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1 Timothy, ii. 7.
Consider what I say, and the Lord give thee understanding in
all things. M ANY and fierce have been the controversies, to which the subject, that I propose to consider at this time, has given occasion ; yet, nothing, I assure you, is farther from my intention than to introduce among you a disputatious spirit. My design is rather to convince you, there is much less ground for difference than is generally imagined, and to lead you from that uncertainty of mind, which usually attends the study of human opinions, to the firm persuasion of truth, which has been established upon the declarations of Him, who has been pleased to reveal his will for our instruction, edification, and comfort.
The text may be divided into two parts, suggesting, į
I. The Duty of consideration.
II. The Blessing, which will attend it, viz. that the Lord will give an understanding in all things. Let me then speak, nda Ist. Of the duty of consideration. Man is a Being capable of receiving impressions from various objects, which are without him; and these impressions, which are called senses, are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling; but more deeply seated than these there is an understanding, where the several senses meet, and are arranged, so that he can recollect thein at his leisure, without confusion, and can meditate upon them, with satisfaction or disgust, according as he finds them good or evil, pleasurable or otherwise. What would be his condition, if he were left to follow their impulse, and to embrace whatever can contribute to the increase of his enjoyments, may be easily conceived from the well known licentiousness of certain characters, who seem to think themselves created only to gratify their passions, and arrogantly ask-" Who is Lord over us?” But, happily, man is not left without control. God has required his creatures to regulate their lives by certain laws, which he has appointed. He has shewn them the reasonableness and advantage of a strict conformity thereto, has encouraged them to perse. vere in the paths of holiness and righteousness, and has opened to them a prospect of a glorious immortality, which will abundantly repay them for all the pains and labours they may
endure in the world below. Moreover, as this view of immortality, which God has been pleased to reveal, is brought to light by the Gospel, a vast field of contemplation lies open to the believer, in which there is an amazing display of the wisdom, goodness, and love of God, sufficient to rejoice his heart, and to induce him to open his mouth in never ceasing songs of praise. On the other hand, to the rejecters of this gospel, and to the contemners of this grace, revelation is made of another state most melancholy, and most deplorable a state of banishment from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; a state of weeping, and wailing, and exquisite misery; in short, a state of condemnation, where the worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched. How to avoid this state of torment, and to obtain that state of glory, of which I have just been speaking, we have given us, by the mercy of God, very particular directions, and so clearly and distinctly are the two roads, leading to life, and to destruction, marked, that it is impossible for any one, who is not most stupidly careless and inattentive, to mistake the one for the other. We have, nevertheless, authority to say, that “ broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat."* But why so ? The reason is just given. It is through inconsideration, and such inconsideration, as must be deemed a crime of no small magnitude, for never did any system of religion, nor, indeed, any system whatever, abound with such objects to arrest attention, and to excite emotions of wonder, gratitude, and love, as the Christian dispensation. It is a scheme most undoubtedly worthy of all acceptation. It ought almost continually to occupy our thoughts, and to be the subject of our daily conversation. Consider then, my brethren, the important things, which the Scriptures offer for your contemplation; and
* Mat, vii. 13.
1. What is the nature of your Souls, or of your whole Being. You were created holy and happy: you were endowed with capaci. ties for the enjoyment of God; and, blessed with his favour, you might have lived for ever. In this state of felicity was the first man, and great were the privileges which he might have been possessed of; but, he sinned, and lost his happiness. With sin Death entered into the world, and death was not Adam's portion only, for it passed upon all men. Here we are now in a world of misery, subject to sorrow, need, sickness, and many other adversities. Here we cannot help perceiving, that there is something materially wrong, and that it is desirable we should be placed in a better