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man" be "put away with his deeds, which are corrupt, and put on the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Remember, that you are creatures of God; dependent on his bounty for life, and all its blessings and hopes; that he is now waiting on you to be gracious, and to save your souls alive; and that he has no pleasure in the death of the sinner, but would rather that he would return, and repent, and live."
This day has he been present in this house; he is now present, with opened arms, to receive and bless you. Will you not meet him, and receive his blessing?
Feel, I beseech you, that you are dying creatures. Feel, that the message in the text, may truly be directed to you. To some or other of you it will in all probability be directed. Act then, as you would act, if the voice of the prophet were still sounding in your ears; "This year thou shalt die." All that would be proper for the man whose case I have proposed, must, essentially, be proper for you. You, like him, stand upon the brink of the grave, on the border of eternity. You, like him, are hastening to the judgment, to the recompense of reward. Your life is, like his, "a vapour, which appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." The remaining days and hours ought, therefore, to be anxiously employed in preparing for these amazing events. The world ought to lose its hold on you, as on him. Its business, its honours, its pleasures, ought to have no place in your hearts; except as your duty is concerned. Your whole business here is plainly to prepare for hereafter. Nothing here ought to stand between you and your duty; between you and your God. Shall time prevent you from acquiring the blessings of eternity? Shall earth withdraw you from heaven? You have the Gospel in your hands; you enjoy the sabbath; you frequent the sanctuary. All things are "given to you richly to enjoy." Every means of grace, every hope of salvation, is placed freely and bountifully in your hands. You hear the calls of mercy; the invitations to faith, repentance, and holiness, the proffers of endless life and glory. The Saviour cries to you, "Come unto me all ye that labour and
are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." He is evidently set before you, crucified for your sins. He entreats you daily to be reconciled to God; and points to his own wounds, and to his flowing blood, with infinite compassion, to compel you by motives irresistible. Why will you not comply? Should an enemy, malicious, sagacious, and implacable beyond example, and fraught with the spirit of a fiend, contrive to lull you into security, allure you to sin, harden your hearts, and blind your minds, in such a manner as to ruin your souls, and lead you to final perdition; what would be your views concerning the character of such a being, when you came to the miseries of damnation? Would you not think eternity too short to vent all your resentment against the murderer of your souls? What other part are you now acting? Every sin which you commit, every season of grace which you lose, every warning which you cast away, is a proof, that you are suicides; suicides of your souls; destroyers of immortal life. What sentence ought you then to pass on your conduct; on yourselves? Awake from this sleep of stupidity, sottishness, and death. Resume your reason. Return to your God; to repentance, faith, and hope, to holiness and heaven. Retire to your closets, shut your doors, and "pray to your father which is in secret." Let heaven, for the first time, hear a fervent, honest prayer ascend for the forgiveness of your sins. Give to good men here, and to angels there, a hope, that their joy shall be renewed over your repentance. Let God be able to say concerning each of you, "Behold he prayeth."
Betake yourselves to the Word of life. Search the Scriptures. Ponder the descriptions of your character; the threatenings against your sins; the invitations to repentance and reformation; the infinite love of the Saviour; the abounding compassion of GOD; the glorious mission of the spirit of grace; and the bright and luminous hopes of immortal life. Think what you will be, if impenitent; what you may be, if you please; and what you will be if you repent. Weigh endless life with the loss of the pleasures of sin, and endless death with the enjoyment of those pleasures; and carefully cast up the difference. Think how you
would feel, if a messenger from heaven were to announce to you your certain and final damnation; and then call to mind, that you are daily announcing this tremendous allotment, by your own continuance in sin. Lo! life and death are set before you. "Choose you, therefore, this day, whom you will serve;" GoD or the World. Choose whether you will go down to perdition, or ascend to everlasting life: and may Infinite Mercy enable you to make a choice, in which you will find peace and consolation throughout eternity. Amen.
A SERMON FOR THE NEW YEAR.
PREACHED JANUARY, 1809.
LUKE xiii. 6-9.
He spake also this parable. "A cretain man had a fig-tree, planted in his vineyard: and he came, and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come, seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he, answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."
THIS parable seems to have been addressed originally to the Jews. They had been long a peculiar object of divine cultivation; and at the time, when the parable was delivered, were eminently unfruitful. A sentence of excision was gone out against them; but was stayed in its execution by the heavenly Vine Dresser: by Him, who said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee!" by Him, who wept over the future miseries of this devoted nation, at the very time when they were preparing to imbrue their hands in his blood. Accordingly, GOD waited upon them to be gracious; and came many years, seeking fruit, and finding none. At length, however, he destroyed them with a terrible destruction by the Roman armies, under the command of Titus. From the date of this fact, they have been dispersed among all the nations of men; cast out of the Church; and given up to hardness of heart.
But, although this parable has a primary reference to the Jews, it is plainly intended to have a reference much more extensive, and therefore much more important. It was spoken for their admonition: it was written for ours. It was originally addressed to the Jews. Through the Gospel it has ever since been addressed to Christians. Every person, who lives under the Gospel, is here exhibited as a tree, planted by the hand of God in a vineyard, in a soil, and in circumstances, naturally rendering it fruitful; as cultivated with attentive care; and as reasonably expected to bring forth fruit. The fruit expected, also, is figs; pleasant, healthful, and useful. Of these trees, however, some are represented as being, notwithstanding all these advantages, absolutely barren; and as thus disappointing, repeatedly, the expectations formed by the Owner of the Vineyard. After waiting long, and looking frequently, to find fruit on them, he pronounces them to be not only useless, but nuisances; and directs them to be cut down, and cast out of the Vineyard, as mere "cumberers of the ground." The Vine Dresser, however, solicits for them a little longer respite, in order to bestow on them a greater measure of care and cultivation: but if, with these peculiar advantages, they should still continue barren; even he consents, that they should be destroyed. The following doctrines are therefore, I think evidently, contained in the Text.
1st. Mankind, under the Gospel, are placed by GOD in circumstances, peculiarly fitted to make them fruitful in righteous
Fig-trees, planted in a rich soil, and carefully cultivated, will yield fruit, if they will yield it at all.
2dly. When GOD has waited a reasonable time, and finds them barren, and useless, in the world, he determines to destroy them.
"Behold these three years I come, seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down: why cumbereth it the ground?" Three years are certainly a sufficient period to determine whether a tree, of mature growth, will yield fruit, or not. By