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text belongs in an especial manner to you who are as yet in early and vigorous years. Now your understandings are capable of the firmest impressions. Now your wills are most pliable. Now your affections are most patient of discipline. Now your bodies are most useful to your minds. Now your
minds are most unfettered, and your whole man most susceptible of good impressions, and most capable of exerting them in action. Lose not, therefore, your irrecoverable advantage. Answer now when God calls you with most affection. Offer yourselves while you are most worth the offering Govern your appetites before the evil day come. Now you may gird them, and carry them whither you will; but if you neglect this precious season, they will hereafter gird you, and carry you whither you would not. An early virtue is the most worthy and valuable offering, honoured and blessed with the kindest acceptance of God. But when a man shall look into himself, and find his faculties depraved and weakened, stained with the pollution, wearied with the service, sick with the disappointments, and darkened with thc impostures of sin, how comfortless a task must he have in preparing an offering to God from among such a lame and diseased herd. “ Remember therefore now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, ere the evil days come, and the years draw nigh in which thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. Amen.
Preached on a Day of Humiliation before Celebrating the
LUKE xviii. 19.
-He that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
As man fell by pride, it is reasonable to conclude that he can only rise again by humility : and here we are taught that this is the express ordination and appointment of God; for thus saith the faithful and true Witness,“ Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” I cannot therefore employ your time to better purpose, especially upon such an occasion as this, than in opening the nature of true humiliation, and endeavouring to illustrate the necessity and use of it, to prepare our hearts for those enriching communications both of mercy and grace, which our Saviour, in this passage, encourageth us to expect.
I begin with opening the nature of true humiliation. This takes its rise from spiritual discoveries of the evil of sin, as the transgression of a law which is holy, just, and good; as an act of outrageous and unprovoked rebellion against the mildest, as well as the most righteous administration; as the basest ingratitude to our kindest Benefactor, the Author of our being, and of all that we possess; and especially as it renders us unlike to him who is not only the standard but the source of perfection, and consequently incapable of any friendly correspondence with the Father of our spirits, the Fountain of light, of life, and of joy.
These spiritual discoveries of the evil of sin, produce a fixed and solid apprehension of our own ill deserving because of it. We see the justice of the sentence which condemns us, and cannot help acknowledging that we are unworthy of the least of all God's mercies, and liable to that tremendous wrath which is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men. Hence arise grief and shame, and all that inward distress which necessarily attend the consciousness of guilt, the present sense of forfeited happiness, and the fearful prospect of that unknown misery which awaits transgressors in the world to come.
To all which must be added, such a deep conviction of our utter inability to do any thing that can be effectual for our own recovery, as issues
in a dispair of relief from every other quarter but the free mercy of God, extended to sinners through Jesus Christ, and the effectual operation of his renewing grace. We are not truly humbled till we feel ourselves wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked, equally destitute of righteousness and strength, incapable of making any satisfaction for past offences, and having no power of our own to rectify that fatal disorder in our frame, which is the bitter fruit of our apostacy from God.
Such was the state of the publican's mind, who is presented to our view in the foregoing parable, as an approved example for our imitation; whilst the Pharisee, who trusted in himself that he was righteous, standing apart from his fellow-worshippers, as one who disdained to hold communion with them, boldly addressed the Divine Majesty, and, under the specious form of thanksgiving, poured forth the pride and uncharitableness of his heart. The publican, we are told, stood afar off; and, though his face was turned towards the mercy-seat, yet, conscious of his unworthinesss, he would not so much as lift up his eyes unto heaven, but smitting upon his breast, as the seat of his disease and pain, from whence he despaired of fetching any relief, he as it were flies from himself to the God of all grace, and gives vent to his penitent and humble hope, in these few but emphatical words, “ God be merciful to me a sin. ner.” But the nature of true humilation will more
fully appear from the salutary purposes for which it is intended, which was the
Second thing I proposed to illustrate; and hence likewise we shall discover how necessary it is, in order to our regaining that happiness we have forfeited. And,
I. It is of use to disgrace and mortify carnal self, that usurping idol which sits on the throne of God, and reigns in the heart of every natural man.
Herein lies the essence of man's apostacy. He is fallen from God to self. Dis. satisfied with the rank which God had assigned him, he attempted to break loose from the Author of his being, and to seize upon knowledge, immortality, and happiness, without any dependence upon the hand that formed him. This my bre. thren, is the original disease of our nature; in this consisteth the sinfulness and the misery of man. He loveth himself supremely, he liveth to himself ultimately : the genuine language of his heart is, “ Who is the Lord, that I should obey him ?”
He begins indeed to alter his tone, when conviction, like an armed man, forceth its way into his soul; then he feels bis dependence, and wisheth to be at peace with that Being whom he finds he is unable to resist. For this end he will part, at least for a season, with many of the members of the bedy of sin. Nay, so far as the exter.