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the mere recollection of God troubles you, must not the sight of him be incomparably more productive of distress? Why, then, will you put away thoughts, which must return, at a dying hour, to overwhelm you? which must be your eternal companions! Why will you put off that preparation for death, which alone can prevent the recollection, and the sight of God from being productive of anguish? and which will convert what is now painful into a source of the purest, of everlasting felicity? Why will you continue in the wretched state of those, who are rendered unhappy by the remembrance of their Creator, of a being, in whose world they live, of whom every thing tends to remind them; a being, who is not far from every one of them, and in whose presence they must dwell forever? How wretched would be the situation of the inhabitants of the ocean, if the element, which surrounds them, and out of which they cannot exist, should become to them a source of misery! And how much more wretched, then, must be the situation of those, who are made miserable by the remembrance, or by the sight of him, in whom they live, and move, and from whom they can never fly! Why then, will you not be persuaded to renounce those sins, which are the only cause, that renders the recollection of God painful, and to embrace those terms of reconciliation, which will render the thoughts, and the presence of God consoling in life, delightful in death, and
productive of ineffable happiness through eternity? This leads us to remark,
3. How great are our obligations to God for the gospel of Christ, the gospel of reconciliation! Were it not for this, the remembrance, and still more the presence of God, would have occasioned nothing but pure, unmingled wretchedness to any human being. Were it not for this, no child of Adam could ever have contemplated God in any other light, than that of an inflexibly holy, just, and offended Judge, all whose perfections demanded his destruction. Were it not for this, there could have been nothing before us, but a certain, fearful looking for of judgment, and fiery indignation. It is only when viewed through that Mediator, whom the gospel reveals, that God can be contemplated by sinful creatures, without dismay and despair. But in and through him God is reconciled. In and through him peace is offered to rebellious men; through him we may all have access by one Spirit unto the Father. O, then, be thankful for the gospel of reconciliation, and show your gratitude, by eagerly embracing the terms of peace, which it proposes. Now, then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
4. Is sin alone the cause, which renders the remembrance of God painful? Then let all, who have embraced the terms of reconciliation offered by the gospel, all who desire to remember God without being troubled, beware, above all things,
beware of sin. It is sin, my christian friends, which is the cause of all your sorrows. It is sin alone, which spreads a frown over the smiling face of God; sin, which hides from you the light of his countenance, which prevents you from always contemplating him with pure, unmingled delight and confidence. Swear, then, an eternal war with sin; not only swear, but maintain it. Oppose sin resolutely, crucify it, mortify it in every way, and under all the forms, in which it appears, and it shall not have dominion over you. You shall not have the spirit of bondage again to fear; but the spirit of adoption, whereby ye will cry, Abba, Father.
SINNERS WILFUL AND PERVERSE.
LUKE VII. 31-35.
AND THE LORD SAID, WHEREUNTO THEN SHALL I LIKEN THE MEN OF THIS GENERATION? AND TO WHAT ARE THEY LIKE? THEY ARE LIKE UNTO CHILDREN SITTING IN THE MARKET-PLACE, AND CALLING ONE TO ANOTHER, AND SAYING, WE HAVE PIPED UNTO YOU, AND YE HAVE NOT DANCED; WE HAVE MOURNED TO YOU, AND YE HAVE NOT WEPT. FOR JOHN THE BAPTIST CAME NEITHER EATING BREAD NOR DRINKING WINE; AND YE SAY, HE HATH A DEVIL. THE SON OF MAN IS COME EATING AND DRINKING; AND YE SAY, BEHOLD A GLUTTONOUS MAN, AND A WINEBIBBER, A FRIEND OF PUBLICANS AND SINNERS! BUT WISDOM IS JUSTI
FIED OF ALL HER CHILDREN.
If we ever find infinite wisdom apparently at a loss, it is when she would describe the unreasonableness and perverseness of sinners, or devise proper means to reclaim them. Thus we find her saying to God's ancient people, O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for thy goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. In a similar manner Christ here represents himself as at a loss how to describe the perverseness and obstinacy of his hearers. Whereunto, says he, shall I liken the men of this generation? and to what are they like? As it is, however, impossible, that the infinitely wise Saviour should ever be really at a loss, he immediately fixes upon a similitude, which strikingly
illustrated their character and conduct. They are, says he, like children sitting in the market-place, and saying to their fellows, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not wept. To see the force and appositeness of this comparison, it is necessary to recollect the manner, in which weddings and funerals were solemnized among the Jews. At their weddings, a procession was formed, preceded by musicians, playing cheerful tunes, and dancers, who accompanied and kept time to their music. At their funerals also they had mourners, who performed solemn and mournful airs, or uttered cries, lamentations and other expressions of grief. These various ceremonies the Jewish children were accustomed to imitate in their amusements. Sometimes they played cheerful tunes, and rejoiced as at a marriage feast; at others, they uttered mournful sounds, and affected to weep, as at a funeral procession. Sometimes, however, children, who wished to amuse themselves in this manner, found their companions peevish and unwilling to join with them. If they piped and rejoiced, as at a wedding, these ill humored companions would not dance; if, to please them, they changed their strain, and mourned, as at a funeral, they would not weep and lament. Hence they complained, as in our text, that it was impossible to please them, they would neither do one thing nor another. Similar to the temper and conduct of these perverse children was that of the Jews in the Saviour's time, and similar