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should see the issue of his madness in the fall which would dash him to pieces. Sinner, impenitent, careless, you are spiritually, what that foolhardy trifler would be physically, doing; you are treading lightly along the edge of a precipice, and the eyes of a brighter set of intelligences see your folly and weep over your infatuation, because they see that in a moment you may fall, and in that fall, soul and body are ruined for ever. The work you have to do is the work of escape from the precipice, and of preparation for eternity. Heaven will not, and hell cannot, exempt you from the necessity, if you would be saved. Time flies and eternity is near-work while it is called to-day.
THE GREAT WORK OF RELIGION.
NEHEMIAH vi. 3.
I HAVE hitherto, my friends, spoken of this great work more particularly as the subject bears on the character and condition of careless and unconcerned sinners, and have endeavoured to show how the work of religion is really a great work, in relation to them especially, from the objects which that work contemplates, viz: a method of escape from everlasting ruin in hell, and a preparation of heart for the everlasting blessedness of heaven. In the case of every real Christian, of every one who is in the very least degree entitled to be called a Christian, so much of the great work as has been already considered is actually accomplished; that is, a real Christian is one who has already escaped from the penalty of sin, by laying hold on the Lord Jesus Christ by faith; he is no more liable to the penalty of everlasting death for his past transgressions, for Scripture distinctly says, "there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." A real Christian is one
whose heart has been changed by the power of the Holy Ghost; he is a new creature in Christ Jesus; he has been born again, and, consequently, when a person becomes a true disciple of Jesus Christ, this part of the great work is also accomplished. This, my friends, is a very high testimony, as it regards the real Christian, and while it is the decided testimony of Scripture, the subject must be touched with exceeding caution, for though it is unquestionably true of real Christians, that the great work, so far as it comprises an acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as a Saviour, escape from hell, and a change of heart, is already accomplished in them. Yet there are multitudes who may deceive themselves in the supposition that they are Christians, while they are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity; and as they deceive themselves on this point, they would also deceive themselves in supposing that any of the glorious things which are said of Christians, belong to them. They have no part nor lot in this matter, because their hearts are not right in the sight of God. None but those who have been brought to a knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus Christ, have experienced repentance and faith and are truly converted, are or can be ranked as true Christians; and when this character is attained, then, and then only, so much of the great work is accomplished. As none but God, however, can read the heart, so, while we, the ministers of the Gospel, are addressing ourselves to Christians, we are compelled to consider as belonging to this number, those who make a credible profession of religion, which is the only external indication of their union and Christianity; consequently my remarks on the great work will now
be confined to those who are professedly the servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have a great, and a very great work to perform, inasmuch as one grand, leading object with them, is to glorify God by their devotedness to his service. I have some very strong exhortations to present you at this time on this subject. Why is it, my friends-I speak to professing Christians, assuming the point that they are what they profess-why is it that you have been snatched from the eternal ruin? Why have you been converted unto God? Why have your hearts been changed? And why have you been adopted into the family of which Christ is the head, and thus placed in a covenant relation to God? Is it merely to live in the world, to be defiled by its corruptions, and to be worn out by its cares? No. St. Paul has most inimitably told the real condition of those who are interested in the Lord Jesus Christ by faith-"The love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead, and that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." Here you observe the very purpose of your calling and election; it is to live for Jesus Christ, and not for yourselves. Strong as this language is, it is perhaps possible to find a stronger expression of the idea; thus"And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."-"What! know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in
your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." In order to amplify the very singularly striking ideas which are contained in these passages of holy writ, let me observe that the great object of a real child of God, is to honour his Father in heaven. You have to glorify God in a world which dishonours him; you have to praise him where he is blasphemed; to speak for him where his cause is discredited; to act for him as his agent, wherever there is a necessity, and to let the light which he has poured into the natural darkness of your soul, "so shine among men, that they, seeing your good works, may glorify your Father which is in heaven." Let me give an illustration. Suppose, for a moment, so strange a thing should happen, as that an angel, with all the fulness of heaven about him, and with a heart filled to overflowing with the love of God, should sojourn for a time in the prison-house of hell. Suppose this-it is of course a mere supposition, such an event in the nature of things is impossible-but imagine it, and what would be the course of conduct of this bright intelligence? Surely he would say nothing, surely he would do nothing, by which that God whose love filled his bosom would be dishonoured by him even there. In thought, in word, in deportment, even in hell he would glorify God. It may be too strong a declaration to say, that the condition of a real converted child of God in this world is the same as would be the condition of an angel in the society of the damned; but it is not too strong a declaration to say, that there is a decided resemblance: for the real Christian's situation in the world, is as that of a faithful subject in an army of rebels; a servant of God in the dominions of Satan; a friend of God sur