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to all men, who are in possession of the Gospel. It is delivered in the most general terms; and may, therefore, be regarded as extending to every mode of hearing, which is useful. There are modes of hearing, which, unless I am deceived, are eventually useful to sinners; and in which the Gospel becomes to sinners the power of God unto salvation. I shall consider these modes, as included in it; modes in which I should wish a sinful child of my own, and for the same reason should wish others also, to hear the Gospel. Such, as have heard in these modes, have in great multitudes, as I verily believe, been profited in a degree, which no man can estimate. The persons, who in this sense would take heed how they hear the Gospel; by which I intend the Scriptures at large; ought, while they hear, to remember the following things. 1. That the Gospel is the Word of God. To prevent any misapprehension, I wish it to be kept steadily in view, that no attention, or reverence, is here claimed to Preaching, any farther than the Gospel is preached. To the mere opinions, and declarations, of a Preacher, as such, no other respect is due, than that, which by common consent is rendered to the opinions and declarations of all men, of similar understanding and worth. The best opinions of men are merely useful, wholesome advice. The Scriptures are a Law; possessed of Divine authority, and obligation. So far as the doctrines, precepts, and ordinances, of the Scriptures are preached, they claim the reverence, which they themselves have challenged. The solemn remembrance, that the Scriptures are the Word of God, involves a variety of interesting considerations. In this character, particularly, they come home to us as the Word of Him, by whom we were created, and by whom we are preserved, and governed. From this Great and Glorious Being, all that we have, and all that we hope for, is, and must be, derived. We are his property; and are rightfully disposed of, and rightfully required to dispose of ourselves, according to his pleasure. In the Scriptures alone is this pleasure made known to us. In them alone, therefore, we learn the proper destination of our faculties, our services, and ourselves. The Law, by which we are here required to do his pleasure, is invested with all possible authority, and obligation; and demands our reverence, and obedience, in a manner supremely impressive. As the Word of God, also, the Scriptures are dictated by his Wisdom, Goodness, and Truth. They are the Word of Him, who cannot mistake, deceive, nor injure. Consequently they contain all things, necessary for life and godliness ; whatever we need to know, and whatever we ought to do, for the attainment of his approbation. On their entire wisdom and integrity, their fitness to promote the great purpose for which they were written, and their conduciveness to it in ourselves, we are wholly to rely. Not a doubt can be reasonably entertained concerning the truth of the doctrines, the soundness of the precepts, or the sincerity of the promises. Nor are we any more to distrust the certainty of the threatenings, or the reality of those awful dangers, which they disclose. We are bound on the one hand not to question the truth, and on the other, not to dispute the wisdom and goodness, of that, which is revealed. All things, which this sacred Book contains, are to be received as they are. Our own opinions are implicitly to bow before them; and we are ever to be ready to believe, that what we think the foolishness of God is wiser than men; than all the substituted opinions of ourselves or others. Let God be true, ought to be our invariable language, but every man who opposes his declarations, a liar. Against this great and awful Being we have rebelled. Hence, although he is our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor, he still regards our moral character with abhorrence. The Scriptures, therefore, are published to us as the Word of an offended God. Hence are derived all those denuneiations of anger and punishment, found in them; which could have no place in the Will of God, as revealed to obedient creatures. .As the Word of God, the Scriptures announce to us, that, notwithstanding our rebellion, he is willing to be reconciled to us. We are, therefore, ever to remember, that they are the Word of the Father, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier, of mankind. In these venerable and amiable characters, God appears to us with infinite tenderness and endearment. His Word is thus presented to us as the pleasure of the best of all friends, and the most affectionate of all parents. In our ruined condition he be.
