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bidden to trust? Jesus came as a Saviour from hell; but not alone from hell, but from sin: he came to rule over a willing heart, and to restore the disobedient sinner to allegiance and fidelity. For this he died for this the Spirit works in the heart of the sinner: for this was the whole machinery of the Gospel (if I may so speak) contrived. It is the very end of redemption: and in believing in Christ he must believe all this; and can he then resolve not to renounce sin? O, no; there is an obvious contradiction. Could Pharaoh, in the state of mind which led him to pursue the Israelites against the command of God, have sought pardon and salvation through the Son of God? You see it was impossible: there was an unconquered disobedience of will, which was incompatible with belief in the Saviour; he was trampling at the very moment on the authority which Jesus came to establish; there was in him that rejection of the law of God which Jesus came to dethrone from the human heart; he was pursuing a course incompatible with the reception of the Saviour: and could such a man ask for pardon and salvation in the Son of God? He would be a hypocrite in the very "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved," is addressed to every sinner: but he who resolves to continue in sin is resolved not to welcome the Saviour, and so must perish. Therefore compliance with the language of the text must be contemporaneous with every act of application for mercy through Christ: there must be an explicit renunciation of every evil habit, or the sinner will be rejected; for he is at that very moment trampling on the blood of the covenant, and treating with contempt the very end for which the Saviour of men came into the world.


If therefore any one asks for pardon and salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ, still resolved not to forego the evil habits in which he has indulged, can he hope to be accepted of God; accepted for that which is hypocritical; accepted while he pretends to seek a pardon for which he cares so little that he will not for it renounce some favourite habit? Will he be blessed with a salvation which cost the death of the Son of God incarnate, while he cares so little. for that salvation, that he would rather lose it than forego some darling sin? He condemns himself in the very application: he asks for mercy in terms which are insulting to Jehovah; he would be saved in a way which treats with ineffable scorn the whole work of redemption; he is resolved to defeat the ends of redeeming love, and yet obtain the mercy which redeeming love came to communicate. Shall he be accepted? No; there is a message to him from

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the Gospel, that should convince him that salvation is impossible until he complies with its requisitions: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes: cease to do evil; learn to do well." Till that resolution, implied in the scriptural language of the absolution pronounced in our service every sabbath, be adopted" He pardoneth and absolveth all them that truly repent, and unfeignedly believe," the sinner is only treating with contempt, levity, and indifference, the great work of salvation; and, alas! instead of being accepted and blessed, there is but one answer will meet every petition: "When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood." It might be oppression and injustice-which is a cherished sin with hundreds; but if it be not that in which a man indulges, if, instead of it being said to him, "Your hands are full of blood," it was said, "Your hands are full of sin," is his condition changed? What if it were injustice or dishonesty in any of its multiplied forms, would not this declaration meet him still-" When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear your hands are full of dishonesty ?" Or if it be not dishonesty which is cherished, if it be intemperance in any of its forms; if the sinner seeking to be saved will not renounce his intemperance; is he not equally rebellious against the declared will of God, equally trampling under foot the blood of the Son of God; and must not the language be addressed to him, “When you make many prayers I will not hear?"

Or suppose he be not chargeable with these more obvious breaches of the divine law, yet if, while he seeks to be happy in Christ, he is cherishing the society of those who, as he finds from daily experience, prevent him from prosecuting with earnestness the work of his salvation, draw his thoughts from God, and fill him with indifference to salvation; if he allows frivolous amusements to take precedence of religious exercises, preventing dedication and prayer, thereby wasting the means which he has at his disposal, destroying his health, and occupying his mind; and all this because he asks himself, What harm is there? Still defeating the very end of all the means of grace, he must expect, when he holds forth his hands, the Almighty will hide his eyes "-that when he makes many prayers the Almighty" will not hear;" his hands are full of sin. Or if it be only this-that, while he has a general conviction of the evil of his doings and the misery of his state, and that he can be saved through


Christ only, still there is an unconquered carelessness and alienation from a spiritual state, a neglect of the word of God and of prayer, heedlessness of the counsel and example of the best of his fellowmen, and a disregard of many of the means of grace, is he, in that criminal disobedience to the divine will, to expect that he should be met and drawn by the Saviour, and made an heir of glory? Never: such prayers as his must pre-eminently meet a refusal; he has not yet taken the first step that may bring him to eternal blessedness. And if there are any in this assembly who know that hitherto they have not had their hope founded on the Rock of ages, and that as yet they have never come to God in sincerity through Christ; let me ask, Do you not perceive that all the evil habits to which I have alluded, and every other of which your conscience is convinced, must be unreservedly forsaken? If you would give the evidence which it is in your power to give, of the sincerity of your desire to be saved through Christ; if you are convinced that the hypocrite cannot be welcomed by the Searcher of hearts; if you know that he who is resolved to be rebellious cannot be blessed with the salvation which implies the renunciation of rebellious acts; if you do not hope to receive from God a mode of salvation which shall disappoint the very end of that costly work for which the Redeemer came into the world; then "wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings before the eyes of the Lord; seek to do evil; learn to do well."

