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HYMN FOR SERMON VII.
A Hopeful Youth falling short of Heaten.
MUST all the charms of nature then, Poor virtues, that be boasted so,
This test unable to endure, ('an hell demand, can heaven condemn Let Christ, and grace, and glory go, Toe man whom Jesus deigns to love? To make bis land and money sure !
The man, who sought the ways of truth, Ah foolish choice of treasures here !
Must this base world be bought so dear!
And make me part with all for thee.
SERMON VIII. .
A Hopeful Youth falling Short of Heaven.
MARK X. 21.-Then Jesus beholding bim, loved him.
THE SECOND PART.
HEN our Saviour dwelt upon earth, he found a young man in the coasts of Judea, that preferred the riches of this world to all the treasures of heaven ; and yet Jesus cast an eye of love
In the foregoing discourse upon these words, it has been considered what sort of love Christ could shew to a man, whose soul was so vain and carnal; and what good qualities appeared in this youth, that could engage the love of our Saviour, notwithstanding the guilt of his covetousness; and some remarks were made upon a man so lovely, and so beloved of Christ.
First, The love which our Saviour manifested to this person, was not properly a divine love, for that would have changed his nature, and refined his carnal desires, and conferred grace
and salvation upon him : We must understand it therefore only in this sense, that the affections of his human nature were drawn out towards something that was valuable and excellent in this young Israelite: He approved of those accomplishments which he beheld in him, and felt a sort of complacency in his person and character. He had an innocent and human desire of his welfare, he gave him divine instructions for this end, and pitied him heartily that he was so far gone in the love of the world, as to neglect the offer of heaven.
Secondly, The qualities which might attract our Saviour's love, were such as these: Ile was young and sprightly, and it was probable that he had something very agreeable in his aspect : His carriage was courteous and obliging for he kneeled before our Lord, and saluted him with much civility: He had a religious education, much outward sobriety and virtue, so that he was ready to think himself a complete saint. All these commands, says he, have I kept from my youth; yet he was willing to receive further instructions, if any thing else were necessary, in order to eternal life. Add to all this, that he was rich and powerful, he was a ruler among the Jews, and had large possessions, which made his humility and other virtues appear the piore amiable. because they so seldom are found in persons of an exalted station.
Thirdly, The remarks that were made upon a person that had so many good qualities, and yet missed of heaven, might instruct us not to disclaim any thing that is worthy and excellent, though it is mingled with much iniquity; but to pay respect and love, as our Lord Jesus did, to persons that have any thing valuable in them, though their virtues are imperfect, and fall short of saving grace. We may learn also, that God chuses not as man would chuse, nor saves all those that a wise and good man may well bestow his love upon. We are taught further, that many lovely accomplishments, joined together, are not sufficient to attain eternal life, unless we renounce this world, and follow Christ: and we are divinely warned of the danger of riches, how great a snare they sometimes prove to persons of a hopeful character.
Fourthly, We proceed now to the last thing proposed, and that is, to make an address to three sorts of persons, taking the occasion from the character in my text.
I. Those who have any thing lovely or excellent in them, but through the power of a carnal mind, are kept at a distance from God, and have no title to heaven; such are beloved of men, but not beloved of God.-II. Those who are weaned in some good measure from this world, and have treasures in heaven, but are defective in those qualities that might render them amiable on earth; such are beloved of God, but not of men.—III. Those that are furnished with every good quality, and every grace, that are the objects of the special love of God, and almost every man loves them too.
I. Let me address myself to those who have any thing lovely or excellent in them, but, through the power of a carnal mind, are kept at a distance from God, and have no title to heaven. Such was the young man in the gospel; and according to the several good qualities that he possessed, I shall divide my exhortation to several persons.
