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greatest sinners, but grace that can conquer the most obdurate hearts, even those that are as hard as ada. mant. God will take away the heart of stone, and give a heart of flesh.” Powerful lusts, though deeply fixed in our very nature, may be rooted up by the grace of Christ; even confirmed habits of sin may be destroyed. Although the “Ethiopian cannot change his skin, or the leopard his spots,” yet those who have long been in the habit of doing evil, may learn to do well. God can raise up children to Abraham, out of the very stones; and the power which effects this is compared to that which effected the resurrection of the dead body of Christ from the grave.
The same grace is sufficient to preserve the soul in the midst of the strongest temptations. He is able to keep his people unhurt in the most dangerous circumstances, even as the three confessors remained unsinged in the burning fiery fornace; or as Jonah was kept alive for three days and three nights in the belly of the fish. We daily witness the miracles of divine grace, as marvellous as if a stone were suspended in the air, or a spark kept alive in the ocean. We are“ kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.'
Thus we see that sin is a most destructive evilthat every sinner is a self-destroyer,--and that there is help and salvation in Christ even for the self-destroying sinner.
From the whole, let us learn, First, to think rightly of sin. Here is the soul-ruining mistake of men. They are not told, or will not believe, that sin is of a destructive nature. Beware of slight thoughts of sin. Sin is no trifle. They are "fools only who make a mock at sin.” "Be not deceived ; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap. “ Let no man deceive
words ; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Listen not, my friends--you especially who are young, listen not to your deluded companions, who would persuade you that there is no danger. Thus Satan deceived our first mother, and ruined the world. Beware, lest it ruin you. I entreat you to believe God, and disbelieve the enemy ; yea, I may say, believe your ears ; believe your eyes ; feelings ; surely you may believe when you see around you so many horrid effects of sin, and hear, as it were, the groans of the damned, all uniting to say-Depend upon it, sin is a destructive evil. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, (Luke xvi. 19, &c.) the former, who, after a worldly life of self-indulgence, is represented as lifting up his eyes in torments, and in vain requesting the momentary relief of a drop of water to cool his tongue, requests that a messenger may be sent to his father's house, to testify to his surviving brethren, lest they also come into the same place of torment. What was the testimony he wished to be made to them? Was it not this—that sin indulged, destroys the soul ?-that sinners are, as he had been, self-destroyers! But in vain did he request that such a message might be sent. It was needless. The same testimony had been made by Moses and the prophets, whom he and they refused to hear. The same testimony is now made
O hear it, receive it, and act accordingly. But there is another, a superadded evil ; something, if possible, more destructive than sin itselfI mean unbelief-a rejection of the gospel, which will prove more fatal than all other sins: for, as we have already said from God's word, “This is the condeinnation, that light is come into the world, and men have loved darkness rather than light.” How then “shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” That is a question which is not answered; it is a question that cannot be answered; it is a question
that is not intended to be answered; “How can we escape if we neglect so great salvation ?”
How earnestly, then, should every sinner cry to the Lord for help. He says, " In me is thy help;"
In me only. I am the God of salvation. In vain shall it be looked for any where else. But in me you may find it. In me, who has justly offended, but am now reconciled through the blood of my Son. I was angry, but my anger is turned away. Now I wait to be gracious. Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find : knock, and the door of mercy shall fly open. Then shall you say and sing. “Behold, God is my salvation ; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also hath become my salvation.
So ready is the Lord to bestow this blessing, that he would have the good news of it published to every creature ; he is so ready to bestow it, even upon the worst of sinners, that when he ordered his apostles to go into all the world, he bid them begin at Jerusalem ; that those persons who had embrued their hands in his blood, should be the first to receive the advantage of the shedding of that blood for the pardon of their sins. It has been said that “ Now is the accepted time, but you cannot be sure that it will ever be said so again; you cannot be sure that you shall ever have an opportunity after the present, of hearing this good news. I entreat you then to hear his voice while it is called to-day. Retire to your closets this very evening, you who have neglected it before ; pour out your hearts before God,
and seek an interest in this great salvation.
Finally, We learn from what has been said, that grace must have the whole glory of our salvation. We can destroy ourselves, but we cannot save ourselves; God says, “In me is thy help found.” Salvation is invented, procured, bestowed, and applied
God himself; and every believer will gladly ascribe the praise to him. The language of his heart will be, “ Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name be all the glory.” Grace first contrived the plan ; grace begins the work ; grace carries on the work; grace will crown the work; and when the top-stone shall be laid, it will be with shoutings, crying Grace! Grace ! unto it. Amen.
LORD, we confess our numerous faults,
How great our guilt has been !
And all our lives were sin.
But O, my soul, for ever praise,
For ever love his name,
Of folly, sin, and shame. "Tis not by works of righteousness
Which our own hands have done ; But we are sav'd by sovereign grace
Abounding tbro' his Son.
'Tis from the mercy of our God
That all our hopes begin ; 'Tis by the water and the blood
Our souls are wash'd from sin.
'Tis thro' the purchase of his death,
Who hung upon the tree,
On such dry bones as we.
Rais'd from the dead we live anew 3
And justify'd by grace
And see our Father's face.
Epistle of St. Paul to Philemon, ver. 10, 11. I beseech thee for my son
Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds; which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now, profitable to thee and to me.
THIS is a short epistle, written by the apostle resided at Colosse ; it was written in behalf of Onesimus, who had been a slave, belonging to Phile
It appears that Onesimus had robbed his master, and then ran away from him to escape justice ; he rambled to Rome, where the apostle Paul was then a prisoner, and by some means or other, he went to hear him preach, probably in his own hired house: here he was converted to God, and became a new man; the apostle became acquainted with him, and Onesimus was much attached to him. The apostle felt himself interested in his welfare ; he found him very useful to him as a servant; but as he belonged to another, he would not retain him without his consent, but sent him back to his master whom he had wronged; and, in order to secure a favourable reception, sent with him this letter, which competent judges consider as a perfect example of good letter-writing; as containing the most lively sentiments both of humanity and generosity; and discovering inimitable dexterity VOL. III.