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great the crime alleged against him; but “ if we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater.”
Fourth. Your own conscience is witness against you. I appeal to this. You do indeed bear witness against yourselves. Those who are baptized do it in baptism ; for, as "the whole need not a physician, but they that are sick," so the clean need not washing, but the defiled; and he who washes admits his need of cleansing. Your attendance on Gospel ordinances is a witness against you, that you are defiled with sin ; for all these ordinances aim at the salvation of sinners. The very name Christian is a witness; for if you are a Christian, you belong to Christ, and Christ's people are those whom he saves from their sins. He came to “save his people from their sins.”
Fifth. The Sacred Scriptures are a witness. They are full of the sad truth, that you are a guilty sinner.
“ As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable, there is none that doeth good, no, not one." The Scriptures do not make one exception among all the sons of
Sixth. The preachers of the Gospel are witnesses against you, that you have sinned. This testimony is implied in the very design of their office. The apostle Paul, in his epistle to Timothy, states that the object of preachers of the Gospel should be to save themselves and others. When they preach Christ to you, they proclaim your need of him, because of your sins. When they offer you a Saviour, they in effect assert that you are lost ; for none but the lost have need of a Saviour to save them. When they preach repentance, they affirm that all have sins which render repentance necessary. When they entreat you to be reconciled to God, their words imply that you are his enemy.
And when they preach Christ to you, you must either receive or reject him. If you receive him, it is testimony that you were a sinner, and in need of him. If you reject him, you stand charged with unbelief, one of the greatest sins. “ He that believeth not God, hath made him a liar, because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son; and this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son."
Seventh. The whole creation asserts that all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. “The whole creation groaneth, and tra
vaileth in pain together until now.” And it is “the bondage of corruption,” sin, which causes the groans. The sin of man has caused it all. The beasts which you wear out with toil, to administer to your wants, or abuse to administer to your pleasures, or torment when you are angry; and the animals which you slaughter for your daily meat, all groan for your sin. And were your ears not deafened by sin, you would hear the groans of the very ground upon which you tread, the food which you eat, and the clothes which you wear. It is not the use, it is the perversion of the creation, which makes the groaning. The sun that shines upon the sinner seems to groan, that it must give light to one who uses that light as an occasion of sinning against God. The earth groans in thunders, and lightnings, and whirlwinds, and volcanoes, and earthquakes, and pestilence, and famine, and war, that its surface must bear the oppressive load of man's sin. And the food that we eat complains, that it must be perverted to serve man's lust, and give him that strength which he spends in sinning against God.
6. The stone shall
out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it."
Eighth. Finally, the judgments of God are witnesses. What has filled the earth with mi
sery and death? Can there be an instance of suffering that is not a witness of sin ?
66 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent ?" • Affliction cometh not forth of the dust, neither doth trouble spring out of the ground." And above all, the unparalleled sufferings of Christ bear the most incontestible witness to the sins of man; “for he was wounded for our transgressions." And death bears fearful testimony that man has sinned; for “ the wages of sin is death.”
None then can plead freedom from guilt till they can plead exemption from death. But as no man will pretend exemption from death, all evasions in this matter must be vain. Reader, you may deceive yourself, if you choose, up to the hour of death. But death will strip off every mask, and make you honest. It will convince you that you have sinned, and for your sins, your soul is lost.
Section III. Address to different classes of persons. The apostle John, in the second chapter of his first Epistle, includes all sorts and ages of persons in three classes, 66 little child
young men,” and “fathers;" or the young, the middle aged, and the aged. Before addressing these three classes separately, a few preliminary remarks are necessary.
ject should be to be useful here, and happy hereafter. God has appointed us our work ; and whether he has given us much or little, we are to employ it all to promote his glory in the world ; and thoughts, words, and actions, not subservient to our usefulness, or our ultimate happiness, are sinful. We were not made for ourselves alone, but for the world; and, therefore, we are to labour for the temporal and eternal good of others, as well as ourselves. And it is obvious that much of our fitness or unfitness for this end must depend upon the right or wrong management of childhood and youth. Childhood and youth are, as it were, a mould in which men are cast. Every one knows the permanence of early impressions. The Sacred Scriptures recognise the same: “ Train up a child in the
he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”
It is equally important for all to remember that the Divine “commandment is exceeding broad.” It is more than a law of external actions. We may avoid wicked external actions, and still come short of obeying the Divine commands. Not only will God “bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil;” but “every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give