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answered ? Who but God, the Omniscient, knows those who are saved ? For however plausible our reasonings or conjectures on the subject may be, still they are but the reasonings of fallible men, and can be of no value in determining such questions, which are after all better let alone.” It is in this way men get quit of selfexamination, making up their minds that all attempts to come to any true knowledge of the state of their souls, of their present safety, or present danger, are vain or presumptuous; they go on day by day "taking their ease in Zion,” determined, as they say, “ because no one can find out these things to take their chance." Now I will not, with such individuals as I suppose myself to be addressing, examine into the evidences of our being saved—the marks which distinguish true Christians from the world—or the methods by which believers may come to the blessed assurance that they have passed from death to life, and are saved. However important and interesting such discussions may be when judiciously conducted, it is unnecessary to enter upon them at present. The Prophet, in the words of our text, is mourning for those who are not saved. Of them alone he speaks; and it is to such that I would alone address myself. Now I wish you to consider, that however difficult it may be in any case to know who is saved, it may be very easy in a great many cases to know who are not saved. It is quite possible that we may not be able to say with certainty of any one man in the world that he is saved, and yet it is equally possible that we may be able to say with absolute certainty of many, that they are not saved. When gazing, for in
stance, on a great multitude of human beings, we cannot with certainty say of any individual before us, that he is in health, while we may be able to say with certainty of many others in the crowd, that they are not in health. That man who looks so robust and strong, appears to be well; and he may in truth be so; but it is quite possible that a deadly disease at that moment is lurking in his vitals, which will speedily lay him in the grave. All we can say with certainty of such a person is, that he appears to be in health, and that, for aught we know, he is so. But while in this case we may be mistaken, we cannot be so in the case of that man, with the palsied step and feeble body-of that other with the pained countenance and pale cheek_and of that emaciated form with feverish 'pulse and hectic flush; those are certainly not in health.
The evidences of good health may have deceived us; but in such evidences of bad health we cannot be deceived. So is it with the state of the soul. We may, in many cases, be deceived with apparently the best evidences of piety; yet in many more cases we may never be deceived with the certain evidences of impiety. Here, for instance, is a man whom we have long known; and the more we have become acquainted with him—the more we have had fellowship with him in public and private the more we have watched and studied his sentiments and character, and seen how he discharged the various duties of life ;—so much the more did the conviction grow upon us, that he was a godly man-a man who loved the truth, and was in earnest, desiring to serve God-or, in other words, that he was saved.
Yet it is possible that in such a case we may be de. ceived. We may have mistaken profession for principle, and feeling for faith. We may thus be deceived regarding ourselves. But, on the other hand, there are cases concerning which we can have no doubt whatever. There, for instance, is a man who does not even profess to believe in Christ, or pretend to respect the Scriptures. He openly blasphemes Christ's holy name, ridicules his words, and rejects him as the Saviour of sinners-that infidel is certainly not saved. There is another man who professes to believe; he is seen in the house of God and at a communion-table; but then, with all this profession, he is known in the market-place to be a dishonest man, or he is given to habitual lying, or swearing, or drinking, or cruelty, or bad passion, or uncleanness. He is a bad husband, or a bad father, or a bad master; he is, in short, a “worker of iniquity;" and if so, he is certainly not saved. Here, again, is one who is far better than either of those, a soberliving, honest, kind, charitable man. His family and friends love him; the neighbourhood respects him. But though a “sober and righteous,” he is evidently not a godly man. He is never for instance found at the Lord's Table, seldom in the house of God. He speaks irreverently and slightingly of sacred things ; there is nothing he does which a professed infidel might not do without deceit. It is impossible to resist the conclusion forced upon us by innumerable acts and omissions in his daily life, that he does not “live by faith in the Son of God,” and is not “led by the Spirit,” and that accordingly he is not saved. In all such cases there is the presence of some positive vice which is the sure mark of Christ's enemies, or the absence of some grace which is never wanting in Christ's friends ; and this warrants us in saying of such that they are not saved. We may entertain hopes of those who appear godly which are never to be fulfilled ; but we cannot, while they remain in their present state, have any hope of those who are certainly ungodly. Far be it from us to insinuate, that such cannot be saved; all we say of them is, that they are not saved yet. Saved they may be, ere the day of grące ends; but if temporal death seizes them while thus dead in trespasses and in sins, eternal death must be their only and final portion. You thus perceive that it may be difficult or impossible to know who are saved, when it may be very easy to point out many who are not saved.
But we have been applying this principle of examination to others. We may apply it much more easily to our individual selves. We have seen how truly we may discover the danger of many around us, whose defects are apparent, whose disease is visible to every eye. Those defects, however, must be apparent, the disease must be visible before we are warranted in concluding that they exist. But when we examine ourselves, we require no such open and glaring evidence of guilt to enable us to come to a true judgment of our danger. We can only judge of others by appearances ; but we may judge of ourselves by what we know to be realities, though perhaps concealed from every other eye but the eye of God. Conscience may lift up its awful voice and pass most
righteous sentence, and say to us “not saved,” when no human voice dare say this of us. We may gather such evidence, from the daily and habitual doings and neglects of the inner man, as may justify us in most truly condemning ourselves, at a time when the doings of the outer man would not justify others in condemning us. So that while our profession and practice may deceive the pious, they may not be able to deceive ourselves—while they may defy the scrutiny of the world, their hollowness and want of principle may be speedily detected by the searching eye of our own minds during a few minutes passed in honest self-examination. When I, for instance, hazard the assertions—that you do not love God; that you do not love Christ; that you are never constrained by love and gratitude to do their will; that you do not love Christians because they are Christians ; that you do not “strive,” or “fight,” or “ labour,” or do anything like this to save your soul; that you do not pray in secret; that you are not conscious of ever having gone, as a lost sinner, and pled with God, for Christ's sake, to pardon you, and to help you with his Spirit to lead a holy life : you cannot perhaps, but admit that I am speaking the truth. Nay, if I went farther, and charged you with specific acts of sin, habitually committed, while you know that " they who do such things cannot inherit the kingdom of God,” it is possible that conscience would plead guilty to this, as well as to the other charges; and, if so, then is it certain that you are not saved. Open the Word of God, and see if every page does not stamp your outer and inner life as that of one who has not