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it not be a mockery to exhort us God has made provision for that disto that, to the obtaining of which cord ; he has silenced those tones there is an impossibility in the way. that they shall never be heard in the But, my brethren, there are two wide spread creation again ; he has descriptions of impossibilities, one put our sins away. “Thanks be to is, in the nature of the case-in God who has given us the victory any degree of it whatever; the other through our Lord Jesus Christ ;”. regards only degrees. If a man were then we shall be perfect even as he exhorted to climb to the sun, this, is perfect. indeed, would be to mock his in- And now, my brethren, while the ability, because there is a physical necessity of this process of mortificaimpossibility in his attaining, in the tion of sin continues, so observe how smallest degree, any part of the ob- abundant the means are supplied. It ject; but when a man is exhorted to is for our strength and our guidance, be holy as Christ is holy, here it is a and our aid in this very work, that matter of degree. I can make pro- all the means of grace are supplied. gress ; I may, under the teaching of The means of grace are for the church the Spirit of God, make progress ; of God; for the people upon whom every jot, every tittle of progress is the Spirit of God has made effectual more than a reward for all the effort the manifestation of himself in the that it costs. And, further, after all it Son. The sacraments of Christ's is but a question of time, for at the church, the reading of the Scriptures, last he shall attain to every point to and secret prayer, meditation, fasting which he is exhorted; for “ when we —why what can that mean? Why shall see him as he is we shall be should fasting be a Christian duty ? like him," and "we shall be satisfied Why should Christ take it for granted when we rise up in his likeness”—and that his disciples fasted? Nay, is it never before. So that it is no objec- not strangely inconsistent, that the tion to say—we are exhorted to per- advocates for holy flesh should yet fection. Doubtless the Lord our God fast to mortify the flesh? All these could not, conformably with his holy ordinances are gracious helps; helps love to us, exhort us to less ; for in what? For the mortification of sin. nothing is perfect happiness but per- Helps against what? Against unholy fect conformity and love to him. If flesh; we are engaged in warfare he had desired us to love him in against unholy flesh; and we have part, he would have desired us to be got the Spirit working with us, to give partly happy; but when he desires us the victory in this warfare; he has us to love him perfectly, then he made our poor vile bodies temples of desires us to be perfectly happy; and the Holy Ghost; he dwells in us, that thus he has predestinated us to be he may help us to bring the body conformed to the image of his Son; under subjection, and to shut out and to this he is bringing us, to this every incitement that it supplies of we are coming, to this we are making temptation to the mind; and to bring progress. And the last stroke shall down high thoughts, and all that rises be, when this corruptible shall have against the knowledge of God—bring put on incorruption, and this mortal it into captivity to th cross of Christ, shall have put on immortality ; “O so that we may be brought into a death,” we shall then sing, “where is response to the law, and constant dethy sting, O grave, where is thy vic- pendence on another. We shall never tory; the sting of death is sin ;”—but attempt to sit on the throne, and guide the sting is gone; the discord is gone; I ourselves again ; we shall not dare to
take part in that awful atheism, which | vidence also ? Are not the movements puts man up to be his own ruler and around our family circles in all the guide ; which sets the legislature, ei- outward circumstances that belong to ther in the state, or in the family, or our friends and ourselves, the movein the church, or in the person of ments of the same hand that has given a man, to give orders independent his Son to die for us on the cross? of God: we shall be cured of that And while we think of submitting to for ever. Strive against that. Is not his sovereignty in matters of grace, that in man? Is not that temptation ? and are not able to submit in matters Is not that unholiness ministered into of providence, do we not originate a his spirit through the flesh, through shrewd suspicion, that our apparent the part that the devil hath in him? submission, in matters of religion, is Nay, do you not find yourselves, do because of our indifference; and that you not find resistance against that part our real rebellion, in matters of proof the law of God-against his abso-vidence, is because that we are inlute sovereignty? O where is the terested in them? I beseech you use spirit that is quelled into willing sub- the means more earnestly, more dilimission ; that when the providence of gently, more faithfully, to bring down our glorious Father moves contrary this reigning rebellion that is in you; to us, when affliction falls upon us, to attune further and completely these when the idols of our families, or of remaining strings of discord; so that our own persons, come to disappoint you may give a response of harmony our ardent expectations; yea, even to the music of God's law. It may when those expectations were, as we be, my friends, that in outward and considered it, in God's service? And great things which can be seen and when God's wise providence comes known of all men-it may be that in to men and disappoint the idol-0 you are blameless ; you do not offend what murmurings! what secret risings against the chords and key notes of against that providence ! what secret the law; but the variations, those tenfeeling that it is very hard! O what der harmonies that follow you into essence of rebellion there is against the details of life. O can ye cut them our Father; as if he had enmity off; can ye resist them, and can you against us in so striking us. And make them recoil, as it were, back how difficult it is to kiss the rod, every again, upon the main string of the Christian can tell. But we have not law ? responded harmoniously to his sove- Dear brethren, be diligent in the reignty; alas, wbo hath kissed the mortification of sin; be diligent in rod? We have not truly invested him reading; be diligent in retiring mewith the crown till we ourselves are ditation ; retiring meditation apart in the dust.
