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Because by carnal gratification their heart is waxed gross; because by wilful inattention their ears have become dull of hearing; because through aversion to the light their eyes they have closed. They are habitually unholy in their inclinations and purposes ; and therefore have no real faith. They are the willing servants of sin ; and therefore belong not to God. They are Christians only in name; and therefore are not Christians.
To which of the two classes does eash of us belong? This is a question to which our own bosoms, if we fairly examine them, will scarcely fail to give a true reply. Let me separately address to persons of each class some few words of admonition.
If on searching your hearts, under a deep conviction of the frequency and the extreme danger of self-deception, you receive the answer of a good conscience towards God, witnessing the^sincerity of your faith; be filled with gratitude to the Author of every good gift, by whom it is given unto you, as unto the Philippians, to believe on Jesus Christ (d). Thanks be to God, exclaimed St. Paul, for his unspeakable gist [e). Was this language merely the language of his lips? It was the language of his actions;
(J) Philipp. i. 29. (c) 2 Cor. ix. i$.
the the language of his love, of his zeal, of his patient endurance, of his 'Unceasing' toil, of his multiplied sufferings, of his triumphant death. Constrained by the love of Christ, he lived unto Christ. Live ye unto Christ, who has died for you also. Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. Reflect what numbers have been found in all ages of the Christian Church, 'who, after they had walked for a time in the ways of righteousness, have returned unto the world which they had abandoned, have become the slaves of sin which they had renounced. Demas, faith St. Paul, bath forsaken me, having loved this present world (f). That Demas, who had been the companions the Apostle in his pilgrimage and his ministry, forsook him. How many has the love of the world, the love of ease, the love of gain, the love of power, the love of human praise, persuaded, like Demas, to turnt heir backs upon Christ! Reflect on the peril attendant on every step, when, ceasing to climb the path which points towards heaven, the unhappy victim of temptation turns down the steep which leads to destruction! Reflect on the detriment to the general interests of religion,
the scandal to the Christian name, the discouragement of the pious, the exulting scoffs of the wicked, occasioned by the fall of those who have been considered as established examples of the faith! Be not highminded, but fear. Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. Look back on the numberless instances of transgression which your lives have exhibited since you have professed to be followers in earnest of Jesus Christ. Look back on the instances, equally surpassing number, of wasted opportunities, of neglected duty. Call to mind your coldness in prayer, your languid application to religious study, your leaning to the world, your proneliess to , give way to ensnaring customs, your unchastised tempers, your secret and besetting sins. Whatever may have been your Chris* tian progress; do you not even yet discover within your heart so much of the power of evil, that you have reason daily to shudder lest you should be altogether Overcome? If you have hope that you are a servant of Christ j rejoice in your hope; but rejoice with trembling. Distrust yourself: rely wholly upon God : pray without ceasing: be not weary of well-doing: and
you shall be strengthened and upheld by allsufficient. sufficient grace. This is the viclory which overcomesh the world, even your faith (g).
If there are those among you who pracr tically believe not; let them mark the full enormity of their guilt. Wo unto thee, Cha-' razin, said our Lord; Wo unto thee Bethfaidal For if the mighty works which were done in jou had been done in 'Tyre and Sidon, they (would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. I fay unto you it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of Judger ment than for you (h). In this denunciation of our blessed Saviour, read his warning to yourselves. To you the things of eternal life, though you believe them not, have been spoken. To you, though you reject them, they have been unremittingly declared. To you, though you have closed your eyes, they have been displayed in the scriptures. To you, though you have shut your ears, they have been unremittingly proclaimed by the ministers of the Gospel. To you God has offered the mercy, though you have thrust it away, of being converted and healed. How many uninstructed Heathens, lying like Tyre ana Sidon of pld, in darkness and the shadow of -death, would long ago have glorified God (g) 1 John, v, 4. (b) Math, xi. 2i, 22.
by repentance in sackcloth and ashes, if the light of divine truth, which has been poured upon you in vain, had been vouchsafed unto them! How many idolaters would have broken and burned their images; while you have cherished the idols of your heart! How many savages would have relinquished their cruel and abominable practices; while you have strengthened yourself in your wickedness! How many would have turned unto God, while you have denied him! How many would have laid down their lives for the faith of Christ; while you have crucified the Son of God afresh, and trodden under foot, as an unholy thing, the blood of the covenant wherewith you were sanctified! How many would have welcomed the regenerating influence of the Holy Ghost; while , you have hardened your hearts, and done despite unto the Spirit of j grace! They who have sinned without the Gospel shall be judged without the Gospel; they shall be judged according to the dispensation under which they were placed. But if we sin wilfully, after that we have received the knowledge of the truth ; if with the unclouded blaze of evangelical light before us we persist in the paths, of darkness j