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God, through Jesus Christ, meets with a like treatment, and receiveth the spirit of adoption, whereby he cries, Abba, Father. Wherefore he is no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”'
If you would learn more of this subject, inquire of the woman taken in adultery,” condemned to be stoned by Moses in the law, exposed by her fellow sinners, and referred to Jesus Christ. Ask her how he looked, and in what tone he spoke, when he said, “ Woman, where are thine accusers ? Hath no man condemned thee? Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more."
Ask that other woman, 6 who was a sinner,” who durst not look him in the face, but “ stood at his feet, behind him, weeping;” ask her to describe the melody of that voice that said, “ There was a certain creditor which had two debtors, the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty, and when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.". I venture to affirm, that the great apostle Peter never had abilty enough fully to express the wisdom, the tender compassion, and the irresistible power of that one act, contained in one line of an evangelest, “ the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter :” and that Paul never was able fully to express the tone of that voice, which said unto him, “ Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ?" For 66 the love of Christ passeth knowledge,” and is “ able to do exceeding abundantly, above all that we ask or think.” To use the language of the last mentioned apostle, “ Jesus Christ shewed forth exceeding abundant grace, and love, and longsuffering” in these cases, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
In these four ways our heavenly Father makes known his esteem for us; and wilfully blind is that worthless child who doth not perceive it. I quit the subject with reluctance ; but as it is nearly time to conclude, I will close with one remark, which, I earnestly pray God, may improve our hearts, and amend our lives.
T'here are four sorts of people, each differently affected towards 5 our Father, who is in heaven." The first are without him ... the second are against him ... the third dread him ... and the last, of which sort may you all be, the last love and adore him,
Some men are without God in the world ;” and to such 'a degree of inattention hath a habit of sin brought them, that they are blind amidst all the light of proofs that there is a God, and dead to all the feelings that his fatherly goodness ought to excite in their hearts. Do not deceive yourselves : it is impossible to know God, and not love and obey him; and you yourselves prove this. Did you ever spend one half hour in your life to inquire into this question, “ Where is God, my maker, who teacheth me more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh me wiser than the fowls of heaven ?” On the contrary, do not all your actions “ say unto God, Depart from me, for I desire not the knowledge of thy ways? What is the Almighty, that I should serve him? What can the Almighty do for me? and what profit should I have if I pray unto him ?" Do you not 56 go in company with workers of iniquity," like yourself, and “ walk with wicked men,” who say, “ It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God?" Poor child! The Scripture pronounceth thee a fool. Well, go on ; follow that great ideot Pharaoh, and continue to
say, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice? I know not the Lord, neither will I obey his voice :” but settle as you go toward the gulf, where, like Pharaoh, you will “ sink into the bottom as a stone;" I say, think of this dreadful question, and come to some conclusion about it :Who ever hardened himself against God, and prospered ?"
Stupid as this first class of men is, the second is more so; those mer. I mean, who set themselves against God. These are said, in Scripture, to hate God, and to resist him. What a character, what a monstrous character, my brethren, is this, haters of God! I know no men who so justly deserve this character, as they who hate and persecute goed men for being religious; yet, in general, all who oppose the great design of God, cur heavenly Father, in creating the world and redeeming the church, may very properly be said to be at enmity with God. God intends to make his children happy, by giving them life, Jiberty, property, reason, religion, and so on. A murder
by taking away the life of another, expresses his habred of God's design of making the other happy by life. A tyrant, who deprives a person of liberty, resists the design of God in making his children happy, by making them free. A miser who hoards wealth, and a thief who steals it, both resist the design of God, which was to make men happy by giving them property. A persecutor, who will not allow people to be governed in the choice of a relj. gion by their own convictions, but requires all to act according to his wisdom, or perhaps his folly and worldly interest, he also withstands the design of God, which was to make all his children happy, each by the exercise of his own reason. A bigot, who will suffer no sense of Scripture but his own, and that perhaps doubtful or false, and taxes the Gospel itself with being of his spirit, he al80. is a reviler of the Gospel, an enemy to the religion of his neighbours, and an antagonist, contending against God. Let us lay aside all these wicked dispositions, and remember that great lesson given from heaven to a man of this sort,
" It is hard to kick against the pricks ;" which either means, that it is impossible io succeed in attempting to oppose God; or that all such attempts come from the hardness or insensibility of our own hearts. Had we such feelings for mankind, as children of the same parent ought to have for one another; or had we such, emotions towards God as children ought to have for such a Father, we should not make these rash attempts.
