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mere forbearance. Were all irreligious people struck dead in a moment, they would only be treated according to their real moral condition. This is exactly the reverse of the state of religious people. They, as much as the irreligious, have broken the law; and personally considered, deserve to have life and all its enjoyments taken from them. But they have repented, and embraced the new covenant. They are sub. jects of grace, and are interested in the promises of grace. These promises secure to them a protraction of life, so long as shall be for their real benefit, and in connection with it, the continuance of every desirable enjoyment.
20. Without religion, a person cannot be a subject of any blessing. His organs, and health and activity of body, and his faculties of mind, may be continued unimpaired, but they cannot be continued as blessings. With plenty his cup may overflow, but it can not be as a blessing. These things are favours in
, providence which call for gratitude, as they illustraté the excellency of Jehovah's character, are the opposite of what the sinner deserves, and are so many talents which may be put to dutiful use. But they do not indicate an interest in the blessing, any more than if the recipient were all the while suffering the miseries of the damned. A malefactor under sene tence of death, may have his execution respited, but the reprieve will not indicate that the government means to treat him at all as an object of its smiles, He
may be fed, comfortably lodged, and have every want supplied; but none of these things will express any satisfaction in liis character. They are consistent with a perfect detestation of it, and a resolution not to mitigate upon the whole, in the least, the seve. rity of his punishment.
Those receive gifts from God as real blessings, and those only, who are personally the blessed. All blessings descend upon men by the new covenant.
The curse only comes by the old. They only are the blessed who embrace the covenant in which the bless ings are deposited. Abraham embraced this cavenant. God of course was Abraham's, covenant God. Hence God said to him, In blessing, I will bless. thee.' God was the covenant God of Abraham's seed. They in succession are actual recipients of the covenant. Hence they are said to be the seed which the Lord hath blessed.' Converts from the Gentile world, are Abraham's seed by adoption. They are brought into the same covenant, and become equally with Abraham himself, objects of the bless ing. For says Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians,
if ye be Christ's, then are ye Ambraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.* It is on this principle that the detail of blessings was given by Moses to the people of Israel, as recorded in the 28th-ch. Deut. And it shall come to pass. if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his com mandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations. of the earth. And all these blessings shall come on thee and overtake thee. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and bleesed thou shalt be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall command his blessings upon thee in thy store houses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto, and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." In similar language the Psalmist declares, Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the
seat of the scornful ; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law doth he meditate day and night. ' And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that bringeth forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doth shall prosper.' The Prophet inculcates the same sentiment. • Blessed is the man who trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is.' This evidence may be suficient to conclude that the blessing is appropriate to those who are subjects of religion. But I cannot suppress the emphatic benedictions pronounced by our Saviour, in the beginning of his ser, mon on the mount. · Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the neek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.' The Christian is here designated
. in the governing affections of his heart, and the lead. ing traits of his character. On him therefore, the blessing rests, and on him only. The unbelieving sinner does not receive it, says the Psalmist. the ungodly are not so, but are as the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congrega. tion of the righteous.' The favors which the wick. ed receive do not come in a covenant channel. They testify to no union between God and them. They are not pledges of fatherly love, as those are which are conferred upon the pious. They present no evidence that God designs their good. They may be merely a sávour of death unto death. They may contribute only to hasten and augment their final destruction. For when the wicked spring as the grass,
and when all the workers of iniquity de flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever,? Which leads me to observe,
3d 1 hat he who is destitute of religion is subjected to the positive curse of God's law. This curse rests upon him at all times, and however employed, and it attaches to all he coes, possesses, and enjoys. The curse is the reverse of the blessing. It is the portion of the sinner's cup. It expresses the abhorrence God entertains of his character. being under the law, he is necessarily under the curse. • Cursed is every one who continueth not in all things written in the book of the law to do them.' In the chapter in Deut. where the blessing has been quoted we find the curse following the rebellious, and never leaving them till they are finally destroyed. But it shall come to pass, if thou shalt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day, that all the curses shall come upon thee and overtake thee, cursed shalt thou be in the city and cursed shalt thou be in the field, cursed shall be thy basket and thy store. Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep. Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The Lord shall send upon thee Cursing, vexation and rebuke, in all that thou puttest thine hand unto for to do, until thou perish quickly.' 'cursed' says the prophet is the man who trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.' The New Testament speaks in language equally strong to this purpose; nay much more alarming. He who believeth not is declared to be condemned already. The wrath of God is said to abide on him. Expressions of terror are multiplied, as if it were difficult to find words sufficiently
significant, to convey a just idea of the weight of that curse which rests upon the irreligious. Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doth evil, upon the Jew first and also upon the Gentile.' Thus the curse goes side by side with the blessing. As sure as the latter rests upon the religious; the former rests upon those of an opposite character. It fastens upon them immoveably. It is a burden which, when eternity pours its light upon their minds, they will not be able to bear. It will sink them to the depths of wretchedness. To have the wrath of the immutable Jehovah abide upon a defenceless creature, for a million of years would be dreadful. Who could support the thought of only having his finger held in the flame of a candle for so long a period? What a doom, deeply to be deprecated, to be condemned with Dives, even for this pe. riod, to sigh out the mournful complaint, I am tormented in this flame. But the everlasting continuance of this distress is the thing which adds a thousand fold to the horrors of it. From this curse religion delivers us. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.' Inval ulable possession! Indeed it is our life.
4th. Religion is our life as it is the only thing which can make us morally and spiritually what we ought to be. There is a death, my brethren which is spiritual, as well as a death which is natural and eternal; I mean the soul's bereavement of the moral image of God, its destitution of that love which his law requires, and its voluntary bondage to sin and satan. To be carnally minded, the apostle tells us, is death. You hath he quickened, again he observes, who were dead in trespasses and sins. He who lives in pleasure, is said to be dead while he liveth. The moral recovery of the soul to God is denominated, on the other hand, life,
To be spiritually minded is life and peace.' A res