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vain to say, that it is not the gospel which meets with this treatment, but only human interpretations of it; for when the apostles themselves preached it under the infallible direction of the Holy Ghost, how was it received? On the one side it was rejected by men, who heing ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, would not submit themselves to the righteousness of God. On the other side it was abused by men who would not endure sound doctrine, but having itching ears heaped to themselves teachers after their own lusts, turning the grace of God into licentiousness; and on every side it was disregarded by men dead in trespasses and sins.

As it was then, so it is now; we have men amongst us answering all these descriptions; and what took place in Jerusalem, or Antioch, or Corinth, takes place now in some degree in every parish where the gospel is preached. Hearers we have in abundance deceiving their ownselves; but where are the doers of the word.

Brethren, it is a grievous thing to be deceived, and the more grievous the more confidently our expectation has been indulged: to be deceived by a stranger is painful: to be deceived by a confidential friend is more painful : to be found deceiving our ownselves is bitterness indeed: and yet nothing is more likely. The word of wisdom speaketh on this wise, “ he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool;'; we read also, that 66 the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked, who can know it.” We read also of bloody and deceitful men, devising deceitful matters; of deceitful tongues speaking deceitful words; of deceitful favour, deceitful beauty, deceitful riches, deceitful weights, deceitful lusts, a deceitful tempter: who among the children of men will presume to say that he is not deceived ? It is meet and right for us to inquire into this ; it is very meet, right, and our bounden duty, my brethren, seriously to ask ourselves to what purpose we have been hearing the blessed truths of the everlasting gospel, and carefully to examine whether we have in any measure become doers of the word, or whether we are still hearers only, deceiving our ownselves.

1. What is it to be an hearer only? II. What is it to be a doer of the word? These are deeply important questions: 0 thou searcher of hearts, who alone canst discover us to ourselves, suffer us not to be deceived: eternity depends upon it: our immortal souls are at stake : “ Search us, O God, and know our hearts, try us and know our thoughts, and see if there be any false way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting!”

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I. What is it to be an hearer only? Very express upon this subject is that beautiful parable of our Lord which we find in the eighth chapter of St. Luke, “ A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way

side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundred fold. And when he had said these things, he cried, he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

How frequently have we heard this parable, and this striking injunction of our Lord as to the attention it deserves ! and yet, how little have we understood its meaning, how little have we felt the force of its individual application ! and what need have we to ask as the disciples asked, what might this parable be?” Our Lord proceeded to expound it, after marking in very striking language indeed, the difference between his true disciples in all ages, and an ungodly world, « Unto

you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.”

Now the parable is this; the seed is the word of God. Those by the way-side are they


that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these bave no root, which for awhile believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” Here we have three distinct descriptions of hearers: none of them doers of the word, but hearers only deceiving themselves.

1.“ Those by the way-side are they that hear, then cometh the devil and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” This represents the case of those over whom the devil exercises dominion by means of some unbridled lust, some carnal propensity, some indulged sin. The word of God sometimes strikes terror to their souls; they tremble for the consequences of their iniquity, and enter into some undecisive, half-formed resolutions to give it up. These resolutions are strongest immediately after an indulgence of their favourite sin: the tempter retires fora season having effected his object, and the sinner imagines he will never again be guilty of such abominations: but presently his natural desire revives, opportunity serves, the tempter returns,


and the work of darkness is repeated. Again he hears the word of God, again he is alarmed, again he resolves and promises, again his alarm blows over, again he transgresses. Does this touch the inward experience of any among you? Of a dishonest man, who loses no opportunity of defrauding his neighbour? of a drunkard, who revels in the brutal indulgence of his carnal appetites ? of a libertine, who without remorse sacrifices the peace and comfort of a whole family on the altar of his licentious passion ? Have any of you been alarmed in this place, and have you made fair promises, and have you broken them, repeating the same sins ? It is quite plain you are hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Such was Pharaoh king of Egypt, at that period of his history of which we read in the ninth chapter of the book of Exodus. When Moses and Aaron spake to him, the Lord bearing them witness with signs and wonders, rain and hail and thunderings in the land, Pharaoh was terrified, and cried to them “I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked. Entreat the Lord (for it is enough) that there be no more mighty thunderings and hail; and I will let you go, and ye shall stay no longer.” Moses readily consented : “ He went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread abroad his hands unto the Lord; and the Lord hearkened unto his prayer; and the thun

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