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he may plead it effectually before the throne of God; and this with such satisfiedness in the availableness of his intercession, as gives us confidence towards God, and such a persuasion of Christ's love, as that we can cheerfully and contentedly leave our salvation in his hands, assured that he is more willing to help us than we to desire it; yea, that he was pleading with his Father for us before we began to look to him. This is the lively faith which embraces the promises afar off, and enables us to say, In the Lord have I righteousness, through his Blood have I the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of God's grace. The strength and confidence of our faith may be different in degree, but in all Christ's people it must be the same in nature. Some poor mourning soul, discouraged with doubts, though deeply renouncing all hope in himself, can only feebly cast his soul upon promises which he holds as it were with a trembling hand; yet this is that good hope through grace, which, though far removed from the full assurance of faith; is the sound evidence of a believing soul, and exercise and experience will confirm it.
Others can, by the SPIRIT, with humble confidence claim the salvation, rest satisfied in the sure and certain covenant, and rejoice in that perfect love which casteth out fear, persuaded that Christ hath loved them, and given himself for them. Inquire then, Do you possess any measure of this temper? Have you a lively faith? Do you come with the empty hand and a beggar's heart to receive a free salvation ; renouncing your own righteousness, and disclaiming your duties as heartily as your sins in the matter of acceptance with God? Do you see enough in Christ to convince you he is able to save such a sinner as you, vile and sinful as you are? That his Blood cleanseth from all sin, and that his righteousness imputed to you will make you pleasing in the eyes of the God of purity? And are you satisfied in his willingness to save you, from all the free declarations he hath made, and all the mighty and gracious instances of that willingness and ability he hath given you? Do these (his power and willingness to save) beget in your mind a determined affiance in him, so that you can say, Here shall be my rest for ever; this is all my salvatian and all my desire; then you have the discerning eye that sees CHRIST at hís Table, the
discerning taste that feeds upon him, the discerning ear that hears his voice, the discerning hand that receives out of his fulness, that wraps the robe of righteousness around you, and makes you complete in him.
2. A lively faith lays hold of the strength of CHRIST, as well as his atonement and righteousness. Unable to do any thing of himself, the Believer, coming to him, can do all things through Christ strengthening him. Faith brings us to him as the repairer of the breach, as the healer of the deadly wound which sin hath given us, and which made us insufficient to think or do any thing pleasing to God. A lively faith seeks grace as well as pardon, and assures us it is to be had in Christ. It tells ụs, that though without him we can do nothing, yet in him when we are weak we shall be made strong, strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might ; hence in the Communion the Believer applies to him, and rests all the wants and necessities of his soul upon JESUS the Saviour. To enter into the covenant, to abide in it, faith takes the grace of CHRIST, makes him the surety to undertake for us; while we despair of our own power and might, and draw from him all our sufficiency. And satisfied that his power and might shall be exercised for us, we rejoice in this confidence, that mighty as our enemies are, and weak and helpless as we are, yet that we shall be more than
conquerors through him that hath loved us. Are you going to Christ with such application for strength, and from him do you find strength communicated to you? Do you see that without this grace you can do nothing ? Do you sincerly renounce all hope in yourself, and make him your rock, his everlasting arms your support, his grace the ground of all your confidence ? This is to believe; “ to have a lively sense of God's mercy
in CHRIST;" for hereby this mercy comes home to our souls, we live upon it and by it; faith in Christ enabling us continually to apprehend it, so as to bring peace and pardon, and from it to derive strength and power against sin.
