Page images
PDF
EPUB

plans as to certain events, prefumption which he had already fhewn to be the height of folly, is equally to be ftigmatifed as guilt. But now ye rejoice in your boaftings: all fuch rejoicing is evil. The prefumptuous men, to whom his epistle was in the first inftance addreffed, prided themselves in their felf-dependence; and openly took pleasure and triumphed in their vain-glorious boastings, Well would it have been for the Chriftian world, if the spirit of those vaunters had died with them! Well is it for yourselves, if no portion of it has defcended unto you! Every degree, even the fmalleft degree, of fuch triumph, of such confidence, is fin. For what is it, but to exalt man against his Maker; to gratify human arrogance at the expence of the glory of God? Is it not fin to refuse unequivocally to fubmit yourself to the government of infinite power: of that infinite power which moulded you out of nothing, and conferred upon you thofe very faculties which you are employing as inftruments of disobedience? Is it not fin to refuse to resign yourself to the direction of infinite wifdom: of that infinite wisdom which has unceasingly displayed itself in providing for your welfare; and has devised for your deliverance from fin and death eternal, a plan of redemption fo ftupendous

as

as to fill the hofts of heaven with admiration and amazement? Is it not fin to refuse joyfully to acquiefce in the determinations of infinite goodness: of that infinite goodness which is every moment miniftering to your comfort; which drew down the Son of the Moft High from the bofom of the Father, to die for you, while you were yet enemies, that He might reconcile you to God by His blood? Where is rebellion, where is pride, where is ingratitude, if not here? Where is your faith in God, if you hesitate unrefervedly to confide in Him? Where is your reverence for Him, if you scruple any token of obedience? Where is your humility, if you abase not your own judgement before His counfels? Where is your refignation, if you furrender not all your wishes to His choice? Where is your patience, if you are not content to await His pleasure? Where is your fortitude, if you shrink from bearing the abfence of that which He fees fit to withhold, the lofs of that which He fees fit to take away? Where is your love for Christ, if you decline any fubmiffion, any facrifice, for His fake? Where is the fpirit of a Chriftian, if you daringly form plans, or boastfully proclaim them, as though you were independent of God? Where is the imitation of your Lord,

Lord, if you refufe to pray, like Him, in the fincerity of your foul; Father! Not my will

but thine be done?

V. The inspired penman, having thus fet forth the proneness of men prefumptuously to promise to themselves the fuccefs of distant schemes and undertakings, the folly and the finfulness of fuch conduct, and the fubmiffive and pious temper of mind with which the plans and purposes of a Chriftian must be accompanied; concludes the fubject with a most important admonition. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to bim it is fin. The knowledge of our duty, fince the Giver of good gifts offers to all men ability to perform that which they know him to require, takes away all pretences for not performing it, and leaves us without excufe. If I had not come and spoken unto them, faid Chrift, they had not had fin: but now they have no cloke for their fin. If ye were blind; you had not the natural capacity of understanding your duty, or if you had never posfeffed the means of afcertaining the will of God; ye fhould have no fin. But now ye fay, We fee: therefore your fin remaineth (1). Ignorance, not if it be wilful, but if it be un

if

avoidable,

(7) John, ix.

41. XV. 22.

avoidable, is an apology for neglect and tranfgreffion. The times of fuch ignorance. God may have winked at. But now commands he every man every where to repent. You may have been, and it is probable that moft of you have been, of the number of those who have again and again committed that very fin, concerning which St. James difcourfes in the paffage which you have heard. Reflect, and call yourfelves to an account. Confider whether you have not indulged yourselves in the habit of laying plans including a large space of time, and of looking forward to expected events ftill at a distance, without a due and lively fenfe of the uncertainty and the shortness of life, the vanity of all worldly wisdom, and the perpetual changes, impoffible to be forefeen by man, to which all human affairs are every moment exposed; in a word, without a faithful and lively recollection of the overruling providence of God, a cheerful submission to His counfels, and a grateful dependence on Him alone for ftrength, protection, and fuccefs, Confider whether your language, when you have communicated your designs to others, has not been a counterpart, in fpirit if not in expreffion, to that of the beafters in the days of St. James, who arrogantly declared their intentions of going to traffic

I

traffic for a year in this or in that city with as much confidence as though there had not exifted a God to controul or to cut them off. Confider whether, if on fuch occafions you have introduced fome mention of reference to the divine pleasure and permiffion, the expreffion of refignation and dependence has flowed warmly from your heart; or has been a cold and formal phrafe produced only to Luftain a decorous appearance among men. Does your confcience reply that in fpirit and in language you have refembled those children of pride? I fear that you have little to plead in extenuation on the ground of ignorance. In this country, and in your fituation, you cannot have remained venially ignorant of your duty. In this country, and in your fituation, in proportion as you have been ignorant, you have been ignorant wilfully. Humble yourselves therefore and repent. In the fincerity of humiliation and penitence fupplicate the Father of mercies, that through the atonement and the interceffion of the Lord Jesus your fin may be blotted out that for His fake the prefumptuous devices of your heart and the boaftful language of your lips may be forgiven; and that grace may be bestowed upon you by the Holy Spirit to preserve you from repeat,

1

« PreviousContinue »