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way in which deliverance comes to us. For, blessed be
, God, his compassions fail not; and though there never was an age of which it might not be said, “ It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart,” yet at the same time it repented him of the evil that was to fall upon us, his bowels jearned over us, and, to the praise of the glory of his grace, he hath not given us up to the desert and punishment of our sin, he hath not left us to perish for ever without remedy, he hath revived us with the hope of the Gospel; the sum of which is, that our deliverance is by pardon, and pardon by Jesus Christ, and faith, or acceptance of the grace in conviction of sin, repentance, and humility, is the heart's recovery to God.
I would now exhort you, dearly beloved, to consider and apply what has been delivered from these words, “ It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” It must be plain to
every understanding that God did not repent of his having made man, so far as he was his own workmanship, for he saw it to be very good; but man had corrupted himself, and was become a quite different creature from what he was originally, and it is here said that the Lord was grieved for it at his heart. Nothing can more fully express the misery of our condition in sin; and yet, to the shame and reproach of our nature, as the fallen children of Adam, we are all in it, and “the imagination of man's heart is evil. from his youth," Gen. viii. 21. Where observe that this is not spoken only, or chiefly, of those who lived before the flood, or perished in it; because it is given as the reason why the Lord "would not again curse the ground any more for man's sake;" (compare Gen. ix. 11.) and therefore must necessarily be understood of those who lived after the flood, or th state of mankind at all times. If we had no other gui
besides that of forgetfulness of God, contempt of spiritual blessings, and the worldliness of our hearts, it is enough to make good the charge against us. For if we had continued in the image of God, we should have taken him for our Lord and Governor, made him our portion, des lighted in his service, and lived in a state of holy com, munion with bim upon earth, till we had been ripe for heaven, But, alas! the malady does not stop here; I mean only in our neglect of God and heavenly things, For David says of mankind, and St. Paul after him, and both by direction of the Holy Ghost, “They are altogether become unprofitable and abominable;" Ps. xiv. 3. Rom. jii. 12; “ foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” Tit. iii, 3. These again are St. Paul's words, and the wickedness which prevails in the world at all times, the heart of every natural man; bears full testimony to these assertions of the inspired penman. In this lamentable state of our nature God beheld us with an eye of pity; and sent his only begotten Son into the world to rescue and to save us, to die for us and live in us, to make reconciliation for our sins, to be the Lord our righteousness, and bring our straying hearts back again to God in love. He is now preached and offered to you for this end; and you have your choice either to be the children of God in him, holy and beloved, or to be of the number of those of whom it may be said to the last, at the hour of death and the day of judgment, “it repenteth the Lord that ever he made them, and it grieveth him at his heart.” Why, if he is grieved, with reverence be it spoken, cannot he find out a way to please himself? Yes; but it will be to the utter destruction of all such; and as Christ wept over the devoted city of Jerusalem, but would not save it from the miseries which were coming upon it, so there is no mercy in God to
plead against his justice for those who do not reverence his Son, and take him for their Saviour from the guilt and power of sin. Why then will you die? Why will you be the men or women of whom these words are spoken? Can you
bear to think it? Why then will you not accept of deliverance from the unhappy, perishing state you are in? You think verily you do; and perhaps there are none here present who will take the words of the text to themselves. But as it is for life or death eternal, be not deceived; and you need not, if you would but take notice of the few words more I have to say. If Christ is precious to you as your only Deliverer from the guilt and ruin of your sin, and you trust in him for holiness as well as forgiveness, you have nothing to fear; your state is good, begin how or when it will; you are a Christian, and may welcome death. But if you are ignorant of Christ and his salvation, and therefore certainly without faith in him; if you do not see the necessity of being recovered out of the state of corruption and helplessness you are in by nature; if you deny your sin, or disbelieve what God tells you of the curse of it, or do not repent of it, or think any thing but Christ can take it away; if you do not love the Scriptures, and pray sincerely for the grace of the Spirit, to guide you into the truth, to keep your
heart close to God's commandments, and make you a new creature : then what is here said of God's repenting that he made man, must be read thus - it repenteth the Lord that he made you. His repenting will be your own bitter, though too late repentance; what is called his grief, you will find to be your grief, and the never dying
heart. Let me in conclusion remind you that this is the first day of Passion week; so called, because in it our Lord suffered to save us all from the.curse of the text, “ It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” To call us to the right improvement of this holy week, the church has provided a service for every day of it, with suitable epistles and gospels, supposing that to attend upon it is our duty, and that all would do so who are turned or turning to God. If you are really hindered by necessary business, in the field, by daily labour, or otherwise, I have not a word to say in the case; but if your consciences tell you that you are not, and might well spare an hour for the worship of God, and yet you never think of it, consider, I beseech you, which way your hearts are bent. Besides, if the master has a reasonable excuse, the mistress may not; some one or more of the family might be spared to attend upon the service of the church in the name of the rest; and I cannot but recommend it to you to take order for it, that we might have something like a Christian appearance among us, which at present we have not. I have read of one Mr. Herbert, whose endeavours were so blessed to his parishioners, that it is said they would many a time and oft leave their plough, when they heard what they called Mr. Herbert's bell ring to prayers ; and I do not believe that any of them were a farthing poorer at the year's end for carrying God's blessing with them to their work. The bells have no such sound here. But whatever excuses you may have to plead for yourselves at other times, sure I am that this season calls for some regard from you; and regard it you would, if the one thing needful was uppermost in your thoughts. Let Good Friday, especially, be wholly a day for your souls. Think why it is so called, and think only how to make it a good day to yourselves, by laying aside all other business to turn your eyes and hearts to the Lord of glory, who was thereon crucified for you. Think what dead worldlings you are, and what a shame it is that you should be all for your bodies, and “ labouring for the meat that perisheth,” at the very time of the day when Jesus, he whom you call your Saviour, was hanging upon
, the cross to save you from the eternal death both of body and soul. When he ordained the sacrament of his Supper, he said, “ Do this in remembrance of me.” My brethren, he has done something to be remembered by us, in that and all other respects; but if we will not, and thereby show plainly that we neither know him, nor love him, nor desire any of his benefits, we must not hope to be remembered by him when he cometh to judgment in the last act of his kingdom. The Lord call us into it here, that we may be happy in it for ever. Amen.
Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal
life, and they are they which testify of me. John, v. 39.
It is evident that by the Scriptures here our Lord could only mean the Scriptures of the Old Testament, since no other part of them was written till after his death. And it is as evident also that he here intends to assert, that the Scriptures of the Old Testament do testify of him as the Saviour of the world, by whom life and immortality is to be obtained, or redemption from sin, and death the consequence of it. I shall,
I. Give you some opening into this matter.
II. And proceed to show what farther use we are to make of these words. Help us, O Lord, this day; for if thou dost not open our hearts to attend to the Scriptures, and so to understand them as to find the Lord Jesus Christ revealed in them and by them to our souls,