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have which they had not; we may learn by their example
not to provoke God too far, lest He treat us with the same
severity He did them ; lest He shut us for ever out of the
heavenly Canaan.

To conclude; a Christian name, a Christian faith, the
Christian covenant, the Christian sacraments, will not set us
one step nearer heaven, without a Christian life. So that
the case of christians is far from being better than that of
Jews and heathens, if they are not careful to lead a Christian
life.



SERMON XLVII.



THE REPENTANCE OF SINNERS MATTER OF JOY IN HEAVEN.



Luke xv. 7, 10.

I say unto yon, that lihewise joy shall he in heaven over one sin-
ner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons
which need no repentance. Lilcevnse I say tmto you, there is
joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that



The Pharisees were much offended with our Lord for
shewing so much concern for sinners as to keep them com-
pany, in order to teach them their duty, and to convince
them of their danger.

Our Lord assures them, by these three parables ^, that God
is well pleased when sinners are converted ; that the angels
rejoice at it ; and that such as are at the pains to bring back
poor, ignorant, or Avicked people, that have gone astray like
lost sheep, do a work very acceptable to God, and God will
reward them for it.

In short, our Lord has, by these similitudes, discovered to
us one of the most comfortable truths in the world, which is,
that when men have offended God, yet if they become sen-
sible of their sin, and truly sorry for it, God will pardon what
is past, and take them into favour, as if they had never
offended Him.

What is the reason that we can hear such Holy Scriptures
as these without being moved? The reason is plain : we do
not consider that we are sinners; we do not know what it
is to be sinners; we are not sensible that eveiy sinner is
liable to the anger of God, is as one lost and undone, until
he repent and be restored to God's favour.

a The parables of the lost sheep, of the piece of silver, and of tlie prodigal son.



THE REPENTANCE OP SINNERS MATTER OF JOY IN HEAVEN. 525

Would you know the condition of a sinner, whose con-
science is awake, and lets him see his sin and his condition ?

Look upon David, when he had been guilty of adultery
and murder; hear how he expresses his grief: " My sorrow is Ps. 38. 4.
continually before me; for mine iniquities are gone over
mine head; as an heavy burden, they are too heavy for

Look upon St. Peter, when he had denied his Lord, and [iNlatt. 26.
thought upon it, you will find him iveeping bitterly.

See the publican in the temple ; he dares not so much as
lift up his eyes, but smites upon his breast, and cries, " God [Luke is.
be merciful unto me a sinner."

Consider the penitent woman, at the feet of Jesus, loashing
His feet ivith her tears. What is all this for ? Our Lord will
tell you: "Her sins were many;" Christ had forgiven her [Luke 7.
upon her repentance ; and thus she expresses her love and
thankfulness : she looked upon it as the greatest mercy in the
world to be restored to the favour of God, and she would
not but shew it by her love and by her tears.

And if we are not thus affected, when we consider how
merciful God has been to us, it is because we are not truly
sensible what it is to be out of His favour, what it is to be
under His displeasure. In short, it is because om' consciences
were never well awake.

They that are whole (or think themselves so) care not for a [Matt. 9.
physician, but they that are sick. Come unto Me, saith our
Lord, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will give
you rest.

When once it is thus with men, they will hear these pa-
rables with delight, and receive the doctinnes contained in
them with cheerfulness.

They Avill understand, for instance, with the greatest satis-
faction imaginable, that by the shepherd, who went to seek
his lost sheep, is meant Jesus Christ, Who came into the world
to seek and to save sinners. When they hear what pains he
took to find it ; how he took it upon his shoulders, how he
rejoiced that he had found it, and called his friends and his
neighbours to rejoice with him; they will then apply this
parable to themselves ; they will see plainly, that God desires
their conversion; that if He desires it, He Mill aftbrd them



536 THE llEPENTANCE OF SINNERS

SERM. all tlie means of being converted; that their souls are clear

— ^ in His sight, or else He would not have sent His own Son to

seek and to save them. Then they will see and acknowledge
the tender love of this good Shepherd, Who spared no pains
to find His lost sheep ; they will therefore love IHm, desire
to please Him, and not willingly do any thing that may justly
offend Him.

