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feel :-" Examine yourselves whether you be in the faith ;" search and prove, with what bent of mind, “ with what purpose of heart,” you tread the courts of the Lord's house, and call upon “ Him, who seeth in secret.” Attend to these examples before you.
you trust in your own imaginary righteousness, and pretend to thank God that you are so much better than those whom you esteem licentious and profligate,-if you think that the faith you have imbibed-a faith for which you are indebted to your parents and teachers, and that the cross with which you have been signed at the baptismal font, have made you worthy members of the Christian church, and suppose that your rigid observance of its forms and ceremonies will entitle you to its distinguished privileges; or if you fancy that you feel supernatural influences, and “ are led by the Spirit,” though you indulge the appetites of the flesh; if you dream that, being one of the elect, you are secure of salvation, and may look down contemptuously and exultingly upon cold morality ;-if these be your sentiments or persuasions, you are just such a worshipper as the Pharisee, and your prayer will be equally efficacious with his. It matters not whether you cry,
“ God of Abraham !” or “ God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ !” or “ Blessed Redeemer !"
“ Glorious Trinity !" — whatever name you invoke- it will profit you nothing. Turn to the sorrowing, the acknowledged offender, on whom this self-congratulating separatist looks down with scorn and abhorrence. It is true, he was a sinner;-but he knew he felt himself to be such -a knowledge which the proud Pharisee wanted, and which many a modern pretender to evangelical faith and regeneration likewise wants-he knew himself to be " a sinner;" and that knowledge produced its proper and legitimate effects, humbleness of mind, deep contrition, earnest supplication : :- sentiments and behaviour, which every disciple of the Gospel must entertain and adopt, before the faith in which he glories can operate to the salvation of his soul. Humility of spirit, the marked and prominent feature in the character of our blessed Master, the peculiar and favourite grace of the Gospel, the foundation and firm basis of Faith and Charity, is the natural consequence, the never-failing result, of reflection and self-examination. No man can be proud and presumptuous, who looks back attentively and impartially on his past life, deliberately traces the real motives which have determined his conduct, and probes his own heart to the very core. The bulk of mankind are grossly deficient in duty, and shamefully perverse in conduct; but even the most diligent, the most generous, the most exalted of mortals, if he is honest and persevering in the inquiry, will discover enough in his views and purposes, his plans and pursuits, his life and conversation, to quench all confidence in himself; and, perhaps, to cover him with shame and confusion, however fair and flourishing may be his name and reputation among his fellows. Sinners are we all-whether we will confess it or no-and unless this conviction operates as it ought, unless it stimulates us to repentance and reformation, we shall have no part or inheritance with Him, who came to save sinners ;—to save, not self-approving, hypocritical, obdurate, but conscious, self-convicted, reformed offenders. Sinners are we all-and though we may deny it in word and show in this mortal state, we shall be compelled to acknowledge it at that dreadful tribunal, where
every tongue shall confess to God,” and “ all the world be found guilty before Him.”
Brethren!--for whatever be our rank and
occupation in society, we are all brethren in sin and sorrow-Brethren in corruption ! what is the proper, the only course, which reason, prior to revelation, can suggest, in this our forlorn and perilous state? There is but one,-supplication to the Power we have offended, and determination to offend no more. This is the only point of rest, the only place of refuge, to which nature can flee. In prayer and penitence she hopes to find safety; and from the manifest benignity of the Lord of the Universe, to prayer and penitence she has recourse for pardon and peace. But still it is a hope dim and uncertain. Conscience, and the universal consent of mankind, tell her that guilt must be followed by punishment. She sees that in human judicatures the fondest entreaty, the most sincere contrition, cannot arrest the arm of justice: the culprit must undergo the penalty he has incurred. But still it is her only remedy, her only resource ; and she prays, though with fear and trembling. Religion dictates the same method; but with this great additional encouragement, that
we have an advocate with the Father;"—this reviving assurance, that the debt of justice has been paid ;—that we are now “ not under the Law,
but under Grace,”—not subject to that rigid law, which on every transgression denounces death, but partakers of that “grace which bringeth salvation to all, who, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, live soberly, righteously, and godlily,”—who confess their unworthiness, deplore their folly, turn to the one Mediator, and resolutely forsake every evil way.
On these conditions, (for certain conditions are annexed to all the promises and blessings of the Covenant of Redemption, whatever weak or licentious pretenders may advance,) on these conditions, that we worthily lament our sins, and acknowledge our wretchedness, “ stedfastly purposing to lead a new life,” we shall “ find mercy, and grace to help in this our time of need," - our awful time of trial.
Then with all lowliness and meekness, with the Publican's consciousness of guilt, let us go
up into the temple to pray:" with Christian poverty of spirit let us approach the place of prayer, the sanctuary of the God in whom we live: and not only in this his sanctuary, but
in all places of his dominion," on all occasions, and in all circumstances, let us feel and avow