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tinually turning into real fruit, there must be much which displays great promise that drops off at the first cool wind that blows, and is heard of no

There is not so much danger in this our day of falling away through persecution for the truth's sake, as there is of hastily assuming the garb of piety to serve some worldly p!ırpose. To be able to speak upon religious subjects, to extol some popular preacher, to prefer the doctrines of Christ crucified to a dry code of formality, is no longer a reproach, but rather a commendation: and the consequence is, that our hearers of this day resemble those in the days of Ezekiel : “ Thou art unto us as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well upon an instrument.” They hear the word, but they will not do it.

Brethren, I ask again (for self-application is the object I am aiming at), are you pleased with what you hear? Are your feelings often moved at that which is addressed to you? Are your hopes and desires kindled by the rich consolations of the Gospel? And yet, is your religion bending and accommodating itself to the customs of the world? Are you religious in one society, talking the language of Canaan ; and, if not profane in others, at least, as worldlyminded as those around you-triflers, slanderers, scorners, despisers of that which is good? Is it thus with you? Then I tell you that the Gospel preaching, to which you say you are attached, so far from benefiting you, will prove your heaviest curse. The ministry of the Gospel will never be in vain. The same sermon which, under God, subdues the pride, and rebellion, and prejudice of some, will only harden others in impenitence and in unbelief. Therefore take heed how you hear; for it had been better not to have known the way of righteousness, than, having known it, to turn aside into your own courses. O, endeavour by self-examination, by prayer, by closer communion with God, to attain a greater depth of soil, to strike a deeper root upon the Rock of ages. Then, when all the storms of temptation shall beat at your feet, you shall be preserved, and you shall flourish when all the cedars of Lebanon shall be uprooted for ever.

The next order of hearers is thus described by our Lord : “ That which feil anong thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares, and riches, and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection." These differ from the others in this respect : the first had no root at all, and it was carried away as soon as it was sown: in the second the soil was sc

hin, and the plant so feeble, that it died before it had grown up. The Word of God makes a lodgment in the heart for a time; it is carried out of this house ; it outlives the Sabbath ; but, alas ! it does not outlive the week. What then are the things that choke it? The cares, and the riches, and the pleasures of the world : if you are men of business, the cares ; if you are men of property, the riches ; if you are men of idleness, the pleasures. My brethren, there is no more deadly enemy to profitable hearing of God's word than a worldly spirit: “ Take heed and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth.” Many there are of whom it mav be truly said, that they “ have forsaken the right way, and have gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrignte


ousness O that I could convince such-or I would rather say, O that the Holy Spirit of God might convince them, that there is a day coming, when those gilded baubles, upon which you are expending you time, your strength, your energy, will no more be able to profit you. My brethren, the love of Christ and the love of the world cannot dwell in the same heart. If any man is a friend of the world, he must be an enemy of God. No fruit to perfection will that heart bring forth, which is choked with the cares and the pleasures of this life.

These, then, are three of the parties enumerated by our Lord; and they are all seen to be hearers only. It is very plain, therefore, that our Lord did not expect his Gospel to produce universal conversion. Many are called but few are chosen." There are comparatively but few who are willing to hear, and receive the truth in the love of it; who pray fervently that the word of God may be ingrafted into their heart by the operation of the Holy Spirit and prayer. O, my brethren, that you may be filled with the seed of heaven, and believe to the saving of your souls.


The last class, upon which my comments must be brief, are thus described: That on the good ground are they, which, in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience." How affecting is the consideration, that out of four classes of hearers supposed in this parallel, three were deceived! There are many ways, brethren, of going wrong; there is but one way of going right. And what was it made the difference between these and the other description of persons? It was this; that the soil had been prepared, the fallow-ground broken up, the heart softened for the reception of this blessed seed by the Spirit of God. There was no prejudice; but a honest heart, willing and disposed to listen, and meekly to receive the truth. This preparation of the heart is from the Lord; it is his work, and his promise is, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." When this promise is fulfilled, the man is no longer a hearer only, but he begins to be a doer of the word he keeps it, he evidences it, he treasures it up in his heart, and it becomes the daily rule of his life: it is a lamp to his feet, and a light to his path: it is his defence in the hour of temptation: "Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I should not sin against thee." He desires to hear and to read; " How sweet are thy words to my mouth; yea, sweeter than honey to my lips." The word of God in short is his joy, his comfort, his all. His religion is not a fanciful feeling, not a dead hearing, but a living principle. He brings forth fruit with patience, and with perseverance.

Brethren, let this be your aim. Be not weary in well-doing; and in all your trials rest upon Christ, who, as he has been the author, will also be the finisher of your salvation. Be earnest in every duty for his Name's sake. Remember that the practical truth to be drawn from all that I have said to you this morning, is summed up in the language of the Apostle: "Be ye doers of the word, and Lot nearers only, deceiving your own souls." Or in the language of our Saviour,

“ Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it." Let us then unite in humble prayer to Him who is the great and glorified Head of the Church, and with whom is the residue of the Spirit, in that most appropriate petition of our Church : “ That it may please thee to give to all thy people, increase of grace, to hear meekly thy word, and to receive it with pure affection, and to bring forth the fruits of the Spirit. We beseech thee to bear us good Lord'



* Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinna

that repenteth.”—LUKE, xv. 10.

