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9. All, therefore, which I can say, is this: In any particular case, wait upon God by humble and earnest prayer, and then act according to the best light you have: act according to what you are persuaded, upon the whole, will be most for your spiritual advantage. Take great care that you do not judge rashly; that you do not lightly think any to be false prophets : and when you have full proof, see that no anger or contempt have any place in your heart. After this, in the presence and in the fear of God determine for yourself. I can only say, If by experience you find that the hearing them hurts your soul, then hear them not; then quietly refrain, and hear those that profit you. If, on the other hand, you find it does not hurt your soul, you then may hear them still. Only, “ take hecd how you hear :" beware of them and of their doctrine. Hear with fear and trembling, lest you should be deceived, and given up, like them, to a strong delusion. As they continually mingle truth and lies, how easily may you take in both together! Hear with fervent and continual prayer to him who alone teacheth man wisdom. And see that you bring whatever you hear" to the law and to the testimony." Receive nothing untried, nothing till it is weighed in the balance of the sanctuary: believe nothing they say, unless it is clearly confirmed by plain passages of Holy Writ. Wholly reject whatsoever differs therefrom, whatever is not confirmed thereby. And in particular, reject, with the utmost abhorrence, whatsoever is described as the way of salvation, that is either different from, cr short of, the way our Lord has marked out in the foregoing discourse.
10. I cannot conclude without addressing a few plain words to those of whom we have now been speaking. Oh ye false prophets ! oh ye dry bones! hear ye, for once, the word of the Lord ! How long will ye
lie in the name of God, saying, “God hath spoken;" and God hath no spoken by you? How long will ye pervert the right ways of the Lord, putting darkness for light, and light for darkness? How long will ye teach the way of death, and call it the way of life? How long will ye deliver to Satan the souls whom ye profess to bring unto God?
11. “Wo unto you, ye blind leaders of the blind! for ye shut the kingdom of heaven against men ! Ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” Them that would strive to enter in at the strait gate, ye call back into the broad way. Them that have scarce gone one step in the ways of God, you devilishly caution against going too far. Them that just begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness, you warn not to be righteous overmuch. Thus you cause them to stumble at the very threshold; yea, to fall and rise no more. Oh wherefore do ye this? What profit is there in their blood, when they go down to the pit ? Miserable profit to you! “ They shall perish in their iniquity; but their blood will God require at your hands !"
12. Where are your eyes ? Where is your understanding ? Have ye deceived others, till you have deceived yourselves also ? Who hath required this at your hands, to teach a way which ye never knew? Are you “ given up to (so] strong a delusion,” that ye not only teach, but “ believe, a lie ?" And can you possibly believe that God hath sent you ? That ye are his messengers ? Nay; if the Lord had sent you, the work of the Lord would prosper in your hand. As the Lord liveth, if ye were messengers of God, he would confirm the word of his messengers." But the work of the Lord doth not prosper in your hand: you bring no
sinners to repentance. The Lord doth not confirm your word; for you save no souls from death.
13. How can you possibly evade the force of our Lord's words ? So full, so strong, so express ? How can ye evade knowing yourselves by your fruits ? Evil fruits of evil trees ? And how should it be otherwise ? “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles ?" Take this to yourselves, ye to whom it belongs ! Oh ye barren trees, why cumber ye the ground ? “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit." See ye not, that here is no exception ? Take knowledge then, ye are not good trees; for ye do not bring forth good fruit. “ But a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit;" and so have ye done from the beginning. Your speaking, as from God, has only confirmed them that heard you in the tempers, if not works of the devil. Oh take warning of him in whose name ye speak, before the sentence he has pronounced take place: Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.”
