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life, where we see little more than the outside of mankind, we are frequently shocked with the appearance of a child of light, and of a child of this world, in the same man, the most hideous of all monsters. This however is but an appearance. In the eye of Christ who saith, 'it is impossible to serve God and mammon,' and who never accepts half a heart, the mask becomes transparent, and nothing is seen within, but a man of this world.
The keen and chameful charge, laid against us in the text, by the best of all friends, who loved us, who died for us, having the conscience and experience of every man, and the truth of God himself to prove it; how ought our faces to redden, and our hearts to break at the stupidity, the ingratitude, the infamy, thrown on us by so reproachful a censure! How can we dare to be angry, when men revile us in terms the most scandalous and opprobrious, since the very worst they can possibly say to us, or of us, is mere panegyric, to that which God and our consciences say of us, and to us, as often as we peruse his word, or examine ourselves? Why should our numbers, and our community in shame give us countenance, since God, we know, passes judgment on each of us singly by himself?
Is it true then, that while we call Christ our Saviour, and consider the devil as the enemy of his glory and our own salvation, that enemy is served with more wisdom and zeal, than he? that every earthly trifle is pursued with more ardour than heaven? that all the affairs of this perishable world are transacted with more skill and judgment than those of religion? What new scourges, new thorns, new nails, and spears are these to the feeling of our gracious and compassionate Saviour! What new, what continual matter of triumph to the malicious and insolent devil! Had we any sense of true honour, or any spirit of indignation, they would surely take fire at this reflection; and once on fire, would animate us with a more than human resolution to turn the weapons of our adversary against himself, to turn the incentives of pride, lust, and avarice, into so many instruments of beneficence towards men and glory to God, that so we might, pursuant to the command of Christ, make to ourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, who when we fail may receive us unto everlasting habitations."
If we are really the children of light, let us, with an ingenuous concern to be outdone in wisdom by the most despicable of fools, firmly resolve to walk as children of the light, and to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness.' As we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, let us shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light, by walking honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying,' but in that newness of life, to which the gospel of Christ hath called us.
If we are really the children of light, of that light which maketh every thing else manifest, and itself, most of all; we must see, that Christ is that light,' that 'the Lord is our everlasting light, and God our glory.' Seeing this, how can we walk, on some occasions, as in the day, and, on others, as in the night, like the mongrel children both of light and of this world. How can the Lord be our light, if we do not our utmost to walk worthy of the Lord?" How can God be our glory, if we are a reproach to him and his holy religion? Can we behold him displayed, by his own glorious light, in all his infinite goodness to us, and not infinitely love him? And if we love him, in any proportion to that goodness, which gave us being, and the means of salvation at the expence of his own precious blood, shall we suffer the children of this world so far to outstrip us in the zeal and wisdom of a service, rendered, against all sense and reason, to the most horrible of all beings, and for wages, paid here in no better coin than vanity and vexation, and hereafter in death eternal? Shall we even make it impossible for mankind to judge, whether we are the servants of God, or of his enemy?
If we really dwell in the light, can we not see ourselves, and the way we are going? Or can we go two ways, up and down at once? If we have any glimpse of true wisdom, shall we not take the advice of Solomon, and endeavour to be wise for ourselves?' Yet how can we be wise for ourselves, if we attempt to serve two opposite masters? Nay, if we suffer the plant, that bears eternal life, to pine in the lean soil of weak reason only, and a still weaker faith, while that which bears death and misery, grows rank
in all the fatness of our hearts? We ought never to forget, that he who is now a child of light, as the devil was, before his fall, may, like him, become a child of darkness and of this world, and with him, inherit outer darkness.' This most terrifying reflection should set us on the watch, should rouse every power of the soul and heart to the service of God, that we may stand fast in the faith; that we may quit ourselves like men, and be strong;' that we may no longer blindly walk towards any other point but heaven, nor idly loiter in the way to that; that we may lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us;' that we may 'gird up our loins, and with patience run the race that is set before us, forgetting those things that are behind, and reaching forth unto those things that are before, and pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.'
O infinitely gracious and almighty God, grant us, we beseech thee, strength to do this, to thy eternal glory, and our salvation, through Christ Jesus, to whom, with thee, and the Holy Spirit, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now, and for evermore. Amen.
THE SCORNER SCORNED.
PREACHED ON A FAST-DAY IN TIME OF FAMINE AND UNSUCCESSFUL WAR.
PROV. 1. 24-26.
Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof : I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock, when your fear cometh.
THESE words are found in the midst of a remarkable speech made by wisdom to that part of mankind, who most want, but are least inclined to receive, her admonitions. The wisdom that speaks is that divine Wisdom, or 'Word, whereby the Lord hath founded the earth, and established
the heavens; whom the Lord possessed from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was;' who is 'the wisdom of God; and who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.' The men she speaks to, are the thoughtless, the insensible, the proud, the wicked.
And, as if she did not expect to find a race like these, assembled in a temple, synagogue, church, or any place peculiarly consecrated to religious instructions; she attacks them in their own place of rendezvous, she crieth without, she uttereth her voice in the streets; she crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates; in the city she uttereth her words.' In the thoroughfare of the simple ones, who love simplicity,' and hide themselves therein; on the very parade of the scorners,' who with pleasure, glory in their scorning;' just in the path of 'fools, who hate knowledge,' because it exposes their folly, and ' reproves their evil deeds ;' amidst the deaf adders,' by nature incapable of hearing, yet stopping their ears,' lest they should by some miracle be forced to hear, and at the same time opening their mouths, that they may fasten their envenomed teeth on their teachers; in this crowded mart of business; this broad way of pleasure, pomp, and ambition; this kennel of vice and pollution; even here, the wisdom of God raiseth its voice, and uttereth its sacred words.
But is it possible that the voice of God should deign to mix itself with a clamour set up by folly and wickedness, where, as in their own element, they ride rampant and triumphant? Why not? On whom should this light shine?' but on those 'who sit in darkness? To whom should wisdom preach, but to fools? Or threaten the terrors of the Lord, but to proud and obstinate fools? When this Wisdom or Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us,' as he came into the world to save sinners,' so he conversed with sinners, but without sin. He brought the medicine of the soul to those who needed a physician, but without catching any infection. It is true, he was a friend to publicans and sinners,' but without being himself a gluttonous person, or a wine-bibber,' without consenting to the thief,' or 'being partaker with the adulterer.'
As 'all things were made by him,' and the holy Scriptures
revealed by his spirit, so he teacheth both by his word and works. By his word he calls us to faith and repentance; and by his works of nature and providence he gives perpetual encouragement to the virtues, and scourges the vices of mankind. In times, like these particularly, he preaches to us even by our own follies and crimes, together with their unhappy effects, preaches righteousness to the yet uncorrupted observer, and repentance to the yet feeling sinner, in a strain of oratory, that is truly pathetic.
In this sort of eloquence chiefly consists the force of that speech, wherewith the wisdom of God, in the mystic character of a woman, here addresses her auditors of the street. Let us hear her at large in this and other parts of Scripture, where it will be evident, she applies herself, not only to the Israelites, but to all men, peculiarly indeed to us of these countries, and in these times. Suffer me only to lend her a tongue, and to be when your dulness may possibly require it, her interpreter. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear;' or if he cannot hear, let him feel, now that the rod is laid on to urge the lesson, the rod, I mean, of famine, and a calamitous war, the effect, the punishment of our departure from God, and contempt for his holy religion.
'How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge? Turn ye at my reproof; behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out my hand, and no man regardeth; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof; I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock, when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a wirldwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord; they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof. Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. But whoso hearkeneth