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necessarily increase and strengthen the prepossession of scorners against the truth, and are so far a means of hiding it from their eyes. Yet here again the fault is wholly in themselves; for they seek and desire such occasions of stumbling, and would be disappointed and grieved if they could not meet with them. But those who are babes in their own eyes, humble, sincere, and teachable, are brought safe through, by a simple dependent spirit, and are made wiser every day, by their observation of what passes around them.

Many inferences and advices might be deduced from what has been said. I shall content myself with three.

1. Examine yourselves what understanding and experience you have of the things I mentioned under the first head. So much as you know of these, so far you are Christians, and no farther. : ," A form of godliness, “ without the power *,” is one of the worst characters of the worst times; yet how common in the present day! How many who choose to be called Christians, reject the testimony which God has given of his Son, deny the efficacy of his grace, speak of the new birth with disdain, as unintelligible and unnecessary, and account all that can be said of the life of faith (though founded upon express Scripture, and attested by many witnesses) no better than enthusiastic jargon! But if you are thus minded, however sober your deportment, or professedly benevolent your disposition, though you may be applauded as a pattern of generosity, a philosopher, or a saint, by your acquaintance and neighbours, if the Scriptures are true, you can be but as a sounding brass and tinkling cymbal in the sight of God. You would have despised Thomas in your heart, if you

* 2 Tim. iii, 5.

had been witness to his joyful exclamation when he worshipped Jesus, and cried, “ My Lord, and my God *.' You would have despised Paul as a dark enthusiast, had you heard him


66 The life which I now live in 6 the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who “ loved me, and gave himself for me t.”

himself for me t." Yea, you must have despised Jesus himself, if you had been present at his conference with Nicodemus. Our Lord Jesus is now in heaven, Thomas and Paul have been long dead; you cannot reach them; nor do they stand in your way; therefore perhaps you are content to speak well of them in general terms. But those who come nearest to their language and spirit, are the objects of your scorn and hatred. How then can you pretend to love him, or presume that he loves you? Jesus is worshipped in heaven; how then can you expect to come there? or what pleasure could you

find there, in your present turn of mind? “O kiss the

Son, lest he be angry, and you perish; for in a little time his wrath will burn like fire."

But to every one who understands, embraces, and lives under the influence of these truths, I may safely apply our Lord's words, “ Blessed art thou ,” however despised by men, or chastened of the Lord; “ for flesh “ and blood hath not revealed these things to thee;' thou hast assuredly received them from God by his Spirit. He alone is able to cause the light to shine into our dark hearts, “ to give us the knowledge of the glory “ of God in the face of Jesus Christg.”

* John, xx. 28.
| Matth. xvi. 17.

+ Gal, ii. 20.
§ 2 Cor. iv. 6.

2. Do not entertain hard and perplexing thoughts about the counsels of God, either respecting others or yourselves.

First, With regard to others. It is a frequent difficulty, either thrown in the way of inquirers after truth by the subtilty of Satan, or perhaps arising from the natural pride of the human heart, that would be thought able to account for every thing. I say, when they begin to apprehend the Gospel way of salvation, this perplexing question arises, If things are so, what will become of multitudes? What! are all the Heathens, Mahometans, Papists, and even all the Protestants, except the few who adopt these singular sentiments, to be lost? I shall not attempt to conquer this objection by dint of reasoning, but would rather persuade you to direct your reasonings another way. When the same question for substance was proposed to our Lord, his answer to those who asked him was, “ Strive (each one for yourselves) to “ enter in at the strait gate *.” Take care of yourselves, and leave the cases of others to the Lord. Remember he is God, and therefore just and good.

Secondly, With regard to yourselves. Secret things belong to God; your business is with what is revealed. Some put the word of salvation from them perversely, and think, if the Lord designs me for eternal life, he will call me in his own time; till then I will go on in my sins. Those who can reason thus, and take encouragement to persist in wickedness, from the consideration of the

power and efficacy of God's grace, do thereby avow themselves to be Satan's willing servants. But he terrifies many on whom he cannot thus prevail, with representing to them, that, let them do what they will, it is all in vain; unless the Lord has chosen them, notwithstanding any good beginnings they may hope he has wrought in them, they will come to nothing at last. It is your business to give all diligence to make your calling sure. If, by a humble waiting upon God, you are enabled to have your conversation according to the Gospel, listen not to vain and perplexing reasonings, but commit yourself to the mercy and guidance of the Lord; and he, in his good time, will enable you to see, and to say, that it is not in vain to trust in him. Your path shall be like the advancing light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. The Lord has already provided all that

* Luke, xiii. 23, 24.

you can reasonably desire. (1) The means are pointed out, in the use of which you are to be found, and wherein you may expect his blessing. These are chiefly secret prayer, the study of his written word, an attendance on the preached Gospel, and free converse (as proper opportunities are afforded) with his believing people. If you continue in the observance of these, and act faithfully to the light you have already received, by breaking off from the evil practices of the world, and watching against those things which you yourself know to be evil, you will certainly gain ground in light, strength, and comfort. You will see more and more of the glory of the Lord in the glass of the Gospel; and, in proportion to your views, you shall be “changed “ into the same image from glory to glory.” For, (2) The promise is sure.

What God has said you may assuredly depend on. And what has he said? What indeed has he not said for the encouragement of those who are sincerely desirous to seek and serve him? "They that seek shall find. They that wait

* "

“ on the Lord shall renew their strength. I will pour “water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry

ground. He giveth power to the weak; and to them " that have no might, he increaseth strength

If, therefore, you feel yourself a lost sinner, see a beauty and sufficiency in Jesus, have a hunger and thirst after his righteousness, and are made willing to expect the blessing in his way; you may look upon this as a token for good. Such views and desires as these never are found in any heart till he communicates them. By nature we are averse and contrary to them. Give him the glory of what he has begun; and oppose your temptations, fears, and doubts, with this argument, drawn from your own experience, as the wife of Manoah formerly reasoned: “ If the Lord had been pleased to “ kill us, he would not have enabled and encouraged

us to call upon him; neither would he at this time “ have shown us such things as thesef.”

* Matth. vii. 7. 8.; Isa. xl. 29–31.; Isa. xliv.3.
+ Judges, xiii. 23.

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