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withstanding their unbelief; but they will be punished for it. Men are never more offended than when their veracity is suspected ; and they are instantly ready to demand fatisfaction for the injurious affront; and can you " turn the truth of God into a lie" with impunity ? " If there should be among you any man, who « when he heareth the words of this curse, fhall bless “ himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though “ I walk in the imagination of my heart to add drunkcenness to thirst; the Lord will not spare him, but " then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall « smoke against that man; and all the curses that are « written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord * fhall blot out his name from under heaven."
III. Some “are at ease in Zion" from VAIN CON, FIDENCE ; relying on the goodness of their present state, and on the certainty of their future happiness. See one of these deluded creatures going up into the temple to pray; " and the Pharisee stood and prayed “ thus with himself; God, I thank thee that I am not " as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or “ even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I “ give tithes of all that I poffefs.” In this state, according to his own confeffion, was Paul once" I was « alive without the law;" cheerful and happy, full of falfe hope and false joy, fully satisfied of my acceptance with God, and a stranger to all apprehension of danger. Such was the church of Laodicea " thou fay« eft, I am rich and increased with goods, and have * need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art s wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and
"naked.” Nor are these instances unusual, or singular; “ for there is a GENERATION that are pure in “their own eyes, and yet are not washed from their “ filthiness.” There is then such a thing as spiritual self-flattery ; there is such a thing as a delusive dependence in religion ; yes, “ there is a way that seemeth “ right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of « death.” From innumerable sources is the unhappy conclusion drawn ; from pious ancestors and distinguished privileges ; from ritual observances; from du- . ties in which the affections are never engaged ; from virtues placed opposite vices; from comparisons of ourselves with others"; from partial reformations; from hearing a number of sermons; from dreams; from sudden impulses; from the application of promises ; from orthodoxy; from terror in the conscience ; from fervour in the passions; from fpiritual gifts. These are only a few articles from the inventory of delusion, by which the enemy of fouls, according to the character and circumstances of mankind, excites and encourages a hope which will one day cover them with shame. And it sometimes happens, that the same person successively occupies many of these refuges of lies ; as he is expelled by conviction from one, there is another to receive him ; only the continuance of his satisfaction requires, that if his knowledge increases, every fresh deception should become more subtle and specious. Thus “the strong man armed keepeth his “palace ;” and while this is the case, “his goods are “ in peace.”. There is a stillness in the conscience. The mind has no misgiving fears. They are back, ward to self-examination; and wish not to have the
good opinion they entertain of themselves shaken. If you lived with them, you would never find them walking mournfully before the Lord; you would never hear them complaining of their inward conflict, or hear them asking 6 what must I do to be saved ?"! Nothing can be more dreadful than this state ; for consider only two things; first, this confidence keeps them from looking after salvation. Were it not for this shelter, they would be induced to flee for refuge; they are too good to be saved. Hence says our Saviour, “publicans and harlots shall enter into the “ kingdom of heaven before” such. Few ever pretend to vindicate vice ; and a vigorous charge on the conscience of the ungodly may succeed ; but no weapon can penetrate this self-righteous armour. While he continues wrapped up in this presumption, there is no hope of his conversion; the word has no power over him. Do we exhort men to believe? He congratulates himself that he is a believer. Do we urge them to repentance? He needs none. Do we press them to escape from the wrath to come? He is in no danger. He applies to himself only promises and privileges to which he has no claim, and which will only serve to render the consequences of his delusion the more painful. For this course, secondly, will terminate in dreadful surprise and disappointment; the foolish builder, who did not suspect the stability of the house, will learn its weakness in the storm and the ruins; the man is past all hope before he begins to fear. His mistake is discovered when it is too late to be rectified! O what confusion ! O the horrors of regret and of despair ! « Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many
66 will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When “ once the master of the house is risen up, and hath * shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and “knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto “ us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know 6 you not, whence you are; then shall ye begin to say, 6 we have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou “ haft taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell "you I know you not, whence you are ; depart from “me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weep“ing and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall fee Abra“ ham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in “the kingdom of heaven, and ye yourselves thrust s out.” My dear hearers, remember this awful caution; and fince so many mistake, “ let him that thinketh he « standeth take heed lest he fall.” Dare you truft your state without trying it? In a business of everlasting importance can you be satisfied with equivocal or with slender evidence? In all other cases will you think you can never be too sure, and is this the only one in which you are resolved never to doubt ? O see that you poffess that “grace which bringeth falvation." Go and compare your character with the representations given of real christians in the Scriptures. Go and “ learn what that meaneth ;" “if any man be in “ Christ, he is a new creature ; old things are passed “ away, and behold all things are become new.” We sometimes try to alarm you by your sin; we would alarm you this evening by your religion ; the religion of many of you is likely to prove the means of your eternal ruin.
· IV. Some “ are at ease in Zion” from PRACTICAL INDIFFERENCE. You would much offend persons of this class, were you to inquire whether they believed the Scripture ? They read it daily ; “they come to" his ministers “ as his people come;" and the preacher “ is unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath “ a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: « for they hear his words, but they do them not." They are “ like unto a man beholding his natural face « in a glass ; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his “ way, and straitway forgetteth what manner of man “ he was.” Nor are these persons to be charged sentimentally with Antinomianism, or any other error. They know the gospel in theory; but they are strangers to its divine efficacy. Of all the various characters we have to deal with in our ministry, these are the most unlikely to ensure success. When we endeavour to convince the ignorant, or to rouse the unthinking, we feel fome hope ; but as for those of you who have heard the gospel from your infancy, or have fat under it long enough to learn distinctly and familiarly all the truths it contains ; who know every thing we can advance ; who believe every thing we can prove ; who can even 6 contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the se saints,” and rest satisfied regardless of the influence of these things in your hearts and lives, you,you are the most likely to drive ministers to despair. We preach ; you acknowledge and admire; but you discover no more concern to obtain the one thing needful we propose, than if you were persuaded we called you “ to follow " a cunningly devised fable.” You believe there is no felicity in the creature, and that satisfaction is to be