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last point I purposed to consider. The word experience in these days of blasphemy and reproach conveys an odd idea to some persons, and I know that they cannot separate it from enthusiasm : but I have remarked, that they who ridicule the word, are entire strangers to the thing: for we mean nothing more by experience, than the knowledge of what God has done for our souls, which may be as certainly perceived, as any external object can be : for can faith be given, and the heart be changed, and all its affections altered ; is it possible this should be done, and yet the man who suffers this great and total change should not know it? Can he be brought out of darkness into light, and not be sensible of it ? Can he be delivered from the fear of death, and not find that his fears are gone? Can his bonds and chains be broken off, and shall he not feel that he is at liberty ? Surely he must-he must know and feel it. He must have as clear an idea of it, as a poor con. demned prisoner would have of liberty, if he was brought out of the dark dungeon and his chains and fetters knocked off. If you allow him to experience his deliverance, then you cannot deny the same experi. ence to the redeemed of the Lord, whom he has brought out of darkness, and whose chains he has broken asunder. For doubtless the soul may have its experience as well as the body, and the knowledge will be as certain in one case as in the other. And it highly concerns all formal nominal Christians, and I call upon them to observe this. And I would enquire of them, how they know that they have been redeemed, if they have had no experience of redemption ? Will they pretend that they were born in a Christian country, and were baptized, and have lived ever since in the communion of some reformed church : be it so. But all this entitles them no more to redemption than if they had been born among the Heathens or Mahometans : for a man born in England wants conversion as much as one born in Turkey. The same change of heart is necessary for both ; and it is certain, being baptized does not
change the heart, because as children grow up we see the seeds of vice sprouting up apace, and nothing can check them but being baptized with the Holy Ghost, of which water baptism was the instituted emblem and figure: and whoever is baptized with the Holy Ghost, must as certainly experience the change it makes in him, as he can see or feel any outward object. He was before in darkness, now he is in light-before he was afraid of death, now his fears are gone before he was chained down in a lothesome prison, now he is at liberty. How can this be, and the man not know it ? is it possible to open the eyes of a blind man, and he not know it ? Can he be restored to sight, and not see it ? Certainly you cannot believe any thing so absurd, · and yet you do believe a greater absurdity, if you think
yourselves to be the redeemed of the Lord, and yet have experienced nothing of his redeeming power. Without this experience you are only nominal Chris. tians, and I beseech you (my brethren) not to rest in the mere name of Christianity. If you have no knowledge of what Christ has done in your souls, you are only Christians in profession-you are Christians without any sense or feeling of Christianity, insensible Christians-what mere nothings are these in religion? You fancy you live to Christ, and yet you have no perception of this life, what can be more absurd ? Therefore be not any longer content with the mere shadow of Christianity, nor think you have redemption, because you keep some of its outward services. These are well, but something more is necessary. God is to do the great work in your souls. It is all his. You can do nothing to it. You have only to desire and pray for his redemption. And his grace, which disposes you to desire and pray, will also do all the rest: for it is he, who worketh in you, both to will and to do therefore cry unto him, until he work in you both to will and to do. If you cry, he will hear and answerhe will bring you from darkness to light, from the shadow of death to life eternal, and from the bonds of sin
to pertsensible of no free grace, you get
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and Satan into the perfect liberty of the sons of God. And may the blessed Jesus give you the experience of these great changes, that you may find him almighty to perfect your redemption, and then you will be thankful. Sensible of your own misery by nature, and of the blessings of his free grace, you will not be silent in your Redeemer's praise. Your grateful hearts will overflow with expressions of thankfulness, and you will live eternally to him, who now liveth in you. And so many as are in this happy state, who have tasted how good and gracious our Redeemer is, will now draw near unto him, and send up their earnest request to him for his blessing upon what you have heard. And
We beseech thee, O most adorable God and Saviour, to make this discourse useful and profitable to our souls. We confess that we were by nature in darkness and in the shadow of death, and were fast bound with the chains of misery and sin. Thus low were we fallen, and there was none to help. But as soon as we cried unto thee, blessed Jesus, thou wast at hand to save, and didst deliver us from all our distresses. We praise and glorify thee for thy free and full redemption. And grant, O Lord, to this whole congregation the same happy experience. Send thy good Spirit into all their hearts, and so entirely change them from sin to righteousness, that they, finding thee to be also their Redeemer and their God, may join with us in praising thee for thy goodness, and in declaring the wonders which thou hast done for our salvation. O thou God of love, let no one leave this place without a blessing: but hear and answer according to the riches of thy mercy to the glory of the Father and of the eternal Spirit, three persons of equal power, majesty, and dominion, to whom be ascribed equal honour and worship, now and for ever. Amen.
PSALM CVII. 17-23. Fools because of their transgression, and because of
their iniquities are afflicted : their soul abhorreth att manner of meat, and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men. And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing.
The subject of this Psalm is thanksgiving: the motives by which the holy Spirit tries to stir us up to be thankful are taken from redemption; which is the greatest mercy God has bestowed upon mankind, and therefore it justly demands the greatest thankfulness. But because the all-wise Inspirer of this divine hymn knew the abominable corruption of our hearts, and that we were by nature unholy and unthankful, he has therefore used several arguments to convince us. He is earnest and importunate with us. He calls aloud to us again and again, solicits, presses us, to open our eyes, and to behold the wonders which God hath done for our redemption. And to give an edge to these repeated intreaties, and to make them pierce the deeper, he has adorned them with the ornaments of language, and the graces of sentiment. The very composition has every thing beautiful and sublime, that can recommend it to our esteem ; and he who knows the heart and what is most likely to make an impression upon it, has still farther heightened the subject by four paintings from nature, which he has drawn in the most lively and striking colours. The desig:) of each of these pieces is to represent our fallen state in the most affecting point of view, that seeing and feeling the exquisite distress of it, we may be induced to cry unto the Lord Jesus for deliverance; who never shutteth out the cry of the poor destitute, but hears and comes with all the haste that almighty love can make, to deliver and to save. The subject of the first painting is laid in a wilderness : fallen man is like a traveller, Lost and bewildered in a desert, weary and faint, and ready to perish with famine. In the second piece his distress increases, for he falls into a pit of darkness and the shadow of death, where the enemy finds him, and puts him in chains, binding him with misery and iron.. In the third, which we are going to view at present, you will see him laying in a scene of still greater distress. Behold him here quite worn down by sickness. See how pale, and feeble, and emaciated he looks-his strength gone his appetite lost his breath failing he draws near to the gates of death. This is the affecting scene on which we are now to fix our eyes. And I hope you will attend to the Psalmist's account of the causes and symptoms of our disorders, of the pro per remedy, and of the means to avoid diseases for the future. I know you all value health : nothing is dearer to you: for without it life itself is a burden; therefore hear what the Psalmist has to offer upon these points, and let this awaken your closest attention, that he does not borrow his rules from books, or from the experience of the ablest physicians, but he received them from the author of our being. The all-wise God revealed them to him, and through him to us, and may he guide our hearts, that we may receive by his grace all that profit from this scripture, which he intended it should be the means of administering to the faithful. May his good Spirit sanctify our hearts, while we are viewing the three chief parts of this highly finished paint