1. To such as are endowed with any natural excellencies of body or mind. Youth and beauty, strength and health, wit and reason, judgment, memory, or sweet disposition ; all these are the gifts of God in the world of nature, and render persons so far amiable as they are possessed of them. You that flourish in the vigour and glory of youth, and yet have no saving acquaintance with God in Christ, no right to eternal life; while I behold you, I mourn over you with much compassion. What pity it is that the flower of your age should be employed only to sooth your vanity! to adorn your guilty passions, and to dress up the scenes of sin! That flower will wither in old age, and it leaves no perfume behind, but what arises from virtue and goodness: or, perhaps, you will give it up to untimely decay : by indulgence of irregular pleasures, you devote it to be blasted by the breath of Satan, and in the smoke of hell. But is it not a pity, that a strong and healthy constitution should be wasted in slavery to your appetites, and in making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts of it? Why should not the powers of nature, in their first bloom and glory, adorn the kingdom of grace? Why should not our sprightly days, and the warmest hours of life, be employed in some useful activity for the interest of God! What a decency and honour is added to religion, by its fairest and youngest votaries! With what peculiar praises does the word of God recommend the character of youthful piety? How is the young king Josiah celebrated in the sacred records that while he was yet young he began to seek after the God of David his Father, &c. 2 Chron. xxiv. 3. How is Timothy commended, who had known the holy scriptures from his very childhood : 2 Tim. ii. 15. And there are some young in years, to whom the apostle John might address himself with the same pleasure as he does to the christian converts, whom he calls young men, strong in grace, who had the love of God abiding in them, and had overcome the wicked one; 1 John ii. 14. And he gives them in the next verse a most needful and friendly caution against the love of the world, and the things of it, lest they shut the love of the Father out of their hearts. What an abuse and waste of life are ye guilty of, when ye lay out the brightest moments of it upon the works of darkness ? and treasure up to yourselves everlasting darkness and fire!
I pity the young, the vigorous, the comely figures of human nature, that neglect to seeli after divine grace, that are ruined and made wretched to all eternity, by their excessive love of the pleasures, or the pomp, or the riches of this vain world. A thousand such sinners that were once the hope of their families, and the lovely ornaments of the place they lived in, are now cursing the day of their birth, and raging with despair in the midst of the wrath of God.
Let me speak a word to those also that have rich endowments of mind. Where we behold a sprightly genius, solid reason, and deep judgment, we cannot forbear loving the possessors of them : We cannot forbear to say, “ It is a pity that so much wit should be abused to ridicule religion, and do honour to foul iniquity; that it should be enslaved to all the arts of lewdness, and dress up the shame of nature in the charms of language.' Or if it be not debased to so exceeding vile purposes, yet at best, it is a pity it should be all employed in jesting and trifling, in mirth and raillery, and vain amusement. Might it not have been laid out infinitely better, to allure sinners to the love of God, to adorn the truths of our holy profession, and give credit to the gospel of Christ, even in the eyes of the witty and profane?
1 pity the man of lively imagination without sanctifying grace. What a lovely wilderness of blooming weeds ! fair indeed in various colours, but useless and unsavoury, and it must be burnt up with unquenchable fire. You are the persons whose happy talents give a relish to the common comforts of life; you diffuse joy and pleasure through all the company, and enliven the dullest hours; your presence is coveted by all men, and you are beloved of all : But how dismal is your state, if you neglect holiness and are not beloved of God! Can you imagine that your gay fancy will brighten the gloom of hell ? or give airs to your selves or your companions, in those hideous regions of sorrow? It is a most melancholy reflection to consider, that persons of your accomplishments should increase the number of the damned ; and there is no sport or amusement admitted there, to divert the anguish of the tortured mind, or to relieve that heavy and everlasting heart-ache.
I pity the man of strong reason and great sagacity of judge ment, that hath traced nature in her most secret recesses; that has sounded the depths of the sea, and measured the heavens; bul has spent no time in searching the deep things of God, and lets the mysteries of religion lie unregarded as obscure and useless things. He has never sounded the depth of his own misery and guilt, as he is a son of Adam : Nor is he acquainted with the way of climbing to heaven by the cross of the Son of God. Reason is a faculty of supreme excellence among the gifts of nature, and it is dreadful to think that it should ever be engaged in opposition to divine grace. How great and wretched are the men of reason, who strain the nerves of their soul to overturn the doctrine of Christ! who labour with all their intellectual powers to shake the foundations of the gospel, to diminish the authority of the scriptures, and to unsettle the hope of feeble christians !
There are others who employ the best powers of the soul in pursuing the interests of this life; they are wise in contriving to gratify their appetites, to fill their coffers, and to heap up to themselves wealth and honours; and wise to secure all these to their posterity after death : They call their lands by their own names, and perpetuate their memory to the latest generation, but make no provision for their own souls: they are wise to set in order their houses in the day of their health, and all things prepared for their dying hour, besides the concerns of their own eternity; these are delayed froup day to day, and left at the utmost hazard;