"The Voice of the Charmer"

"Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the voice of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be." Psalm 58:4-5

How glorious is the nature, and what an inestimable blessing to man, socially and individually considered, is the Gospel of Christ! It is a revelation of the most stupendous expedient, and a solution of the profoundest problem that ever interested the heart, or engaged the thought of the Eternal Mind. The salvation of guilty man secured in a way consistent with infinite holiness- the claims of stern justice reconciled with the pleadings of divine mercy- the moral government of God vindicated- and love, the favorite perfection of his nature, indulged- form the one sublime and precious theme of which it speaks in strains of newborn and unheard of melody. Well does the Holy Spirit entitle it, the "glorious Gospel of the blessed God." Thus, while this Gospel is to the sinner the golden chain of grace lowered to the very depth of his wretchedness and woe, it is an all-encircling shield thrown around the purity and the honor of that Being to whose nature it assimilates, and to whose communion it lifts him.

And yet, strange to say, man, the only creature personally interested in this wondrous revelation, is of all intelligences the least astonished at its glories, or affected by its appeals. Angels scan its mysteries, and adore- devils believe its announcements, and tremble; but man, whom it most deeply concerns, and to whom it is especially sent, "will not heed the voice of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be." May the Spirit of truth and love impart his own blessing, while we proceed to consider the nature of the gospel charm, and the guilt and consequences of its wilful neglect.

By every reflective and right-thinking mind, the gospel will be regarded as the most invaluable boon God ever bestowed upon our nation, while its withdrawal would be the greatest calamity that could arrest its prosperity and blight its happiness. The unenlightened philosopher, the political economist, and the wily statesman, may dispute the justness of this sentiment; but man's unbelief cannot invalidate God's truth. Let God be true, and every man whose opinions contravene His veracity, be a liar, rather than that God were false. The gospel has made us, as a nation, all that we are- great, privileged, and free. Her greatness, her privileges, and her freedom, Britain owes not to the wisdom of her legislation, to the influence of her letters, or to the prowess of her military; but to Christianity, and to Christianity alone. But for this, she had still been classed with the idolatrous nations of the east. When the great apostle of the Gentiles planted his foot upon her shores, and, amid the heathen altars and idolatrous shrines consecrated to Woden, to Thor, and to Tuesco, proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, he laid the foundation of all her future glory.

And although there have been periods in her remarkable history when the pale star of Popery has seemed in the ascendant, and the sun of gospel truth has for a while been obscured, yet the morning has again dawned- a morning without clouds"- and emerging from beneath the veil of night, it has shone forth with increased power and splendor, covering with overwhelming defeat every attempt to banish it from the land. And so it will continue to confound its enemies until the last conquest it achieves shall usher in the coming of the Son of man.

We might also adduce the history of the Western World as affording another evidence of the gospel as a national blessing. Contrast the present elevated moral, intellectual, and social condition of America, with the period, but recent, when the Indian paddled his canoe along her majestic waters, and the smoke of his rude wigwam, and the yell of his senseless worship, rose amid the stillness and the gloom of his unbroken forests; and to the inquiry, "What has so rapidly advanced, and so far elevated her in the scale of civilized nations?" we unhesitatingly reply, "the glorious gospel of the blessed God," planted upon her shores by the labors, and nourished by the prayers, the sacrifices, and the tears of the Pilgrim Fathers, of whom the world was not worthy. We have made and have given this prominence to these remarks, feeling their importance and necessity.

There exists a marvellous tendency to undervalue the influence of Christianity as a great national blessing. Civilization, education, and science are thrust forward, as though all our greatness and true glory had been achieved by, and would be perpetuated through, them. It is alarming to think of the progress which these semi-infidel views are making. But as the gospel alone made, so the gospel alone can preserve us what we are. Christianity is the basis of our institutions, and the bulwark of our strength. Our very existence as a nation depends upon it. The setting of this sun, to change the figure, would be the precursor of a fearful night of moral and intellectual gloom, the signal for every foul spirit of darkness to emerge from his hiding place, and stalk in triumph through the land. Let us hold fast the pure gospel. Nothing but its diffusion can retain it in our midst. No civil power can preserve it. It must take hold on the masses, it must enthrone itself on the hearts, embody itself in the intellects, and incorporate itself with the habits of the people. To attain this end, we must circulate the Bible, sustain the divine institution of the Christian ministry, live the gospel individually, and be more earnest and united in prayer for a deeper baptism of the Holy Spirit upon our churches.

But it is of the relation of man to the gospel, as an individual, and not as a society, we are particularly to speak in the present chapter. And in the foreground let us contemplate the charming Savior whom the gospel reveals, the Savior of God's providing, and in all points of view a gift worthy of so great and glorious a Giver. There are two passages of God's word which convey to the mind the most forcible and exalted views of the personal excellence and dignity of the Lord Jesus, at which we may give a rapid glance. The first portrays his matchless beauty, the second his incomprehensible greatness. "You are fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into your lips; therefore God has blessed you forever," Psalm 45:2.

