Page images
PDF
EPUB

late spirits. Whatever changes take place in your earthly connexions, rejoice, “that neither tribulation, nor distress, nor persecution, nor famine; nor nakedness, nor peril, nor sword, nor life, nor death, por angels, nor principalities, por powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate you from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

With the greatest reluctance, I inix any thing that has the least appearance of severity, with so soothing and delightful a subjecta. But in order rightly to divide this word of truth, it is necessary to add,

That the destruction of the finally impenitent is inevitable.

Sinners may, flatter themselves that the Lamb of God will be ever merciful and forgiving, but can the obstinate and rebellious, the despisers of his grace, and the enemies of his cross, expect to find bim par tient and gracious ? He is, indeed, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; but let nọt the unhumbled, and the unholy, hence take encouragement. Christ has declared, that, except ye repent, ye shall all likes wise perish. He has said too, “ Those mine enemies, that would not that I should reign over them, bring them bither, and slay before me ;” and “ He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not, shall be damned.”

As these are the declarations of the Son of God, say if it be any satisfaction to you, to whom this cha: racter belongs, to know that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever? Can you hear, without confusion and trembling, that sooner shall

heaven and earth pass away, than one jot or tittle of what he has said, remain unfulfilled. Yes, sinner, the Saviour is unchangeable; and therefore, in thy present condition, thy destruction cannot be avoided. Before any man can see the Lord without holiness, or please God without faith, or stand before his throne without a garment washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb; I say, before an unbelieving and impenitent sinner can be saved, the truth of God must be changed into a lie, the faithful and true witness must be an impostor, and the righteous. Lord must have pleasure in uprighteousness. These, and a thousand other impossibilities, must take place, before hypocrites and unbelievers, the sensual and intemperate or profane, can expect the least mercy from Jesus. May the God of all grace produce a happy change in the heart of every unrenewed character ; and may you all see and enjoy such abundant manifestations of the love of a Saviouri'as will make you rejoice that Jesus Christ should be the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

Finally; for the same reason we conclude that the Christian's happiness is sure and unchangeable. He who is our life, is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever; and because he lives, we shall live also. The fountain whence we derive our bliss, is inexhaustible. When a million of ages shall have passed away, the river of the water of life will flow as purely and as freely as ever. The sun, though it has for so many years, with an astonishing profusion, been scattering his enlightening and invigorating beams through the most distant nations of the earth, yet shines as brightly as when he first was created. So

after millions of saints have, for millions of ages, been rejoicing in the view of his glory, the light of his countenance will be as reviving as in the first moment when they beheld it.

Come then, ye messengers of woe, and execute your commission. Doleful and desolating as it may be, he shall not be afraid of evil tidings, whose heart is fixed, trusting in God. Let the Sabeans fall upon the oxen and the assés, and take them away; let the fire of God burn the sheep and the servants, and the Chaldeans carry away all the camels ; let a great wind from the wilderness smite the four corners of the house where lived our dearest and most valuable friends, and bury them all in its ruins ; let disease assault our own bodies, and then let the King of Terrors finish the work which his harbingers have begun; confiding in our unchangeable Friend, we shall continue un, moved. If we have an anchor to our souls, sure and steadfast, we may take a cheerful leave of father and mother, brother and sister, and our most loved and, affectionate relatives ; we may rejoice in their deaths, and long for our own, in the joyful hope, that we shall soon receive the strongest demonstration that heaven can give, that “ Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever."

SERMON VIII.

ON WANDERING THOUGHTS IN RELIGIOUS DUTJES.

PSALM cxix. 113.
I hate vain thoughts.

The subject to which I shall now lead your atten. tion is, wandering thoughts in the duties of religion. This is an army of enemies which very much annoy the people of God. Go into what company of Christians you will, you will hear them complaining that they cannot wait upon God without distraction ; that when they would do good, evil is present with them; and that when they wish to have their thoughts most: fixed and engaged, they are most prone to wander after objects inconsistent with their immediate duty. Such a disposition of mind gives the sinner very little concern. It is rather allowed and encouraged by him, than lamented and opposed. But with reference to this evil in particular, a Christian can apply'. these words of David to himself; “I hate vain thoughts, but thy law do I love."

We shall now, therefore, consider the nature, the cause, the effects, and the cure, of wandering thoughts.

I. We shall first consider their nature.

They may be thus described: “Wandering thoughts are the disorderly motions of the soul in the time

of God's worship, by which the mind is diverted or disturbed in the performance of the duty." Let us enlarge on the several parts of this description.

Observe the time when the thoughts thus wapder: this is when we are engaged in the duties of religion. When we are thinking of our trades or our pleasures, or that of any trifling subject, we can keep our thoughts fixed for a considerable time without any perceivable deviation. Our minds are intent upon what is before us: so intent, many times, that loud talking, and a variety of noises, shall not be heeded or heard.. But in the moment when we kneel to pray, or open our bibles to read, or assemble to hear the word, or retire to meditate, a swarm of vain thoughts come down, like the fowls upon Abraham's sacrifice. This is no fiction; every one of you that knows what inward devotion means, has often

experienced the melancholy truth,

Consider what draws our thoughts thus aside.

It is something foreign to the solemn work in which we are immediately engaged. It is sometimes things that are in themselves evil and sinful; in which may be included blasphemous, unclean, proud, malicious thoughts : and in this manner, while the hearers of Ezekiel pretended that they were hearing him preach with zeal and affection, their heart was going after their covetousness. Now these things, though always vain and criminal, are doubly so at that time, because they defile our devotion. To have such impure and impious thoughts when we are in the presence of a holy and jealous God, must be a great aggravation of guilt. Sometimes the things which cause our hearts to wander, are good in themselves, but evil because

« PreviousContinue »