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was appointed by him, whom they acknowledge as the Founder of their religion, to be a memorial of himself. Alas! the very memory of Christ is almost lost among us. “Shall I not visit for these things ? saith the LORD. Shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?” Jer. v. 9.
Perhaps some of you will say, “You shut us up in a strange dilemma indeed. If we come unprepared, we sin; and if we stay away, we sin; and what then shall we do?” My brethren, I thus shut you up, on purpose that you may see what a wretched case you are in, and that there is no safety for you while you continue in it. You are shut up under a necessity of sinning, and the best choice in such a condition can be only the less evil; though even that is extremely aggravated. Whether you come or stay away, you grievously sin : it is all sin, peril, ruin, and misery all through: you should neither come unprepared, nor stay away unprepared; that is, you should not be unprepared at all. Your want of preparation is in itself a complication of wickedness; and whatever you do in that state, you are neither safe nor in the way of duty; it is altogether a state of sin and danger. The only way of safety and duty is to seek for preparation immediately, and with the utmost earnestness, and then to come to the Lord's supper. And oh ! let me set all this congregation upon this work before we part to-day, and make it the business of this week. You have spent many a week about things of less importance, and will you refuse one to this great work? Now set about it; now begin to look into the state of your neglected souls; now recollect your sins; look in upon your depraved hearts; look back upon a miserable misspent life; look forward to death, eternity, and the divine tribunal just before you; look to Jesus in the agonies of crucifixion on Mount Calvary; and oh! look up to God in earnest prayer for his mercy. Let these things follow
you home to your houses; let them dwell upon your hearts night and day. Do not laugh, or talk, or trifle them away; for oh! they will rebound upon you with overwhelming weight at last, if you now turn them off. Oh! that God may prepare a people for himself in this poor place! Oh! that he would visit this barren spot with the showers of divine grace! And may he prepare our hearts for the rich entertainment before us! Amen.
THE NATURE AND BLESSEDNESS OF SONSHIP WITH GOD.
1 John m. 1, 2.—Behold what manner of love the Father
hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God! Therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Though the schemes of divine Providence run on with the most consummate harmony, and will at last terminate in the wisest ends, yet, to the undiscerning eyes of mortals, confusion reigns through this world, and nothing appears in this infant state of things in that light in which eternity, the state of maturity, will represent every thing. This remark is particularly exemplified in the dispensations of grace
towards the heirs of heaven. Though they are not in such unmingled darkness, even in this region of ignorance and uncertainty, as to have no evidences at all of their being the objects of divine love, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, but may, in some shining moments, at least, conclude that they are even now the sons of God; yet they can form no adequate ideas of the immensity of that love which has adopted them as the sons of God, and made them heirs of heaven, who were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. There are indeed such rays of this love, that, like a flash of lightning, break
through the cloud that surrounds them, as cast them into a pleasing consternation, and make them stand and pause in delightful astonishment. In a kind of transport of ignorant admiration, they are often exclaiming, What manner of love is this ! how great, how vast, how immense, how unaccountable, how incomprehensible, that love which has given us, us rebellious sinners and heirs of ruin, the title of the sons of God, and the many privileges of such relation! Behold what sort of unheard of, unparalleled love is this! behold it with intense observation and grateful wonder.
Ye trifling sons of men, abstract your thoughts from the toys of earth, and here fix your attention; here look and gaze,
you are so transported with the survey of this love, as to be engaged to the most vigorous endeavours to be partakers of it. Our brethren in grace, that share in the same privilege, do you especially pause, behold, and wonder. Let all your admiring powers exert themselves to the utmost in the contemplation of that love which has bestowed upon you so gracious, so honourable a distinction as that of sons of the King of heaven. And
blessed inhabitants of heaven, who know the import of this glorious title, and the riches of the inheritance reserved for us ; ye angels that are happy in your Maker's goodness, but have not been distinguished with redeeming grace, look down from your celestial thrones, look down to this contemptible earth, and view the greatest exploit of divine, infinite love; for surely no achievement of Almighty grace among your various orders through the vast of heaven can equal this, that we rebellious worms should be called the sons of God, the highest title in which you can glory. Behold, and wonder, and adore with us, and supply our defects of praise. You see farther into the secrets of this mystery of love than we in our present state, who can only pause in silent admiration, or vent our blind conjec
tures upon it. What manner of love is this! therefore give all your contemplative powers a loose upon a theme you can so deeply penetrate.
Farther, As the sons of God in their present state cannot comprehend that love which has conferred this title upon them, so they know not fully the glorious import of the title: they only know in general, that when their Father appears they shall be like him, but they do not exactly and fully know what that likeness is: it doth not yet appear, even to themselves, what they shall be. Their liveliest imagination can form no adequate ideas what glorious creatures they will ere long be: they are utter strangers to their future selves. They know themselves only at present in their infancy; but when these little children of God, these babes in grace, arrive at their adult age, and grow up to the fullness of the stature of Christ, they will be prodigies to themselves, and mysteries which they cannot now conceive. In this world we are accustomed to little and obscure things, and our thoughts are like their objects; we see nothing sufficiently glorious to suggest to us any proper images of the glory of the sons of God, when they come to maturity, and enter upon the inheritance to which they are born. The splendour of the meridian sun, the grandeur of kings, and the parade of nobles, are but obscure shadows of the glory and magnificence of the meanest pious beggar, of the poorest Lazarus that ever languished upon earth, and is now arrived at heaven. The difference is greater than that between Job upon the dung-hill, lying in ashes, and covered with ulcers, and Solomon in all his glory. However, amidst all our ignorance, we may rest confident in this, that if we are now the children of God, we shall be conformed to him when he
appears to us in all his glory on the other side of death, and especially when he appears in the clouds in all the