Our third class are objects of pity; they are not without God; they do not set themselves against him; but they dread him ; that is, their fear of God is excessive. The cause of this dread is a partial knowledge of God. Recollect what I said to you sometime ago, concerning knowing only part of a subject. This is your case : you have attended to the judgments of God; to his threatenings against the wicked, and to that punishment which awaits them in another state ; but you have not turned your attention to the mercy of God, expressed in his promises, and in his dispensations of goodness to other sinners in your condition. Suppose I could take a person out of this assembly, one who had never seen the sea, and carry him in an instant to the seaside, and set him, down there ; and suppose the sea at that instant to be in a storm; the great, black, and dismal clouds rolling, thunders bellow
ing, lightnings flashing, the winds roaring, the sea dashing ten thousand watery mountains one against another, the beach covered with shattered timber and cordage, merchandise and corpses ; this man would instantly conceive a dreadful idea of the sea, and would shudder, and shriek, and fee for his life. It would be hard to give a pleasant notion of the sea, especially if he had been well informed that several of his relations and friends had perished in the tempest; yet this man would have but half a right notion of the sea; for could he be prevailed on to go down to the beach a few days after, the heavens would smile, the air be serene, the water smooth, the seamen whistling and singing, here a vessel of trade sailing before the wind, there a fleet of men of war coming into harbour, yonder pleasure-boats basking in the sun, the flute making melody of the breeze, the company, even the softer sex, enjoying themselves without fear; this man would form the other half-notion of the sea; and the two put together would be the just and true idea of it. Apply this to our subject. You have seen your heavenly Father reprove Adam, chide Moses, drown the old world, burn the cities of the plain, cause the earth to open and swallow up Dathan and his company, send a Joseph to prison, put a Jeremiah into a dungeon, and a Daniel into a den of lions; you have seen him fell a Paul down to the earth ; not only kill an Ananias and Sapphira upon the spot, but strike a Zechariah dumb, and cleave the heart of even a Peter asunder with recollection and repentance; but go back to these persons, and see a Paul“ preaching the faith which he once destroyed;" a Peter" begotten again unto a live. ly hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead;" á Zechariah filled with the Holy Ghost, and singing, 66 Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, through whose tender mercy the dayspring from on high hath visited us, and hath delivered us out of the hands of our enemies, that we might serve him without fear, in holiness, all the days of our life." I might go further, and affirm, that your confidence in God ought to be as much greater than your dread, as his mercies are greater than his punishments.
True, five wicked cities are burned; but how many fives are preserved! one Zechariah is struck dumb for unbelief; but how many unbelievers have the gift of speech ! And you, yourself, how many comforts to set against one twig of his rod! Do not add ingratitude to fear; but listen to these words, sweeter than honey and the honeycomb'; 6 Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light ? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon his God.”
The last class love God and adore him. They have studied his excellent nature, and are fully persuaded, there is nothing in him to inspire his children with horror, but every thing to animate them with esteem. They have examined his works, and they exclaim concerning the whole world, “ Behold, it is very good.” The good man every day considers his dispensations of Providence; how “he leads men forth by the right way, to a city of habitation ;" how 6 he filleth the hungry soul with goodness ;" how he “ sends his word, and heals” the sick; how he makes the storm a calm, and brings men who have been at their wits end unto their desired haven; how he makes the fields and vineyards yield fruits of increase ; how he poureth contempt upon princes, and yet setteth the poor on high from affliction. The good man is “ wise, and observes these things, and so understands the loving kindness of the Lord;" he searches the holy Scriptures, and beholds in all a God of inexpressible goodness and love, “ pitying them that fear him, like as a father pitieth his children. Mercy great, above the heavens ; truth, reaching unto the clouds; compassion, from everlasting to everlasting ; goodness, kept for thousands;" an eminence of perfections 6 exalted above all blessing and praise.” The good man is captivated with the character of God, as it is displayed in Jesus Christ: him he accounts fairer than the children of men. Grace, he thinks, is poured into his lips; and to him he saith, “ Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever: the sceptre of thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness” more than all mankind; 66 therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." Full of these ideas, and full of blessings and good wishes toward all mankind, the good man waits for his dis