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their being, in part at least, to fear of reproach? how many works of charity owe their splendor to a desire of applause, as will as to a better principle ? I should never have done, were I to go through all the great duties of the Christian life, and observe the sinful defects that cleave to them. I believe I may say with great truth, that would we but deal faithfully, there would be nothing more necefsary to our humiliation, than a strict examination of our duties themselves. This would oblige us to confess, that “ all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags before God;" that we must not plead for reward, but forgiveness; that no merit of our own, but infinite mercy alone, must be the foundation of our hope.
III, I come now to make some practical application of the subject, for your instruction and direction. And,
1. How great is the deceitfulness of sin ! how astonishi. ing the blindness of finners! How easy and obvious is the confideration of our fins, in the order in which I have endeavored to set them before you! Sins of omission, on the one hand, and of commission, on the other; and duties faulty in both respects, viz, by essential qualities neglected, and fins mixed with the performances: fins in thought, in word, and in deed, against God, our neighbor, and ourselves. Yet, alas ! how many are there in a great measure ignorant of the fins they are chargeable with, and therefore sleeping in security! Think, my be. loved hearers, on your condition. To know your danger, is the first step to deliverance. Is not the law of obedi. ence clear, written upon all the Creator's works? Is it not engraven upon the conscience and is it not often repeated and inforced by the dispensations of Providence ? Would there be so much of divine judgment, if there was no offence? Every natural evil proclaims the fin of man, An inclement season, an injurious world, and a frail, dying body, confpire in pointing out our sinsul state. And yet, after all, how blind is the finner to the discovery, how deaf to the friendly warning, how regardless of the ap. proaching trial! Awake, I befeech you, while there may
be peace, and look upon your danger, while there is yet given you time and opportunity to fly from it.
2. If the holiest cannot fiand before God, if no fleti living can be juftified in bis fight, how fearful must be the state of those who are lying under the guilt of atrocious, aggravated, and repeated crimes! Though great prodi. gates often desert the ordinances of God, that they may fin at greater ease, and meet with less rel.liance; yet, in fo numerous an assembly as this, there is reason to suppose there are not a few of the chief of sinners; the rather, ihat wilile fome desert the ordinances, that they may have eale from within, others attend them as a cover, that they may blind their neighbors, and meet with leis suípicion or difturbance from without. How', then, can murderers, fornicators, sweareis, drunkards, thieves, and retainers of unjust gain, hear what hath been said on this subject without trembling for themselves! Hear for your souls fake; hear for eternity's sake; lear, I beseech you, for Christ's fake, Othat the Spirit of God may carry home the truth, and make it “ quick and powerful, fliarper “ than a two-edged sword," Ilcb. iv. 12. It is an ealy thing for you now to disemble the fins which men would punih, and even to boast of the fins which men muft tolerate; but hear and remember the two follow ing par. sages : Heb. iv. 13. “ All things are naked, and cpened “ unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do;” and Heb. x. 31. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of “ the living God.”
3. In the last place, If any christian desires to keep his conscience tender and faithiul, to have a deep growing and humbling sense of his own sinfulness; if he would bar the gate against the entrance of pride, or banish it alter it has obtained adesillion ; if he desires to walk humbly and watchfully-let him live as in the presence of God, let him olten place himself at his au ful tribunal. It is easy to justify ourselves before men, who have so little to require, and from whom so much may be concealed. The truth is, it is not a great matter to be able to set the world at defiance. But to look up to ihat God wlio sitteih upon the throne of his holiness, is of infinitely greater moment,
thing for you now to boast of the
two following pe; and of infinitely greater difficulty. He trieth the reins and the heart. He abhorreth evil. You see how Job defended hiinfelf againit the accusations of his friends, held fast his integrity, and would not let it go; but no sooner did God speak to him in the greatness of his power, than he confelled his vileness, and laid his hand upon his mouth. In the same manner, he that would guard against the impositions of a deceitful heart, that would not be abused by flattering friends, or led astray by a mistaken world ; that would rather walk in the path of penitence than security ; let him live as in the presence of God. And happy, happy they, who take confusion of face 10 themselves now, and seek for mercy through the blood of the atonement, in comparison of those who justify them. selves now, but shall liand at last with unutterable con. fusion before the supreme judge, ready to pronounce the irreversible sentence.
But there is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayest be
A FTER considering our own miserable and guilty E state, and how little any plea which we can offer will avail before the holiness and justice of God, it is proper to turn our eyes to his mercy, as the only foun. dation of our hope and peace. This is of the utmost ne. cessity to every penitent. When a sense of sin hath truly taken hold of the conscience, it is so intolerable, that no man can continue long in that condition. When the waves and billows of divine wrath are going over him, he must either faften upon fome ground of hope, or suffer shipwreck upon the rocks of despair. There are in. deed, alas that we should be so liable to delusion! many ways of weakening the force of conviction, and obtaining a temporary, imperfect, or false peace. But the only safe and stable ground of hope is the divine mercy. And hap. py the finner who obtains such discoveries of its extent and efficacy, as to make him cleave to it with undivided affection, and rest upon it as the anchor of his soul, from which he is resolved never to depart.
Believe it, Christians, the more the finner looks into his own state, the more real and thorough his acquain. tance with his own heart is, the more he finds, that not the least ray of hope can arise from that quarter. This is precisely the import of the Pfalmist's declaration in this