14. My dear brethren, harden not your hearts! You have too long shut your eyes against the light. Open them now before it is too late; before you are cast into outer darkness ! Let not any temporal consideration weigh with you ; for eternity is at stake. Ye have run before ye were sent. Oh go no farther! Do not persist to damn yourselves and them that liear you! You have no fruit of your labours. And why is this? Even because the Lord is not with you. But can you go this warfare at your own cost ? It cannot be. Then humble yourselves betore him. Cry unto him out of the dust, that he may first quicken thy soul; give thee the faith that worketh by love; that is lowly and meek, pure and merciful, zealous of good works, rejoicing in tribulation, in reproach, in distress, in persecution for righteousness' sake! So shall “ the Spirit of glory and of Christ rest upon thee,” and it shall appear that God hath sent thee. So shalt thou indeed “ do the work of an evangelist, and make full proof of thy ministry.” So shall the word of God in thy mouth be “a hammer that breaketh the rocks in pieces!" It shall then be known by thy fruits, that thou art a prophet of the Lord, even by the children whom God hath given thee. And having “ turned many to righteousness, thou shalt shine as the stars for ever and ever!” SERMON XXXIII.-Upon our Lord's Sermon on the Mount.
“Not every one that saith unto mo, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name have done many wonderful works?
“ And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you : depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
“ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock :
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
" And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand :
“And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house ; and it fell: and great was the fall of it,” Matt. vii, 21–27.
1. Our divine Teacher, having declared the whole counsel of God with regard to the way of salvation, and observed the chief hinderances of those who desire to walk therein, now closes the whole with these weighty words; thereby as it were setting his seal to his prophesy, and impressing his whole authority on what he had delivered, that it might stand firm to all generations.
2. For thus saith the Lord, that none may ever conceive there is any other way than this, “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven ; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord,
ord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils ? And in thy name done many wonderful works ? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you : depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore, every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man,
which built his house
upon the sand : and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell : and great was the fall of it."
3. I design in the following discourse, First, To consider the case of him who thus builds his house upon the sand : Secondly, To show the wisdom of him who builds upon a rock: And, Thirdly, To conclude with a practical application.
I. 1. And, First, I am to consider the case of him who builds his house upon the sand. It is concerning him our Lord saith, “ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And this is a decree which cannot pass ; which standeth fast for ever and ever. It therefore imports us, in the highest degree, thoroughly to understand the force of these words. Now what are we to understand by that expression, " That saith unto me, Lord, Lord ?" It undoubtedly means, that thinks of going to heaven by any other way than that which I have now described. It therefore implies (to begin at the lowest point) all good words, all verbal religion. It includes whatever creeds we may rehearse ; whatever professions of faith we make; whatever number of prayers we may repeat ; whatever thanksgivings we read or say to God. We may speak good of his name; and declare
his loving kindness to the children of men. We may be talking of all his mighty acts, and telling of his salvation from day to day. By comparing spiritual things with spiritual, we may show the meaning of the oracles of God. We may explain the mysteries of his kingdom, which have been hid from the beginning of the world. We may speak with the tongue of angels, rather than men, concerning the deep things of God. We may proclaim to sinners, “ Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh
away the sin of the world.” Yea, we may do this with such a measure of the power of God, and such demonstration of his Spirit, as to save many souls from death, and hide a multitude of sins. it is very possible, all this may be no more than saying, “ Lord, Lord.” After I have thus successfully preached to others, still I myself may be a castaway.
I may, in the hand of God, snatch many souls from hell, and yet drop into it when I have done. I may bring many others to the kingdom of heaven, and yet myself never enter there. Reader, if God hath ever blessed my word to thy soul, pray that he may be merciful to me a sinner!
2. The saying, “ Lord, Lord," may, secondly, imply the doing no harm. We may abstain from every presumptuous sin, from every kind of outward wickedness. We may refrain from all those ways of acting or speaking, which are forbidden in Holy Writ. We may be able to say to all those among whom we live, Which of you convinceth me of sin? We may have a conscience void of any external offence, towards God and towards man. We
e may be clear of all uncleanness, ungodliness, and unrighteousness, as to the outward act; or, (as the apostle testifies concerning himself,) "touching the righteousness of the law, i. e. outward righteousness, “ blameless." But yet we are not hereby justified. Still this is no more than saying, “ Lord, Lord;" and if we go no farther than this, we shall never “enter into the kingdom of heaven."
