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though their occupations be in themselves allowable and even praise worthy, we have unquestionable authority for saying that if they die in that state of mind, they shall be excluded from the glorious presence of God, from the marriage supper of the Lamb. *
These may be compared to the skeletons; there is an order and regularity about them, something that belongs to life, though not necessarily accompanied by life: however orderly, however well arranged, they are still dead.
3d.-Observe that third group, of the amiable and the honourable, and the generous, and the benevolent. They have received a religious education, many virtuous principles have been instilled into their minds, they are humane and liberal; some of them having largely possessed and exercised the means as well as the inclination, may truly say of themselves as Job said, when the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I was eyes to the blind and feet was I to the lame.
Nay more, in addition to all this, they feel the necessity of a Mediator to render their ser
*Luke xiv. 16-24.
vices acceptable to God. They acknowledge their own inability to save themselves, and look with perfect sincerity to Christ under some such feelings as these ; either that the deficiencies of their endeavours will be made up by him, their sincerity giving them some title to have his merits applied or that by his atonement he has so far satisfied God the Father, that He will overlook their infirmities and defects, and save them provided they do their best, or even if they should not do quite their best. These present a goodly aspect, they resemble the perfect carcases in the valley, the sinews have come up, and the flesh in due proportion, and a fair skin covers all. Some of these are beautiful when we see them, we cannot chuse but love them, yet one thing they lack-death still reigns—there is no breath in them. It is exceedingly difficult to probe this sore to the bottom, to convince a man of high, honourable feelings, quick sensibility, tender affection and strict integrity, a man whose principles and conduct have gained him the flattering approbation and esteem of his whole neighbourhood; to convince such a man that his fair performances, admirable and excellent as they are, and deservedly applauded by all who know him, are yet as they refer to God, poi soned in their very source by the motive from which they spring, that they are in no sense or degree available to the justification of his soul, and that he still lacks the one thing needful: not one performance more to add to his list, but one spiritual principle, the operation of which would change the aim and design of all his performances, and strip them of their supposed merit: one spiritual principle which is the free gift of God, and without which (strive as he will) he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. This is mortifying, he cannot understand it, and he persists in justifying himself, and denying the necessity of it. 4th.-Observe that fourth
where there is much accurate knowledge of the Gospel, and loud profession of Christian zeal, but no genuine fruits of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. By education, or by means of their connexion with, and attachment to real believers, they have become acquainted with the principles of true religion: they have learned the language, and adopted the sentiments of the children of God. Their understandings are satisfied; their imaginations are pleased. They talk of justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ through faith, and of sanctification perhaps by the power of the Holy Ghost. If their understandings be strong, and their instruction clear and extensive, they embrace in their theory the eternal purposes of God also, and talk accurately of what is revealed to us respecting the election of grace. They run to hear the Gospel preached; they warmly contend for the Ministers who preach it, especially their favourite preacher. They know when they hear error and are frequently severe and vehement in their abuse of it, that they may the better exhibit their zeal for the truth, and they are almost always bitterly intolerant to those who differ with.them in their doctrinal views.
Such men pass current in the world for real Christians: they are not unfrequently the instruments of bringing many souls to the true and saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, and yet they are themselves dead while they seem to live. Their knowledge is clear but cold. And while union with Christ forms one of their favourite themes, their attention is manifestly fixed upon the security of that Union as separated from its holy influence. Imagine some of the carcases in the valley stimulated by electricity to exhibit certain convulsive motions, resembling life, but still destitute of the animating breath of the eternal spirit, and you have an apt similitude for such characters as these.
Class yourselves my dear brethren in these groups according to the unfeigned testimony of your consciences. They will include all except such as are real Christians among you.
To whichever of these you belong 0! man,
0! woman; you are still at enmity with the one only true God; you may imagine a Being for yourself with whom you are not at enmity, and call him God; but you are still at enmity with the God revealed to us in the Bible; with Jehovah, the just God and the Saviour; and you are ready at every moment to fall into his hands. Eternity is at the door, the Son of Man cometh at an hour when you think not, you stand in desperate need of this spiritual change, this life from the dead. And brethren, I stand among you, scripturally commissioned to say unto you what the Prophet said to the bones in the valley, O! ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord-live, yea I say unto you live. Do not despond, say not with the unbelieving Jews our hope is lost; our bones are dried; we are cut off; but consider the mighty power of God revealed for your encouragement. Animating examples are recorded, dead sinners such as you have been brought to life and are now in glory. Some of the Corinthians were such as the worst among you, but they were washed, but they were sanctified, but they were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the spirit of our God. For God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, did shine into their hearts, giving unto them the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ; and they became new creatures, old things pass