked thy justice, and contemned thy grace. If after “ all thou wilt be favourable to such an ungrateful 6 wretch, and accept the remains of a sinful life, I “here devote all I am, and all I have to thee. Thee “I will love and obey. Adieu, my vain and foolish “ desires; my degrading lusts, my unprofitable pur« suits-Pardon-Heaven-is even now attainable, and “I am following after it. O my God! enable me to “run and not be weary, and to walk and not faint." May God inspire you with these sentiments. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.
IN THIS THE CHILDREN OF GOD ARE MANIFEST, AND THE CHILDREN OF
THE DEVIL: WHOSOEVER DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, NEITHER HE THAT LOVETH NOT HIS BROTHER,
MY Brethren, When God would admonish and encourage Jeremiah in the discharge of his office, he said, “If thou take forth the precious “ from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth.” This address determines the duty of every Preacher, who would “make full proof of his ministry.” It requires him to attend peculiarly to the states of his hearers; to delineate character; to bring forward frequently and boldly the difference between the righteous and the wicked; and to apply with confidence and wisdom the threatenings and promises of the Scripture, for the conviction of the sinner, and the consolation of the godly.
In this manner our Apostle studied to shew himself approved unto God, “ a workman that needeth not to * be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth,”
« In this the children of God are manifest, and the “ children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righ. “ teousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not « his brother.”
Of the persons here mentioned we shall consider three things.
I. The character by which they are described. IJ. The manner in which they are discovered. III. The marks by which they are distinguished.
Men and Brethrep! While I am endeavouring to explain and improve a subject so important, let me entreat you to employ your minds, not in determining the condition of others, but in judging your own; “ let every man prove his own work, and then shall “ he have rejoicing in himself alone and not in anoth“er: for every man shall bear his own burden.”
1. The persons opposed are THE CHILDREN OF GOD,
To suppose that there are no such characters, would be a reflection
the wisdom of the inspired writer in making the comparison. But let us consider the mean- . ing and importance of the titles. “ The children of “God, and the children of the devil,” mean good and bad men. It is common in the Scripture to call persons distinguished by any quality or acquisition, the children of those from whom it was originally derived, or by whom it was pre-eminently possessed. Thus we read in the Book of Genesis, that “ Jabal was " the Father of such as dwell in tents, and of such u as have cattle: and that Jubal was the Father of “ all such as handle the harp and the organ.” And thus they who have the faith and do the works of Abraham, are called the CHILDREN of Abraham. The devil is the introducer of evil ; the wicked morally proceed from him; partake of his depravity ; resemble him ; are proud like him, are liars like him, and so of the rest. Hence, says our Apostle,
66 He that com“ mitteth sin is of the devil, for the devil sinneth from “ the beginning.” And hence our Lord says to the Jews, who were endeavoring to accuse and destroy him, “ Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts “ of your father you will do. ' He was a murderer “ from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, “ because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh • a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and " the father of it.” God is the author of all goodness; and Christians are said to be “ born of him ;" to be
partakers of the divine nature ;' to be “ followers of him as dear children.” They admire his excellencies, and imitate his perfections. Is he a God of Truth? They walk in the truth. Is he holy? They are holy. Is he merciful? They are merciful. And thus they are " the children of their Father which is in “ heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil " and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just " and on the unjust.”
The sinner makes the devil his model, and every de. gree of transgression adds to the likeness. The believer aspires after conformity to the highest of all examples ; and as he grows in grace, he is “ changed into the “ same image from glory to glory, even as by the "Spirit of the Lord.”
These are the persons here described by the characters of “ the children of God, and the children of the w devil.” This division is the most general and uni. versal. It extends to all mankind; and by a classification the most simple, reduces the innumerable diver. sities of the human race into two orders. It enters this house, and arranges this assembly; it finds no individual in a state of neutrality; it instantly blends each of
with those children of wrath, or with these heirs of glory.
It is also a division the most serious and eventful. It overlooks every thing adventitious, and considers only character. It passes by the distinctions of speech, complexion, rank; and regards the soul and eternity. It views even the diversities which arise from the endowments of nature, and the gifts of Providence, as nothing compared with those which spring from faith and infidelity, holiness and sin. How soon will the difference between the learned and illiterate, tyrants and slaves, poor and rich be abolished ! Death levels them all, and sends them into the world of spirits, not as lords or vassals; not saying, this came from a mansion, and this from a cottage. He separates by a more unchangeable rule of discrimination. This was a true worshipper of God on earth, let him enter the temple above; this made the wicked his choice and his companions, let him be led forth with the workers of iniquity. Death decides the importance of every claim. Your true greatness is your final; and those distinctions are alone worthy of your regard, which, being internal and spiritual, will adhere to you when
leave every thing else behind, and which will remain with you forever.