3. The saying "Lord, Lord," may imply, thirdly, many of what are usually styled good works. A man may attend the supper of the Lord, may hear abundance of excellent sermons, and omit no opportunity of partaking all the other ordinances of God. I may do good to my neighbour, deal my bread to the hungry, and cover the naked with a garment. I may
be so zealous of good works, as even to "give all my goods to feed the poor.” Yea, and I may do all this with a desire to please God, and a real belief that I do please him thereby; (which is undeniably the case of those our Lord introduces, saying unto him, “ Lord, Lord;") and still I may have no part in the glory which shall be revealed.
4. If any man marvels at this, let him acknowledge he is a stranger to the whole religion of Jesus Christ; and in particular, to that perfect portraiture thereof, which he has set before us in this discourse. For how far short is all this, of that righteousness and true holiness, which he has described therein! How widely distant from that inward kingdom of heaven, which is now opened in the believing soul ;-which is first sown in the heart as a grain of mustard seed, but afterwards putteth forth great branches, on which grow all the fruits of righteousness, every good temper, and word, and work.
5. Yet as clearly as he had declared this, as frequently as he had repeated, that none who have not this kingdom of God within them
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; our Lord well knew, that many would not receive this saying, and therefore confirms it yet again : “Many” (saith he: not one; not a few only: it is not a rare or an uncommon case] “shall say unto me in that day,” not only, we have said many prayers; we have spoken thy praise; we have refrained from evil; we have exercised ourselves in doing good ;—but, what is abundantly more than this, “ we have prophesied in thy name ; in thy name have we cast out devils; in thy name done many wonderful works." “We have prophesied;"—we have declared thy will to mankind; we have showed sinners the way to peace and glory. And we have done this “in thy name;" according to the truth of thy gospel; yea, and by thy authority, who didst confirm the word with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. For in or by thy name, by the power of thy word and of thy Spirit, “ have we cast out devils;' out of the souls which they had long claimed as their own, and whereof they had full and quiet possession.
“ And in thy name, [by thy power, not our own,] have we done many wonderful works;" insomuch that
even the dead heard the voice of the Son of God” speaking by us, , and lived. “ And then I will profess (even) unto them, I never knew you ;” no, not then when you were casting out devils in my name:" even then I did not know you as my own; for your heart was not right towards God. Ye were not yourselves meek and lowly; ye were not lovers of God, and of all mankind; ye were not renewed in the image of God; ye were not holy as I am holy. Depart from me, ye (who, notwithstanding all this, are) workers of iniquity;"Zavoula : ye are transgressors of my law, my law of holy and perfect love.
6. It is to put this beyond all possibility of contradiction, that our Lord confirms it by that opposite comparison : "Every one," saith he, “who heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house ;”—as they will surely do, sooner or later, upon every soul of man; even the floods of outward affliction, or inward temptation ; the storms of pride, anger, fear, or desire ;-"And it fell, and great was the fall of it:" so that it perished for ever and ever. Such must be the portion of all who rest in any thing short of that religion, which is above described. And the greater will their fall be, because they "heard those sayings, and (yet) did them not."
II. 1. I am, secondly, to show the wisdom of him that doeth them, that buildeth his house upon a rock. He indeed is wise, who doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” He is truly wise, whose
righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees.” He is poor in spirit; knowing himself even as also he is known. He sees and feels all his sin, and all his guilt, till it is washed away by the atoning blood. He is conscious of his lost estate, of the wrath of God abiding on him, and of his utter inability to help himself, till he is filled with peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. He is meek and gentle, patient towards all men, never “ returning evil for evil, or railing for railing, but contrariwise blessing,"till he overcomes evil with good. His soul is athirst for nothing on earth, but only for God, the living God. He has bowels of love for all mankind, and is ready to lay down his life for his enemies. He loves the Lord his God with all his heart, and with all his mind,