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from comparisons with those who are profligate? Are they not too often offended when told, that they must be indebted for salvation to Grace , perfectly free and unmerited ; that they must be accepted upon the same terms with the most vile ; and that however excellent thefe things may be in themselves, they afford them no ground of dependence, yield them no claims whereof they may glory before God? An attempt to couch the eyes of thofe who say we see ; an offer of pardon to the innocent ; a communication of alms to the wealthy would only exasperate and disgust. But would this be the case with the blind, the guilty, and the poor? It is comparatively easy to convince the more criminal ; how can they deny the charge ? to alarm them ; how can they deny the danger ? Haying no armour of defence, they can sooner receive a wound which will make them 'cry for mercy. Confcious that they have no righteousness of their own, they more readily admit that if saved at all, it must be by grace. Having no shelter in which to hide, when they see the storm approaching, they willingly flee for refuge to the hope set before them in the Gospel.
Nor are such trophies of divine grace unusual. We can appeal to the page of history ; and we can refer to our own age. We have seen the most unlikely materials subdued by divine agency to holy purposes ; and sinners called from courses the most ungodly, whose conversion has awakened not only the joy but the astonishment of their pious friends. Let this encourage our hope ; let us consider none of our fellow-creatures as desperate, and dropping our endeavours and our prayers abandon them. Reformer,
let it animate thec. “Be not weary in well doing. $ In the morning sow thy feed, and in the evening 56 withholdnot thine hand: for thou knowest not wheth$6 er shall prosper this or that,or whether they both shall “ be alike good. : Brethren, if any of you do err from 56 the truth, and one convert him; let him know that “ he who converteth a sinner from the error of his “ way, shall save a foul from death, and shall hide a 6 multitude of sins.” Ministers ! let it encourage thee. « Can these dry bones live ? Prophesy upon “ these bones; and say, Come from the four winds, “ O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they 66 may live.” “ Is any thing too hard for the Lord ?” Parent ! let it animate thee, though means have hitherto proved ineffectual, and instructions and tears have been in vain ; “ I say unto you, that God is " able of these stones to raise up children unto Abra“ ham!”
Men and Brethren, let me ask you, Which of these two sons did the will of his Father? You say, and you say justly, Both of them were culpable ; the one was rude, and the other false. But which on comparison do you prefer? You say, and you say truly, The first. On what principle ? Because his actions were better than his words, and his latter end fairer than his beginning. Yes ; better is a late penitent than an old formalist. Yes ; more desirable is the condition of this returning sinner, trembling at God's word, broken-hearted with a review of unprofitable years, and resolving to redeem the time by future zeal, than the state of yonder professor who has fat under the word till he is past feeling, honouring God with his lip while
his heart is far from him, having a name to live while he is dead, saying perpetually by appearances I go, but never actually taking one step in the ways of godliness.
But I have another question; Which of these two fons do you at this time resemble ? It is undeniable that you have had calls from God. Your duty, and the confequences of inattention have been plainly set before you. He has spoken by his creatures. He has addrefsed you by his providence. Afflictions have had a voice. Fire has rushed out of the brambles to which you repaired for shelter. The gourd, whose fhade refreshed you has withered away. It was a broken reed upon which you leaned; it disappointed your hope, and pierced you through with many forrows. Sickness told you that you were mortal. The death of others reminded you of your own ; and loud spake the silent grave. Many a remonstrance, many a wara ning you have had from conscience. From fabbath to fabbath you have heard the Gospel. Ministers, fome in harsher accents, and some in milder language, have laboured to persuade you. No,you cannot plead ignorance ; you do not want motive and encouragement. Suffer me then to ask you, Which of these soñs defcribes you ?
Are you saying with the first"I will not ?". What irreverence ! « A fon heareth his father, and a fervant “ his master : If then I be a father where is my hon« our ? and if I be a master where is my fear ? faith “ the Lord of Hofts.” What ingratitude ! « Hear, “ O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth : for the Lord “ hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up chil6 dren, and they have rebelled against me." Da 6 ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and un66 wise? Is he not thy Father that hath bought thee? 66 hath he not made thee and established thee ?” What madness! If you abide by this determination you are undone; “ because of these things cometh the wrath of « God upon the children of disobedience.” Have you duly considered the work you decline ? It is a service the most reasonable ; the most honourable ; the most pleasant; the most profitable : it is a profit« able unto all things, having the promise of the life " that now is, and of that which is to come.” Here we cannot labour in vain. The reward is sure ; the recompense is glorious. Nor are we called to labour without affistance. He who employs us has engaged to make his strength perfect in our weakness, and to render his grace sufficient for us. To which we may add, that it is a work the most indispenfable; it is the one thing needful ; and it is at the peril of thy soul and thy eternal happiness to say, “ I will not.” But I Have faid this, and lived accordingly. “O that “ my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of “ tears.” Returning finner, there is hope in Ifrael concerning this thing. There is forgiveness with Him, and repentance secures it.
for the discovery of his forgiving love.' He repented and went. Go and do likewise, and encourage thyself under every gloomy fear by representations the most appropriate and tender. “ I have surely heard “ Ephraim bemoaning himself thus. Thou hast chas“tised me, and I was chastised as a bullock unaccus“ tomed to the yoke; turn thou me, and I shall be “ turned, for thou art the Lord my God. Surely af“ter that I was turned I repented : and after that I " was instructed, I smote upon my thigh : I was asham“ed, yea even confounded, because I did bear the re“proach of my yoke. Is Ephraim my dear fon? is 6 he a pleasant child ? for since I fpake against him “ I do earnestly remember him still ; therefore my c bowels are troubled for him ; I will surely have “ mercy upon him, faith the Lord.” “And he faid, " I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto “ him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and be“fore thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy “ fon : make me as one of thy hired servants. And " he arose and came to his Father ; but when he was “ yet a great way off, his Father faw him, and had “compassion on him, and ran, and fell on his neck, " and kissed him—And said to his fervants, bring forth " the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on “ his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring, hither " the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be mer“ ry. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he " was lost, and is found. And they began to bemerry.”
Are you saying with the fecond "I go, Sir ?” This is well ; but, О beware of infincerity. Consider seriously the folemn profession you make. I go, Sir!