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something that will tell to his credit in the day of retribution. Some field of labour will always open to the industrious if they will enter and toil.
1. In the want of this benevolence, how strong is the proof we have that men are wholly depraved. It is common to find men who are willing to do good to their families and friends, to wish them prosperity and advancement, but, if their kindness goes no farther, all is selfish. How few cast a look of sympathy over the whole surface of misery. This none do but believers, else others too would fulfil the law, and would be safe. Now men that cannot love their fellow-men, their brethren whom they have seen, how can they love God whom they have not seen? How can that heart be possessed of holiness that aches not at the miseries which sully this otherwise beautiful world? And how can the heart ache over woes which the hands are not employed in lessening or annihilating? Thus the second table of the law, “ Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,” will be as swift a witness in the great day against the human family as the first. A totally selfish heart will find it as much impossible to put forth a benevolent affection toward man as toward God. In either case, it sadly interferes with our native self-supremacy.
2. We see the necessity that men should be renewed. Here lies our only hope that they will exercise the benevolence of the gospel. Till then they will fight and rage, and rave, will render themselves unhappy, and all others with whom they come in contact.
Till then the war will continue in the family, the neighbourhood, the town, the state, and the world. It is a cheering thought, that God has continued to us the means of curing that deadliest evil of the apostacy, a selfish heart. Without this nothing could have ever cradled the corrupt passions, on a larger scale or smaller, and this poor world could have hoped for no respite from the plagues that waste its treasures and its health, and darkens, to the blackness of midnight, its immortal prospects. O, come that day, when the chief physician shall ply his skill, and change the hearts of men, and thus cure at one wondrous touch their thousand plagues. In any world a selfish heart, the opposite of love, would render men unhappy. Place selfish hearts in heaven, and they would there be as fruitful as elsewhere in misery.
3. How pleasant is the prospect of a millennium. Then the benevolence we contemplate will become general. Men will be employed in rendering each other happy: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together : and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the suckling child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice's den.” If by that promise that all shall know the Lord from the least even to the greatest, we are not to understand that every individual heart shall be made holy, still so many hearts will be sanctified that the prevailing influence on earth shall be a religious influence, and the paramount affection love. How easily then will all bad habits be corrected, how useless will be bolts and bars, and criminal laws, and fortifications; and how done forever litigations, and scandal, and alienations, and broken hearts, and ruined character, and bankruptcy, and imprisonment. Then this world, so long a raging ocean, will become at length a peaceful pool, reflecting the image of its Maker. Then God will delight in us, and angels love to watch over us.
4. The subject will lead us to think with pleasure of heaven. How pleasant is the thought of being one day removed from all this misery, and of being where there will reign a universal benevolence. Every angel, and every redeemed spirit will be willing that other angels, and other spirits should be as happy as himself. And the grand employment of heaven will be to communicate happiness. God they will love supremely, but as God is infinitely happy, and will not need their service, they will no doubt be employed everlastingly in making other beings happy. Thus they will be workers together with God: for it is thus that God is employed, and thus angels. See them at Sodom, see them at Babylon with Daniel, see them at Bethlehem, with the sheperds, and in the garden with the agonizing Redeemer. O, it is pleasant in this dark and perturbed world, to have a heaven to think of, and a heaven to hope for, where there will reign forever an unqualified friendship, and our prayer, and our song, and our employ be the prayer, and the song, and the employ of all.
5. The subject renders a place of misery desirable. 0, let these discordant passions one day find a world. where they may live alone!
If it does not comport. with the purpose of God to eradicate them all, by sanctifying the hearts in which they predominate, let them be all congregated together, and no more disturb the peace and the quiet of those in whose hearts they do not reign. It is verily believed that when the whole design of digging a bottomless pit, and kindling a quenchless fire shall be known, and the beings judged who are there congregated, it will be seen that the universe could not have been perfect without a hell any more than a town or county could have done without a prison and a gallows. And all the people shall say amen.
THE NATURE AND RESULTS OF SANCTIFICATION.
John xvii 17.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was a perfect man.
This we must believe as confidently as we believe his divinity, else we shall have confused ideas of many portions of divine truth. And as he was a perfect man, and would be in all things a pattern of what his people should be, he must have a perfect religious character, and perform the Christian duties as far as they would be applicable to his exalted nature. Hence, we often find him engaged in prayer.
Whatever difficulty there may be in the idea of a divine Redeemer's praying, the fact we are bound to believe. In his inferior character as Mediator, he acted by commission from the Father, and would take instructions from him, and put confidence in him. When the last scene was coming on, and he knew that soon he must hang upon the tree, he offered that memorable prayer from which the text is selected. He prayed most tenderly for his people; and among the first blessings asked, he prayed for their sanctification through the truth.
There cluster about this subject many interesting questions, to some of which I purpose to turn your attention.
I. What do the Scriptures mean by sanctification ? Sometimes it means being set apart to sacred use. Thus