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ing them by remarkable tokens of kindness, but disqualified for the enjoyment of the happiness restoring them to their forfeited rank as members inseparable from it. Into that presence, nothing of his family, giving them free access to his sinful can be permitted to enter. 'God is of purer gracious presence, admitting them to the enjoy-eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniment of intimate and endearing fellowship with quity.' The heavens are not clean in his sight. himself, and conferring upon them a full and un- How much more abominable and filthy is man, questionable title to all the blessings, privileges, which drinketh iniquity like water?' Nor is it posand triumphs of a complete salvation. Well sible for us to acquire by our own efforts a title to might the apostle say, that such unparalleled acceptance with God. The law, under which we love was to the praise of the glory of his grace, come into the world, is holy, just, and good. It wherein he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.' is spiritual, reaching to the very thoughts and There is an extraordinary emphasis in the purposes of the heart; and failing in one particulanguage of this verse. The apostle does not lar, we offend in all. Even the believer, who merely say, that the blessings to which he is under the quickening power of the Spirit, canreferred bore testimony to the grace of God, but not obey it; far less the sinner, who is at enmity that they were to the praise of that grace; and with God, and hates all holiness and truth. Men, not merely to the praise of that grace, but to the no doubt, are prone to imagine that they may praise of the glory of that grace. The grace of yield a sincere obedience, and that this obedience, God, as displayed in the election and adoption, though imperfect, will be accepted on the ground and consequently, in the redemption of believers, of its sincerity. But this is a grievous error. is indeed very glorious. Consider the objects of The claims of the law are absolute and unchangthat grace,-poor, worthless, ungrateful rebels; able; to be obeyed at all, it must be obeyed alienated outcasts, who, though originally formed perfectly; while if we come short in any one to love and serve God, and to find their happi- particular, we are excluded from its blessings, ness in his favour, had refused to acknowledge and condemned to suffer its penalty. Justificahis claims, heaped dishonour upon his law, and tion by the law, in every sense, is utterly hopeset at nought all its sanctions. Consider the less. cost at which this grace was shown. Before it could even be made known, or indeed allowed to operate, there behoved to be the mystery of mysteries, incarnation; the humiliation to atoning death of the incarnate Son; and the offering up of his life, the most valuable life, fit for sacrifice, in the universe,-upon the cross. Consider the blessings included in the provision of this grace. The pardon of sin by the dishonoured Lawgiver, the offended Sovereign; the acceptance of the sinner in the spotless court of heaven, though he had not a particle of merit; the adoption of the rebel into the same family with the seraphs and angels of heaven; the renewal of the divine image in the fallen and corrupt soul, together with the rebuilding of that soul in the beauty of holiness; the peace that passeth understanding, the joy unspeakable, and full of glory, and the hope that maketh not ashamed; and finally, the full qualification of the soul for heaven, and its admission there; these are some of its blessings, and to say they are incomparable, is to say little. They are not only beyond expression, but far above all thought. The grace, which has provided, and which patiently offers them, beyond all question, is glorious grace.


In this grace, says the apostle, we are accepted in the Beloved.' Naturally we are excluded from the divine presence, and are totally

The grace of God is most wonderfully shown in providing for our acceptance. Before we can appear before him, the law must have no claim against us; in other words, we must be righteous; and, as we cannot become so by our own efforts, there is a righteousness placed to our account, through faith, so that we stand before God, with as clear a title to his favour, as if we had never fallen from obedience, or having fallen, had recovered our original privileges and rank. The provision of this righteousness, whereby God is a just God and a Saviour, is the most astonishing manifestation of grace, which, as far as we know, the universe can supply. We are accepted in the Beloved.' This endearing name is applied to Christ, who is often termed the well-beloved Son of God. The Father is represented as looking on him with infinite compla cency, and regarding him with intense and peculiar love. We are accepted in him, because he has fulfilled all righteousness by his obedience unto death; and faith uniting us to him, his righte ousness becomes ours, for all the purposes of pardon and acceptance before God. We are clothed with his righteousness as with a garment, which hides all stains and defects, and adorns us with faultless beauty. The acceptance of the believer is as complete, as that of Adam in Eden. His title to eternal life is as clear, as if Adam had

never fallen. God is his Father, Jesus his elder | and justice of God, are thereby removed; and Brother, heaven his home, and the throne of divine glory a seat of mercy, before which he may stand with filial confidence and joy.

