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“ to my foul; do I not well to take to “ myself the comforts of the Gospel ?” Undoubtedly; if God has authorised you to regard Him as having thus spoken peace to your soul. But where is your warrant to place your confidence on an inward impulse ; to regard an indeterminate feeling as an impression from the Holy Ghost, as a token and seal of forgiveness? I read in the Word of God; When the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness which he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his foul alive. In the same infallible word I read that indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, shall be upon every foul of man that doeth evil. I read that he who evinces his repentance and his faith by obedience, is forgiven ; that he who is disobedient stands at present condemned. But where am I referred to impreflions and impulses? Recollect the credulity of the human mind on all subjects with which fervid passions are intermingled : the recorded extravagances of the imagination; the inconstant fluctuations of internal feelings, according to the vicissitudes of stronger or weaker spirits, of health and sickness, of prosperity and adversity; and the facility
with which men of lively conceptions and flender judgement work themselves into a persuasion, that they experience an indefinite impulse, which they are taught to expect and are eager to receive ; and the difficulty with whịch men of contrary qualities would venture to credit a similar sensation. Meditate on these unquestionable truths; and you may see reafon warmly to thank your God, that he has not directed you to judge of your state by a vague and variable and tranlient criterion, a criterion fitted to produce presumption or despair; but refers you to plain and substantial facts, to the habitual frame of your heart manifesting itself in practice, to a standard which scarcely leaves the poffibility of delusion to him who applies it with devout and investigating observation. And what though you persist in your doctrine ? Will you exalt an impulse, of which you cannot certainly know that it proceeds from the Holy Ghost, above the Scriptures, which you acknowledge to proceed from Him? If you are habitually obedient to Christ through faith ; do you deem the scriptural promise of forgiveness to all who thus obey Him an insufficient security, an inadequate ground
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of comfort ? If you are habitually disobedient; will you believe on the credit of an impulse that you are forgiven, in opposition to the Scriptures which pronounce you to be in a state of condemnation ?
In the two examples already brought forward, you have heard the truths inculcated by the text applied to the correction of errors in judging of our state, which arise from inaccurate views of Christian doctrine. Let me now apply those truths to an error connected with misapprehension of the duty of a preacher.
Many persons cherish very imperfect and partial views of the proper nature of preaching. They relish no discourses, except such as they term comfortable. They delight to hear of the freeness of the Gofpel; of the fulness of the Gospel; of the privileges of the Gospel; of the comforts of the Gospel : of any thing rather than the duties of the Gospel. In their hearts, if not with their lips, they are prepared to say to their minister, as the Jews said to Isaiah; Prophesy not unto us right things : Speak unto us fmooth things (i). They remember not the admonition which St. Paul
(i) Ifaial, xxx. 10.
delivered to Timothy, that it might be the rule of his preaching: All Scripture is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness : that the man of God may be perfečt, thcroughly furnished unto' all good works (k). If you love not to hear the strict and holy morality of the New Testament pressed and enforced upon you by Christian principles: is it not a proof that you do not relish the strictness and holiness of that morality? Is it not a proof of a secret consciousness that your morality is not of that strict and holy nature? If it is with reluctance that you lend your ear, whenever the terrors reserved for the wicked are proclaimed: is it not a proof either that you presumptuously imagine yourself unconcerned in those denunciations of divine vengeance; or that you wish to smother and lay asleep-your inward misgivings of fin? Injudicious and dangerous is that spiritual physician, who administers little except opiates and cordials. Ignorant and deluded is that private Christian, who condemns and rejects every other mode of treatment. Let your wounds be searched to the bottom, if you are fo
licitous that they should be healed. Welcome every degree of discipline necessary to your everlasting health. Apply not to yourself the comforts of the Gospel farther than the predominant frame of your tempers, dispositions, and desires, and the habitual course of your life and converfation, afford evidence on which you may be scripturally authorised to hope that, at prefent, you belong to the people of God. If you are not living unto Christ through faith ; if your conversation is not such as becometh the Gospel of Christ; if you walk nor worthy of the vocation wherewith you are called ; if you are not proved to be one of the peculiar people of Christ by being purified from the dominion of corrupt tempers, principles, and practices, and by having become zealous of good works : to presume on the comforts of the Gospel is unwarranted and destructive.
But if, after deep and devout self-examination, you have solid reason to hope that faith in the Son of God has led you to delight in his commandments; if it be your prevailing desire that the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit should fanctify your heart unto obedience; if it be your habitual studyand endeavour to bring every thought,