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shamefully backward have we sometimes been to go into the presence of our heavenly Father.
In the work also of mortification, or suppressing and resisting our sinful desires and affections, are we not very defective ? Though we abhor what is evil, yet do we not often enter upon this duty with visible reluctance? Do we not act as if we thought his sayings hard, and his commandments grievous? And, like Lot's wife, while going one way, are we not looking another?
O Christians, I know not how to go on; though I am persuaded that he has somewhat more, and a great deal more, against every one of us. But we have heard enough to humble and confound us: and, if it had not been for what is implied in the word nevertheless, enough almost to make us call our religion in question. But that seasonable expression has here an important and encouraging meaning.
" I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience; and how thou canst not bear them which say they are apostles, and hast found them liars; and hast borne, and hast patience, and for my sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.” Ah! Christians, if our Divine Master can say all this to us, it will be some relief, under the mortifying conclusion, “ Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee. But our greatest comfort is, that we are come to the blood of sprinkling, which speaks better things than that of Abel; that we “ have not a High-priest which cannot be touched with the feel. ing of our infirmities ;” and that “ if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” “ Let us, therefore, come boldly to the
throne of grace ; that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
We have been hearing many humbling things, which Christ has to say against us; let us rejoice, that nevertheless he has somewhat to say for us. Let us consider the Apostle and High-priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, as presenting our petitions, and pleading for the success of them in some such manner as this :-“ Holy Father, keep through thine own name, those whom thou hast given me. They have many imperfections. They are too much attached to the world, and conformed to its spirit and its customs. They are not so watchful and zealous, so humble and holy, as they should be. Their faith is not so strong, their love so' warm, their conduct so circumspect and spiritual, as might have been expected from their Christian profession. Nevertheless, I have somewhat to say in their behalf. I know that their spirit is willing, though the flesh is weak; that their infirmities are lamented; and that they are never so happy as when they are under the shadow of thy wings, obeying thy will, and enjoying thy presence. Notwithstanding some instances of forgetfulness, and apparent ingratitude, they love thee sincerely; and thy law is better to them than their necessary food. Let my righteousness cover their faults; and do thou pardon every one of them, though they be not cleansed according to the purification of the sanctuary.”
If Christ thus plead for us, and the Spirit seal the blessing on our souls, we shall go from this house, though perhaps we may have been eating the passo.
ver with bitter herbs, with all the holy triumph of the Apostle, when he says, “ Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died: yea, rather that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God; who also maketh intercession for us."
A SACRAMENTAL MEDITATION ON
MATT. XXII. 11.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment.
The first mention of these words has probably startled us: indeed, they ought to alarm us, for they are awful and interesting. The table is now spread again, the invitation is published, and in consequence of it we are met together. God best knows our characters. I only say, that what happened at that feast may occur also at this; and I mention it, not to discourage timorous Christians, but to discover and discountenance those who are no Christians at all. I dare not act Nathan's part, and pointing to particular persons, say,
- Thou art the man.” I rather hope that there is not one such among us, whose heart accuses him of pretending to a character which he knows he does not possess.
Real Christians never shun an inquiry. The man who is truly sensible of the deceitfulness of his own heart, will cry out, “ Try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me; and lead me in the way everlasting.” The soul that is truly humble, and shudders at acting so basely towards his best beloved friend and Saviour, is not forward to condemn or suspect his fellow disciples ; but with a
trembling solicitude retires into himself, and humbly cries out,“ Lord, is it I ?"
In the affecting story before us, it is said, that when the guests were assembled, the King came in to see them ; and, indeed, it would have been a dull feast, notwithstanding the richness and variety of the pro-, visions, it would have been a poor entertainment, if he had not entered. But it is also said, that when the King came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not on the wedding garment. " That is what flutters my spirits, and alarms my fears; and has raised a thousand doubts, and distressing suspicions, that I am that unhappy character who has intruded, unasked, at least undressed, to this table; so that if he were to come to me, and say Friend, how camest thou in hither? I fear that I should be speech. less, and that he would make me a spectacleofhypocrisy and vengeance.
But why should I be speechless, when I have so much to say ? O let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. I was as the rest of the world are, poor, blind, halt, and maimed; wandering about in the high ways and hedges. I perceived my misery, but knew not how to extricate myself. I applied to one friend after another, and sought relief in various duties, till I was almost tempted to despair. I knew that such a feast was provided ; but I never could have thought that such a contemptible wretch could have been admitted as a guest at the table of a king; and had no hope, no expectation, but of perishing with hunger, when thy servants came out, and invited me in. Conscious of my guilt, I hesitated, and declined it. Though I desired nothing so much, yet I feared that they mighť mistake, or at