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These things hast thou done, and I kept silence; thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set them in order before thine eyes,' Psal. 1. 21. IN the context, God addresses sinners among the Jews, and reminds them of the heinous offences, with which they were chargeable before him. These offences had been committed under a variety of delusive pretexts; but all of them, with the minutest circumstances of aggravation, had been observed by the infinite God. No doubt, God had not spoken amidst the rebellion and iniquity, which had been recklessly displayed. In his own emphatic words, he had kept silence. This silence however, did not proceed from ignorance, or indifference. Men put this interpretation upon it, and went on sinning boldly, as if there had been no God in heaven, or a God, ignorant and immoral as the gods of the heathen. But God beheld, and abhorred every act; was the witness of every secret scene of guilt, and cherished purpose of impiety; and the reason why he did not come forth out of his place, and thunder forth the words of condemnation, was simply and solely, that he chose to forbear. In keeping silence, he had not relinquished any principle of his government, or relaxed any sanction of his law; but had merely refrained from judicial interference, that he might give his creatures free scope for the gratification of their desires, and the trial of their principles.

The sinner is very prone to think of God, as a creature like himself, limited in knowledge, lax in principle, and ready to accommodate, so as to meet the call of circumstances, whatever these may be. He deals with God as if he could deceive him; as if he could prevail upon him to wink at his sins; as if he could take advantage of his ignorance; as if, at times, God would lower his claims, and be satisfied with less than his law requires. There is thus a flagrant dishonouring of God in his thoughts. He makes God a man; he robs him of his divinity; he brings him down to his own level. This view of God is favourable to the execution of his sinful purposes and plans; for all the hindrances to a course of wickedness, arising from the omniscience, holiness,

God is dealt with as if he knew no more, as well as was not holier, or more righteous, than himself. Under the influence of these delusive views of God, the sinner rushes on in his wicked courses. The idea of God is the standard of conscience; and if that idea be broken down, conscience falls in proportion. Take away this standard, and conscience is amenable only to itself; for conscience will never cease to mutilate any idea of God, but that which is revealed, and therefore immutably true, till it brings it down to the level of its own knowledge. God thus put out of the way, there is no longer any restraint; for though you have a God to whom conscience may refer, yet he is no longer the spotlessly holy, and inflexibly righteous Jehovah, but a pliant, fallible, and changeable being, like the sinner himself.

God, in this verse, intimates to the sinner, that there is a time coming, when he will reprove him, and set his sins in order before him. That such a time will come, sooner or later, follows from the perfections of the divine nature. For, if we believe that God regards sin with infinite abhorrence, and condemns it, in all its forms and degrees, by his law, then wherever, in the wide compass of the universe, sin is committed; scrutiny, judgment, and condemnation must ensue. God may forbear, for wise and gracious purposes, for a time, as he does in the government of this world; but he cannot be indifferent, and therefore, cannot always continue silent. He is pledged to judgment by his own attributes. He must judge, otherwise he could not continue to reign. The integrity of his government would be broken down; the very bulwarks of law would be levelled with the dust. But there is no fear of this; he is silent, not he is forbearing, not indifferent.