And when they hear again the parable of the woman that
had lost a piece of silver, what concern she had upon her,
what pains she took to find it, what pleasure she had when
she had found it, they will easily see, that all this is matter
of the greatest comfort to sinners ; that if the angels rejoice
upon the conversion of a sinner, it is because God is pleased
with it, and because they know that God will not reject any
that return to Him.

And they will still be more convinced of this, when they
go on to consider the circumstances of the prodigal son. He
left his father's house without his leave ; that which his father
gave him to maintain him decently, he spent upon harlots;
he never thought upon his father, nor the sad affliction he
gave him, till he could live no where else. These are all in-
stances of a vile behaviour ; and yet after all the father re-
ceives him without upbraiding him, and treats him after such
a manner as if he had never done amiss.

And will God thus deal with sinners, that return to Him
after all their wanderings; who, being sensible of their un-
happy condition, desire His pardon and favour?

Yes, thus God will deal with His unhappy creatures ; un^
happy because they have offended Him, but haj)})]/ in having
such a Father, so full of goodness, so ready to pardon.

Will any sinner after this say, I would willingly return, if
I could hope that God would receive and pardon me? A
sinner may indeed say, I will not forsake my sins ; I will not
ask pardon ; I will not return to my duty ; but no man can
say, if I should desire to return to God, He will not re-
ceive me.

Let us all then, for we are all sinners ; let us all be en-
couraged to return to God by a sincere repentance : His
goodness should lead us to it ; our own danger should spur us
on; the joys of heaven should invite us; and the examples



MATTER OF JOY IN HEAVEN. 527

of otliers being received and pai-doned, should encourage us
to hope for the same merciful treatment.

In short, the parables we have read will bear witness
against us at the last day, that God did invite us, but we un-
worthily despised His favours of mercy and pardon.

But what pretences have any sinners for not returning to
God, and depending upon His pardon? Why, some say, that
true repentance, being God's gift, if He is not pleased to call
them effectually, it is impossible for them ever to return to
Him, and to their duty.

But does He not call all sinners to repentance? Will He
not make that call effectual to every one who will hear His
voice ?

How did He call the prodigal ? He suffered him to take
his own Avays, till he made himself miserable ; He suffered
him to find no rest in the ways of sin; He put it into his
mind, that he had a merciful father to return to ; he resolved
therefore, to try his father's goodness, and it fared with him
accordingly, he was received and pardoned.

And Avill not, does not God do all this for eveiy sinner?
Does He not make sin uneasy to them? Do they find any
rest in the choices they make to make them happy ? Does
He not call them by the voice of His own Son, and by the
mouths of His ministers? Does He not assure them of His
favour ? And why is not this effectual ? Why, because they
will not attend to this call; because they will not pray for
the graces they want; because they neglect the means of
obtaining that grace which God has ordained ; so that their
destruction is from themselves.

But then there are others who give themselves for lost, be-
cause their sins are many and great. What ! greater than
the goodness of God ; greater than the merits of His Son ;
greater than what a tender Father can forgive ?

There are others still more perverse; who, because they
know they are weak and subject to many failings, do there-
fore fear that their repentance will never be perfect, and so
refuse to set about it ; that is, they will not be saved, because
they find they cannot save themselves. They will not con-
sider, that men were not made to be independent of their
Maker ; that therefore thev are taujrht to distrust themselves.



528 THE REPENTANCE OF SINNERS MATTER OF JOY IN HEAVEN.

SERM. and to look up to God for help; that He knows all their

'— weakness, and knows how to apply proper remedies to all

their ailments ; that His power is magnified in making a
poor, weak, backsliding creature, in making dust and ashes,
worthy of immortality.

As for those that have returned to God, and yet fear His
anger, because of their unavoidable infirmities, they would
do well to consider, whether the good shepherd, who took so
much pains to seek for, and to bear his lost sheep home on
his shoulders, who rejoiced so heartily because he had found
it, — whether it is likely he would after cast it away, because
it was not the best of his flock, or because it should after-
wards be distempered. No ; that very goodness, which made
him to seek his lost sheep, will incline him to do every thing
that is fit to save it from being for ever lost.

Let us all then meditate upon these instructive parables.

Let such as have received favours from God be careful not
to abuse them to His dishonour, as the prodigal son did the
portion of goods that fell to his share.

Let such as are under the chastising hand of God consider,
as the prodigal did, that this is the great goodness of God, in
order to reduce them from the error of their ways, and to
save them from ruin.

