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their being, in part at leafr, to fear of reproach'?' how many ivorks of charity owe their fplendor to a defire of applaufe, as will as to a better principle? I fhould never have done, were I to go through all the great duties of the ChriRian life, and obferve the fmful defects that cleave to them. I believe I may fay with great truth, that would we but deal faithfully, there would be nothing more neceffary to Our humiliation, than a firidl examination of our duties themfelves. This would oblige us to confefs, that "all our righteoufnefles are as filthy rags before God ;n that we muft not plead for reward, but forgivenefs; that no merit of our own, but infinite mercy alone, mull be the foundation of our hope.
Ill, I come now to make fome practical application of the fubject, for your inftruction and direction. And,
1. How great is the deceitfulnefs of fin! how aftonifhing the blindnefs of finners! How eafy and obvious is the confideration of our fins, in the order in which I have endeavored to fet them before you! Sins of omiffion, on the one hand, and of commifllon, on the other; and duties faulty in both refpects, viz. by effential qualities neglected, and fins mixed with the performances: fins in thought, in word, and in deed, againft God, our neighbor, and ourfelves. Yet, alas! how many are there in a great meafure ignorant of the fins they are chargeable with, and therefore fleeping in fecurity! Think, my beloved hearers, on your condition. To know your danger, is the firft ftep to deliverance. Is not the law of obedience clear, written upon all the Creator's works? Is it not engraven upon the confcience? and is it not often repeated and inforced by the dilpenfations of Providence? Would there be fo much of divine judgment, if there was no offence? Every natural evil proclaims the fin of man. An inclement feafon, an injurious world, and a frail, dying body, confpire in pointing out our finful ftate. And yet, after all, how blind is the finner to the dilcovery, how deaf to the friendly warning, how regardlefs of the approaching trial! Awake, I befeech you, while there may be peace, and look upon your danger, while there is yet given you time and opportunity to fly from it.
2. If the holieft cannot ftand before God, if no fiefh living can be juftified in his fight, how fearful muft be the ftate of thole who are lying under the guilt of atrocious, aggravated, and repeated crimes! Though great profligates often defert the ordinances of God, that they may fin at greater eafe, and meet with lefs refiftance; yet, in fo numerous an affembly as this, there is reafon to fuppofe there are not a few of the chief of sinners; the rather, that while fome defert the ordinances, that they may have eafe from within, others attend them as a cover, that they may blind their neighbors, and meet with lefs fufpicionor difturbance from without. How, then, can murderers, fornicators, fwearers, drunkards, thieves, and retainer( of unjuft gain, hear what hath been faid on this fubjecl without trembling for themfelves! Hear for your fouls fake; hear for eternity's fake; hear, I befeech you, for Chrift's fake. O that the Spirit of God may carry home the truth, and make it "quick and powerful, fliarper "than a two-edged fword," Heb. iv. 12. It is an eafy thing for you now to diflemble the fins which men would punifh, and even to boaft of the fins which men mull tolerate; but hear and remember the two following paffages: Heb. iv. 13. "All things are naked, and opened "unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do;" and Heb. x. 31. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of "the living tiod."
3. In the last place, If any chriftian defires to keep his confcience tender and faithful, to have a deep growing and humbling fenfe of his own finfulnefs; if he would bar the gate againft the entrance of pride, or banifh it after it has obtained admiffion; if he defires to walk humbly and watchfully—let him live as in the prefence of God, let him often place himfelf at his awful tribunal. It is eafy to juflify ourfelves before men, who have fo little to require, and from whom fo much may be concealed. The truth is, it is not a great matter to be able to fet the world at defiance, But to look up to that God who fitteth upon the throne of his holinefs, is of infinitely greater moment, and of infinitely greater difficulty. He trieth the reins and the heart. He abhorreth evil. You fee how Job defended himfelf againft the accufations of his friends, held fail his integrity, and would not let it go; but no fooner did God fpeak to him in the greatnefs of his power, than he confeffed his vilenefs, and laid his hand upon his mouth. In the fame manner, he that would guard againft the impofitions of a deceitful heart, that would not be abufed by flattering friends, or led aftray by a miftaken world; that would rather walk in the path of penitence than fecurity; let him live as in the prefence of God. And happy, happy they, who take confufion of face to themfelves now, and feek for mercy through the blood of the atonement, in comparifon of thofe who jufrify themfelves now, but fhall ftand at laft with unutterable confufion before the fupreme judge, ready to pronounce the irreverfible fentence.
PSALM cxxx. 4.
But there is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayest be feared.
AFTER confidering our own miferable and guilty ftate, and how little any plea which we can offer will avail before the holinefs and juftice of God, it is proper to turn our eyes to his mercy, as the only foundation of our hope and peace. This is of the utmoft neceffity to every penitent. When a fenfe of fin hath truly taken hold of the confcience, it is fo intolerable, that no man can continue long in that condition. V/hen the waves and billows of divine wrath are going over him, he muft either fallen upon fome ground of hope, or fuffer fhipwreck upon the rocks of defpair. There are indeed, alas that we fhould be fo liable to delufion! many ways of weakening the force of conviction, and obtaining a temporary, imperfect, or falfe peace. But the only fafe and ftable ground of hope is the divine mercy. And happy the finner who obtains fuch difcoveries of its extent and efficacy, as to make him cleave to it with undivided affe&ion, and reft upon it as the anchor of his foul, from which he is refolved never to depart.
Believe it, Chriftians, the more the finner looks into his own ftate, the more real and thorough his acquaintance with his own heart is, the more he finds, that not the leaft ray of hope can arife from that quarter. This is precifely the import of the Pfalmift's declaration in this