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suspected the exercises of the sick and dying bed. It is true that we have no authority to say that God may not do more for those who die than for those who recover. This matter we must leave with God till the last day. Very few persons have failed to witness.one or more instances in which recovery to health has disappointed high hopes of piety. In some cases all doubt was gone, and if the patient had died, there had been the firmest confidence of meeting him in heaven; and still on his return to health, a few weeks made him careless, and the morning cloud and the early dew were dissipated. With very many facts like these before our eyes, how is it possible but that every prudent man should admit with caution the validity of those hopes of heaven that are generated upon the death-bed. And now what use shall we make of all this? I
REMARK, If death-bed repentances are so doubtful, then delays in matters of religion are imminently dangerous. Tomorrow, perhaps, you betake yourself to the sick-bed, and it proves your death-bed. There is something said to you on the affairs of your soul, and it may be that you are serious, and finally begin to hope that you shall live in heaven. But that hope may prove a spider's web, and you may lean on it and perish. Your friends may think you gone to heaven, but they may find, when the last day has come, that you are on the left hand. Attend to religion now in health, and then when you die we shall have hope of you, and comfort in you. Now, if you want advice we can give it, but on the dying bed, if we call on you, you will be too weak to receive instruction, and we can only pray for you, and perhaps let you perish.
GOSPEL TRUTH DISTINGUISHED.
John xviii. 38.
What is truth?
This question was put to our Lord by the miserable time-serving Pilate, who had no heart to love what he inquired after. He, and the whole multitude of the ungodly in all ages, would have the reputation of being the friends of truth. But when they have inquired what truth is, they are careful to turn away their ear from the
This one fatal error characterizes the whole human family, till the spirit of God sanctifies the heart. Till then, they will not candidly examine the Bible, nor put themselves under the guidance of the spirit of God, nor will love the truth when they know it. Hence to know and love the truth, is characteristic of a heavenly mind.
But the question still comes up, What is that truth, which I must know and love, in order to have evidence that I am born of God? The text would furnish a field too large for a single sermon, and must be diminished. It will be my object to give you a few general characteristics of gospel truth. In doing this, I shall name the particular doctrines no farther than may be necessary, to illustrate some leading feature of revealed truth generally. It has always seemed to me, as possible to know gospel truth by its properties, as to arrive by this means at knowledge on any other subject, and have rather been surprised, to have met with no attempt at definition, such as I now have in contemplation, unless in those beautiful lines of the poet, which I quote with great pleasure :
“But what is truth? 't was Pilate's question, put
I should choose to say in answer to the question in the text, What is truth?
I. Truth is that which is consistent with the main scope of God's word.
An insulated text or two, may seem to support what is not truth. By such means almost any sentiment may be drawn from the Bible, or from any other book. We could thus prove that, "There is no God :" "Thou shalt not surely die :" 6 Thou shalt hate thine enemy :” “I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my own heart, to add drunkenness to thirst.”. Now you may fill a book with such insulated texts, but it would be all false : a lie couched in Bible language, but not the less a lie.
All the false doctrines, that have spread their plagues through this ill-fated world, have thus originated, and been thus sustainedTo him who is willing to understand it, the Bible is plain; but to one who prefers delusion, and wishes to believe a lie, because he has no pleasure in the truth, the Bible presents it in that disconnected form, that he may wrest it, if he please, to his own destruction.
Still it will prove true, that when a tortured text has been made the basis of a false doctrine, that doctrine will not be sustained by the main drift of inspiration. It cannot be supported by other texts, without giving them a false and forced construction, and the whole system when thus built will be a baseless fabric. There will be many texts in the very face of the false doctrine, and in a greater number still its falsehood will be implied. But it will not be thus with truth. When
have fairly gathered any doctrine that God meant to teach, from any part of his word, you will find it asserted in other parts, implied in others, and in none contradicted.
Now apply this rule to any one doctrine, or system of doctrines, and it will assuredly assist you in discovering what is truth. The saint's perseverance, for instance, is clearly taught in this text, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in his way; ; though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand;" and in this, "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord;" and in this, "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you, will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ ;” and in this, " The righteous shall hold on his way.”
Now the doctrine thus taught in a number of texts, of which I have quoted but few, has implied support in a far more numerous class still. All those texts which speak of heaven, as the final home of believers, imply the doctrine; all those which make regenerated men the Saviour's reward; the promises made to believers, of help in the time of need, of victory in the hour of conflict, of escape from temptation, of light in darkness, of strength equal to their day, of guidance through life, and of hope in death. It is implied in that assurance of salvation which Paul had, and which every believer may have; in the terms of the covenant, which is said to be everlasting, well ordered in all things and sure; and in the very na'ture of holiness, which immediately, on taking existence in the heart, seizes heavenly objects as its own inheritance. And the doctrine thus supported directly, and by extensive implication, is nowhere contradicted.
Now bring any doctrine to this test, and if thus supported it is true. Upon the truth, light will shine from almost every page of inspiration. But we must be candid and diligent, or we may not hope to be enlightened. If men go to the Bible, determined to support a scheme of their own, it is by no means certain, that there is any lie, so obvious to detection, that it may not be thus sustained : for it is threatened, " For this cause God shall send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." If you still ask, What is truth? I answer again,
II. Truth is that, after which men inquire hum