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the gospel. He stands with open arms to receive returning prodigals. Though he condescends not to reveal the secrets of his wisdom, counsel, and government, he has opened the secrets of his heart, displayed the riches of his compassion and grace. He says, “ Look unto me and be ye saved, all ye ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else.” This is your wisdom; this is your happiness; this is the only way to everlasting life. Let us all apply our hearts and consciences to the plain undeniable declarations of revelation. There will be no excuse for any one who lives a sinful, careless, and worldly life, and refuses to enter into covenant with God by the sacrifice of his Redeemer and to serve him, on account of the obscurity of the doctrine of salvation. That obscurity is not of such a nature as to darken its evidence, or render in the least degree doubtful, any thing that relates to the duties and prospects of accountable immortal creatures. There is no knowledge of any value to you in comparison of this—the knowledge of Christ, and him crucified. You are called upon, by believing in him, to unite yourselves to his promises, and cleave to his unsearchable riches. Have you done this? have you
believed in this Saviour, who is the Light of the world? Are you walking in the light; or treasuring up materials of accumulated condemnation, by saying to God,“ Depart from us, we desire not the knowledge of thy ways,”—though he approaches you, not in the character of a judge, but as the Father of mercies and the God of all grace, giving his “only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him might not perish but have everlasting life ?” Let not this be “
your condemnation, that light is come into the world, but that you loved darkness rather than light because your deeds are evil.” But “walk in the light while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you." Submit to Jesus Christ; be guided by his holy truths and precepts; and you will attain that happiness which "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man.”
ON THE DUTY, HAPPINESS, AND HONOUR, OF MAINTAINING THE COURSE PRESCRIBED TO US BY PROVIDENCE.
[PREACHED AT THE CHAPEL, MAZE POND, SOUTHWARK,
MAY 26, 1811.]
Acts xiii. 25.—As John fulfilled his course.
The life of every individual may be compared to a river :-rising in obscurity, increasing by the accession of tributary streams, and, after flowing through a longer or shorter distance, losing itself in some common receptacle. The lives of individuals also, like the course of rivers, may be more or less extensive, but will all vanish and disappear in the gulf of eternity.-Whilst a stream is confined within its banks, it fertilizes, enriches, and improves, the country through which it passes; but if it deserts its channel, it becomes injurious and destructive, a sort of public nuisance, and, by stagnating in lakes and marshes, its exhalations diffuse pestilence and disease around. Some glide away in obscurity and insignificance; whilst others become celebrated, traverse continents, give names to countries, and assign the boundaries of empires. Some are tranquil and gentle in their course; whilst others, rushing in torrents, dashing over precipices, and tumbling in waterfalls, become objects of terror and dismay. But, however diversified their character, or their direction, all agree in having their course short, limited, and determined: soon they fall into one capacious receptacle; their waters eventually mix in the waves of the ocean. Thus human characters, however various, have one common destiny; their course of action may be greatly diversified, but they all lose themselves in the ocean of eternity.
* Printed from the Notes of W. B. Gurney, Esq.
Few have appeared on the stage of action whose life was more important than that of the great prophet mentioned in my text. His course was a very extraordinary one, distinguished in some sense above all others, our blessed Lord himself only and always excepted. John was called to a very singular work; his ministry formed an epoch in the history of the church. It was the connecting link between the two dispensations. He first preached the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. “ The law and the prophets were until
John: since that time the kingdom of God was preached, and every man pressed into it.”
The most extraordinary events began with the baptism of John, and continued until Christ was taken up into heaven. His peculiar office was to announce the Saviour of the world as then present in it: other prophets had spoken of him as to
“ but there standeth,” says John,“ among you one whose shoe-latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” He was “ the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord;” and whilst he was actually engaged in his commission, he was able to declare—“Behold, he standeth among you." His commission was high ;-to reclaim an apostate people ; “ to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just;" “ to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." His career, too, was extraordinary, and his character and course marked and different from all others. Much of the wisdom of Providence appears in fitting the instrument to the work. The work appointed to John was to reclaim a nation from its departure from God, to rouse a people sunk in insensibility and impenitence, to preach repentance, to proclaim the approach of the kingdom of heaven, to usher in a higher economy, a new dispensation; and for all this he was admirably qualified. He was endued with the spirit and power of Elias.
of Elias. His spirit was undaunted and unyielding; he rebuked the pride of kings. He was indifferent and insensible alike to the charms of pleasure, the allurements of pomp, the smiles of
power, and the frowns of greatness. His whole soul was concentrated in his object :-he was superior to the world ; its forms and fashions made no impression on his mind, and left no traces. He was austere in his manner, abstemious in his food, rustic in his apparel ; he partook of the wildness of the wilderness in which he first made his appear
“ He had his raiment of camels' hair, a leathern girdle was about his loins, and his meat was locusts and wild honey." These are lively images of his work. “Then went out unto him Jerusalem and all Judea, and the region round about Jordan; and were baptized of him, confessing their sins."
His ministry finished the legal, and brought in the evangelical, dispensation. His voice was like the strong wind that bloweth-the whirlwind that maketh the earth to quake—the loud blast of that trumpet which was to wake the nations — the earthquake and the whirlwind which immediately preceded “the still small voice.”
His career was brilliant, and his success extraordinary. A large portion of the Jews became his converts, at least for a time: even the Scribes and Pharisees listened to him. “He was a burning and a shining light :” the apostles themselves were many of them first his disciples, and received from him those instructions which prepared them for the coming of the Messiah. By the authentic historian, Josephus, he is spoken of in terms of the highest encomium. It is remarkable, above all, that he was the only prophet born of woman, who was himself the subject of prophecy.