Lastly; let us all meditate upon the mercies of God in
Jesus Christ, that His mercy and goodness may lead us to
repentance, which will be most acceptable to God, and happy
for us all.



SERMON XLVIII.



THE DESIGN OF GOD'S JUDGMENTS UPON THE CHILDREN
OF MEN*.



Matt. vi. 11.

Give its this day our daily hread^.

Scarcity of Bread is one of those four judgments with Ezek. u.
which God punisheth sinful nations. God's judgments are
intended not only as punishments for past sins^ but as warn-
ings to prevent greater ; and they are mild or severe, just as
people are more or less ripe for vengeance.

Our case at present is something like that of the Jews,
mentioned by the Prophet Amos : " I have given you clean- chap. 4. 6
ness of teeth, and want of bread, in all your places ; yet have
ye not returned unto Me, saith the Lord.''

Another of the Prophets sets down the cause of these
judgments : " They did not know," that is, they did not con- Rosea 2. i
sider, saith the Lord, " that it was / that gave them corn, and
wine, and oil," that is, the blessings they enjoyed; "there-
fore, I will take away their corn ; and their land shall mourn ;
yea, the beasts of the field, yea, the fishes of the sea shall be
taken away."

Now, by these judgments God is awakening us to flee from
the wrath to come ; and more especially from that wrath which
awaits impenitent sinners in the world to come.

And indeed, we are never so truly sensible of God's dis-

* This sermon appears to have heen proaching to a famine."
preached in the year 1741, " a dreadful '' See 1 Tim. vi. 8. "Having food

dear year," says the author, in a mar- and raiment, let us be therewith con-

ginal note, "and scarcity of bread ap- tent."

WILSON. M m



530 THE DESIGN OF GOD's JUDGMENTS

SERM. pleasure, and of our dependance upon Him, as when He

XLVIII 1- i '

— ^ — makes us feel our want of help, and that none else can help

Isaiah26. 9. us. "When Thy judgments are in the world," saith the
Prophet, " the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteous-
ness." And woe be to them if they do not; for that is a
sure sign that they are ripe for destruction.

But this is not God's design in this visitation. His design
is, as we said before, to awaken us into a sense of our mani-
fold abuses of His blessings ; into a lively sense of our
dependance upon Him for life, and breath, and all the
things we enjoy or hope for; and lastly, to amend what is
amiss in us.

Many, very many, are the uses that we may, and ought to
make of this visitation. Such as are careless, and in the
midst of plenty, forgetting that it is God That gives them
their daily bread, will now see upon Whom they depend for
the necessaries of life.

In the next place, this visitation is certainly designed as a
wholesome remedy against the scandalous abuse of God's
good creatures ; as also, to punish those whose God is their
Phil. 3. 19. belly, as the Apostle speaks, who aim at nothing so much as
to please their appetites, and to satisfy their lusts, without
considering the wants and necessities of other people.

It is too often the case in times of plenty, as it was with
the Prodigal in the Gospel; when God gives men their
portion, they squander it away in riotous living. And a
mercy it is, when they are reduced to want, if they have the
grace to see and repent of their evil ways.

And indeed the very best of us should be admonished by
this scarcity and dearth, how often we have misspent the good
gifts of God, which now would have been of blessed use to
help those who have hungry bellies.

But above all, the glutton and the drunkard should be
ashamed and blush, and bitterly repent, for having abused
and wasted the good gifts of God, which are given for the
support and comfort of man, not to make men into beasts.

But I must not forget my subject : " Give us this day our
daily bread." How often have we said this; how often re-
peated this petition, without considering what a sad con-
dition we should be in, if God should deny us our daily



UPON THE CHILDREN OF MEN. 531

bread; what a miserable condition those many are in who
noiv feel the want of it ; and lastly, what a much worse con-
dition they are in, who have enough, and to spare, and will
not help those that want their daily bread, but upon terms
that ruin them.

Let me tell you a truth which few knoiv, and fewer will
believe ; that the rich owe more to the poor for their prayers,
than the poor owe to the rich for the relief they give them.

