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so little attended to ? Is it ignorance? How is that possible? Are you not here present ? Am I not standing here before you with the Gospel in my hand ? Have I not read the parable distinctly? Is not this the clear meaning of our prophet and judge ? Let us leave that excuse to the heathens; it is impossible for us to make it. What is the cause ? ... To whom am I speaking ? Not one of us intends to be the man of the text. Each goes to-day to his 6 farm,” to-morrow to his “ merchandize," and each intends some future day to put on the 6 wedding garment." The king hath a wardrobe for the accommodation of his guests, and I shall be ready in an instant when I receive notice of his approach. Ah ! this is the cause of your present unpreparedness to die; and if the man in the world who hates you most, and most heartily wishes for your destruction, were to give you advice, he could give you none so likely to glut his malice as this, which you both give and take yourself. Do you mean to say, 66 Let that which should have been for my welfare become a trap? Let my days be few, and let my prayer become sin !” This is the language of an enemy.
Let us not be such enemies to ourselves. The voice of friendship says, “ O come let us kneel before the Lord our maker! To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts : lest he swear in his wrath, You shall not enter into my rest.”
* It may happen, that a man apprized of danger may not know how to escape it, and lest any of
you should be through my negligence in such a state, I will endeavour to show you what is necessary to avoid the shame mentioned in the text. It
also happen, that a man, who is apprized of his danger, and hath a general notion of a method of escaping it, may loiter away his time, and trifle a day too long. In friendship for such, I shall endeavour to convince them that they are, and will forever be, inexcusable for doing so. selves of these precious moments, and all the while I am speaking, remember a saying of Paul, “ God limiteth a certain day, saying, To-day hear his voice. Are not your days like the days of an hireling ?" Can you lengthen your day a single moment, and have you any
choice what year or what day to die, and have you any security that this is not the day, and this the hour? 66 God limiteth a certain day.”
66 This is your day, hear his voice." Lest any one should be ignorant of the way
escaping the misery mentioned in the text, we must inquire, what the way of escape is. I do not know what the " wedding garment" is. I do, know that princes and great men kept wardrobes to accommodate their guests, and I could name one Roman, who had five thousand habits in keeping for that purpose ; but we are no' nearer to our Lord's meaning for knowing this; for, you see, I think parables are not understood by being taken to pieces, but by being put together. The thing speaks for itself; the “ wedding garment” is that which is necessary to salvation, and whatever is necessary to salvation is the 6 wedding garment."
We need not waste time in proving, first, that a man living and dying in the practice of sin is expressly excluded from the kingdom of God. 6. Know you not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effemfinate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” It is not only on the testimony of Paul that we affirm, such people cannot be saved; reason and the nature of things lead us to the same conclusion. For example, a drunkard wishes to avoid pain; the pain of what? The pain of being sober, and the more intolerable pain of thinking and reflecting, which sobriety would bring on. He wishes to be happy; but what is his happiness? It is to gratify his senses, to drown his reason, to sink himself into the condition of a brute. Admit only that a future state is not a state of sensual gratification ; but that it is a condition of reflection and thought, and it is easy to determine that the bare living in such a state would be a cruel punishment to this sort of men. Yes, if there was no unquenchable fire,” no "great wine-press of the wrath of God,” no 66 outer darkness," no "devil and his angels," a bare ne
cessity of thinking without a possibility of stupifying thought by subjecting the soul to the senses, that would be a great misery to such men. 66 The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” A life of sin is therefore the broad way that leadeth to destruction, and the direction of that way, like that of every other road, is not altered because 6.
many go therein:" it will lead the whole, and it will lead each individual, to the very same spot. The observation of our Lord, that “ many” go in this road, is a strong reason to dissuade us from going in it; for what kind of men are they? If any man could bring himself to live with such men as bloody Cain, cruel Pharaoh, intoxicated Nabal, covetous Judas, with liars and thieves, and blasphemers, could he also prevail with himself to call such monsters about him when he finds himself dying, and can he choose such for his companions in a future state, where, without
any mixture of sober and decent men, all are the refuse of the world; “ reprobate silver shall men call them because the Lord hath rejected them ?” This class of men certainly have not on the “ wedding gar
There is a second class called by our Lord unprofitable servants." These useless people, serving none of the purposes of religion, are, however, generally found, if not in the church, yet not in company with the profligate part of mankind. A thousand causes, none of them religious, produce the decency of this sort of people. Birth and education, constitution and connexion, necessity of character, and love of gain, smart for first trials and fear of future consequences, and many such things, are sufficient to produce a worldly decency of living. This class, therefore, are not so bad as the former, who have broke through all these considerations; but as they do not act from principles of religion, they certainly have no right to the rewards of it.
