« PreviousContinue »
he had attained to very distinguishing improvements in religion, and had been enabled to act up in the most honourable manner, not only to the christian character in general, but to that of a minister and an apostle, he acknowledges in all his Abundant labours, that it was not he, but the grace of God that was with hin*.
If it be thus with you, my brethren, you will be Established and built up in your most holy faith †. The most agreeable hopes we form concerning you, when we see you under such serious impressions as this discourse supposes, will be answered ; and they who have spoken to you the word of God, on sueh occasions as these, will have the pleasure to think that they Have not run in vain, nor laboured in vain.I.
And now, if these directions, which I have offered to you with great plainness and freedom, but with the sincerest desire of your edification and establishment in religion, be serionsly pursued, I shall have the satisfaction of thinking, that though I might find you in the number of the unregenerate when I began these lectures, I shall carry you on along with me through the only head that yet remains to be handled ; and shall indeed address myself to you, as those who Were sometimes darkness, but are now light in the Lord §, when I proceed to address those who have been renewed by divine grace, which I promised as my last general, and with which shall conclude my discourses on this important subject. * 1 Cor. xv. 10. + Col. ii. 7. Jude, ver. 20. Phil. ii. 16. & Eph. v. 8.' SERMON X.
An Address to the Regenerate, founded on the preceding
James i. 18.
Of his own Will begat he us with the Word of Truth, that we should be a kind of First-Fruits of his Creatures.
to that address am now to con
I INTEND the words which I have now been reading, only as an introduction to that address to the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty, with which I am now to conclude these lectures ; and therefore shall not enter into any critical discussion, either of them, or of the context. I hope, God has made the series of these discourses in some measure useful to those, for whose service they were immediately intended : But if they have not been so to all, and if with relation to many I have laboured in vain from sabbath to sabbath, I cannot be surprised at it. What Am I better than my Fathers *? It has in every age been their complaint, that they Have stretched out their hands all the day to a disobedient and gain-saying people t; that The bellows have been burnt, and the lead consumed of the fire, but the dross has not been taken away: Such reprobate silver have multitudes been found 1. Yea, the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who spake with such unequalled eloquence, with such divine energy, yet met with multitudes, who were like The deaf adder, that would not hearken to the voice of the wisest charmer 8: And surely The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord |I.
When indeed we consider the infinite importance of the message we address to you, o ye perishing sinners, we hardly know how to give over, or to take a denial. We feel a strong impulse on our hearts to give Line upon line, and precept upon precept 1: As a physician that loves his patient, when he sees the distemper prevailing, and has run through the whole
dross has een burnt, ond gain sa
* 1 Kings xix. 4. Psal. Iviii. 4,5.
+ Isa. Ixv. 2. Rom. x. 21.
Jer. vi. 29, 30.
range of medicines, is ready, while life yet remains, not en. tirely to give over, but to repeat again what he had prescribed unsuccessfully before. And if God spares our lives, no doubt many of those things which I have before been urging, must in substance be repeated. But at present I will desist : I know not what more, or farther, to say: And if you are utterly unimpressed with what I have already laid before you, especially with regard to the character of the unregenerate,—the nature of regeneration,—the absolute necessity of it;-and of the divine agency in producing it ;-I know not what further to urge, and must leave you either to the grace, or the judgment of God. The time will certainly come, when you will all see, and own the importance of these things. The word of God will, in one sense or another, take hold of every soul that hears it, and perhaps on some of you, in a very terrible manner, and in a very little time. But if it do, I may say with the apostle Paul, when in token of the solemnity with which he spoke, He shook his raiment, and took leave of his obstinate hearers, I am clean from your blood *; and since you refuse to be instructed, I turn to those who will regard what I say. And thus, according to the method I at first proposed, I proceed,
Seventhly, To conclude these discourses with an address to those, who, by divine grace, are experimentally acquainted with this great work of regeneration ; to shew them how they ought to be affected with the consideration of the truths that have been offered, and what improvement they should make of such a course of sermons as you have lately been attending
Out of a general regard to the glory of God, and the good of souls, you have attended on what has hitherto been spoken to persons of a very different character ; and I hope not altogether without some sensible refreshment and advantage. But now hear more immediately for yourselves, and suffer a word of exhortation in such particulars as these,--Be thankful to God for what you have experienced :- Improve it as an en: gagement to behave in a suitable manner :-Study to promote the work of God upon the hearts of others :-And long for that blessed world, where the change that is now begun, and is gradually advancing in your souls, shall be universal and complete.-Your own wisdom and piety have, no doubt, prevented me in each of these particulars; but you will be glad to enter
* Acts xviii. 6.
