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tion to rest in past supposed attainments ; must be viewed as dreadful witnesses, that you never were righteous; and that all your pretended experience is no other than the delusive and deadly work of the great adversary.
Remember, christian, you are a progressive being. It is the will of your Saviour that your triumphs over sin be not rendered, at once, complete. You are by remains of depravity, and by the powers of darkness, to be buffeted, tried, and proved. There is a * need be that you be in heaviness through manifold temptations. This divine plan of preparing you ; of preparing all the redeemed, for the world of glory, is wonderfully calculated, both to humble
to humble you, and to increase your faith in that Saviour, without whose grace you daily find, that you must perish.
It will not, therefore, 'be well with the righteous,? because he is while in the probationary world, to be preserved from all evil, either natural or moral.
But, Thirdly. Ye that through grace, possess the character, to which the promises are made, “it shall be well with you, because all the evils, both natural and moral, to which God sees it best to subject you, on earth, shall be inade the means of personal good to you. You are now in a world, whose concerns are all carried on by the instrumentality of means. Do
you ask how the evils you experience on earth can be means of good to you? The Lord claims it as his peculiar prerogative, to bring order out of confusion, light out of darkness, good out of evil.
But will he make your sufferings and deeds instrumental of your good ? Yes, ye subjects of his grace ; hear the declaration of his Holy Spirit. And we know, that all things work together for good to them that love God; to them, who are the called, according to his purpose. The affirmation is universal. "All things; all events, in your experience ; not the joyous' only, but the grevious,'
shall, in the directing hand of your Saviour, be ini struments of your welfare. They shall be made blessings to you. You will please to recollect the definition already given of a blessing. It is 'every thing which God will make the means of rendering you, through the whole of your existence, happier, than you could otherwise be.' Now you have his promise, that he will cause this to be the desirable result of all events on the state of your hearts, and consequently on your enjoyments for ever.
You are naturally too little concerned about the spiritual effect of those dispensations, which gratify your worldly wishes. They are such as disappoint and distress you ; that bring serious consideration. But both those which gratify, and those which distress, are all mingled, in the promises of God to the righteous. He tells you, that both joyous and grievous events shall all work together for your good.
But in what manner is this accomplished ? By their sanctification to your spiritual iniprovement. And when are events, both joyous and grievous, as they at present affect you, sanctified to your spiritual im
, provement ? You often, you habitually pray, that God would sanctify to you his dealings. Offered, as all evangelical prayer is, with entire submission to the Divine Counsels, it is a highly pertinent and appropriate petition. But what is the true intent of this prayer to God ? Is it that he would make every event the means of your growth in grace ;' of your progress in holiness; of increase in heavenly, minded. ness, as you go forward towards death and judgment.
The question therefore, returns. When are events sanctified to the christian's use? Then, when God makes them the means of the soul's proficiency in heavenly things. And in what does this most valuable, this holy, proficiency consist? In seeing more of the heart's vileness, together with an increasing selfabhorence, humiliation, and hatred of sin ; in a growing strength of faith on the Son of God, in more firm
ly establishing babits of prayer and devotion, in an improving tenderness of concern for the honor of God; a more vigorous affection for the commandments and service of God, in daily progressive desires after enjoyments purely spiritual and heavenly.
In these things, christians, is growth in grace' comprehended. Every divine dealing, whether of Providence or grace, and whether, to your natural wishes, gratifying or confounding, if made in Christ's hand, the means of producing these cffects, on your hearts and conduct, is sanctified to you. It is a blessing; you will be the happier for it eternally.
On the other hand, no event, however exquisite may be the present pleasure which it confers, if not thus sanctified, if not made to produce these and similar effects, deserves, in any proper sense, to be called a blessing. Unsanctified, your health, your friends, your affluence, yea, your very table would become a snare and a trap.' They may be, you have reason to fear they will be means of checking your progress in pious practice and enjoyment, and of piercing the soul with many sorrows... Beware, chrirtians, be"ware of spiritual sloth. Beware of worldly temptations. Beware of carnal enticements. They work the present destruction of holy improvement. They bring a temporary blast upon the tree of life, planted by grace in the heart. They diminish the evidence, that maintains heavenly hope. They send you mourning, to grope your way, amidst darkness, along the vale of tears. And they do this by preventing the present and complete sanctification of events to your spiritual use. You cannot, indeed, long and habitually indulge in them. You are warned, that duty for"bids your indulging in them, at all. Although God 'has bound himself, by a gracious promise, to sanctify, for good, unto all the righteous, every event, yet this abounding grace gives you no licence to continue in sin. If any person believe himself righteous in
God's sight, and yet indulge in known sin, because God has promised to sanctify all things for good unto the righteous, that person's belief is fallacious. He is no christian. His conduct is highly presumptous. Despair, so long as he holds fast his present temper of mind, ought to seize the place of his present confidence and hope. The righteous are dead to sin. * And how shall they, who are dead to sin, live with knowledge and design any longer therein.' They that are Christ's, have crucified the flesh, with the affections and and lusts.'
It shall be well,' then ' with the righteous,' because all events, all trials, all duties and sufferings, while encompassed by a nature which sin 'defiles, shall be sanctified, shall be made means of their growth in grace,' of their progress in holiness.
Ye,' whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life,' it shall be well with you, in this world. Amidst the darkness of infirmity and sin, ye shall rejoice in the light of God's countenance. When suffering pain and disappointment, ye shall have a súpporting submission to the divine will. Although earth and hell frown, ye shall rejoice,' for the Lord reigns.'
It shall be well with you,' in comparison with the openly vicious, because your love of righteousness will, through grace, effectually preserve you from the worldly miseries to which many of the wretched are subjected. Drunkenness and profanity, lying and theft, lewdness, calumny and murder, in a word, every vice and crime that can be named, if detected and proved, certainly brings evil upon the guilty person. Not a few, comprehended in this discription, are brought to the distresses of needless poverty and disease. Not a few to the infamy and wretchedness of the dungeon, the pillory, the gallows. But' from all these, righteousness is your security ; for abhoring, you will
shun both the pernicious deeds and the punishment of such evil doers.
It shall be well with you'' when your flesh and your hearts fail. Yea, though you walk through the valley and shadow of death, you will not need to fear evil, for the rod and staff of God they will comfort you.' At the bar of the eternal judge, it shall be well with you; for your souls will be found washed in that
blood, which cleanseth from all sin,' and clad in the white garments of that righteousness which is complete. There, by him who holds in his hand the retributions for eternity, will it be said unto you, • Well done good and faithful servants, enter ye into the joys of your Lord,' Yes, ye righteous, it shall for ever and ever be well with you, for you will be called to inherit the everlasting kingdom prepared for the saints of the most high God.
The subject is practical, and suggests many useful remarks. Two of these distinctly considered, shall close the discourse.
FIRST. By the instructions derived from this portion of God's word, religious people may try their experience. This is the more important, because we are told of religious people that have nothing of saving piety. This people draweth near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips they honor me, but their heart is far from me, saith the Lord." Not every one,' says Christ, that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doth the will of my father, who is in heaven. Many will say unto me, in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name have cast out devils; and in thy name have done many wonderful works: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.' The light of the great day will disclose facts dreadfully confounding to these people. It will show them, that although they had much religion, they had no true piety. Their religion kept conscience tolerably quiet, and their wicked hearts, and the adver