This is a truth as certain as the Gospel : " I was an Matt. 25.
hungered," saith Christ, " and ye gave Me meat ; thirsty, ^^'
and ye gave Me drink." Do but consider when Jesus Christ
will say this to those that shall have relieved His poor
members. Why, even then when He is going to pass the
sentence of everlasting life, or eternal death, upon mankind.
This shews us, that the rich, as well as the poor, have
reason to beg of God to give them their daily bread; that
they may have an opportunity of forwarding their own
salvation, by shewing their gratitude to God for His more
especial favours to them.

If God gives any of us more than our daily bread, it is not
because He loves us better than those that want it; but to
try our faith, whether we will ascribe to Him the blessings
we enjoy, or to ourselves, and our own endeavours and
industry.

Men are but too apt to sacrifice, as the Scripture speaks, [Hab. i.
to their own net ; that is, to ascribe the blessings they enjoy
to their own industry, good fortune, care, or skill; and yet
all this will not do without the blessing of God upon their
labours. We see and feel this now to our sorrow ; and that
there is a necessity, besides our own industry, of begging of
God to give us our daily bread; or it will be with us as St.
Peter told our Lord, " We have toiled all the night, and have [Luke 5. 5.]
taken nothing."

As often, therefore, as we use this petition, " Give us this
day our daily bread," we do acknowledge our whole depend-
ance to be upon God, our heavenly Father, for all things
necessary for our souls and bodies. And then, to preserve
in our minds a constant sense of this our dependance, we ask
these blessings for the present day, knowing, that if we pray
for these blessings to-morrow, God will then have the same
i\i m 2



532 THE DESTG.V OF GOD's JUDGMENTS

SERM. fatherly care of us, and supply us with what is then neces-

XLVIII . i- r J

'- sary and convenient for us.

And observe, that we are directed to pray for bread only ;
that is, for the necessaries of life ; because, as we are sinners,
and in a state of trial and penance, it becomes us to ask no
more than what is necessary to carry us through a state of
trial.

Lastly; we are obliged to pray every day for bread, that
we may every day remember to Whom we are indebted for
life, and breath, and all the comforts of life and health.

Let us now consider, how this petition ought to be put in
practice.

And first ; the return of every meal should oblige us to
beg that we may receive God's gifts with His blessing. Man
does not live by bread alone, but by food which God gives a
blessing to^ to fit it for the nourishment of the body.

And then, forasmuch as this prayer is designed for the use
of all, poor and rich, high and low ; when the j-ich pray for
their daily bread, they are supposed to beg of God His grace,
that they may not be corrupted by His gifts, if He has given
them more than the plain necessaries of life. And the poor,
that they may not forfeit their right, by their idleness or dis-
content; but that God may give His blessing upon their
honest endeavours for a livelihood. And, at the same time
that they pray for their daily bread, they ought to pray for
grace to be content with what God thinks proper to give
them; that they may neither murmur, nor envy those that
have more than their daily bread, nor attempt to get more,
and better their condition by unjust ways.

In short, our present wants force us to see, and to feel, our
dependance upon God, and to apply to Him for help. He
is by these judgments punishing the abuse of His former
mercies. Our duty is to repent of those sins, which have
brought upon us this visitation, and to resolve, by His grace,
which we must also pray for, that whenever it shall please
God to turn this scarcity into plenty (for He only can do it),
that we do not forget what we now feel and fear, by falling
again into the sins of luxury, intemperance, and prodigahty.

Let us remember, that frugality is every man's interest as
well as duty, — that the rich may have to give to him that



UPON THE CHILDREN OF MEN. 533

neecleth, and that the poor may not be tempted to get bread
by ways which may ruin their souls as well as bodies.

Rather let us all that suffer in these hard times remember,
that though afflictions of this kind are grievous to nature,
yet, with regard to another life, they are of great advantage,
when, through the grace of God, they are borne with patience
and resignation to the divine will.

And may Almighty God sanctify all their bodily wants to
the salvation of the souls of all that now feel the want of
bread; and may His blessing be upon those who, having
more than their daily bread, are ready to give, and glad to
distribute, " laying np for themselves a good foundation i Tim.
against the time to come, that they may lay hold of eternal
life ;" always remembering, that the measure of God^s bounty
and favour to them, ought to be the measure of their kind-
ness to those that are in want.

Lastly ; let us never forget, whether poor or rich, that
whenever we pray for our daily bread, we beg of God not to
deny us the bread that nourisheth to eternal life, which God
hath promised to give to them that ask Him.

