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capable of affording present alleviation! How wretched must be the situation of man by nature ; present sorrow, despondency as to future happiness, dread of future punishment. In the midst of these miseries the Gospel addresses you. What is its voice? The voice of comfort. What is its intelligence? Glad tidings of great joy to all people: to all people ; for to all it offers comfort ; on all it bestows the power of profiting by the good tidings which it conveys. It sets before all people a Saviour, who died for the fins of the whole world: who invites every man to come unto him for comfort: who promises 'to receive all that come unto him; who bestows upon all moral ability to come unto him that they may have life. “Come “ unto me,” saith your Redeemer, “and “ all your maladies shall be remedied, all s your necessities shall be supplied. What “ though you have committed numberless “sins? I offer to you unlimited pardon. " What though the law of God which you “ have violated, the law to which you can 6 render no satisfaction, denounces its curse “ upon your head ? Fear not. I have “ turned the curse aside from you : I have “ borne it myself in your behalf. I have
ss fulfilled the law: I have made an atones ment. What though you are immersed “ in weakness and corruption; unable to 5 think any thing good of yourself; un“ able to will or to do; unable to discover " the method of pleasing God; unable to “ continue in the path of righteousness “ were you placed in it? In your weak
nefs my strength shall be made manifest “ and perfected. Your corruption I will “ cleanse, in the fountain which I have « opened for uncleanness and fin. By “ the Holy Ghost the Comforter, whose “ influence is at my disposal, I will en“ lighten your understanding and renew “ your heart. From Me you shall learn " the will of my Father : from Me you “ shall have grace whereby you may serve “ Him acceptably. What though you are .“ surrounded by present evils ? I am head “ over all things. All things shall work “ together for good to you in the end. I “ lead you to a world where there shall be " neither pain nor sorrow nor death. " Your friends who sleep in Me shall God şu bring with Him. Your light afflictions “ which are but for a moment, shall work “ for you a far more exceeding and eternal ft weight of glory.”. i Y4
. Are Are not these glorious offers ? Are not these promises of comfort ? Is not the glory displayed to every man? Is not the comfort placed freely within the reach of every man? Well may, the Gospel be pronounced good tidings of great joy to all people!
*II. But will all men attain to the glory? Is the comfort sealed to every man? The Scriptures constrain us to answer, “ No.” They who at the great day shall receive the sentence, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, for ever fall short of the glory; have had no effectual interest in the comfort. To whom then are the glorious confolations of the Gospel to be applied ? The Lord God himself answers the question: “ Comfort ye, comfort ye, My people.” My people are the persons, my people are the only persons, who shall be admitted into My kingdom of glory. My people are the persons, My people are the only persons, to whom during their continuance upon earth the comforts of the Gospel belong.
Who then are the people of God? That is the momentous question.
To render you at present one of the people of God is it sufficient to have been IQ
baptized into the Christian church? Is it fufficient speculatively to believe the truth of Chriftianity? Is it sufficient to avow · yourself a Christian, and to attend Chrif
tian worship? Is it sufficient to feel pleasure in discourse concerning religion, and to be eager in frequenting a multitude of religious ordinances? If no one of these particulars is by itself sufficient to prove you to belong to the people of God; are all of them together fufficient ? Turn to the Scriptures. Propose your question. · Who are the people of God? Receive the answer from the Holy Ghost by the mouth of St. John. Beloved! be that doeth good is of God a). He, and he only, is one of the people of God, who in heart and life is truly a Christian. He, and he only, is at present entitled to the comforts of the Gospel; he and he only shall receive eternal consolation in heaven; who has that genuine faith in Christ which worketh by love ; who demonstrates that he belongs to God by faithful obedience to his commandments,
Beloved! be that doeth good is of God: but be that doeth evil, hath not seen God;
understands not God, belongs not to Him. Is this the only passage in which St. John declares that faithful obedience is the test by which you are to judge, whether you are of the people of God? Let the Apostle reply for himself. Little children, let no man deceive you. He that doeth righteoufnefs is righteous: be that committeth; sin is of the devil. In this the children of God are manifested, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God. Every one that doeth righteousness is born of God. Every one that loveth God and his neighbour is born of God. And this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments, . the commandments of Christ, dwelleth in Him. If any man love the world, the luft of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; the love of the Father is not in him. If we fay that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness; we lie (6). But perhaps you deem St. John singular in this doctrine. What then saith our Saviour ? If a man love me, he will keep my words : be that love. h me not keepeth not my sayings.
() 1 John, iii. 7, 8.10. ii. 29. iv. 7. v. 3. iii. 24. ii. 15; 16. i. 6.