Sometimes, in this life, he reproves sinners, and sets their sins in order before them. When the sinner is rejoicing in his iniquity, and there seems to be no hindrance to his success, or end to his security, God breaks in upon him by calamities, which rouse conscience, and turn it into a fierce accuser. The past passes in review. Dark scenes, long forgotten, are vividly remembered. Sins, unheeded at the time of commission, rise up as witnesses; and conscience, long silent and torpid, is compelled to condemn. Sometimes, before conversion, there is such a searching out, and judgment of the sins of the past. The subject of grace is made to consider in detail the vast sum of his transgressions; conscience, as it were, makes out a catalogue of his sins; and, dwelling upon their enormity and aggravations, shuts him up to

the bitterness of a sorrow, which lays him in the | writing on the walls of the banquetting room dust at the foot of the cross. of the Eastern monarch, which instantly turned his festivity into sadness, and his pride into despair. How appalling, yet how just, the description of the feelings of sinners with respect to God, given in the book of Job,- they say unto God, depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.'

But the judicial dealings of God with sinners here, are little more than nominal, compared with those which will give its darkest hue to the solemnities of the last day. God will be silent no more. Discipline at an end, judgment will begin. How fearful will be the disclosures of that eventful day! There will be three books opened; a book of life for the righteous, a book of death for the wicked, and a book of remembrance for both. Long forgotten sins will then be summoned up from the depths of the past. The sinner will be reminded of scenes, of which the last trace had long been effaced, by the swift wing of time. Ilis sins will be set in order before him. Conscience, quickened, enlightened, and made powerfully authoritative, will respond to the accusations of the judgment-seat; and the poor miserable sinner, without power to escape, yet unable to answer, will perish under the frown of his Maker's wrath! How terrible the doom of the impenitent, and unbelieving! Let sinners hear the solemn appeal, behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.'

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This forgetfulness of God is a mere artifice of the corrupt heart to get rid of what is painful to it. There is a God; he is the holy, righteous, and unchangeable being, which the scriptures declare him to be; and though he is silent amidst the inequalities and the crimes of discipline, yet his own perfections render it absolutely necessary, that a time should come, when he will vindicate his dishonoured claims in the punishment of the wicked, and establish his justice by the reward of the good. Since such a time will come, it is wise in men to anticipate and prepare for it; and no infatuation can be more dreadful than that daily exhibited by sinners, in living as if that time would never arrive, and in contriving delusions, by which they may escape from the conviction of its certainty. Nothing less than the entire subversion of religion, natural and revealed, especially of the latter, is necessary to justify the conduct they pursue. If men look forward to a time of reckoning, even ia the affairs of this life, it is felt to demand anxious thought, and careful preparation; and if an important issue be at stake, no one is surprised to find, that the whole interest of the mind is concentrated upon it, that night and day are devoted to the correction of errors that may prove hurtful, and the use of means from which benefit may result; and in short, that the anticipation gives its peculiar colouring to the whole aspect

should men live, since God will one day reckon with them? How carefully should they consider the nature of the trial, which they are to undergo! How anxiously regulate their conduct, and guard their thoughts, that the joys of acquittal may terminate their fears, and crown their hopes!

It is stated in the preceding verse, that a time would come when God would break the silence which the sinner had misinterpreted, would reprove him, and set his sins in order before him. Sinners are solemnly called upon to consider the certainty of this. Their character is truly described, they forget God. It is said in another of the intervening time. How solemnly then, portion of the inspired volume, that God is not in all the sinner's thoughts, and the reason of this is undobutedly to be found in the fact, that the carnal mind is enmity against God.' God is disliked as holy, just, and true; the spirituality of his nature offends; and hence, whatever brings the thought of God near, is carefully shunned, as The consequences of neglecting to prepare for likely to cause pain. The life of the sinner is, in our final reckoning with God, are very powerreality, one of practical atheism. If you deliber- fully expressed in this verse. The figurative ately ask him, whether there be a God, he will language employed is intended to convey a strong answer in the affirmative; but to the term God, idea of the fearfulness of the ruin, which will he attaches no correct or comprehensive idea; overtake the impenitent sinner at last. It is and the moment he is led to do so, he turns away taken from the destructive effects caused by the from it, as from a subject fatal to his peace. In attacks of the wild beasts of the forest, when, the forgetfulness of the true God alone, he is ravenous from hunger, they spring upon the secure; for when the idea of his holy and righte- passing traveller, tearing limb from limb, till the ous nature breaks in upon him, it resembles the mangled carcase loses all trace of its former shape