This our Lord hath provided for us in the holy Sacrament.
And as we want bread every day to support our mortal bodies,
so we want grace every day to support our immortal souls,
and to save us from death eternal.

May He, of His infinite mercy and goodness, vouchsafe us
this blessing; and His will be done for the rest, for Jesus
Christ His sake. To Whom, with the Father and the Holy
Ghost, be all honour, praise, &c.



SERMON XLIX.



BEFORE THE COURT OF TINWALD, 1736.

THE FOLLY OF UNDERTAKING ANY BUSINESS OF MOMENT,
WITHOUT REGARD TO THE WILL AND HONOUR OF GOD.



Prov. xxi. 30.

There is no wisdom, nor understanding, nor counsel,
against the Lord.

I MUST first observe to you, how many words are here
made use of by the Holy Spirit, to convince us of the folly
of undertaking any business of moment, without regard to
the will and honour of God. There is no wisdom, that is, no
discretion, directing men what is fit to be done ; no under-
standing, which can enable a man to see the issue of things ;
no counsel able to give advice, where the will and honour of
God is not consulted, and His blessing and direction is not
prayed for.

And one may take it for granted, that this solemn meeting
WAS, from the very beginning, appointed to be ushered in by
proper supplications and prayers for the blessing of God
upon this government ; and by proper instructions from His
ministers, how His blessings are to be obtained, and
secured.
Isaiah 30. 1. " Woe unto them that take counsel, but not of Me, saith
the Lord." And the wisest men have found it so, to their
cost and shame, when they have neglected to take God along
with them in their politics.



FOLLY OP UNDERTAKING BUSINESS^ WITHOUT REGARD, &C. 535

The whole race of the kings of Israel, from Jeroboam the
son of Nebat, who taught Israel to sin, to Hoshea the last
king of Israel, who with his whole people were carried into
captivity, are a known and flagrant instance of this truth, —
That no happiness is to be expected, where the glory, the honour,
and true worship of God are overlooked or despised.

They all went by this worldly wise maxim, that it would
not be safe for them to let their people go to Jerusalem to
worship, as God had expressly commanded, lest in time they
should be tempted to submit to the kings of Judah ; so they
set up a worship of their own invention, which ended in an
idolatry abhorred of God, and brought upon themselves and
their people a miserable captivity, which continues to this
very day.

We shall only mention one other instance of the truth and
importance of these words just read to you; and this is of
one of whose wisdom it is said, " that the counsel of Ahitho- 2 Sam. I6.
phel was as if a man had enquired at the oracle of God."
And he did certainly give Absalom such counsel as would
have ruined his father most effectually, if God had not turned
his wisdom into foolishness.

And that men might be convinced, that it was the work of
God, and that He interposes in the affairs of men, the Scrip-
ture tells us expressly, " that it was God Who had appointed [2 Sam. 17.
to defeat the good counsel of Ahithophel, that He might bring
evil upon Absalom, as also upon his wicked counsellor." Thus
wicked counsels, sooner or later, fall upon the heads of those
that give, and upon those that follow them.

Now, this being a truth declared by the God of truth,
and found such by experience, it follows (let foolish men
despise it at their peril), that in all our counsels we should,
in the first place, have an eye and regard to the honour,
and will, and laws of God, or we shall soon see and feel our
mistake.

This, the Apostle tells us, is the great end of civil power
and government, — to be a terror to evil doers, and to
encourage those that do well, that God in all things may be
glorified. And consequently, all laws should be made, and
counsels taken with an eye to these two great ends, the glory
of God, and the good of mankind.



536 FOLLY OF UNDERTAKING ANY BUSINESS OP MOMENT,

SERM. "Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain



[Ps.127. 1.]



that build it," saith holy David, a king himself, and a great
master-builder in Israel. And his son sets this down for an
Prov. 16. uncontested truth, " The throne," that is, the government of
every nation, " is established by righteousness ;" that is, by
righteous laws, and putting them faithfully in execution.

Now, these are two things which every government should
aim at : in the first place, to have righteous laws. In order
to this, let it be considered, that God, the great proprietor of



Online LibraryThomas WilsonThe works of the right reverend father in God, Thomas Wilson, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man (Volume 2) → online text (page 47 of 49)