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fore me in this house, shall you all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ: not in a mixed assembly as we are here, good and bad together, without any visible distinction, but in separate companies; the people of God by themselves, and sinners by themselves. Greatly as you may despise the saints now, you would give all the world, and ten thousand worlds, if you had them, to be one of them at that awful period. But then it will be too late. Behold now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation. This is your seed time. Improve the precious season ; “ for what a man soweth, that shall he also reap.“-He that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption ; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary of well doing; for in due time we shall reap, if we faint not O! What a joyous, glorious harvest will that be! The saints being carried off the field in single sheaves, the greatness of that event is now but little considered. But when we come to the general assembly and church of the first born, and see all the people of God collected together, without any tares among them, we shall find them to be a multitude which no man can number. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. But then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He that hath an ear, let him hear, what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
THE YEAR OF RELEASE.
A New-Year's Sermon.
DEUT. xv. 9.
The year of release is at hand.
When this day came in sight, I was for some time debating with myself what should be the subject of the New-Year's Sermon. I considered whether I should particularly address those who are entering upon the world, or those who are speedily going out of it. When I thought of the number of young persons belonging to this congregation, and observed the general disposition of their minds, and tenor of their lives, my eye affected my heart, and I could turn my attention to no other subject. I will go, thought I with myself, and tell them of their sin and their danger. I will assure them, that the pleasures which they are now so eagerly pursuing, will, in the end, bite like a serpent, and sting like an adder. I will tell them of Jesus, and the riches of grace; and as an ambassador of Christ, as though God were beseeching them by me, I will pray them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God.
So I at first thought of doing; though, if I had done so, I am not sure that any of you would have
regarded me. But when I looked round again, and observed what a number of old and infirm people are among us, I determined to give them what imme. diate help I was able; and I believe, that as to many of them, I could not have come with more comfortable tidings than this of our text, “ The year of release is at hand.”
I need not tell you, that every seventh year, among the Jews, was, by divine appointment, a year of release. The land rested from tillage, and all debts were cancelled. But in every fiftieth year, there was a still more general release ; for then all servants who had been sold, regained their liberty; and those inheritances that had been either forfeited or mortgaged, returned free to the original proprietor. This year was ushered in with the sound of a trumpet, and other demonstrations of joy; and the approach of it brightened the countenance, and gladdened the heart, of the poor and the prisoner. In allusion to this, Christ says,
“ The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind; to set at liberty them that are bruised; to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” Without confining myself to the strict meaning of the text, as here introduced, I rather propose to consider death as the Christian's release; and then you will easily perceive, what pleasure it must give to the believer, who is ready and waiting for his discharge, to be told, that the year of release is at hand. For, in the first place, they shall be released from all labour and sorrow.
“ I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord, from henceforth ; yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours." They know little of religion, who think that a Christian has nothing to do. When Christ first calls us, he says, “ Go, work to day in my vineyard.” There is not only a great variety of employments, but that which requires much application and labour. To mortify sin is difficult work. Let the natural man attempt it, and he will find that he may as well stop the sun with his finger, or the tide with his foot, as check the torrent of his impetuous passions. To keep the heart is difficult work; for it is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; and, if not well looked after, will start aside like a broken bow, even in the most solemn acts of religion. To resist the devil is difficult work. To find out his devices, and guard against them, and especially to quench his fiery darts, is hard indeed. In short, to be always in a suitable disposition for duty, and to maintain a lively temper in it, is difficult work. But courage, Christians, the year of release is at hand. In heaven there will be much service, but no kind of labour. They rest not, day nor night, from rapturous adorations; and yet feel no fatigue; for the joy of the Lord is their strength.
But I said also, that you shall be released from sorrow, as well as from labour. The sources of present grief, are almost innumerable. There are personal, and family and national troubles: and these sometimes follow one another so quickly, that our tears are hardly dried up for one, before another calamity comes, and sets us a weeping afresh; so that many
have tears for their meat, night and day. But cou. rage, Christians, the year of release is at hand, when they that sow in tears, shall reap in joy. Then the voice of lamentation, and bitter mourning, shall be heard no more at all: and in the most exalted sensė of the words, " the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with songs; and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads. They shall obtain joy, and gladness; and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
Secondly. There will be a release from sin.
“ A release from sin,” cry some; “ where is the privilege of that? We wish not to part with it so soon; it is the only pleasure that we have. It is irksome enough to be obliged to associate with the saints, as you call them, for an hour or two, now and then: but to be shut up amongst such people, and see nothing but devotion going forward for years, for ages together; if that be heaven, we desire not to be there; and if you call that a release, we should soon long to be released again.” But my business is not with such now: I can only wonder at, and weep over their depravity and danger.
I am speaking to Christians, who are “ renewed in the spirit of their minds, and are made partakers of a divine nature.” And to such, sin is the source of their bitterest sorrows. Bodily infirmities, and worldly losses and disappointments, they often bear without being moved. They can sometimes rejoice in such kind of troubles, because their light affliction, which is but for a moment, works out for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. But when they perceive so much sin in themselves, the workings of depravity within, and many sad and shameful spots