Billeder på siden

ed.” Your hearts are hardened, sinners, by the forbearance of God; you become more and more resolved on iniquity, and determined in sin ; your hearts are fully set in you to do evil. Here observe that, because sentence against sin is not yet executed,

1. Mankind imagine that it will not be so dreadful as Scripture represents it. Men act as if they thought that every day they spent in sin diminished, instead of added to, their future sufferings; and though favor is shown the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; even in the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord. He is wearied in the greatness of his way; yet, says he not, " There is no hope;" he is not sufficiently grieved. He determines to do evil, because, as the sentence is not yet executed, he foolishly wishes, and persuades himself, that what is so long delayed, may probably be tolerable to bear. But further, because the former part of my text is true, 2. Sinners presume that judgment never will

Since it is delayed, they look not forward to the period when it will be awfully felt; they suppose the Almighty to be altogether such an one as themselves, and therefore “ their hearts are set in them to do evil.” Thus, when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not, as the Lord had said ; neither would he let the people go. Because the sentence against sinners is not speedily executed, they say, in their hearts, “ We shall not be moved, for we shall never be in adversity :" they tantalize those who are looking forward to the day of God's wrath, and say, “Where is the promise of his coming, for, since the fathers fell asleep, all things con


do not see,

[ocr errors]


tinue as they were from the beginning ?" They

“that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day;" but they determine to do evil, because they would persuade themselves that justice sleeps, and vengeance will never fall on them.

There is one step more in this stage of impiety, and that is, many of them are, from this circumstance, resolved to do evil, because,

3. They boldly and impiously challenge the Divine wrath. They draw iniquity with cords of vanity, and sin as it were with a cart-rope;" they say,

“ Let him make speed, and hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh, and come,

that we may know it;" and because the Lord delayeth his coming, this “evil servant begins to smite his fellow-servants, and to eat and drink with the drunken :" their hearts are set in them to do evil; they encourage this propensity; they indulge this evil bias; by drinking deeper and deeper of the fountain of pleasure, they endeavor to fortify their minds against the fear of ruin : with hell in all its terrors before their eyes, they go on to sin.

But, O, how awful is the state of obstinate sinners !

God osten lets them take their course, nor stops them in the road to hell. But, sinner, stay, “We are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and long-suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ? But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest

up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds." Rom. ii. 2-6.

The promises of God are no less true than his threatenings. He has pardoned believers ; he will not revoke it: but will encourage to holiness : how consolatory, &c.* Let us pray for sinners

" Swift may thy mercy, Lord, arise,

Ere justice stops their breath;
And lighten those deluded eyes,

That sleep the sleep of death."

* No doubt, Mr. Spencer enlarged here in the delivery of this discourse, as was his custom in the improvement of his subjects.






“ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all

that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." EPHESIANS 11. 20, 21.

There certainly cannot be a more astonishing subject for human or angelic contemplation, than the love of Christ. It is, indeed, immense and unsearchable, vast in extent, without any commencement, enduring to eternity, unfathomable in its depths, and superlative in its heights: it challenges the most enlarged powers fully to comprehend it. All the ideas that may be entertained of it by men or angels are infinitely surpassed, since no stretch of thought can embrace its nature, or the grand manifestations that have been given of it. And yet, mysterious as this subject is, God has thought fit to enlighten the minds of a favored few, in every age of the world, so that they are enabled to understand, at least somewhat of that Divine theme, the full excellence of which cannot be told.

Hence the great apostle of the gentiles is emboldened to ask for the believing Ephesians no small boon; but to beg the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to make them able to comprehend, as far as a human mind can, the love of Christ ; that they might feel its virtue, power, and sweetness, and be favored with a delightful view of its boundless riches. And when he had asked this great, and apparently, to many, hard thing, lest they should

suppose for a moment, that they ought not to dare to expect such a favor, or that it was too much for God to grant, he intimates that even this, and more than this, can be accomplished for us by the God of all grace; and therefore, to raise their expectations and confirm their faith, he says, “ Now unto him who" (I can tell you, if you think this a great request) “i is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."

In proposing this text for your contemplation, I remark, that it gives us an insight into Jehovah's ability to bestow the greatest blessings on his saints, the proof that he has already given of it, and the honor that should be ascribed to him on account of it. Hoping that our reflections will be made useful to strike us with admiration of the exceeding riches of grace, we will, in the first place, indulge a few thoughts on,

I. Jehovah's ability to bestow the greatest blessings on his saints.

“ He is able," says my text, “to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” And who, may some say, can doubt it? Do we not all know that he is God all-mighty? Have we not often heard, that nothing is too hard for the Lord? Do you think, that any of us doubt that with God all things are possible ? But, О believe

« ForrigeFortsæt »