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the most worthy of their present affections—and delays are dangerous, both on account of the uncertainty of life, and the provocation they are to God, to give sinners up to final judicial blindness. I shall close with a brief
- IMPROVEMENT. 1. We learn what the duty of the ministers of the gospel is, with respect to giving directions to impenitent sinners. If it be the immediate and indispensible duty of sinners to repent, and accept of salvation ; then they ought to be directed to do this, before they do any thing else. They ought to be directed to that which, if observed, will certainly save their souls. But nothing will do this short of a cordial repentance and faith in Christ. The first and only direction of the gospel is, repent and believe. And it is declared that those who refuse shall be damned. If we, therefore, give the least encouragement to anything short of this, and sinners receive and rest in it, they will perish ; but their blood will be required at our hands. Sinners are dying men, and ought to be addressed as dying men; as those whose probation may end the next moment. We must, therefore, direct them to repent immediately, and if they refuse, we must direct them again to repent immediately, and continue so to do as long as we have any opportunity to give directions. To tell sinners in one breath, that it is their immediate duty to seek first the kingdom of God, and in the next direct to something else, because they have no disposition to do this, is inconsistent and dangerous. It plainly supposes, that sinners are excusable for not repenting, or accepting salvation, so long as they have no disposition to do it. But if this were the case, they would for ever be excusable. The gospel, however, makes no allowance for opposition of heart. The call of it is, “To
day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Come, for all things are now ready.”
2. Let professors of religion examine themselves a moment on so important a subject. Have we hearked to the voice of Christ, and accepted the great salvation which he proposes 3 Can we say that obedience to Christ, and communion with him, are our highest enjoyments : Do we hate sin as really as sinners love it : Have we given away our souls, and bodies, and friends, and estates, and all we possess, without reserve, to the disposal of Christ? Are we heartily engaged to redeem every moment of time, and to oppose every apparent delay : If so we have accepted salvation ; and our faith will be known by love to Christ, and obedience to his commands.
Finally, Suffer me to conclude, by repeating and pressing the exhortation, upon all to hear the voice of Christ immediately, and comply with his gracious proposals. I would speak as a dying man to dying creatures. It is a solemn thought, that one and another, among the people of mycharge, are almost daily finishing their course, and that I must soon meet you all at the bar of God, where a solemn account must be rendered for the directions which have been given, and the manner in which they have been received and observed. In faithfulness, therefore, to your souls and my own, I would press the exhortation, to hear Christ's voice this day—put not off from day to day, and year to year—delays are infinitely hazardousyou know not what a day may bring forth.--Besides, the salvation of the gospel is infinitely excellentthere is no true happiness to be enjoyed without it —it is therefore folly to seek happiness in any other thing.
Be exhorted, therefore, as dying creatures, to accept immediately of salvation. To day end an ear to the voice of God—and “come, for all things are
2now ready.” Repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved. But if you will not, you must perish, there is no other alternative—Life and death are set before you—therefore choose life —choose the Saviour, for whosoever believeth in him shall live for ever.
And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence, to the full assurance of hofie unto the end.
This Epistle was written by St. Paul, to the whole body of his brethren among the Jews, who had professedly embraced Christianity. Many of them were much attached to the Mosaic law, and were in danger of apostatizing from Christ, through the subtilty of false and Judaizing teachers, and through the violent persecutions, which their unbelieving brethren stirred up against them. A principal design therefore of the apostle, in this letter, was to set forth the excellency and glory of the gosfiel disfiensation above the Mosaic, in such a way as might establish the faith of true believers in it, without any mixture of the Mosaic observances; and encourage them to adhere to it faithfully and perseveringly, under all the difficulties and trials, which attended their profession of it—and as might also conVince them of the awful danger and remediless situation of such as should apostatize. His design plainly appears in the Chapter which contains the text. It begins thus, “ Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go - C c - -