even from religious society is indisMy brethren, sin is the transgres- pensable to your growing in the knowsion of the law, and one of the essen-ledge of God. I am well aware that tial elements of God's law is, the ab- religious society is a blessing ; I am solute sovereignty of the lawgiver— well aware, that as iron sharpeneth God's sovereignty-not merely as re- iron, so a man's countenance sharpengards grace; for alas there are some eth his friend's face ; I am well aware, advocates of sovereignty in grace, that we are exhorted not to forsake who, as it respects providence, are the assembling of ourselves together, still openly rebels. Is not He who is and that it is said that“ they who feared the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ the Lord spake often one to another : in grace, the Father of us all in pro- and the Lord hearkened, and heard."
It is very delightfal that so it Christ; and you will rush into the should be ; but, still, retirement and arms of God. You will be happy solitude-secret, personal, meditation here in the mortification of sin ; and alone with God, is absolutely indis- you will be perfectly happy hereafter pensable. There is a secret place in when you rise in deliverance from every Christian's heart, with which sin. This is the last thing ; first, neither father normother, neither there is the discovery of sin; then brother nor sister, neither husband there is a discovery of the pardon of nor wife nor child, can commune ; sin ; then there is hatred of sin; then they can commune with much, and there is the mortification of sin; and, they ought to commune with much, last of all, there is the deliverance and there ought to be an effort that from sin. they may commune with much; but I would only add on this now-that there is a point, after all, where God on his first coming to the cross of alone communes with a man. Be Christ, every child of God has delistill and know God; go into your verance from the guilt of sin ; that, chambers; commune with your own by the power of the Holy Spirit within hearts. This is a bustling world ; him, testifying of Jesus, he has deliand the bustle of the religious world verance from the consciousness of is a snare; beware of it, my dear sin; and, in the resurrection of the brethren.
likeness of Jesus, in the second But, let me entreat you, once more, coming, he will have deliverance not to allow your present rising anxie- from the existence of sin ; he will ties and secret resolves to be more then be brought altogether under the diligent to evaporate ; but follow them law, altogether out of sin—" for sin up; follow them up in the name of is the transgression of the law.” God; and be resolute in spending God, in mercy to you, my beloved more time with God alone. Can ye brethren, keep you steadfast, imbear to be alone with God? If your moveable, always abounding in the heart be retuned to the music of work of the Lord; forasmuch as ye God's law, if your heart be filled know that your labour will not be in with an anxiety for God's glory, if vain in the Lord." Look to the truth; you rely on his love, and the com- look to the cross ; let the power of it plete pardon of his Son, O then you beam home upon your heart. And will not doubt: but as long as a se- be diligent, then, to cultivate a hatred cret hesitation remains in your minds of the discord, and love of the harrespecting his love to you—as long mony; be diligent in mortifying the as you grudge to allow yourselves to remainder of the discord, and in think that his pardon is free; so long approaching daily nearer and nearer as you secretly allow yourselves to to the perfection of the harmony; imagine, that some preparation is waiting for, and hasting unto the needful on your part to entitle you to coming of the day of God; groaning that pardon, you will never be satis in this tabernacle, being burdened ; fied that you have got the pardon- groaning even with the first fruits of you will never be satisfied that he the Spirit within you ; waiting for loves you—you will never be happy your adoption, to wit the redemption in being alone with him. O believe of your body. Then when the Lord in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the shall appear we shall be like him, simplest, and it is the deepest word seeing him as he is; and “he shall of all-believe in the Lord Jesus change our vile bodies, that they may
be fashioned unto his glorious body, shalt.”. And we shall be prepared to according to the working whereby he join the angels in their songs of subdued all things to bimself.” praise, and to add our own peculiar
Then, my brethren, restored from songs of grateful love" to Him that the fall, restored from the regions of loved us, and washed us”-tuned us transgression, restored from the dis- out of our discord—“ from our sins cord once more, enjoying the full -the transgression of the law_" to harmony of God's law, we shall be Him that loved us, and washed us prepared to sacrifice our beings, first from our sins in his own blood, and and last, to Him the Great “I am ;" hath made us kings and priests unto to cast our crowns before Him, who God and his Father ; to him be glory is the true sovereign, from whom for ever and ever." Amen. alone proceeds the words — “ thou
DELIVERED BY THE REV. F. H. HUTTON,
AT EBURY CHAPEL, CHELSEA, JANUARY 6, 1833.
