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now perfect, it is not owing to any defect in the provision made, but to their own imperfection, sin and darkness. As yet, they partly cleave to the world, and seek peace from thence, and do not perfectly cleave to Christ. But the more they do so, and the more they see of the provision made, and accept of it, and cleave to that alone, the nearer are they brought to perfect tranquillity. Isaiah xxvi. 5.
4. The peace of the Christian infinitely differs from that of the worldling, in that it is unfailing and eternal. That peace which carnal men have in the things of the world, is, according to the foundation upon which it is built, of short continuance ; like the comfort of a dream, 1 John ii. 1 Cor. vii. 31. These things, the best and most durable of them, are like bubbles on the face of the water ; they vanish in a moment. Hos. x. 7.-But the foundation of the Christian's peace is everlasting : it is what no time, no change, can destroy. It will remain when the body dies : it will remain when the mountains depart and the hills shall be removed, and when the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll. The fountain of bis comfort shall never be diminished, and the stream shall never be dried. His comfort and joy is a living spring in the soul, a well of water springing up to everlasting life.
The use that I would make of this doctrine, is to improve it as an inducement unto all to forsake the world, no longer seeking peace and rest in its vanities, and to cleave to Christ and follow him. Happiness and rest are what all men pursue. But the things of the world, wherein most men seek it, can never afford it; they are labouring and spending themselves in vain. But Christ invites you to come to him, and offers you this peace, which he gives his true followers, and that so much excels all that the world can afford. Is. lv. 2, 3.
You that have hitherto spent your time in the pursuit of satisfaction in the profit or glory of the world, or in the pleasures and vanities of youth, have this day an offer of that excellent and everlasting peace and blessedness, which Christ has purchased with the price of his own blood. As long as you continue to reject those offers and invitations of Christ, and continue in a Christless condition, you never will enjoy any true peace or comfort; but will be like the prodigal, that in vain endeavoured to be satisfied with the busks that the swine did cat. The wrath of God will abide upon, and misery will attend you, wherever you go, which you never will be able to escape. Christ gives peace to the most sinful and miserable that come to him. He heals the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. But it is impossible that they should have peace,
while they continue in their sins. Isaiah lvii. 19, 20, 21, There is no peace between God and them; for, as they have the guilt of sin remaining in their souls, and are under its dominion, so God's indignation continually burns against them, and therefore they travail in pain all their days. While you continue in such a state, you live in dreadful uncertainty what will become of you, and in continual danger. When you are in the enjoyment of things most pleasing to you, where your heart is best suited, and most cheerful, yet you are in a state of condemnation. You hang over the infernal pit, with the sword of divine vengeance hanging over your head, having no security one moment from utter and remediless destruction. What reasonable peace can any one enjoy in such a state as this. What though you clothe him in gorgeous apparel, or set him on a throne, or at a prince's table and feed him with the rarest dainties the earth affords: how miserable is the ease and cheerfulness that such have! what a poor kind of comfort and joy is it that such take in their wealth and pleasures for a moment, while they are the prisoners of divine justice, and wretched captives of the devil! They have none to befriend them, being without Christ, aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world!
I invite you now to a better portion. There are better things provided for the sinful, miserable children of men. There is a surer comfort and more durable peace : comfort that you may enjoy in a state of safety, and on a sure foundation : a peace and rest that you may enjoy with reason, and with your eyes open. You may have all your sins forgiven, your greatest and most aggravated transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and buried as in the depths of the sea, that they never may be found more. And being not only forgiven, but accepted to favour, you become the objects of God's complacency and delight; being taken into God's family, and made his children, you may have good evidence that your names were written on the heart of Christ before the world was made, and that you have an interest in that covenant of grace that is well ordered in all things and sure ; wherein is promised no less than life and immortality, an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Being in such circumstances, nothing shall be able to prevent your being happy to all eternity; having for the foundation of your hope, that love of God which is from eternity to eternity: and his promise and oath, and his omnipotent power, things infinitely firmer than mountains of brass. The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed, yea, the heavens shall vanish away, like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, yet these things will never be abolished.