This doubtless refers to the perfection of his human excellence. As man, his beauty transcends the loveliest of human beings- "fairer than the children of men." Their beauty is mixed; his is pure. Theirs is derived; his is from himself. Theirs decays; his is imperishable. His body prepared by God; his mind filled with all the wisdom, grace, and holiness of the Spirit- he stands forth the "bright and morning star," the perfect, peerless Son of man. O for an eye to see and admire his excellence! and not admire only, but to imitate. O for grace to lie at his feet, and learn from his meekness! to lean on his bosom and drink of his love; to set the Lord always before us, never moving the eye from this perfect model, but ever aiming to transcribe its lineaments upon our daily life. Yes! you are "fairer than the children of men!" you altogether lovely One! And as I gaze upon your perfections, wandering from beauty to beauty, my admiration increases, and my love deepens, until, in the assurance of faith, and in the transport of joy, I exclaim, "this is my Beloved, and this is my Friend."

Respecting his superior nature, not less clear and emphatic is the declaration of his essential greatness. "No man knows the Son but the Father," Matt. 11:27. Surely these words are sufficient to remove all doubt as to his Deity. Were he only man, with what truth could it be affirmed of him, that "no man knows the Son?" It is the property of an angel, that he understands the angelic nature; and of man, that he understands the human nature. It is the perfection of God that He only understands the nature of God. Who, then, but the Infinite, can measure the infinite greatness of the Son of God? The loftiest created imagination, the mightiest human intellect, the profoundest angelic research, falls infinitely short of what he is. The Father alone knows the Son, because he is of the same nature and mind with the Father.

Beware of holding this doctrine lightly. A more important one- one more glorious or more precious, asks not the confidence of your faith. Hold it fast, even as the vessel in the storm clings to its anchor. This gone, the next mountain wave drives you upon the quicksand of doubt and perplexity, and then where are you? Consider how important must be that single truth, on which the value, the preciousness, and the efficacy of all other truths depend. Such a truth is the Godhead of Christ.

How glorious an object, then, is this Savior, whom the gospel thus reveals! It is true his essential greatness, like the peace which he himself gives, "surpasses all understanding;" yet like that peace, he may be known, though he cannot be measured. "We may know experimentally," as Owen beautifully remarks, "that which we cannot know comprehensively; we may know that in its power and effect, which we cannot comprehend in its nature and depths. A weary person may receive refreshment from a spring, who cannot fathom the depth of the ocean from where it proceeds." That this is true of the "love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge," is equally true of the person of Christ himself, whom "no man knows but the Father." Think not that all his beauty is concealed. They, in whom it has pleased the Father to reveal his Son, "behold his glory;" they "see the King in his beauty;" the discovery of his excellence often captivates their soul, and the sense of his love often cheers their hearts; while in lively faith and joy they exclaim, "I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine."

Take one more view of Him who is the "chief among ten thousand." Look at his sinless, yet real humanity; without a single taint, yet sympathizing with all the conditions of ours: afflicted in our afflictions; tempted in our temptations; infirm in our infirmities; grieved in our griefs; "wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities;" and now that he is in glory, still cherishing a brother's heart, bending down his ear to our petitions, ever standing near to catch our sighs, to dry our tears, to provide for our needs, to guide us by his counsel, and afterwards to receive us to glory. O what a Savior is Jesus Christ! Wonder not, my readers, that when he is known, all other beings are eclipsed; that when his beauty is seen, all other beauty fades; that when his love is felt, he becomes supremely enthroned in the affections; and that to know him more, is the one desire of the renewed mind, and to make him more known, is the one aim of the Christian life.

What charming tidings, too, does the gospel announce! Take the doctrine of PARDON, the very mention of which thrills the soul with gladness. Pardon through the blood-shedding of God's dear Son for "all manner of sin," and for the chief of sinners! What myriads have gone to glory, exulting with their expiring breath in those melodious words, "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin!" Is there no music in this declaration to the ear of a sin-burdened soul? And when the called children of God behold in that blood of Immanuel- the sea which has drowned all their sins, the fountain which has cleansed all their guilt, the source of their reconciliation, the cause of their peace, and the ground of their access- is not the gospel a joyful sound to their ears?

And yet how few live in the full enjoyment of this truth, "You will cast all my sins behind your back." "You have forgiven all their iniquity." "I have blotted out as a cloud your transgressions, and as a thick cloud your sins." Precious truth! Since God has spoken it, faith exclaims, "I believe it. On this I can live holily, and on this I can die happily."The Gospel speaks, too, of a RIGHTEOUSNESS which places the believing sinner in a state of complete justification- a righteousness better than that of Moses, and superior to that of angels, because it is the "righteousness of God Himself."

Among the many glorious names which our Immanuel bears is, "JEHOVAH our Righteousness." He is made from God the righteousness of his people. As their law-fulfiller, obeying; as their surety, suffering in their stead, they become the righteousness of God in Him, so that the very name itself which Jesus bears in connection with our justification becomes ours. "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name by which she shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness." Thus the believer wears the clothing, and takes the name of Him, who is emphatically the husband of his Church. See how complete she is in him- Colos. 2:10. How glorious-  Eph. 5:7. How lovely, Ezek. 16:14. In this righteousness she is exalted, Psalm. 139:16; and in this it is her privilege greatly to rejoice, Isa. 41:10.

Is this righteousness yours, my reader? Have you cast aside the defiled, worm-eaten garment in which by nature you stand; and are you clothed in the fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness of the saints? