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impetuously to burst forth, endeavour to restrain them, renewing, with increased ardour, your prayers for help, and your purposes of amendment: and be assured, if with humility and godly sincerity, you steadily persevere in these methods of self-discipline, under the influence of that Holy Spirit whose powerful aid is always freely given to those that ask it; you will soon sensibly perceive a gradual, a happy change, both of mind and disposition ; the fierceness and violence of passion will daily abate ; the spirit of meekness will take possession of your breasts; you will despise the trifling disappointments and petty disturbances of this fleeting world; and vanquishing by a mightier strength, the perpetual strivings of an inherent depravity, and borne above the troubles which perplex and harass those who are unsupported by the pure faith-the blessed hope—the glorious privileges of the Gospel ;—whatsoever your trials, whatsoever your temptations, you will “glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's ;” and subduing all violent and angry emotions, and “yielding your members servants to righteousness unto holiness,” you will “purify yourselves,” even as He “which hath called you

is

pure.

Thus will you give the most unequivocal proof that you are Christ's disciples indeed l;

for thus will your whole deportment shew, that you have practically learned of Him who is “ meek and lowly of heart,” of “Him who hath loved you, and washed

sins in his own most precious blood,” even of that crucified Saviour, through whose boundless merits alone, if you “ continue faithful unto death,” ye shall find rest-eternalrest unto your souls.”

you from

your

SERMON XX.

THE SALUTARINESS OF DIVINE CORRECTION.

LAMENTATIONS III, 39.--" Wherefore doth a living man

complain, a man for the punishment of his sins ?

IT is far more easy, my brethren, for the natural man to understand the import of this expression, than to acknowledge its justice; more easy to own its justice, than to prepare the heart for that submission to the afflicting hand of God which it so forcibly inculcates. For, under trials and sufferings, is it not natural to complain? What indeed is this, but to use the expressive language which nature teaches when oppressed with woes ? Accordingly, the Prophet himself, whose words you have now heard, laments, in the most moving strains, his own and his country's calamities. But then, be it ever remembered, that grace sanctifies these lamentations, and checks them when too importunate. It is this alone which can divert our attention from the sufferings themselves, to the Cause of those sufferings; from the immediate instrument that inflicts the wound, to that just and merciful, and all-directing Agent, who in infinite wisdom, either commands or permits it. Accordingly, Jerusalem, while pouring forth her complaints in all the bitterness of soul, against her destroyers, is constrained to confess,—“The Lord is righteous, for I have rebelled against his commandments.” It is however a lamentable truth, that punishment often produces murmuring instead of submission; complaints instead of confession of sins. Hence arise the impatience of the disappointed, the factious despondency of the unsuccessful, and the discontent and repining of the poor and afflicted. Now, as these offences are alas! no less frequent, than they are unquestionably displeasing to the Divine Majesty, it shall be my endeavour, in humble reliance on God's blessing, to set before you their folly and their guilt, and to shew you why it is not for “a living man to complain, a man for the punishment of his sins."

And, first, it must be obvious to the most superficial observer, that God is the moral Governor of the world; since to some actions he has annexed certain rewards, to others certain punishments. What these actions are, men

generally know, both by their own experience, and the testimony of the whole world. As fallen, degenerate man is a sinful creature, and strongly inclined by his unruly passions to sinful indulgences, God has not only placed before him, but permits him to feel, the ruinous effects of his own vices. And as sin appears in a great variety of forms, so also does punishment. Man ofttimes feels most sensibly the guilt and enormity of his sin, by the chastisement it occasions; and then, his own iniquities become, by divine grace, an instrument for his correction. At other times, the sinner is made to suffer either from the immediate hand of God, or the instrumentality of man, such unexpected evils, as blast the most promising expectations, and embitter every human joy. And does not this entirely correspond with the general plan of divine government? Does it not plainly shew that rebellion against God deserves and occasions his displeasure ? Shall frail, mortal man, then, be more just than God, when he enters into judgment with him ? Shall he dare to complain if he suffer what his sins so justly deserve ? He murmurs at the constitution of things ; he would reverse the very nature of good and evil; and in this his folly is no less conspicuous, than were he vainly to attempt to change the courses of the sun and moon, or direct the motions of the universe.

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