held us with boundless mercy; and, unasked and undesired, undertook to rescue us from destruction. For this end, the Saviour came into the world, lived a life of humiliation, and died a death of anguish and infamy. For this end, the Spirit of Truth came into the world, to convince, renew, and purify, the hearts of mankind. Of these Three Persons in the One Jehovah, the Scriptures are the Word; willed by the Father, dictated by the Son, and inspired by the Holy Ghost. ..As the Word of God, the Scriptures are the Word of Him, on whom we daily depend for life, and breath, and all things. Whatever we enjoy he gives: whatever we hope for must, if enjoyed at all, be also given by him. Without him, we are poor, and miserable, and in want of all things. With his favour, we shall be rich indeed, and have need of nothing. The Scriptures are also the Word of Him, by whom we shall be judged, and rewarded. The day is hastening, when we shall be called to an account for all our conduct; and shall be compelled to rehearse it before him. If we have done well ; if we have obeyed, worshipped, and glorified him, and served our generation according to his will ; we shall be acquitted in this great trial, and received to everlasting glory. If we have done evil, and refused to do good; we shall be driven away to final and irremediable perdition. Whenever we are assembled to hear the Gospel, we are to remember, that with reference to all these solemn things it is the Word of God. 2. That we are sinners, who infinitely need forgiveness and salwation. As sinners, we are irreversibly condemned by that divine law, which we have broken, and by that just government, against which we have rebelled. The soul that sinneth shall die, was the original sentence of that law to mankind; the sentence of Him, who can neither deceive, nor change. The sentence will, therefore, be executed in its strict meaning on all, who disobey, and who do not become interested in the Redemption of Christ. Under such a sentence, infinitely dreadful, and unalterably certain, our danger is immensely great, and our ruin entire. From
this sentence, therefore, we infinitely need a deliverance. Our Wor,. IV. 68
all is at stake; and our souls are in a situation of the most terrible hazard. Hell, if we continue in this situation, is open beJore us, and destruction hath no covering. It is impossible, that any beings should be in a state of more absolute and pressing necessity. Rational, immortal, and incapable of perishing by annihilation; we must be, and be for ever. But to exist for ever, and yet to be sinful and miserable only; is a doom, compared with which, all other characters and sufferings lose their deformity and wretchedness, and rise inte happiness and distinction. When we are present in the house of God, we should recal with deep affection this intense and melancholy necessity; and feel the declarations of Scripture with a concern, suited to the inestimable importance of our situation. 3. That the Scriptures are the Book, in which alone the terms, and means, of salvation are published. The Word Gospel, as you know, signifies good tidings, or joyJul news. This name is given to the Scriptures generally, and to the New Testament particularly, because they contain the best of all tidings, ever published to this ruined world. Independently of the Gospel, all the race of Adam are under a sentence of condemnation, without a friend, and without a hope. To these forlorn and miserable beings, the infinitely merciful God has been pleased to make known a way of escape; a deliverance from destruction. This glorious communication is made to mankind in the Scriptures only. From no other source has man ever learned, that God is reconcileable on any terms; that sinners can be forgiven; that there is in the universe an Atonement for sin; or that any atonement will be accepted. From no other source have we been informed, that God will be pleased with any worship, which we can render; or, if he will, what that worship is. Without the Scriptures, we know not, that the connection between God and man, between heaven and earth, can be renewed; or that the gates, which admit intelligent be. ings to the world of enjoyment, have been, or will ever be, opened to apostate creatures. To beings, in circumstances of such necessity and danger, tidings even of partial deliverance must be delightful. But these are tidings of complete deliverance from sin, and of an entire escape from misery. To beings, left in absolute ignorance of reconciliation to God, and in absolute despair of future enjoyment; to whom the world of happiness was shut, and to whom the ages of eternity rolled onward no bright reversion; even the uncertain rumour of relief must, one would imagine, echo throughout every region of the globe, which they inhabited, and thrill with inexpressible emotions in every heart. But these are certain tidings from God Himself concerning this glorious possession; from the God, who cannot deceive; the God, whose promises endure for ever. This great salvation is, however, proffered by God on his own terms only. In the same Scriptures are these terms found. From them alone can we learn on what conditions we may obtain life, and escape from death. The way of holiness, to which the Gospel alone directs us, is there made a highway; and wayfaring men, though fools, need not err therein. In the Scriptures, also, are the means of this Divine, and immortal, attainment presented to our view. Here we are taught, that we become possessed of a title to everlasting life by Faith, Repentance, and Holiness. Here, also, is pointed out the way, in which these indispensable characteristics are communicated; viz. the Means of Grace, already mentioned in these discourses. Both the Means, and the terms, are eminently reasonable and desirable ; in themselves real and superior good, and the way to greater good; easy of adoption and use, and, with the Divine blessing, efficacious to the end, for which they are used; sanctioned with supreme authority by the testimony of God, and daily confirmed by their actual influence on multitudes of mankind. When, therefore, we hear the Word of God, we are ever to remember, that we are taught things, in this respect infinitely interesting to us, and incapable of being derived from any other Source. 4. That in order to be saved we must understand the JMeans, and the Terms, of salvation. There is no other Word of God, but the Scriptures: and, beside God, there is no other being, who can inform us what we must do to be saved. Philosophers may investigate, and write, from generation to generation: this vast momentous subject