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SERMON XXXV.

THE REPENTANT SINNER.

LUKE XV. 8, 9, 10.

Either what woman, having ten pieces of silver, if she lose

one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house,

and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath

found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours to-

gether, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the

piece wbich I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, There

is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one

sinner that repenteth

- 398

SERMON I.

The Duty of adhering to Christianity.

JEREMIAH i. 13.

My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the

fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.

FROM the testimony of the universal history of mankind, the truth of Solomon's observation will be evident to every intelligent observer; “ This have I found, that “God hath made man upright; but they have sought “out many inventions.” Soon was the knowledge of the true God obliterated among the corrupted descendants of Adam. As the human race increased and extended itself over the face of the earth, the light of primitive revelation became more and more obscurez till, at length, darkness covered the earth, and gross darkness the people. The impious absurdities of idolatry universally prevailed. Men became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened: they changed the glory of the incorruptible God, into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. In this

Vol. II.

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state of universal degeneracy, Abraham was called from among his kindred, and his posterity was separated from the other nations of the earth; so that at least, in this one nation, the knowledge of God might be retained, and the worship offered which was due to his holy name. This people was favoured with many wonderful manifestations of the Divine greatness and glory: they were fenced in on every side by a multiplicity of laws and ordinances. But, it is painful to observe in every period of their history before the Babylonish captivity, how much inclined they were to break down every barrier, and start aside into the idolatries of their heathen neighbours. This fatal propensity subjected them to much severe reproof from God's messengers, the prophets; a striking instance of which is afforded in some of the verses immediately preceding the text. To render their ingratitude and fu folly the more conspicuous, the prophet recounts the former manifestations of God's power and goodness: 1 * Thus saith the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers ati “ found in me, that they are gone far from me, and this * have walked after vanity, and are besome vain? * Neither said they, Where is the Lord that brought us kalba “ up out of the land of Egypt, that led us through the le “ wilderness through a land of deserts and of pits, " through a land of drought, and of the shadow of « death, through a land that no man passed through, " and where no man dwelt? And I brought you “ into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof, and * the goodness thereof; but when ye entered, ye defiled * my land, and made mine heritage an abomination. * The priests said not, Where is the Lord? And they e that handle the law knet me not: the pastors also

“transgressed against me; and the prophets prophe

" sied by Baal, and walked after things that do not : "profit.” Great must have been the ingratitude and

stupidity of that people, who could forget the kindness i of such a bountiful benefactor, and disregard the power

of the Almighty Protector. Men are commonly ex

tremely tenacious of the rites of their religion ; but the : fickleness of the Jews was equal to their other vices:

thus the prophet proceeds in a strain of still more aggravated reproof; “Hath a nation changed their

gods, which are yet no gods ? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. “Be astonished, Oye heavens, at this; and be horribly " afraid; be ye very desolate, saith the Lord. For my “people have committed two evils; they have for“saken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed “ them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no " water,"

It is scarcely necessary to remark, that in the figurative language of sacred Scripture, the grace and goodness of God to his people are frequently represented under the image of fountains of living water. To the inhabitants of a sultry clime, such allusions must have been made with peculiar efficacy. Could people in such circumstances ever be induced to quit the copious fountain of pure and refreshing water, and depend upon the broken cistern that would inevitably fail in the moment of their greatest necessity ? Such is the rashness, so great is the absurdity of those, who relinquish their dependance on God, the only never-failing source of bliss to intelligent and immortal creatures, and seek for happiness among the perishing gratifications of this earth.

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