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be healed; by which a distressed soul, sinking under the burden of guilt and tottering on the brink of despair and darkness, may look up to heaven, and catch a ray of celestial hope and consolation.
But whilst I warn those who are grown old in sin, to consider the danger of their situation, let me earnestly intreat you, who are yet untainted with guilt, to reflect, how much better it is never to be brought to this humiliating state of shame and grief; how much better it is to remember your Creator in the days of your youth, than to be compelled to drink the dregs of that cup of trembling, which ever must be the portion of the wicked. And may that God who heals the broken heart, inspire you with such a measure of his Holy Spirit and protecting influence, that you may be able to escape those fiery trials, which are ever the lot of mortality in this world of change, and chance, and sin!.
Deut. xxx, 19.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against
you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing : therefore chuse life, that both thou and thy seed may live.
W HOEVER is at all acquainted with the
nature and constitution of man, must know, that he is a free, rational, and moral agent: he has an understanding to distinguish between good and evil; he has a will to chuse or refuse either; and he has liberty to act in conformity to his choice. Nor let it be imagined, that this idea of the constitution of mari is, like many others, matter of mere philosophical speculation, in which the bulk of mankind have no interest or concern: for, on these powers and privileges are suspended both the present
and eternal welfare of every man living : they are to be the guides of his conduct in life: they are the foundations of his expectations in eternity; for, as they may be improved to our advantage here, so also they may be abused to our destruction hereafter. However, to prevent this abuse, the God whe gave them, has done all that could be done to free creatures. He hath shewed us the consequence of our actions ; he has taught us by the use of reason and by the voice of revelation, that virtue will make us happy, and vice miserable ; that virtue will be attended with a blessing, and vice followed by a curse; that virtue will ensure life, and vice bring on death. After setting these things plainly before us, God hath left us to chuse whether we would.
In this state man was left under the Jewish dispensation, as appears from the words of the text.
In this state, too, we are left under the dispens sation of Christ. Our blessed Lord and Master hath done all that could be done, on his part, for our salvation. He hath set our duty before pis in the clearest terms, and enforced it by the strongest motives. Having shewed us what is
good, he invites us to practice it: He calls upon us not to be wanting to ourselves ; he says, “ This do, and thou shalt live:” thereby plainly declaring, that, though he came down froin heaven that we might have life, yet it depends' upon our own choice, whether we will accept of the gracious offer or not; life is promised to oue obedience, death is threatened to our disobedience: both are set before us, and we must chuse which of the two we will have.
Thus we see, únder both the Jewish and Christian dispensation, infinite mercy has been offered and vouchsafed to sinners : and yet to many-under both, strange as it may sound, infinite mercy has been offered and vouchsafed in vain. In the Old Testament, the Almighty says of Israel, “ I have cleansed you, and you are “ not cleansed;" that is, I have given you all the means that could be given to make you clean, but ye have not applied them.-" What « could have been done more to my vineyard. " that I have not done unto it? Wherefore " then, when I looked that it should bring “ forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes ?"“ Why will ye die, ( house of Israel! As I “ live, I have no pleasure in the death of him " that dieth :-Oh! Israel, thou art destroying " thyself!"