In such a state as this you will have a foundation of peace and rest through all changes, and in times of the greatest uproar and outward calamity be defended from all storms, and dwell above the floods ; Psalm xxxii. 6, 7. And you shall be at peace with every thing, and God will make all his creatures throughout all parts of his dominion, to befriend you ; Job v. 19, 24.--You need not be afraid of any thing that your enemies can do unto you; Psalm iii. 5, 6. Those things that are now most terrible to you, viz. death, judgment, and eternity, will then be most comfortable, the most sweet and pleasant objects of your contemplation; at least there will be reason that they should be so. Hearken therefore to the friendly counsel that is given you this day, turn your feet into the way of peace, forsake the foolish and live ; forsake those things which are no other than the devil's baits, and seek after this excellent peace and rest of Jesus Christ, that peace of God which passeth all understanding. Taste and see; never was any disappointed that made a trial. Prov. xxiv. 13, 14. You will not only find those spiritual comforts that Christ offers you to be of a surpassing sweetness for the present, but they will be to your soul as the dawning light that shines more and more to the perfect day; and the issue of all will be your arrival in heaven, that land of rest, those regions of everlasting joy, where your peace and happiness will be perfect, without the least mixture of trouble or affliction, and never be interrupted nor have an end.
THE PERPETUITY AND CHANGE OF THE SABBATA.
1 Cor. xvi. 1,
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given
order to the churches of Galatia, even 80 do ye. Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
We find in the New Testament often mentioned a certain collection, which was made by the Grecian churches, for the brethren in Judea, who were reduced to pinching want by a dearth which then prevailed, and was the heavier upon them by reason of their circumstances, they having been from the beginning oppressed and persecuted by the unbelieving Jews. This collection or contribution is twice mentioned in the Acts, chap. xi. 21-31. and xxiv. 17. It is also noticed in several of the epistles ; as Rom. xv. 26. and Gal. ii. 10. But it is most largely insisted on, in these two epistles to the Corinthians ; in this first epistle, chap. xvi. and in the second epistle, chap. viii. and ix.-The apostle begins the directions, which in this place he delivers concerning this matter, with the words of the text; -wherein we may observe,
1. What is the thing to be done concerning which the apostle gives them direction,—the exercise and manifestation of their charity towards their brethren, by communicating to them, for the supply of their wants; which was by Christ and his apostles often insisted on, as one main duty of the Christian religion, and is expressly declared to be so by the apostle James, chapter i. 27. “ Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction."
* Not dated.
2. We may observe the time on which the apostle directs that this should be done, viz. on the first day of the week." By the inspiration of the holy Ghost he insists upon it, that it be done on such a particular day of the week, as if no other day would do so well as that, or were so proper and fit a time for such a work.–Thus, although the inspired apostle was not for making that distinction of days in gospel-times, which the Jews made, as appears by Gal. iv. 10. “ Ye observe days, and months,”' yet, here he gives the preference to one day of the week, before any other, for the performance of a certain great duty of Christianity.
3. It may be observed, that the apostle had given to other churches, that were concerned in the same duty, to do it on the first day of the week : “ As I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye." Whence we may learn, that it was nothing peculiar in the circumstances of the Christians at Corinth, which was the reason why the Holy Ghost insisted that they should perform this duty on this day of the week. The apostle had given the like orders to the churches of Galatia.
Now Galatia was far distant from Corinth; the sea parted them, and there were several other countries between them. Therefore it cannot be thought that the Holy Ghost directs them to this time upon any secular account, having respect to some particular circumstances of the people in that city, but upon a religious account. In giving the preference to this day for such work, before any other day, he has respect to something which reached all Christians throughout the wide world.
And by other pasages of the New Testament, we learn that the case was the same as to other exercises of religion ; and that the first day of the week was preferred before any other day, in churches immediately under the care of the apostles, for an attendance on the exercises of religion in general. Acts xx. 7.“ Upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” It seems by these things to have been among the primitive Christians in the apostles' days, with respect to the first day of the week, as it was among the Jews, with respect to the seventh.
We are taught by Christ, that the doing of alms and showing of mercy are proper works for the sabbath-day. When the Pharisees found fault with Christ for suffering his disciples to pluck the ears of corn, and eat on the sabbath, Christ corrects them with that saying, “ I will have mercy and not sacrifice ;” Matt. xii. 7. Ånd Christ teaches that works of mercy are proper to be done on the sabbath, Luke xii. 15, 16. and xiv. 5.-These works used to be done on sacred festivals,