or vigour. There is intense suffering, utter ruin, revolting deformity. Resistance is vain. So, when sinners fall into the hand of an angry God, they will be irretrievably destroyed. The sense of his displeasure will consume them, as with fire. Their own thoughts will prey upon their peace. Unquenchable regrets will annoy and torment them. Their noble nature, once capable of bearing the image of God in all its beauty, but now hopelessly abandoned to the power of evil, will stand forth in awful ruin, a monument of vengeance. He, who endowed it with its high faculties, will condemn it as worthless. The sublime uses, which it might have fulfilled, having been frustrated, it will be cast forth from the divine presence, as no longer fit to occupy a place in the pure world over which the Creator reigns. Then comes the imprisonment from which there is no release; the night of anguish on which no morn will ever rise; the abode of misery and shame, on which no hope will ever dawn. God, at last, has forgotten to be gracious, and his mercy is clean gone for ever.

There will be none to deliver. When the traveller is attacked by the wild beast of the forest, some one may come unexpectedly to his relief, and snatch him from the destruction which appears to be inevitable. But when the sinner once falls into the hand of God, none can deliver. Who can resist the Omnipotent? Who can meet the God of hosts in battle? The shields of the earth belong unto God. The devils, the victims of his righteous indignation, tremble at his glance. The innumerable company of angels wait to obey his will. When the Lord cometh forth out of his place, the strong shall be as tow, and the makers of it as a spark; and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.' In that terrible day, vain, utterly vain, will be the cry to the mountains and the rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.'

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And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell, James iii. 6.

A MORE striking and just description of the sins which flow from the abuse of the noble privilege of speech, was never given by any author, sacred or profane, than the fearful picture before us,

painted to the life by the inspired apostle. When we consider that the tongue was intended by the former of our bodies, and the father of our spirits, to proclaim the glory of the great Creator, and to celebrate his praise; to make mention of the righteousness of Christ, and to hold edifying fellowship with our brethren, how humbling and saddening the thought that the very instrument with which we should seek the honour of God, and speak peace to men, is converted into an engine for kindling strife, for blaspheming the name of the Highest, and denying the Lord who bought us; and thus bringing on ourselves, and others whom we corrupt by our evil communications, certain and swift destruction! A melancholy change in the moral condition of man must have taken place, before what was designed for the accomplishment of good could be the source of such varied and soul-destroying evils. And therefore we must turn our eye to the deplorable event which occurred in paradise, if we would see clearly why a rational being, created in righteousness and true holiness, has lost his original rectitude and delight in God, and become the slave of every impulse which leads him to speak unadvisedly, irreverently, and impiously with his lips.

The heart is naturally a complete stranger to religious influences, and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. When the spring is polluted the stream must be troubled and deleterious. The mind is alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in us, and proud of its fancied dignity, and exhibiting the utmost complacency in its self-acquired attainments, it gives expression to its sentiments by an organ after its own likeness; and the effects of those three characteristics of fallen man are deeply displayed in self-sufficiency, infidelity, and all unrighteousness. The tongue then, in the present circumstances of an apostate race, as an index of the depraved and unrenewed heart, is as a devouring fire among the most inflammable materials; a world of iniquity, an incalculable amount of mischief, is contained in and produced by it. this appalling light ought we to view 'the tongue among our members, defiling,' literally blackening, the whole body' of the individuals over whom it obtains the ascendency; and not confining its ravages within so limited a sphere of action, it has extended, and still extends, its baneful operations to all the past and existing generations of men. And can we wonder at such things, when we are assured that itself is set on fire of hell,' and know that it derives its power from the great adversary of God and man, the father of

