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The Voice of Mercy has there proclaimed in your ears, “ glory to God in the highest ; peace on earth, and good will towards men." Here you have been brought to the foot of the MercySeat, to spread your sins before your Maker, and to make known to him your wants, infirmities, and dangers. Here the awful character of this great and glorious Being has been unfolded to your view. You have learned, irresistibly and abundantly, that to the eye of his unspotted purity " the heavens are not clean;" and that Man, therefore, who “ drinketh iniquity like water," cannot but be regarded by him with detestation and abhorrence. At the same time, you have been taught, that his name is "the Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious; slow to anger; abundant in goodness and truth; forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin;" although “ he will by no means clear the” impenitently " guilty."
In this solemn place, the Law of God, in its nature perfect and divine ; supremely delightful to all virtuous beings ; and to the great kingdom of Jehovah the source of boundless and immortal good; but terrible beyond expression to all the workers of iniquity; has thundered its denunciations against your rebellion. In the same place, also, the Gospel has proclaimed to you from the world of glory, “ there is more joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance.” “Whosoever will,” therefore, “ let him come, and take of the water of life freely."
Here the Saviour of Mankind, who, great and exalted as he is, and ever was, has always "rejoiced in the habitable parts of the earth and found his delights with the sons of men,” has presented himself before your eyes as a Lamb, slain for your sins, “ from the foundation of the world.” Infinitely rich, he has here shown you, that "for your sakes he became poor, that you through him might become rich." You have seen him descend from heaven, and dwell with the sons of men; become “ a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” poor, humble, despised, rejected of men, and unpossessed of a place, where to lay his head. You have seen him ascend the cross; and nailed to the accursed tree. His Vol. II.
body has been broken, his blood has been poured out, before your eyes. You have witnessed his expiring agonies ; have heard his dying exclamations; and have followed him to the grave. You have seen him rise from the dead, ascend to heaven, and " sit down at the right hand of the majesty on high.”
At this very moment this divine person stands before you on Mount Zion, surrounded with his glorious followers, “redeemed from among" men, and the first fruits unto God; singing the new song of forgiving, redeeming, and sanctifying love. This delightful assembly invite you with unspeakable earnestness and affection, and have here weekly invited you, to become partakers of their everlasting joy.
To these invitations " the Spirit of Truth” has here, and every where, subjoined his own voice of infinite mercy ; and mingled his entreaties with those of the Father and the Son. He dictated the Gospel, and all its invitations. He has accompanied you, wherever you have been; and whispered to you, with a “ stil, small voice,” faith, repentance, and salvation, from the cradle to the present hour. With this glorious person
With this glorious person the bride," the Church of God, has united her own earnest persuasion, and called out to you, “come, and take the water of life freely."
In the mean time, you have not been invited and alarmed, only. You have also been warned, and reproved. Sickness, sorrow, and pain, have checked you in the career of sin, and admonished you to be ready for your final account. Danger has warned you of your near approach to eternity. Death, aiming his fatal dart against one and another of your friends and companions, has made you tremble for yourselves; and awakened in your minds fearful apprehensions of an approaching judgment
. The grave, with an awful voice, has summoned you to its secret and melancholy chambers, to behold the “house appointed for all living ;" assembled before your eyes the unnumbered millions, who inhabit these dark recesses; and, among them, has selected for your solemn survey those of your own age, circumstances, acquaintance, and friendship, who have gone before you to these mansions of silence and oblivion. All this vast multitude have
cried out to you with one affecting voice, “ remember, frail and dying mortals, that this is your last home.”
In the mean time, you have been solemnly reproved for your sins by the Word of God. Every page of this sacred book, whenever you have read it, has addressed to you plain and pungent reproofs of all your transgressions. Whenever you have not; the very sight of it has silently and powerfully reproached you for your spiritual sloth, and guilty negligence. From the desk the same reproofs have been weekly explained, urged, and enforced upon you. To these monitors your parents have added themselves; and in a thousand forms, and on a thousand occasions, have “pricked you to the heart" with their remonstrances against your sins. To all, your own consciences have answered Amen; and have awakened in your bosoms remorse for your guilt, and the terrors of your future trial.
