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of spirit? What returns do you make ? Much is required of those on whom much is bestowed. If no proper use be made of the abundant blessings of providence, if they are not improved to a proper end, the reckoning will be awful at last, in the great day of accounts. It appears to have been our Lord's intention to make us sensible of this, in the parable of the talents. Those who made no proper use of their lord's money, with which they were intrufted, are denominated flothful and wicked servants, and dealt with accordingly.
The prophet's observation is verified in many instances; “ Let favour be shewed to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness:" To be unmoved and unhumbled amidst innumerable instances of providential kindness, is a fad indication that we are of the number of those whom the divine word denominates wicked men. That person is in a dangerous condition, upon whom the most likely means to produce repentance have no effect.
That ground must be bad which the common me- thods of cultivation, and the showers of Heaven do not make fruitful. Awful are the words of the apostle to the Ilebrews; they should be read with fear and trembling by such persons as we are now addressing; “ The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs
meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers, is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”
But there is another class of men still more im. pious than those to whom we have been speaking; . those, we mean, who pervert the favours of providence to a wrong use and end. Their conduct somewhat resembles that of those ungodly men, who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. They make use of the blessings of God's goodness, as provision for the flesh to fulfil the lufts thereof, in gluttony, drunkenness, pride, and impurity. In their hands, the bounties of Heaven become weapons of unrighteousness, incentives to sin, and instruments whereby they may serve Satan, and the more successfully promote his diabolical cause a.. mong men. He whose goodness they thus wretchedly pervert and abuse, will most assuredly resent their conduct. The whole creation groans under the weight of their guilt.
The Lord says concerning rebellious Ifrael, by the prophet Hosea, “ She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her filver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof,
-->--> 4.4 and will recover my wool and my flax." What pity is it that God's indulgence should be abused to his dishonour! The more his bounty shines on perverse and rebellious men, the more luxuriant is the growth of their vicious habits. But it will appear by and by, that as God hath favours to beftow, he hath also justice to execute his threatened displeasure. Though sentence against evil works be not executed speedily, let not the hearts of the children of men be fully set in them to do evil; for the day is coming when abused goodness will no longer forbear. Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish shall be awarded to every foul of man who continueth to do evil.
Where grace can neither melt nor move,
The subject will furnish us with a word of conviction also for those who put no value upon God's special favour. Among these, some there are who are more desirous of friendship with the great men of this world, than of friendship with God. An ambitious pursuit after the honour which cometh from men is one of the grand obstructions to true faith, and real piety. “ How can ye believe who receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour which cometh from God only ?" The apostle tells us, that the friendship of this world is enmity with God, and, consequently, that if any man will be, at all events, the friend of the world, he is the enemy of God. Mofes put a proper value on the divine favour, when he esteemed even the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
It is an high attainment to be able to say, with truth and sincerity, · Lord, let me have thy favour, though, in my adherence to thee, I should forfeit the regard of every man upon earth.' Reader, consider within yourself, what good the favour of the great can do you in the hour of death, or at the day of judgment. Can they give bail for you, when you are arrested by the king of terrors ? Can they stand forth in your defence at the awful bar of God ? Nay, can their friendship even free you either from pangs of conscience, or pains of body? In these cases, they can afford no help, when help is most of all needed. The favour of God alone can answer these purposes. Yet upon this few men put any proper value.
But there are others of dispositions still more base and sordid, who prefer impure and sensual gratifications to the favour of the Most High. They have no concern about friendship with their Maker; M 3
>*** the pleasures of sin, though but for a season, are all they crave. The apostle Paul speaks of these with grief and indignation, “ Whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame.” They make the gratification of carnal views and pleasures their principal aim; the pampering of their own brutal appetites, in rioting and drunkenness, chamıbering and wantonness, is their chief good. They even boast of those things, which, instead of being to their honour, are scandalous and disgraceful to human nature. The end of such men, without repentance, we are assured, is destruction. The world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doth the will of God abideth for ever. The divine favour which real christians enjoy, will make them perfectly and everlastingly happy, when the sons of sensuality are lifting up their eyes in hell, being in torments.
These men have their good things here; they have such a measure of the bounty of providence, as perhaps some of God's dear children are denied; whose lot it is to be poor in this world, but rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which God las prepared for them that love him; who entreat the divine favour with their whole hearts; who earnestly long and daily pray for the assured tokens of it;