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you wholly. And I pray God that your spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.'


lies and the murderer of souls, from the beginning? | ponder seriously and prayerfully the sins which If such be the state of the tongue' when divine the apostle here so forcibly describes and congrace has not subdued and sanctified the heart, demns. The wrath of man worketh not the whence it receives its poisonous qualities, can there righteousness of God,' even when God's cause is be a subject in which we should be more deeply the motive, and in how ungodly and unmanly a interested than how to get its inherent propensity light must wrath appear when its origin is in the to sin taken away, its moral 'filthiness' cleansed, forgetfulness of God, and its effects a still more and its every expression guarded and guided by dreadful treasuring up of wrath against the day a constant reference to the omniscience of him to of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judg whose inspection every thought is laid open, and ment of God.' Impressed then with a due sense in whose continual presence we should repeat of the truths now brought before us, let us, in with the feelings of the Psalmist, There is not faith, and with souls engaged in the appropriate a word on my tongue, but lo, O Lord, thou and earnest supplication, hear the pleading of knowest it altogether? And though God may the great apostle of the Gentiles at the throne have visited us in mercy, and seen our spiritual of grace: 'And the very God of peace sanctify diseases and healed them, still let us remember that the holiness of the believer is not complete till death is swallowed up of victory. Let us watch unceasingly over ourselves with a godly jealousy, and experiencing as we often do the weakness of our best resolutions, and knowing, as we are frequently compelled to confess, that we have not implored God to set a door upon our lips,' let us seek not only a remedy in the blood 'But I say unto you, That every idle word that of Jesus, but an unfailing safe-guard in the might men shall speak, they shall give account thereof of his Spirit. Let us contemplate the consein the day of judgment,' Matt. xii. 36. quences of the sins of the tongue as they are manifested in the world around us, and deter- OUR Lord here places the 'sins of the tongue," mine, in the strength of the Sanctifier, that in so exemplified in practice, in the clearest light, by far as we are concerned they shall not be increased; showing that not only the higher crime of blaslet us consider by what name we are called; the phemy against himself, and especially the highest purity, which he who was holy, harmless, and of all, that against his Spirit, are registered in undefiled, requires, and the encouragement which the book of God's remembrance as of peculiar he holds out to us, to struggle believingly with enormity, and almost beyond the reach of forthe risings of whatever is opposed to our Chris-giveness, but that every idle or unprofitable word tian principles, and to our inward peace. In is there recorded also, and must be accounted for Christ dwelleth all this fulness of the Godhead on that day when the individual who utters it bodily; and from this fulness every one that shall be tried by the omniscient and holy Judge, studies to follow the Lamb whithersoever he and the sentence passed on him be unchangeable goeth,' and thus leads and smooths the way, has and eternal. Such a view of the conduct in received, and will receive, overflowing as he is, question is surely well calculated to awaken 'with grace and truth.' By this shall all men reflection in the most thoughtless, and to lead to know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one serious meditation on the consequences that are to another. This love has been planted by divine here declared to follow from speaking, not merely power in the heart of the regenerated; for it has to no good purpose and without any wish for no existence in any of the offspring of the first edification, but as is evident, from the language transgressor till Jesus has 'breathed upon them employed, when strictly examined, with an intenand said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost;' and there- tion to injure the reputation of others who may fore can have no more connection with bitter- become the objects of remarks, begun, it may be, ness, and envy, and clamour, and evil-speak-in idleness, but ending in defamation. There are ing, and all malice, than light with darkness, Christ with Belial, or he that believeth with an infidel.' Every consideration then, which ought to weigh with a professing Christian, should secretly and irresistibly-because the work of the Spirit that he may be glorified-constrain us to

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cases, it is true, where it would be not only pusillanimous, but positively sinful, not to utter our sentiments with freedom; ungodliness must be condemned, and the ungodly dealt with in terms best fitted to express our disapprobation and abhorrence of his guilt, and to deter others from

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