III. We must inquire into our thankfulness in “ the remembrance of Christ's death,” and the great and precious privileges purchased by his blood-shedding for us. If we are
really sensible of our fallen state, and have faith in the transaction here represented to us, it is not possible but our hearts should indeed be filled with gratitude and thankfulness to him who hath thus loved us, and given himself for us. And in proportion as we gain a clearer understanding of our own misery, and the condescension and love of Jesus Christ, our hearts will be more affected, and we shall come overflowing with praises to him who hath died for us, and rose again. This thankfulness hath a thousand different points of view from whence it takes occasion to admire and adore the grace of the REDEEMER. Its most lively exercise arises from himself, and next to that from all the blessings given in and with him. We are filled with thankfulness that we have ever heard the sound of his name in our ears, or tasted the power of his grace in our hearts; that we have been made already partakers of so many blessings, and have so many greater ones in store; that not only the end is so great and glorious, but that in the way we have so many delightful seasons of refreshment, where we may find rest unto our souls. Christ living, dying, rising, ascending, sitting at the right hand of God, each of these affords new matter for thankfulness. This must be expressed by our lips, in hearty humble acknowledgments of his love and kindness towards us; and not by our lips only “but in our lives, by “ giving up ourselves to his service, and by walking before him 6 in holiness and righteousness all our days.” Have you any experience of such thankfulness in your heart? Do not you see when any person does you a great and unexpected favour in any temporal things, how your heart rises towards them, and labours for expressions to testify the gratitude you feel? And how careful you are to please so generous a benefactor, if he is making you daily to partake of his bounty and munificence ? Now if these trifles so affect you, and to be ungrateful and unthankful to man is looked upon as brutish and savage, how shou d these great things, that in Christ are given you, dwell upon your hearts? How should you be impressed and influenced by them? Are you so? Is your heart rising up in the remembrance of that greatest of all gifts, God's own Son, with thanks too big for utterance? Are you praising him with joyful
lips ? or mourning at least over the coldness of your heart that loves and praises him no more? Doth your life testify the gratitude of your heart, by your carefulness to conform to his will and pleasure ; never to offend him, or grieving if you do; in every thing desiring to shew yourself no longer as your own, but his who hath purchased you at so dear a price as his own blood, and called you to shew forth his praise by yielding yourselves to him as alive from the dead, and your members instru. ments of righteousness unto holiness ? at least is this your daily study, desire, and prayer, that you may be enabled more and more to serve and please him? This is to be thankful, this is the proof that we have not received the grace of God in vain.
IV. We must examine whether, “ we are in charity with « all men." The religion of Jesus Christ is a religion of universal love; and especially it is needful that when we come to remember him who died for his enemies, we should partake in the like temper of charity. And herein you should examine yourselves,
First, Negatively. You must not entertain any hatred or malice against any of your brethren. The hands that are to be lifted, up, and the hearts to be brought to Christ's Table, must be without malicious wrath, as well as doubting. If therefore any soul of
you is living in anger, implacable and unmerciful, proud and resentful, unwilling to ask forgiveness or hard to grant it; if there be one person breathing whose offences you do not from your heart give up all desire and thoughts of revenging; if you are not ready on the first evidence of repentance to forgive; and if you do not compassionate their perverseness, where you may not be permitted farther to shew the exercise of love; you may be assured you can have no portion nor lot in the matter; your temper utterly excludes you; it can never be a feast of love to a revengeful spirit : and though you may pretend forgiveness, or seem reconciled, yet if the venom of malice rankle in your heart, and you want there the true spirit of charity, you are but as sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; you cannot eat of the LORD's body, nor have Commu
nion at his feast, nor partake of his benefits. Not that this. merely is sufficient. I only mention it to shew the glaring impiety of many who dare come with hearts full of uncharitableness, that probably the week before have been venting their undue anger, resentment, and wrath, against those who have offended them, and have not mourned over and carried these hateful tempers to Jesus to subdue them. What a horrid profanation for such to pretend to a communion of saints, or to belong to that body where every part hath the most tender care for its fellow members! These surely are under wrath. They must repent and have their hearts changed, or wrath will shortly come upon them to the uttermost.
Secondly, Positively. We must be found in the exercise of charity; that is, we must have a tender feeling for the bodies and souls of men, whether Believers or Unbelievers, and this expressed in all proper acts of kindness and love towards them according to their several states.
1. To Unbelievers, those that are not in a state of reconciliation with GOD; who, though they may be professors in the church, evidence in their lives the unrenewed state of their hearts; these we must pity and pray for, must never be provoked to hatred with their wickedness, must bear with their opposition, abuse, or reviling, must labour to return them good for evil, and blessing for cursing; must be ready to shew our affection by helping their bodies in any time of want, and readily ministering to their necessities out of our abundance; and especially desiring to help their souls, to seize any convenient occasion of conversing with them on their state, to apprize them of their danger, to improve any impressions which God's. grace or providence may have made; and labour in every way to pluck such brands from the burning, whether by undeceiving them if they rest on a form of godliness, or warning them if careless and utterly negligent. Are you shewing forth any such exercise of love? Have you ever thus tenderly rebuked sin upon your brother? Have you pitied the misery of sinners? Have you borne with meekness and long-suffering their provocations?