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out of the reach of all, who wish and endeavor to in. struct and reform them. But if they are to be pitied, how justly are those children and youth to be condemned, who follow their example, instead of following the instructions and admonitions and examples of their pious parents!
A PUBLIC PROFESSION OF RELIGION.
Isaiah xliv. 5--- One shall say, I am the Lord's ; and another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.
This chapter begins with a prediction of the future prosperity and increase of the church of God.
“ Now hear, O Jacob, my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen. Thus saith the Lord that made thee, and formed thee from the womb, Fear not, O Jacob, my servant; and thou, Jesurun, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground ; I will pour my Spirit up
l on thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring--And they shall spring up as among the grass, as willows by the water courses. One shall say, I am the Lord's ; another shall call himself by the name of Jacob; and another shall subscribe with his hand unto the Lord, and surname himself by the name of Israel.” Here is a representation of a large and copious effusion of the divine Spirit upon persons of all ages, but more especially upon the young, who resemble the flowers, that adorn the face of the earth. And it is plainly intimatedthat this divine influence should produce one and the same happy effect upon the hearts and conduct of all, who should be the subjects of it. It should
dispose them to make a public profession of religion, and bind themselves to be the Lord's forever. And since the same cause will naturally produce the same effect, we may justly conclude,
That those, who become the subjects of special grace, will choose to join the church, and enter into covenant to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. I shall,
I. Describe the subjects of special grace ;
II. Show what is implied in their professing religion, or entering into covenant with God ; And,
III. Show why they will choose to join the church and enter into covenant with God.
I. I am to describe the subjects of special grace.-We often speak of the common and special influence of the divine Spirit. The most thoughtless, stupid, unawakened sinners are the subjects of the common influence of the divine Spirit. It was by his common influence, that he strove with the old world before they were overthrown and destroyed. It was by his common influence, that he strove with the sinners in Zion in the days of their deep declension. And it is by his his common influence, that he now strives with sinners in general. There are scarcely any sinners, but what are, more or less, the subjects of the common influence of the Spirit. He often restrains, reproves, and condemns them, by various means on various occasions. Almost every sabbath, and even every day, he awakens some momentary fear or conviction in their minds. But these common momentary alarms make no abiding impressions on their minds, because they are able to resist such weak and momentary strivings of the spirit. And though he sometimes strives more powerfully and constantly ; yet so long as he does not produce any radical or essential change in the nature of their moral exercises, they continue to resist and stifle convictions, and maintain there enmity, opposition, and selfishness. The common influence of the Spirit never produces the least degree of grace
in the heart. This has always appeared, when God has poured the largest effusions of the Spirit. Multitudes were awakened under John the Baptist's preaching, under Christ's preaching, and under the apostles' preaching, who never repented, and embraced and professed the gospel. They were the subjects of only the common influence of the Spirit, which produced no saving change in their hearts. But when God operates by his special influence, he not only awakens and convinces sinners, but slays the enmity of their hearts, by producing new and holy exercises, and turning them from selfishness to pure, disinterested love to God. The subjects of his special grace become new ereatures. Their stony heart is taken away, and a new heart is given them. They become new creatures. Old things pass away and all things become new. They love God, whom they hated; and hate sin, which they loved. They renounce the things of the world, the men of the world, and the spirit of the world. They experience the fruits of the Spirit ; which are love, joy, peace, gentleness, faith, meekness, and every holy and virtuous affection. Such are the characters of true converts, or the subjects of special, saving grace. I now proceed to show,
II. What is implied in their professing religion, or entering into covenant to walk in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. They are represented in the text, as making a public profession of religion, and ratifying their profession by subscribing a covenant or some solemn obligation to fulfil their engagements to the Lord. The public profession of religion under the Mosaic dispensation was a covenant transaction, in which God and his people mutually stipulated to perform certain conditions. The people stipulated to love God with all the heart, and to obey all his commands. They avouch him to be their God, or solemnly declared themselves to be the Lord's, and he avouched them to be his people, and engaged to be their God. This mutual stipulation was considered and called an oath. The people are represented as swearing unto the Lord; and he as confirming the immutability of his promise by an oath, which it was impossible for him to violate. Though covenanting with God, at this day, is not attended with the same circumstances, that attended covenanting with God under the law; yet it is essential. ly the same, and creates a bond or obligation equally and mutually binding. Those who now make a public profession of religion, consecrate themselves and all that they have to God, and solemnly engage to take his word as the standard of their faith and practice ; and at the same time, call themselves christians, and virtually, if not literally, subscribe with their own hands, to walk in universal obedience to the divine laws and ordinances. It is said, that the primitive christians