more fully into the reflection, than you could do while it was intermingling itself with other thoughts. [1.] “ Return the most affectionate acknowledgments of praise
to the God of all mercy, for the experience you have had of a regenerating change."
I would now address this exhortation and charge to every one of you, who through divine grace hope you can say, that you are born again; to all who can say, that God has of his own will begotten you with the word of truth, that you may be a kind of first-fruits of his creatures. To you I would say, Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness and goodness *. Give thanks to the Father, who has made you meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light t. Join your voices, and your hearts, in the most cheerful hymns of praise, whatever your different circumstances are. Let the young and the old, the rich and the poor, the honourable and the mean, rejoice together ; if any may be called poor who are thus enriched ; if any may be accounted mean, who are thus honoured. Bless the Lord at all times, let his praise continually be in your mouths f; and endeavour to carry along with you, through the darkest road you travel, and the bitterest sorrows you taste, cheerfulness in your hearts, and praise on your tongues ; considering how important the blessing is, with which the Lord has favoured you ;-how few there are who partake of it ;-and in the midst of how much opposi. tion, the divine grace has taken hold of your souls, and wrought its wonders of love there. 1. Consider, my christian friends, “ how important this favour
is, which God has bestowed upon you,” in thus begetting you, as a kind of first-fruits of his creatures.
Justly indeed may I say, Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be regenerated by his grace, and so be called, and that with propriety, the sons of God S! Justly may I say to you, now you are assembled in the courts of the Lord, in those emphatical words of David, Oh come let us worship, and bow down ; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker ll: For It is he that has made us, and not we ourselves, with regard to this second, as well as the first creation ; and we, in consequence of it, are in the noblest
* Psal. xxx. 4.
Psal. xxxiv. I.
sense his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter therefore into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise ; be thankful unto him, and bless his name *.
My brethren, it is a favour in which the salvation of your souls is concerned ; and can that be small? Or ought it ever to be thought of but with the highest emotion, and enlargedness of heart? The gracious purposes of God towards his children are, to make every one of them Higher than the kings of the eartht, to give them more solid satisfaction than crowns and kingdoms can afford, and at length to raise them to a diadem of immortal glory. Oh what reason have you, with the apostle, to say, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again to a lively hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, even to the hope of an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation I! Survey this great privilege which God has already given you, this high security, these glorious hopes. Has he not brought the beginning of glory already into your souls? Has he not wrought you to a filial temper, and taught you to Cry Abba, Father s? Has he not, in some measure, formed and fashioned your minds to a meetness to dwell with angels and perfected spirits in heaven? So that you can now say, even with relation to that which you already feel, that. You are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God ||. You Are even now the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what you shall be li but there is enough ap- · pears, and enough known, at present, of what you shall be, and of what you are, to revive, to delight, to transport the heart.
. And is not this too, () thou afflicted soul, who art called to encounter with the most painful difficulties, enough to be the means of thy support, and to afford thee matter for thy strong consolation? You that are Tossed with tempests**, and obliged to struggle under various and long continued burdens, have you not here a joy that the world can neither be. stow nor impair, a pleasure in public and in secret duties, and a Hope which is as the anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast, entering into that within the veil +t, and so enabling you to outride these storms and tempests? How glorious does your lot appear, when viewed in the light of scripture? You are ex
+ Psal. Ixxxix. 27.
* Psal. c. 3, 4. #Eph. ii. 19.
1 John iii. 2.