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Because by carnal gratification their heart is waxed gross; because by wilful inattention their ears have become dull of hearing; because through aversion to the light their eyes they have closed. They are habitually unholy in their inclinations and purposes; and therefore have no real faith. They are the willing servants of sin; and therefore belong not to God. They are Christians only in name; and therefore are not Christians.
To which of the two claffes does each of us belong? This is a question to which our own bosoms, if we fairly examine them, will scarcely fail to give a true reply. Let me separately address to persons of each class some few words of admonition.
If on searching your hearts, under a deep . conviction of the frequency and the extreme danger of felf-deception, you receive the answer of a good conscience towards God, witnessing the sincerity of your faith; be filled with gratitude to the Author of every good gift, by whom it is given unto you, as unto the Philippians, to believe on Jesus Christ (d). Thanks be to God, exclaimed St, Paul, for his unspeakęble gift (e). Was this language merely the language of his lips? It was the language of his actions; (a) Philipp. i. 29. (e) z Cor. ix. 15.,
the language of his love, of his zeal, of his patient endurance, of his unceasing toil, of his multiplied sufferings, of his triumphant death. Constrained by the love of Christ, he lived unto Christ. Live ye unto Christ, who has died for you also. Give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. Reflect what numbers have been found in all ages of the Christian church, who, after they had walked for a time in the ways of righteousness, have returned unto the world which they had abandoned, have become the slaves of sin which they had renounced. Demas, faith St. Paul, bath forsaken me, having loved this present world (f). That Demas, who had been the companion of the Apostle in his pilgrimage and his ministry, forfook him. How many has the love of the world, the love of ease, the love of gain, the love of power, the love of human praise, persuaded, like Demas, to turn their backs upon Christ! Reflect on the peril attendant on every step, when, ceasing to climb the path which points towards heaven, the unhappy victim of temptation turns down the steep which leads to destruction! Reflect on the detriment to the general interests of religion,
(F) 2 Tim. iv. 10.
the the scandal to the Christian name, the difcouragement of the pious, the exulting scoffs of the wicked, occasioned by the fall of those who have been considered as established examples of the faith! Be not highminded, but fear. Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed left he fall. Look back on the numberless instances of transgression which your lives have exhibited since you have professed to be followers in earnest of Jesus Christ. Look back on the instances, equally surpassing number, of wasted opportunities, of neglected duty. Call to mind your coldness in prayer, your languid application to religious study, your leaning to the world, your proneness to give way to ensnaring customs, your unchastised tempers, your secret and besetting sins. Whatever may have been your Chriftian progress; do you not even yet discover within your heart so much of the power of evil, that you have reason daily to shudder left you should be altogether overcome? If you have hope that you are a lervant of Chrift;- rejoice in your hope: but rejoice with trembling. Diftrust yourfelf: rely wholly upon God: pray without ceasing: be not weary of well-doing: and you shall be strengthened and upheld by all
sufficient grace. This is the victory which overcometh the world, even your faith (8).
If there are thote among you who practically believe not; let them mark the full enormity of their guilt. Wo unto thee, Chorazin, laid our Lord; Wo unto thee bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in fackcloth and ashes. I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of Judgement than for you (h). In this denunciation of our blessed Saviour, read his warning to yourselves. To you the things of eternal life, though you believe them not, have been spoken. To you, though you reject them, they have been unremittingly declared. To you, though you have closed your eyes, they have been displayed in the Scriptures. To you, though you have shut your ears, they have been unceasingly proclaimed by the ministers of the Gospel. To you God has offered the mercy, though you have thrust it away, of being converted and healed. How many uninstructed Heathens, lying like Tyre and Sidon of old, in darkness and the shadow of death, would long ago have glorified God
(8) 1 John, v. 4. (b) Matth. xi. 21, 22.
by repentance in fackcloth and ashes, if the light of divine truth, which has been poured upon you in vain, had been vouchsafed unto them! How many idolaters would have broken, and burned their images; while you have cherished the idols of your heart! How many favages would have relinquished their cruel and abominable practices; while you have strengthened your self in your wickedness! How many would have turned unto God, while you have disobeyed his call! How many would have laid down their lives for the faith of Christ; while you have crucified the Son of God afresh, and trodden under foot, as an unholy thing, the blood of the covenant wherewith you were sanctified! How many would have welcomed the regenerating influence of the Holy Ghost; while you have hardened your hearts, and done despite unto the Spirit of grace! They who have finned without the Gospel shall be judged without the Gospel; they shall be judged according to the dispentation under which they were placed. But if with underitandings convinced of the truth of Christianity, we remain adverse in heart to its fanctifying power; if with the unclouded blaze of evangelical light before us