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that would hear: when there was a marked and evident distinction and separation of the children of God from the rest of the world.
The words of Christ, preserved and recorded by his Apostles, are now the winnowing fan, as it were, by which this severing of the evil from the good is to be effected : the touchstone by which trial is to be made, who of mankind have dispositions of any value and capable of being reformed. Nor has this word of God lost its force and vigour through the long course of ages since it was first delivered.
By their study or neglect of it, by their reception or rejection of it, we see at present a distinction amongst mankind, what excellent creatures some are capable of becoming, who are formed and guided by it.
To draw to a conclusion:
If any ask, what will become of those numbers which cannot be counted, who, enjoying the Gospel means of holiness, go out of the world not barely unbenefited and unreformed by them, but fixed in contrary habits of vice and base worldlymindedness ; some with all their sins full blown upon them,
The first reflection that such an inquiry should raise in every one, is, what will be my
own lot hereafter! Am I safe myself, and amongst the number of those who allow themselves in no wilful sin, but serve God in simplicity and sincerity of heart, so that I may have humble hope of being accepted by him?
A solicitude of this kind also, if serious and in earnest, will in proportion excite volent concern and endeavours for others, that they may not depart out of this life under the loss of God's favour, the saddest state of all others.
For the rest, we should not give way to gloomy perplexing fears concerning their future condition, we should be content to leave his creatures in the hands and disposal of their all-merciful Creator.
This only remembering, that wickedness, unrepented of and unforsaken here, will never go unpunished; that injured truth, violated honesty and integrity will have their rights allowed sooner or later ; and that misery will certainly attend the evil man, whilst he continues evil and unchanged.
Thanks be to God for the admonitions of his holy word! To him be the glory for ever !
O God, blessed for ever, who dwellest in the light which no one can approach unto : whom no man hath seen, nor can see : but who hast graciously condescended to reveal untó us the whole council of thy will for our everlasting salvation, by our Lord Jesus Christ!
We return thee thanks and praise, O Father and righteous governor of the world, that in the wisdom of thy providence thou hast so ordered this thy last dispensation of mercy to mankind, that the hearts of thy creatures are tried by their reception of thy holy Gospel, and it is gladly received and followed by virtuous and well-disposed minds, whilst it is despised and rejected by men whose hearts are far from thee, and whom therefore in thy just judgement thou leavest to the darkness of their own minds.
Let this be a lesson to us, that it is no lightindifferent thing how we regard thy sacred truth; that we may receive it in the love of it, and become sanctified by it, lest thou withdraw from us the light, of which we are unworthy.
And preserve us, O Lord, from being offended at thy Gospel' or ashamed of it, because
it contradicts our evil practices, or because it is despised, as was its divine author, by the men of this world.
Finally, O thou most holy, assist us by thy good spirit, in the great work of virtue and holiness that thou hast given us to finish; that it may become our pleasure and delight, above all worldly joys, to improve therein : so that when the evening of our short day of life approaches, and thou callest upon thy servants for the improvement of their talents, with which thou hast intrusted them, our sincere and honest labours in thy service, however imperfect, may be accepted by thee; and not of debt, but of thine infinite unmerited mercy and goodness alone, we may be admitted to the joys of thy presence, and to wear the unfading crown of righteousness, which Jesus our Lord, by thine appointment, will bestow on all thy faithful servants.
Now unto thee, O Father, who art the only living and true God, be glory for ever!
The Lord bless us, &c.
A. D. 1778,
John vi. 43, 44.
Jesus therefore answered, and said unto them;
Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which bath sent me draw bim.
The history of our Lord's public life, of which these words make a part, is well known.
A great number of his countrymen had followed him from place to place, the greater part not for the benefit of hearing his heavenly discourses, but on account of his having recently fed some thousands of them by a miracle in a desert place, and prompted by lazy ambitious desires of living in ease and indulgence under one that had such a mighty power from God, and whom they thence took to be Messiah their king, at that time to be sent to them, and vainly imagined that it was to be a powerful worldly kingdom for the Jews that he was to establish.