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to all that can lead the mind to God, as in the lifeless, spiritless forms, which he miscalls religion. "Not that he careth" for these forms-not that he is honest in his convictions, however erroneous or superstitious, that mere bodily exercise, or empty ceremonies, can benefit, or, in any way, affect, the interests of the soul. No. He stickles for the forms, merely that he may set them up against the spirit of religion; that he may uplift a standard, around which the enemies of the Gospel may rally, and collect their forces. He knows that men will have some religion; and that, if you would keep them from true religion, you must supply them with false religion. Hence, he magnifies the positive institutions of the Church, and all the external rites of formal worship, in order that he may prove how well religion may be kept up, without change of heart, or holiness of life; in order that he may substitute, for the spiritual worship of a spiritual God, empty sacrifices, offered to a name-abominations, placed before an idol of man's creating.
These are the discoveries which God can make, when he "reproves us, and sets them in order before" us; when he lays the self-approving sinner open to himself, and convicts him at the tribunal of his own conscience. But no sooner is this effectually done-no sooner is the soul brought
to the knowledge of its own character, than it has eyes to see the character of God. All His goodness is then made to pass before it-His willingness to pardon, His patience under provocation-all the miracles of His love, and all the softest attributes of His mercy, shining forth in the Gospel of His Son. Oh! my brethren, may the invitations of that Gospel reach your hearts! May they come home, with power, to the conscience of every sinner here present before God! You have been acting towards the Fountain of all goodness, in a manner that, if treated so yourself, you would call the most detestable vileness and ingratitude;—in a manner in which you would not dare to act, towards any man one step above you, in the scale of earthly greatness. You have provoked Omnipotence. You have affronted the Majesty of Heaven. You have steeled your heart against the most generous kindness. You have lived on God's bounty, and never once made any return, but indifference, coldness, and aversion. All this you have done, in the face of a Being, on whose continued support the breath you breathe depends, and who could hurl you, at each moment, into the nethermost hell. And yet,-"hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth,”—He beseeches you to be reconciled;-He invites you to his friendship;He points to his well-beloved Son, bleeding for
you upon the cross, and now calls upon you to accept of pardon in his blood; to turn from all your sins, because they are your real miseries, to receive the blissful influences of his Holy Spirit, to be happy now, that you may be happy for ever.
Will you, then, refuse these calls of a Heavenly Father, these invitations of your all-gracious God, these wonders of mercy, these miracles of love? Oh! to-day, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Resolve, this day, this hour, this moment, that you will cease from all your wanderings, in a world, where you never yet have had your hearts at ease, and return unto your rest, your happiness, and your God. Come unto Him, in a reliance solely upon your Saviour's merits. Enter into the true sanctuary of the soul, by the way now opened through the blood of Jesus:and eternity only can unfold the treasures which you will make your own; - that eternity, into whose confines you will now enter, while angels celebrate another triumph of redeeming lovewhile the morning stars sing together, and all the sons of God shout for joy, at the rescue and deliverance of one more immortal soul, from the hands of the enemy, and its glorious ascension, from the realms of darkness, into the regions of everlasting light.
ST. MATTHEW, xxiii. 5.
"BUT ALL THEIR WORKS THEY DO, FOR TO BE SEEN OF MEN."
SUCH is the severe and heavy charge, brought by our blessed Lord against the Pharisees. And would to God that the same charge did not lie now, in full force, against a fearfully large proportion, of those who call themselves Christians! But it is my painful duty, to say that it does so lie. And I am convinced that no man, who gives his full attention to the subject, could avoid agreeing with me, in this opinion. But here is the misfortune; that men are so rarely brought to give a calm and candid hearing, to any arguments delivered from the pulpit. When a jury are empannelled, to hear and determine on life or property, their whole minds are engaged; not a word, which the witnesses depose, or the counsel urge, is suffered to pass unheeded: because, here, the matter is felt to be of consequence. But, in the things that concern religion, we may speak, and the mouth of the Lord may speak should sit, not merely with the
juryman, but with the trembling
and those who attention of the
interest of the
prisoner at the bar,-these men will sit, and sit it out, because it is decent to do so: but they will be thinking of any thing, but what we are saying; and feel anxious, only, that the sermon may not be unreasonably long. But so it is, and will be, and ever must be, while men live to the world, and not to God; and value their properties and their bodies, above their salvation and their souls. But this is anticipating what I intend as the main subject of my discourse. I have said thus much, merely in hopes of securing, what I beg leave now to entreat, a fair and attentive hearing.
It is quite plain, and beyond all controversy, that the Scriptures speak of the race of man, as fallen from their first estate; as having all sinned and died in Adam; as universally in a state of corruption and depravity, of alienation from, and enmity towards, God: that they speak, not of a few, or of many, having corrupted their way; but assert, that the whole world,-excepting in the instance of those who are in Christ Jesus, and separated from the world, by the grace of the Gospel-that the whole world lieth in wickedness, and under the curse of God's broken law. the truth of this I refer you to your Bibles. Indeed no man, who reads the Scriptures, or who is a consistent member of the Church of England, can deny it.