There is another point in the text which demands our attention; and that is, that if it is needful to renounce evil habits at all, it is well to renounce them directly. Let each man, woman, and child, in this assembly, who feels or fears that he is not yet saved in Christ Jesus, take it as the Lord's command to-day, to be done to-day.

Sometimes when the half-conquered mind is disposed to seek salvation through Christ, there is this impediment in his way: "I know not whether I am one of God's elect people, and therefore my efforts may be in vain: I know not that I shall obtain divine grace, and without it my efforts must be in vain: I will do nothing." Depressed, therefore, disheartened, discouraged, and seeking to relieve the oppression of the spirit in some other way (a way, the end of which is death) these vain reasons for delay are permitted to triumph over every appeal that is made to the understanding, the conscience, and the heart, and the sinner seems contentedly to embrace destruction because there are apparent difficulties in his way. But let such remember that, for the most part, these reasons for delay are, in reality, the reasons of a slothful, indifferent, and but half-convinced

mind: they are at the best but pretexts for delay. But if there should be one in any measure involved in these difficulties, let me beg him to remember, that just as a sinner's salvation is purposed by God, so every common operation of our lives has been foreseen and purposed too. The omniscience of God is entire, the purposes of God are universal; every thing is under the unsearchable and awful control of his mind; and all the details of our ordinary lives are as much liable to every sort of perplexity as the grand work of working out our own salvation: God is as truly the author, disposer, and controller of all events as he is of this. Therefore, my brethren, if you are not diverted from pursuing the engagements of life; if you are not checked at every step in the operations of your lives by prying into the divine purposes concerning them; be consistent with yourselves, and no more be diverted or discouraged from this. The divine purpose does not hinder you in the ordinary pursuits of the ends of life; the divine purpose will not, be assured, in that: if God has purposed the salvation of a man, he has equally purposed all the steps he must take for that salvation: and if you are not found washing you, making you clean, and putting away the evil of your doings before the eyes of God, you are taking the most effectual means of proving that you at least are not the object of his forgiving love, of his electing grace; you are doing that which renders it impossible that you should be saved, because any one who is saved must be saved in this way and no other. Besides, you remember this, that while this way of seeking salvation is essential to each, so he that takes it offers the best proof that he is one of the children of God, that he is under those drawings of the Holy Spirit which would bring him to everlasting happiness and so, on this account, the more he considers the divine sovereignty and power in the work, the more he thinks of his own absolute helplessness, the more ought he to be urged to delay no longer; to persevere in humble and earnest entreaty, that that great work may be accomplished in him to which he thinks he is alone unequal.

So it is still more futile for a man to stay the progress of this blessed work, because he is not sure that he should receive the converting grace of God. My dear hearers, you are sure of this, that as long as you refuse to renounce evil habits, you cannot receive God's converting grace: you are sure of this, that if the grace of God is ever poured into your hearts, the very first effect must be, to renounce all evil. Seek, then, to renounce the act of evil now; seek not to dishonour the work of God by leaving that which you can do

undone because you cannot do all. Forego the habit of evil, if still the propensity is unconquered. Show that thus far you honour the divine authority, that you respect the divine law, that you wish for the divine favour, that you will not set yourselves to those ways which you know are forbidden by God, and which must, as far as they are cherished, set you as far from God as hell is far from heaven.

But perhaps these are not the obstacles in your way. Not unfrequently the sinner, half-convinced but yet leaning to the world, will say, "There is enough of reason in this appeal to make me ask which of the numerous professors of religion are right. There are many sects in the Christian church, and each sect has its important subdivisions; and there are vast differences in doctrine as well as discipline among them. There is quite enough in these people to make me inquire which of them is right, and amongst whom truth is to be found." The inference is altogether false: the appeal I make to you is not with a view to induce you to inquire which sect of the church of Christ is right; it is not to make you ask whether in other respects the doctrines which I preach are scriptural or not. Of this you may doubt: I may be wrong in many, and it may be important, points: but this of which I speak as preliminary is certain; all parts of the church agree in this, that you must "wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before the eyes of the Lord; cease to do evil; learn to do well." Is it your business, then, to look into disputed doctrines, to determine whether this is true, or that is false? O my friends, there is something to be done entirely preliminary. You know that you should renounce every evil habit; you know that you should be brought into conformity with the will of God: do not, on vain pretences, delay that necessary work; and then probably all your other doubts will vanish in that consciousness. If you would give your heart to the service of God, forego at once the evil habit that you have loved: trace it back in your past history; find it out, and sacrifice it before the Lord; give up that thing which is evil, whatever it may be ; seeking no more the resolving of any doubts or difficulties which may occur to your mind, but surrendering to God what you know ought to be surrendered: and for the most part, when the truth is embraced in love-unquestionable truth; the truth of man's ruin, and his salvation through Christ; the truth in which all Christians, really so, are one; the truth which can take the sinner to heaven; then all other doubts and difficulties about which there is so much

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