Seasons at the same time have rolled around you, to shower their bounties upon your heads. Blessings have danced and sported before you in trains innumerable. The hand of your divine Benefactor, working every where, and in every thing, has wrought only kindness for you. With the hand of bounty, with the voice of mercy, he has charmed you to himself in a manner worthy of a God.
All these blessings, both spiritual and temporal; all these instructions, invitations, warnings, and reproofs, have been communicated to you, particularly, throughout the year which has just finished its circuit. No year of your lives has, perhaps, been more illumined by the beams of mercy. No days have, perhaps, more strongly witnessed the goodness, patience, and forbearance, of God. Your life, your health, your presence in this house, your attendance on these solemn ordinances, are all unanswerable testimonies of the divine mercy. Not even a single day, out of the three hundred and sixty five, which this year has contained, has passed by you, without leaving both its blessings, and its admonitions, behind.
2dly. From persons, thus situated, God has reasonably expected to find fruits of piety and righteousness.
The observations, made under the former head, are ample proofs, that God has been long employed in preparing you to be. come fruitful. Your present age forcibly declares, that the time has long since arrived, when this character ought to have been found upon you. That'God has waited long you cannot deny. That he has often come, seeking the fruits of boliness in your hearts and in your lives, you will not dare to question. That he has called you to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, to a sincere repentance of your sins, to a diligent reformation of your lives, to the supreme love and reverence of himself, and to an universal beneficence to your fellow men; and that he has called you to these things, times and ways innumerable; you cannot but know. Nor can you allege a reason, why you have not become penitent, believing, and obedient. These things every reason enforces upon you. Every reason enforces his right to demand, as well as to expect, them at your hands. He has given you knowledge to discern, and opportunities to perform, all your duty. Before you he has daily spread motives of the highest import, to induce your obedience: motives infinite, awfully alarming, and immensely endearing.
If then you have not been fruitful in his service; if you have not believed ; if you have not obeyed; it is not because you have wanted either the opportunities, the means, or the motives. Your own disobedient, sinful, barren nature has been the real reason; and not any want of attention, care, or culture, from him. The fault is yours; and the charge will rest ultimately upon your own heads.
3dly. There is much reason to believe, that many of you hare, notwithstanding all these advantages, been wholly unfruitful.
Your life and conversation yield no substantial or satisfactory proofs, that you have ever exercised the faith of the Gospel
. There is no visible evidence, that Christ has become a Saviour to
He has solemnly declared, that those, who “do not confess him before men, he will not confess” at the final day. But you do not confess him before men. He has declared, that those are is his disciples, indeed, who do his commandments.” But you do
not his commandments. Where are the proofs, even to the eye of the most affectionate charity, that you sincerely repent of your sins; humble yourselves before God; love his Name, his Word, his Law, or his Gospel. Does it seem true, even to yourselves, that you are friends of the Redeemer, children of God, and heirs of his everlasting love.
Have you even begun to do well ; to seek the favour of God; or to ask, in earnest, for the forgiveness of your sins ? When has the house of God, when have your closets, been witnesses of your prayers? When has God been a witness of your humble supplication to him, to remember you with his mercy, blot out your transgressions, and save your souls? Has “the Angel, who offereth the prayers of the saints with much incense,” ever been furnished with an opportunity of offering yours? If you
have not obeyed God in these things; you certainly have not obeyed him in any thing else. If you have not done good to yourselves; you certainly have not, from the heart, done good to others.
Is there not, then, the most fearful reason to believe, that you have not even entered upon that “patient continuance in welldoing,” which is the strait and narrow way, to "glory, honour, and immortality ?" Is not the love of the world your controlling, and only, principle of action ? Are not all your thoughts worldly thoughts ? Are not all your wishes worldly wishes ? Are not all your plans, plans of pleasure, ambition, and avarice. Is it not evident to yourselves, as well as to the attentive eyes of the religious persons around you, that your hearts are " choked by the cares and pleasures of this life,” and are thus rendered wholly unfruitful in the service of God. Have you not, at times, had seasons of more than common seriousness and concern, about your moral and your future state ? Did you not then feel, that you were sinners; that repentance and reformation were absolutely necessary for you; and, therefore that you were still strangers to God, and “ to the covenant of promise ?"
But whether you have been conscious of these things, or not; others have known them. A fluttering, vain, pleasure-loving life is complete proof of a fluttering, vain, pleasure-loving heart. A