66 There was a law in Rome, that 'those who in a storm forsook the ship should forfeit all property therein ; and the ship and lading should belong entirely to those who staid in it. In a dangerous tempest all the mariners forsook the ship, except only one sick passenger, who by reason of his disease was unable to get out and escape. So it happened the ship came safe to port. The sick man kept possession, and claimed the benefit of the law; but it was agreed that the sick man was not within the reason of the law, for the reason of making it, was to give encouragement to such as should venture their lives to save the vessel; but this was a merit, which he could never pretend to, who neither staid in the ship upon that account, nor contributed any thing to its preservation.” “Unprofitable servants” are in the condition of this man, and they can claim nothing under Christianity as a law, because they never acted on the reasons of it. They stand on the same ground as heathens do, with this difference: heathens, like the sick man, were incapable of embracing the Gospel, through a necessity of condition; but these, living under the Gospel, wilfully put themselves into the condition of heathens, without any necessity, and against the most pressing remonstrances to act otherwise. Far from disgracing the 6 wedding garment” by pretending that such men wear it, the very pretence is an aggravation of their crimes ; and when the Judge says of one of these, “ Cast that slothful, unprofitable," and therefore 6 wicked servant, into outer darkness, he" will be s speechless."
If the “ wedding garment” be that, without which a man cannot be saved, we must examine what that is, and the Scriptures will readily inform us. It is “holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord :" it is 6 faith, without which it is impossible to please God:” it is repentance, for 6 except ye repent, ye shall all perish :" it is perseverance, for he only 6 that endureth to the end shall be saved” it is "feeding the hungry," and
clothing” the “naked,” for to these 6 shall the King say, Come, ye blessed :" it is to be a true and real Christian. There are different degrees of Christianity, as there are different sizes and shapes among men ; but all are alike in kind. 5 Little children” in religion “know the Father: young men are strong, the word of God abideth in them, and they have overcome the wicked one:" and 6 fathers have known God from the beginning." All these differ from one another in
degree; but they all differ in kind from other men, who
are in darkness, walk in darkness,” and “know not whither they go, because” ignorance “hath blinded their eyes.” The “ wedding garment” of a little child differs in excellence from that of a father, but it hath an excellence in its kind. Let this guide our present inquiry, and let us fix not on any degree of religion, but on the sort of religion, which distinguisheth a Christian from all other men, and which at the same time provides for very great distinctions between Christians themselves.
I can think of nothing more likely to direct us properly than this expression of our Lord, “ Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Not to detain you with a list of interpretations, but to come directly to the point, I take the new birth to mean three changes, or, to speak more properly, one change, which it is most easy to consider under three different views: a change of ideas : a change of tempers : and a change of actions : the first is the Christian religion in the mind; the second is the same religion in the heart; and the third is still the same religion in the life and conversation. This is a real alteration, which the Christian religion makes in every true disciple of the Son of God, and the alteration is so great that it may with the utmost propriety be likened to a being 5 born again.” Let us examine ourselves upon these articles.
By ideas I mean thoughts. By Christian ideas I mean the thoughts of Jesus Christ on articles of religion, as on God, and the worship of him ; on man, and his condition ; on sin, its cause and consequences; on a future state of rewards and punishments ; on himself, and his office as mediator; and so on. You will readily allow, that Jesus Christ perfectly understood these subjects, and thought of them very differently from all bad men of every description in the world. When I say the thoughts of Jesus Christ must become ours, I
suppose him to have not carried back his secret thoughts to heaven, but to have left his true and real sentiments in the Holy Scriptures ; some clearly expressed in words, and others in actions. Now if a man takes his thoughts