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It is equally true of Christianity that it cherishes and directs certain dispositions which it finds in our nature, and that it labours to introduce others which are not of native growth. This is remarkably explained in that double precept of St. Paul, “ Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” The “weeping with them that weep" is, in a certain degree, natural to us; for, with rare exceptions, the sight of misery excites in men's hearts emotions of compassion. But the “ rejoicing with them that rejoice,' is so far from being natural to us, that envy, rather than delight, is the feeling which commonly follows the view of another's prosperity. Compassion is itself a natural, original, distinct, particular affection in human nature; whereas rejoicing in the joy of others is only a consequence of the general affection of love which results from an enlarged philanthropy; and this enlarged philanthropy can follow from nothing but the infused principle of Christianity; the religion whose every precept wages war with selfishness. It is the object of Christianity to make and substitute others, as it were, for ourselves—their interests for our own; and thus to cause that there should be only one heart throughout the human population. It therefore demands from us that we appropriate to ourselves the prosperity and distresses of others ; having the same end of pleasure in the one, and of sorrow in the other, as we have in what is called our own portion. We admit that we here describe a point in Christian attainment which is never quite reached by the most advanced in godliness : but such is the standard; and we are to aim at perfection, however unable to acquire it; and while in neither respect we come up to the requirement, there will be always interposed a greater deficiency in regard to the rejoicing than in regard to the weeping with others; so that the former will demand the main of our carefulness.

Now, there is a beautiful exhibition in our text of that rejoicing in the welfare of another, which it was the one object of Christianity to introduce on the earth. It is asserted, you observe, that higher orders of intelligence have such sympathy with men, that the repentance of a single sinner ministers sensibly to their delight: they take an interest so intense in the great scheme of redemption, that they experience a new rapture at each instance of the salvation of the fallen : and you might have argued, from their taking such interest in redemption, that they

• For the benefit of the Northern Dispensary. VOL. III.




must themseives have a personal concern in its benefits. But without denying that, possibly, what Christ wrought out on our behalf may have had a beneficial influence on higher orders of being, we have no right to suppose that there was any race but the human whose necessities demanded so costly an interference. That the great sacrifice offered on this earth may, mingled with other consequences, have ministered to the permanency and steadfastness of those who never transgressed, we are ready to concede, or rather to maintain : but it were unwarrantable to supppose that this sacrifice was necessary for these unfallen creatures, seeing that the necessity sprang only from sin, and could not, so far as we know, exist where sin had not entered.

So that there is no reason for impugning the perfect disinterestedness of angels when rejoicing in the conversion of sinners. It was not their nature which the Son of God assumed; and it was not to redeem their brethren that he left his throme of light. Numbers, indeed, created like themselves, in the highest ranks of intelligence, had rebelled against their Maker, and were cast out from heaven in just judgment on apostacy: and had the Word been made flesh that he might bring back from ruin these magnificent, but now banished, spirits, we might have expected that as fast as he saw “the travail of his soul," there would have been the demonstration of great joy in heavenly places. But when the interference is on behalf of human kind, of a race dissociated from their own, and not so situated (we might have thought) as to draw forth their syrnpathies, that angels should evince satisfaction and delight at every proof of the success of redemption; indeed we say of this that it is one of the most touching exhibitions that can be easily conceived—how this main precept of Christianity should be obeyed, “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."

Now, there cannot be a fitter introduction to that appeal to your benevolence which we have undertaken to make, than the contemplation of the noblest creatures manifesting an interest the most acute in what befalls the meanest and the most wretched. The inference is too obvious to be overlooked, that, if angels thus sympathize with men, then ought men to sympathize with each other: and there is consequently attained a fine ground on which to press the claims of that admirable institution which this day solicits your support.

Now we waive for the present further reference to the charitable cause which we have undertaken to advocate; and we will confine ourselves to the illustration of those truths which seem involved in the assertion of our text. The great subject of discourse with which we have to engage you is, The joy which angels feel in the success of redemption. For we need scarcely observe, that the repentance demanded by the Gospel, and which ministers to the gladness of heavenly beings, is, the returning of sinners to God through the Mediator, Christ. And if you ask why angels should rejoice in the success of redemption, we reply generally, that redemption is the mightiest display of the divine attributes; and that, wrapt as angels are in admiration and adoration at their Maker, whatever sets forth his properties must be to them a fresh source of praise ana ecstacy. Without doubt we must add to this general account, the affection which they entertain towards men as members of the family of creation, their consequeut desire for their happiness, and their knowledge that happiness is secured by repentance towards God, and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

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