This discovery of forgiveness in God is great, holy, and mysterious, and which very few on gospel grounds do attain unto.
Does sin have dominion over me? Certain things are mentioned which leave the case doubtful; as when sin takes hold of the imagination, when it prevails in the affections, when there is a neglect of the means by which it is mortified, when a reservation is made in favor of any known sin, and when hardness of heart is manifested, III. Hardness of heart is specially considered, and distinguished into natural, judicial, and partial or comparative;
It is a love that does not rise upon any outward motive, or extrinsical consideration; it is a love rising from the exercise of a gracious frame of spirit, as the result of that union betwixt the head and the members: it would have Him, although, as long as it is within time, it never did behold Him.
It is time to be alarmed! It is time to tremble for the church of Christ! While the enemy is thus coming in like a flood, must not the Spirit of the Lord “lift up a standard against him” (Isa. 59:19)? How can it be expected that sinners will hearken to the voice of the Son of God when saints will not hearken? How can we hope that the world will regard what the church will not regard (Amos 6:12)? How few will be brought to the saving knowledge of Jesus unless the Lord revive the languid graces of His own people and pour out His Spirit upon His enemies?
Does not the state of the church call for contrition? When I look round upon God’s people in this congregation, and in our favoured city; when I see how much their worldliness, indifference and stupidity, weakens the hands of ministers; prevents the access of the Comforter; and retards the progress of a work of grace; I feel justified in urging this duty as of present and immeasurable importance. Be entreated not to resist the motives to immediate repentance. There must not be a closet that does not witness many a heart-felt sigh; nor a bosom that does not swell with grief; nor an eye that does not run down with tears.
How unreasonable then is it to despair of mercy; while this season, this opportunity of obtaining mercy is afforded; unless you are determined not to improve it. The precious privileges which you enjoy, while this season continues, render despair still more unreasonable. What walls are these which surround you? Are they not the walls of God’s house, a place where he has recorded his name, and respecting which he says, Wherever I record my name, there will I meet with you and bless you?
This is a season when persons are apt to indulge themselves in all manner of luxury: iniquity now abounds apace; nothing is scarcely to be seen but things of the greatest extravagance imaginable; not only for the necessities of the body, but to pamper it in lust, to feed its vices, to make it go on in sin, to be a means for gratifying our carnal appetite; and this is a means to make us forget the Lord of glory.
The one who bows to the solemn and searching teaching of God’s Word, the one who there learns the awful wreckage which sin has wrought in the human constitution, the one who sees the exalted standard of holiness which God has set before us, cannot fail to discover what a vile wretch he is. If he is given to behold how far short he falls of attaining to God’s standard; if, in the light of the divine sanctuary, he discovers how little he resembles the Christ of God; then will he find this language most suited to express his godly sorrow. If God reveals to him the coldness of his love, the pride of his heart, the wanderings of his mind, the evil that defiles his godliest acts, he will cry, “O wretched man that I am.”
WHILE we are led to acknowledge the sovereign grace of
GOD, manifested in raising to himself a people out of the ruins
of the fall; we have also the highest occasion to adore the wisdom
and goodness of the great head of the church, in forming those,
whom he has thus made the happy subjects of his grace, into
particular societies, whereby they become subservient to each
other’s welfare, and are instrumental in promoting the common cause of the dear Redeemer.
THE church of CHRIST is fitly represented by the similitude of a body. As a body is composed of different members, and each member hath not the same office; so the church of CHRIST consists of a number of persons, who are designed to answer various purposes, each of which is connected with the good of the whole.
The oldest manuscript I have ever narrated a sermon from, Richard Greenham published in 1598. Two Treatises of the Comforting of an Afflicted Conscience, with Certaine Epistles of the Same Argument: