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commended to the reader, to allot a few minutes every morning to the examination of the testimonies adduced ; and to make the grand inference the subject of his meditation at leisure times, as he proceeds.
I. From the coincident exhortations, promises, and prayers, it may be inferred without hesitation, that the same dispositions, affections, and actions, which constitute our duty, to which we may properly be exhorted, and in neglecting which we contract guilt, may yet (considering our ruined state, and the dispensation of mercy under which we live,) be doctrinally stated to be the gift of God, and graciously promised to the prayer of faith. Thus the precept and exhortation shew the sinner his duty; the doctrine or promise points out to him the only way of acceptably attending to it; and the Spirit of God teaches those whom he influences to turn both precept, exhortation, doctrine, and promise, into earnest prayers to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, “ to “ work in him to will and to do of his good “ pleasure.”
II. From the 'texts concerning the efficacy of prayer it evidently appears, that the Lord, as revealed upon a mercy seat through our great High Priest, is ever ready to hear the prayers of all who at
any time uprightly call upon him for promised blessings in his appointed way, whatever their crimes have been, or however confused their views, or powerful their temptations may be: and that prayer is the grand medium, by which the heart is prepared for receiving divine blessings, and through which God fulfils his purposes of love and mercy to individuals, to the church, and to the nations of the world.
III. It is manifest from the texts selected on doctrines practically stated, that every evangelical truth is in scripture connected with its tendency and efficacy to promote holiness of heart and life; and never proposed as a mere abstract speculative sentiment. And
IV. By those brought forward on duties evangelically inculcated, it is undeniably proved, that Christians are uniformly excited to every part of holy practice, by motives taken from the mercies they have received, and the prospects opened to them; from their profession, privileges, relation to the Lord, to the church, and to the world; and from the effect of their conduct, as adorning, or disgracing “ the doctrine of God our Saviour:” and scarcely ever by mere moral considerations, or mercenary principles.—These two may be called the stamps, by which sterling scriptural truth and exhortation are distinguished; and that book or sermon which is wholly destitute of either of them may justly be suspected of being base metal, or at least of containing an undue measure of alloy.
V. From the texts on promises made to particular characters we may infer, that the promises of scripture (as distinguished from invitations,) commonly convey a description of the experience, desires, intentions, and dispositions, of the persons who are actually interested in them: so that a consciousness of fearing or loving God, of hating and mourning for sin, of loving the brethren, &c. assures a man that the promise belongs to him, and that the performance of it suits the present frame and temper of his soul: while the consciousness of an opposite disposition and conduct disproves the most confident pretensions, except as it leads the man to pray for a new heart and a new spirit.
VI. The cautions against deception cogently warn us, that the subtlety of Satan, the delusions of false teachers, and the deceitfulness of the heart, do actually impose upon numbers to their destruction : whence it may be inferred, that our only safety consists in constant examination of our principles, spirit, and conduct, by the standard of scripture, and in earnest prayer' to God, that he would mercifully preserve us from being deceived.
VII. On the other hand, the encouragements against desponding fears evince, that the mercy, love, truth, and power of God, according to the tenor of the new covenant, are engaged for the protection, comfort, and salvation of every believer: so that the sweetest serenity and most entire confidence, in all possible circumstances, would certainly result from a due recollection and a realizing belief of the truths and promises of God's word.
VIII. From the texts selected on evangelical fruitfulness, we infer, that all who are united to Christ, and interested in his righteousness, are made fruitful in good works in proportion to the degree of their faith ; that this fruitfulness tends to the glory of God, the benefit of the church, and the conviction of mankind; and that without it all profession is vain and worthless.
IX. From the evidence adduced on the grounds of assured hope it appears, that scriptural assurance of salvation rests, not merely on the promises of God's word, but also on the work of the Spirit within us; and must, therefore, rise or fall with our consciousness that we are “ created in “Christ Jesus unto good works ;” and must be acquired and maintained by humble watchful diligence. There is indeed another kind of assurance, more easily attained, at least where the conscience is not too tender, or the heart too humble.
X. The scriptures illustrating the nature of divine consolations prove, that they consist in the actual exercise of holy dispositions, and the enjoyment of that communion with God, and those earnests of the Spirit, which an unholy heart cannot relish; and by these marks they may be distinguished from the joy of the hypocrite.
XI. The warnings and invitations to sinners shew, that they, who cannot discern any evidence of their interest in the promises, may come to the mercy seat on the ground of an invitation; that all descriptions of sinners are thus addressed in scripture, and should be so by the ministers of Christ; and that none are excluded, who do not neglect his great salvation.
XII. The doctrine of Providence seems peculiarly suited to animate the minds, and direct the attention, of Christians at this day. In general it shews that all things are in good hands; that most wise, righteous, and merciful purposes will assuredly be answered by all those calamities of which we lear, and by every one of those appre
hended changes, which the Lord shall see good to permit; and, in short, that, though inany and powerful enemies may fight against the church and the believer, yet they shall not prevail against them, because the Almighty God is with them to deliver and save, and hath promised that he will never leave them or forsake them.
SELECTION OF TEXTS, 1795.
1. COINCIDENT EXHORTATIONS, PROMISES, &c.
Jan. 1. Ez. xviii. 31. Make you a new heart, and a new spirit; for why will
die i 2. Ez. xxxvi. 26. A new heart will I give
you, and a new spirit will I put within
you. 3. Ez. xxxvi. 37. Yet for this will I be in
quired of by them, to do it for them. 4. Ps. li. 10. Create in me a clean heart, ()
God, and renew a right spirit within
me. 5. Acts xvii. 30. God now commandeth
all men every where to repent. 6. Acts iii. 19. Repent—and be converted, that your sins
may be blotted out. 7. Acts v. 31. Exalted to be a Prince and
Saviour, to give repentance, &c. 8. Ez. xxxvi. 26. I will take away the stony
heart,--and give a heart of flesh.