Luke, xiii. 8.-“ Lord, let it alone this year also."
The parable from which this sentence sion, conveyed in the pleasing form is extracted, cannot but be familiar of parables and similitudes : here to you all. The fruitless fig-tree was we meet with simple and familiar condemned to be cut down; the imagery, there with deeper and more dresser of the vineyard interposes recondite meaning. Hence the most and recommends a trial for another ignorant may gather abundance of year, concluding with the reasonable obvious instruction—the profoundest suggestion ;-“if it bear fruit, well ; scholar may gratify his thirst for and if not, then after that thou shalt knowledge. So that our sacred recut it down."
cords are a mine of inental wealth, as The Holy Scriptures are full of they are, also, in their sublimer chaevery species of exhortation that can racter, the very message of God to impress the heart of man. They are the oracles of God speaking to us in
Our blessed Lord seems, in many distinct and intelligible terms, the instances, to have drawn his similiwhole drift and current of their argu- | tudes from objects before him, and ment being the salvation of immortal probably in reply to some unrecorded souls. They bear upon us sometimes observations of his companions. Thus by threatenings, sometimes by ex- where he speaks of himself as the postulations; in one place we are true vine, we may imagine him conaccosted in the language of personal templating a vine of signal richness appeal, in another by indirect allu- and beauty, with its wide stretching
branches and plentiful clusters of scripture, to some product of the fruit; then pointing out to his dis- vegetable world, is intended to teach ciples the close union between the us that our growth in holiness is procentral stem, which personated him- gressive. Sudden conversions are self, and the shooting boughs laden not to be relied on. As the tree does with their rich produce, representing not shoot at once from the soil, so the spiritual nature and fruits of does not the religion of the heart holiness, derived from him by his spring up in a moment to perfect true followers. So in regard to our exuberance. There must be a compresent subject: It is quite consistent mencement, and what period so proto suppose that in another of his per as the present? The seed must walks of mercy through the land, he be sown, the tender plant must be had entered some one of its numerous cherished, the rising tree must be vineyards, and beholding there a fig- continually examined, that the canker tree bending under the weight of its may not corrode it, nor the blight luscious fruit and calling forth the sweep away its blossoms. The proadmiration of those that stood around prietor of the vineyard has sent his him, he might have contrasted with agent from heaven to superintend the its abundant produce the case of a rising produce of his garden. Each sirnilar tree fruitless and witbered, plant of promising appearance he and only fit to be cut down, that it visits with peculiar care, and is gladmight no longer be cumbersome to dened by the daily view 'of its inthe ground. He knew that sensible creasing growth and productiveness. objects are apt to make the deepest He stands hy it, and marks it for his impression on the human mind, by own, and trains it up to a glorious the hold which they take upon the and ample maturity; while he fails memory; he, therefore, in communi- not at the same time to try each cating his precepts, resorted not to salutary experiment with the less metaphysical subtleties and abstract improving members of the plantation, reasoning-but took what lay before giving time and opportunity for their him, and sent his instructions at once growth, and culturing them with the to the heart.
same unwearied solicitude. The vineyard here is the world in Secondly, Let me call your attengeneral. The fig-tree, which was more tion to an important fact in the cirbighly prized in Palestine than almost cumstances of this parable. A certain any other tree, is the church planted time had elapsed, during which fruit in the midst of the world, as well as had been sought from this favoured each individual member of thatchurch. tree, and none appeared. Behold, So that every one before me bears a these three years I come seeking personal interest in this representa-fruit on this tree, and find none.” tion. The lord of the property is God Brethren, apply the parallel to yourAlmighty, the vine-dresser is Jesus selves. For your admonition it is Christ, the high priest and overseer intended. Year after year the owner of his church, the guide and inspector had visited this unprofitable tree, still of all who belong to it.
hoping for some favourable appearMany profitable reflections are de- ance. He met however with sucdacible from this portion of Holy cessive disappointment. I behold Writ.
before me persons of various ages, First, The comparison of religion who have all had numerous and rehere, as well as in other passages of peated opportunities of bringing forth