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which they put in the place of Christ. Ask them on what grounds they hope to be forgiven. They will tell you, because they repent of their sins ; because they are sorry for them; because they have left off some bad habits; because they have done some good actions ; because their conduct is in general decent and moral; because they are regular in discharging religious duties. But these things are not Saviours. They indeed accompany salvation, but they cannot take away sin.
They cannot reconcile us to God. It is only by the blood of Jesus, that we are brought nigh. Without an interest in his blood there is no remission. Here then let our peace be sought, where only it can be found. Let us seek it in the blood of Jesus. Let us have our hearts and consciences sprinkled with this blood. So shall we be safe from the destroying Angel. For let us remember,
3. That as “ without shedding of blood there is no remission;" so through the precious blood-shedding of Jesus there is full remission for every sin. Perhaps we tremble at the thought of our sins. The sight of them fills us with alarm. We are ready to conclude that they can never be blotted out. But let us not despair. There is power in the blood of Jesus to cleanse from all sin.
Let us wash in this fountain, and though our “ sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow : though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This is the Gospel, which is to be preached to every creature. It is preached this day to us. May we embrace it and be saved !
Lastly, let us also remember, that while through the precious blood-shedding of Christ, there is full forgiveness provided for all sin; yet it is sin confessed, lamented, and forsaken, to which alone this forgiveness will really be granted. Christ has not died to save us in our sins, but from them. None but the truly penitent will have an interest in his atoning sacrifice; for none but the truly penitent will, in fact, apply to him for pardon. Sinners, who continue impenitent, do not believe in Jesus. Consequently there is no remission for them. Let us then take heed, lest we deceive ourselves. Let us not suppose, while we wilfully retain the práctice of sin in our lives, or the love of it in our hearts, that we can have any scriptural hope in Christ. Let us show that we indeed belong to Him, and have washed our garments in the blood of the Lamb, by “ cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."
ON RECEIVING THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN.
2 CORINTHIANS, vi. 1.
We then, as Workers together with Him,
beseech you also, that ye receive not the
Grace of God in vain. We are here reminded of the office and employment of the Ministers of the Gospel. They are “ Workers together with God :” they are his instruments for bringing sinners to salvation. They are commissioned to publish the glad tidings of the Gospel, and to “beseech men not to receive this grace in vain :" while the Lord accompanies their preaching with his Spirit, and so blesses his word for “ converting the soul, and making wise the simple. Thus he works by his Ministers, and with them. The power, grace, and glory are his. All their sufficiency is of Him. Of themselves they can neither think nor do any thing that is good. But still, without them he seldom
carries on the work of grace in the soul; and thus puts honour on the Office, which He has himself appointed.
« We then, as Workers together with Him, beseech you also, that ye receive not the Grace of God in vain." In discoursing on these words, I shall endeavour,
I. To show what is meant by receiving God's Grace in vain.
II. To dissuade you from receiving it thus. · I. Grace, in its strict and proper sense, means undeserved favour : a Gift freely bestowed, without any respect to merit in the person to whom it is given, (for, as the Apostle argues,
“ otherwise grace is no more grace *,”) and springing solely from the compassion and kindness of the Giver. By the “ Grace of God” in the text, we are to understand the Gospel, or that rich provision of unmerited mercy, which God has made known to us through his Son Jesus Christ. Now this Gospel is altogether of grace. It was wholly unmerited by Man. It was freely bestowed on him. God, “who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us," sent his Son to be our Saviour. Hence the Gospel is called “ the Gospel of the Grace of God:” and we are
* Romans, xi. 6.
expressly said “ to be saved by Grace.” . To receive this Grace, is to receive the offers of it: to have the Gospel preached to us ; to have the rich provision which it contains for our perishing souls, set before us. — To receive this Grace in vain, is to hear the Gospel to no purpose ; to slight the mercies of God; and so far as we are concerned, to defeat the gracious design for which he sent his Son into the world. Now there are several ways, in which men may thus be guilty of " receiving the Grace of God in vain."
1. They are liable to this charge, when they take no care of their souls, and are utterly negligent of the great work of religion. The “ Grace of God” is intended to bring men to the knowledge, fear, and love of Him. The awful Truths set before us in the Gospel are designed to awaken our minds to the important concerns of Eternity ; to inspire us with a sense of the value of unseen things; to lead us to a dread of provoking God's displeasure ; and to encourage us to seek his favour, and render to Him a willing obedience. But when persons hear the Gospel without its producing in them these effects; when they live under the light of Christianity, and yet still continue in darkness, unmindful of God, of