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but God himself promises that "your strength shall be according to your day." His very covenant with his people is, “ He will put his fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from him t." This is a principle which cannot but operate, and cannot but be effectual for the mortification of all sin, and for the performance of all duty. See its operation in the Apostle Paul. Under trials as severe as man could well be called to endure, he said, " I know that this shall turn to my salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also, Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life or by death u.” Thus you may encounter all difficulties without fear; and, knowing in whom you have believed, may assure yourselves that no enemy whatever shall be able to prevail against you *.] Comfort in death?
[This also is secured to you: "Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace
ey. I say not that you shall have joy: for there may be in the very nature of your disorder much to prevent that buoyancy of mind which is a necessary attendant on joy: but peace shall assuredly be your portion, if only you trust in God: for God has said, “I will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on me, because he trusteth in me 2."] Glory in eternity?
[This also shall be yours. Your expectations cannot be too enlarged, if you walk in the fear of God as you are here enjoined: “I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord; thoughts of good, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." And in this you differ widely from the sinner, who casts off the fear of God. To persons of this latter description God says, “What fruit had ye then of those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now, being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and your end everlasting life b.”
Tell me now, Brethren, whether ye have not encouragement to fear the Lord ?
and whether there be any sinner in the universe whose portion can be compared with yours? ---] APPLICATION
t Jer. xxxii. 40.
u Phil. i. 19, 20.
x Rom. vii. 35-39.
[As for you who fear not God, whatever ye may possess of this world, or whatever gratifications ye may enjoy, ye have a miserable portion indeed: and though ye abounded with every thing, like the Rich Man in the Gospel, yet were a pious Lazarus, that was destitute of all things, or even a martyr at the stake, in a preferable state to yours: and well may ye envy the poorest, the meanest saint on earth. Where will
look for pardon, for peace, for strength, for comfort in a dying hour, and for glory in eternity? Think ye of your misery ere it be too late; and beg of God to implant in your hearts that fear of his name, which is the certain and the only prelude to his final approbation.]
BUYING THE TRUTH. Prov. xxiii. 23. Buy the truth; and sell it not. THE rich variety of metaphors contained in the Holy Scriptures gives an endless diversity to the most simple truths: and the commonness of those metaphors brings home to our minds the deepest truths, with a clearness that cannot be misinterpreted, and a force that cannot be withstood. The idea of buying and selling is familiar to every mind; so familiar, that many would be offended at the application of it to the concerns of the soul. But we should not affect a squeamishness which the Inspired Writers did not feel ; except, indeed, in reference to subjects which, though not offensive to Jewish ears, the refinement of modern ages has justly deemed indelicate. Permit me then, without offence, to shew you, 1. What it is that is here commended to us-
Truth, abstractedly considered, is of great value; and the acquisition of it in science and philosophy is counted worthy of the most laborious researches. In astronomy, for instance, the ascertaining of the motion and mutual relation of the heavenly bodies is justly regarded as a rich recompence for a whole life of labour. But this is not the truth of which my text speaks: for that, once gained, remains with us : whereas the truth which is here commended to us may be sold as well as bought.
“ The truth” here referred to is the Gospel
[The Gospel was revealed to Abraham, as well as unto us: and it was made yet more fully known to Moses and the Israelites; though, from their “not mixing faith with it, it did not profit them." On us it shines in its meridian splendour : it exhibits to us a Saviour, even our incarnate God, living and dying for sinful men; and marks our path to heaven so plainly, that " a way-faring man, though a fool, cannot err therein' -]
This truth is of incalculable importance to every child of man
[There is much truth which the philosopher alone can appreciate or understand. But “the truth, as it is in Jesus," may be understood by all. It is not by strength of intellect that its wonders are discerned, but by a spiritual perception, which God alone can imparta; and which he often does impart to " babes and sucklings, whilst he withholds it from the wise and prudentb.” And to every human being it is of equal importance: none can be saved without it, and by it every creature in the universe may be saved. Our blessed Lord has assured us of this: “Ye shall know the truth; and the truth shall make you free.” Nothing but that will impart freedom: but that will make us free indeed; delivering us from all the guilt we have ever contracted, and from all the bondage under which we have groaned. Let us only "receive the truth in the love of it," and we shall be brought by it into the “glorious liberty of the children of God.”]
