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in the world. No secret misgivings check their joys, nor fears of an unexpected summons to another world; no shuddering at the approach of judgment, por stings of a guilty conscience, interrupt their bliss, or hinder their real peace. No, they have our Saviour with them, they foretaste the pleasures of bis right hand, and are happy, quite happy in his everlasting arms, and in his wounds, like doves in the clefts of the rock. O that all here were thus blessed, and had the Lord for their God, and in him were thus blessed and saved.
I come now, in the last place, to speak of such as receive the seed in good ground; and these are such as hear the gospel and receive it in an honest and good heart, in a heart sincerely desirous to be saved and made right in our Saviour's sight. These hear the promises, and with all diligence, tears, and prayers, expect and look for the fulfilling of them; and who cannot rest till they have found redemption in the blood of Christ, his righteousness and salvation, and have his holy Spirit apply his bruises to their pained hearts, to ease them with the full assurance of their part in the book of life, and of their place being prepared in heaven. As ground tilled and opened receives in the seed, and it springs up and bears fruit, so such people bave their hearts truly awakened and opened, to receive the seed of eternal life. No waiting enemy steals away the words of our Saviour; like Mary, they ponder them in their hearts, and keep them as the most precious treasure, and shall bring that blessing down upon them, “ Because thou hast kept my word, I will keep thee in the day that shall try all them that dwell upon the earth; thou shalt not die, thou shalt not taste of death.” No unbrokenness and hardiness hinders our Sayiour to see of his travail in them and be satisfied: No shame of the cross, no
fear of men, nor cares of the world, vor deceitfulness. of riches, nor pleasures of this life hinder them to bring forth fruit to the glory of the good Husbandman. They love our Saviour with all their heart; they are honest, and would not deceive themselves; but, till they had found our Saviour, and were sealed by him to everlasting life, never would be easy; and now he that smote them with the sword of his mouth has healed them; now they have obtained the privilege or power to become sons of God; they are saved, they have found the merits and righteousness of our dear Saviour; they are assured of his favour, they are written in his book, and wait the time of their dissolution with patience, or, as our Saviour says, “ bring forth fruit with patience :" their fruit is all good works, but especially praise and love to that Lamb, the good Sower, who first loved them and prepared them for himself. These are they who have ears and hear the voice of their Beloved, the voice of the good Shepherd, the Son of man, and have eternal life through his name: " They have eyes and see his salvation, they have honest and good hearts, and understand and are converted.” May our Lord God and Saviour make you of this happy number! Amen.
THE LOST SHEEP, PIEGE OF SILVER, AND
Luke. XV. 2.
This Man receiveth Sinners.
Jesus's ministration and preaching, all the publicans and sinners drew near to hear him, which so offended the religious Jews, that they murmured and shewed their displeasure, because he suffered such a rabble to follow him, and more, because, instead of exclaiming against these ungodly people, whose wicked lives and sins were known to all, and instead of thundering out the curses of the law to them, or shewing his just anger to such offenders, he spoke, inildly to them, and graciously received them all.
This caused them to give him that character to defame him among the pious and more devout sort, “ Behold the Friend of publicans and sinners;" and again, “ This man receiveth and eateth with them."
I suppose this served to prejudice many of the righteous Scribes and Pharisees against him, because they had always shunned the persons he was familiar with, and had esteemed them as bastards and not sons of Abraham, and who were under the curse, children of Belial, and excommunicate ; they knew no righteousness but that of works, and which consisted in observing the law, and being strictly obedient to all 2 F
the precepts of Moses, as the Rabbing explained them; and to these they had added many of the traditions of the fathers, in relation to their often praying, making of proselytes, washing the hands before meat, and when they come from the market, &c. beside a multitude of ceremonies, in observivg which they placed much holiness, and condemned vehemently such as were not so scrupulous and rigid, because without it they hardly believed a man could be safe. They had carried the matter so far, that the end of the law was not answered, but, as our Saviour says, “ was made of none effect through their traditions ;" for they made their first blunder in supposing at all, that righteousness came by the law, and that the dispensation of Moses was calculated of God to make men righteous, whereas the sole intent of the law was, to convince every man that should hear it, that he was a sinner, and under the curse justly; it was ordained to stop the mouth of every man who would fancy he was blameless and had a good heart, and to make all the world guilty before God. In this respect it paved the way for the everlasting righteousness brought in by Christ Jesus, because it condemns and curses every one who has not continued in all things and in every point and tittle of the law to do it; and since no soul can escape, so rigorous a condemnation, but all are guilty and have sinned more or less, and may have no hope from the law, nor can be justified thereby, the soul who would willingly be saved, and who is conscious of his sin, and of his being under the curse of the law justly, who sees that it aims and strikes at the heart, condemns the least thought and desire, and requires a "worshipping the Lord with all the heart, with all the mind, and with all the strength," I say, when this is known, and which is clearly the end of the law, the soul sinks down before God, and cries out, " What shall I do
to be saved? Whither shall I go for merey?" and thus sees and feels the need of a Saviour, and of redemption from under the law, and of a better righteousness than our own. Hence it is that the Holy Ghost sent prophets and scribes instructed out of the kingdom of heaven, to teach such men to " look to him (the Messiah) and be saved." They taught, " He shall be called The Lord our Righteousness. In his days shall Israel be saved. They shall be saved with an everlasting salvation. He shall finish iniquity and make an end of sin, obtain reconciliation and bring in everlasting righteousness. To him shall all flesh come. To him shall the gathering of the people be. He shall save Israel from all his sins." This served to enlightent such as cried to him in their trouble, and who sat in the shadow of death, and comforted them with hopes of the Redeemer, for whom the sincere Jews looked and waited, wishing to see his day till he came. But in the Jewish church there were men who had otherwise interpreted the law, and preached that it could make the observers of it righteous; and this sort prevailed exceedingly, so that the chief of the priests and the learned men were of this mind, and these were called the Pharisees. St. Paul, and many of our Saviour's disciples, were of this sect before they knew him, but none could be in bis company and not observe, how in all his doce trines, parables, and discourses, he sharply condemus the righteousness of the Pharisees, and says, they have their reward," and that, " except we get a better righteousness than theirs, we can in no case en ter the kingdom of heaven," calling all that they boasted of, " a whitening of the wall
, painting and garnishing sepulchres, and washing the outside of cups and dishes," i. e. it was an outward and affected righteousness, it was good in the sight of men, and adorned and made white the person who had it before 919 2 F 2