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2. This subject, which requires both saints and sinners to attend most solemnly to the duties of religion; leads us to the proper idea of the use of means, in the work of man's salvation. The efficacious use of means, is only when God uses them with sinners ; and not when sinners use them with themselves. The work of regeneration, conversion, and salvation, is wholly a work of God; and with him it is optional, whether to perform the great work with, or without the use of means. The means of grace, which God uses with sinners, to bring them into his spiritual kingdom, are exceedingly various. His holy word, his sabbaths, the ministry of the gospel; and preparatory to all these, and perhaps the most successful of all means whatever, is parental faithfulness. It has been said, that the efficacious use of means is when God uses them with sinners. But God has a multitude of servants, acting in his name and behalf. Ministers, parents, mag; istrates, and christian neighbors. “..As though God did beseech you by us,” said Paul to impenitent sinners, “we pray you, in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.” God also makes use of all the various dispensations of his Providence, merciful and afflictive, as means of grace. He sometimes makes use of a man’s own wickedness and folly, to alarm his conscience, and bring him to repentance. The means of grace, in the hands of the Apostles, being faithfully improved by them, constituted the plant. ing and the watering ; and God gave the increase. i...of regeneration, which is the very work of salvation, the Apostle considers it as being wholly of God; and yet it was by the word of God. “Being born again; not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the icord of God.” Again, “ Of his own will begat he us, with the word of truth.”
Sinners doindeed attend to the means and motives of the gospel. Even infidels are excited to attend, and to learn the truth. And were not this the case, how coll they ever be convicted and converted to Christ? But
they never attend with a hearty approbation of divine.
truth; and with a desire to be o or they often cavil
with the doctrines of salvation; and if they are overcome at last, it is by the exceeding greatness of the power of the Holy Spirit. These appear to be some of the scriptural ideas respecting the means of grace and salvation. This is God’s general method of calling his elect into his kingdom. - On this important point, we may further observe; As respects those who live under the light of the gospel in particular, and perhaps, as respects all mankind, of adult age, the means of grace are represented in the scriptures, as being necessary to salvation. This doctrine appears to be stated and proved in the tenth chapter to the Romans. Here a general maxim is stated ; “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” To such is salvation limited, both in the old and new testaments. “But how shall they call on him, in whom they have not believed P and how shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard 2 and how shall they hear, without a preacher P” The conclusion is, “So then,
faith cometh by hearing, and hearing, by the word of
God.” And is it not a fact, verified by universal observation, that without the means of grace, none of the fruits of grace appear P No convictions of sin, no conversions are witnessed ; no accessions to the visible church, none of the fruits of the Spirit; and in short, No, RELIGion. When God’s ancient people forsook his word and ordinances, he declared, that they perished for lack of knowledge ; and it is expressed, as a general truth, that, “Where there is no vision,” no divine revelation, “the people perish.” This is a truth obvious to us all. For who does not see, and deplore, the perishing state of the heathen P And who that has any latent spark of benevolence and compassion, does not feel the importance of making every possible effort to spread the gospel throughout a perishing world P Inexpressibly important are the means of grace! By them, mankind are enlightened, and indoctrinated; so that, if they ever become the subjects of special grace, they are, at once, prepared for duty and usefulness. The means of grace, under the common influences of the Holy spino keep alive some degree of convic- 1
tion of sin, and some sense of the importance of real religion. They are also the principal barriers of civilization and morality. They therefore, claim the attention of all, however inclined the wicked are to pervert them to their own aggravated condemnation.
3. From this subject we learn, that for sinners to flat. ter themselves, that they are waiting and wishing for a spirit of prayer, and for converting grace, while they live in the neglect of all religious duty, and improvement, is a gross and dangerous delusion. They demonstrate, by their conduct, that there is no such wish in their hearts. The language of their conduct is, “I pray thee, have me excused.” “I desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” If, in the neglect of all duty, any flatter themselves that they love the brethren, and desiretobecome the subjects of divine grace; they confirm the testimony of the prophet, that “ The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it P22 4. No sinner is willing to be pronounced utterly inexcusable. The support and comfort of all sinners are their excuses. But excuse, in the neglect of duty, is an absurdity, Sinners in general, profess to be well disposed, and to do the best they can, hoping that God will enable them to persevere. Thus, the blame is cast on God. And instead of doing their best, they do their worst. “Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldst.”
Finally. The consideration of this subject ought to produce, at least, an amendment of morals. To this, there is no want of motives. To this no objection can be offered. In a depravity of morals, no one can dare to excuse himself. All profess to be advocates for morality. Happy would it be, if all should practice accord: ing to this profession But, in fact, true religion and morality are inseparable; as appears by the noted exhortation of the prophet; “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him
return unto the Lord, who will have mercy on him, and
unto our God, who will abundantly pardon.”....AMEs.
IN the whole system of practical subjects, none holds a higher rank, none claims a more profound attention, than that of the holy sabbath. The sabbath is to be called a delight, the holy of the Lord, honorable ! If, in
point of importance, one command has the preference to
another, the sabbath has the preference to all others. No other command is so abundantly repeated in scripture, nor expressed in terms so peremptory. ... “Verily, my sabbaths ye shall keep.”. Still we are challenged, by some who profess the christian religion, to prove, that the law of the sabbath is in force, at the present day.—
To prove this great practical point, we may attend to
the following arguments.
creation, and then appointed a day of rest, and sancti. fied it, as a holy sabbath. Christ io. ceased from the great work of redemption, and then appointed a day of rest, set apart, and remaining perpetually as a holy sabbath. There is no more obscurity or doubtfulness with respect to the establishment of the christian sab"bath, than with respect to the establishment of the origi: nal sabbath. It is a holy sabbath which remains, and will remain to the people of God, so long as the resurrection of Christ is remembered and believed. The institution of the christian sabbath is, therefore, established on as firm ground as that of the original sabbath, Accordingly, to establish this important law, and to render it obligatory on all generations, we observe, 2. It was made a distinct article in the first table of the moral law, which was given to Moses, and proclaimed in the ears of the people at Mount Sinai. This was the law which Christ came to magnify and make honorable. As well may we expunge the first, or any other command from the sacred decalogue, as the fourth. To the ten commandments, our Saviour had particular reference, whenever he spoke of the law; and, on some occasions, he recited several of the commandments; “Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness, honor thy father and thy mother.” Christ also was very careful, by his example, to enforce the observance of the o sabbath. Can it be supposed, that, by his coming to fulfil all righteousness, §: designed to abolish any one of the ten commandments? Certainly not. Our Saviour, in his abridgement of the decalogue, reduced the ten to two great commandments. But did he, in his abridgement, aim to leave out, or exclude the fourth commandment P Had he found this to be a useless and unnecessary precept * Then his experience was contra: ry to the experience of all others. Had it been the will of God our Saviour, to abolish or repeal the law of the sabbath, it would certainly have been done, in the most explicit terms. No more doubt would have remained, i. remains respecting the abolition of the ceremonial aW.