This view of the truth may prepare us for, II. The advice given us in relation to it“Buy the truth”_
[It must be purchased : freely as it is given, I say again, it must be purchased: it must be bought with labour, and with the sacrifice of every thing that can stand in competition with it. The fruits of the earth, though given us entirely by God through the genial influence of the heavens, must be sought and laboured for: nor can we hope to obtain the fruits of the Spirit” without similar exertions. Solomon tells us, that, notwithstanding it is “the Lord who giveth knowledge," " we must cry after it, and lift up our voice for it, and seek it as silver, and search for it as for hid treasures: and that then only can we understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God."
Nor is it less necessary that we be ready to part with all earthly interests in order to secure it. Our Lord compares the Gospel salvation to “a treasure hid in a field," and to "a pearl of preat price : which whosoever finds, should go and sell all that he has and purchase ite.” If, like the Rich Youth in the Gospel, we refuse to part with all, we never can possess the salvation of God. St. Paul is our pattern in this respect. He possessed more of what was really valuable than any unconverted man ever did before him: but “what things were gain to me,” says he, “ those I counted loss for Christ:
a 1 Cor. ii. 14.
c John viïi. 32.
b Matt. xi. 25, 26.
doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord." Nor does he give this as a sentiment which he was ready to maintain, but as one which he had already carried into effect: “ for whom,” adds he, “ I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung that I may win Christ." And it is worthy of observation, that amongst the things which he despised thus, are to be reckoned, not his temporal interests only, but his own carnal wisdom and his legal righteousness8; which, to a man of Pharisaic habits, are far more dear than all the world besides. After his example, then, we must renounce all that is pleasing to flesh and blood, and take “ Christ for our Wisdom, our Righteousness, our Sanctification, and our complete Redemption."] 2. “Sell it not"
(We shall be continually tempted to part with it: but we must “ hold fast what we have, that no man may take our crown." We must " never, after having once put our hand to the plough, look back again.” In seasons of prosperity we may be lulled asleep; and Satan may rob us of our prize. And in times of persecution we may be intimidated, and draw back through fear. But“nothing," however terrible, “ should move us. We should“ be ready, not only to be bound, but also to die, at any time, and in any manner, for the name of the Lord Jesus.” If called to suffer for his sake, we must " rejoice that we are counted worthy” of so high an honour: yea, we must even leap for joy,” because we are thereby rendered conformable to Christ, and because “ God is glorified in us." We must “ be faithful unto death, if ever we would obtain a crown of life.”] ADDRESS
1. Examine whether you have “ the truth” set
[In purchasing any commodity, you endeavour to ascertain that it is good and genuine. And so must you do in relation to the Gospel. You must not take any thing for granted. You have a touchstone, by which you must try whatever is offered to you for sale. St. Paul speaks of a false Gospel, as finding an extensive currency in the Galatian Church"; and e Matt. xii. 44–46. f Phil. iii. 7, 8. 6 Phil. iii. 9. h Gal.i,6,7, such a Gospel is but too often commended to us at this day. Examine, then, what ye hear; and bring it all to the test of God's blessed word. The salvation which we offer you, is that which Christ purchased for us on the cross; a salvation altogether by grace and through faith in Christ. It is that, and that only, that we call on you to buy. And our counsel is that which is given to every one of you by our Lord himself: “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see!" Ascertain, I say, that this is the very truth of God; and then hesitate not to buy it, though at the price of all that you possess.]
2. Inquire whether any who have bought it ever repented of their purchase
[I know, indeed, that you may find stony-ground hearers in every place where the Gospel is preached; yea, and many a Demas too. But the former are persons who never had the root of grace within them; and the latter carry back with them into the world a self-condemning conscience, that will embitter their whole lives. Could you ask of Moses, whether he now regrets, or ever did regret, the having sacrificed all the treasures of Egypt for that apparently worthless portion, the reproach of Christ; or, could you consult the myriads who "came out of great tribulation," and who “loved not their lives un to death;" would you find one amongst them all that thought he had ever paid too dear for this heavenly prize? No: there is no such thought in heaven; nor is there any such feeling upon earth amongst the faithful followers of the Lamb. Be not ye afraid, then, to pay the price demanded of you: for, as“ the gain of the whole world would be a poor matter in exchange for the soul;" so the sacrifice of life itself will be found to have been unworthy of a thought, when the glory purchased by it shall have been accorded to you.]
3. Lose not the opportunity that is now afforded you
[What would millions that are now in the eternal world give, if they could have but one more offer of that salvation which they once despised? And soon you yourselves also will be filled with bitter regret, if you close not with the offer now
Say not that you are poor, and cannot pay the price: for you are invited to buy it without money and without pricek." O that I might but prevail upon you, ere it be too late! Refuse not, with Herod, to give up your
made to you
i Rev. iii. 18.
k Isai. lv, 1.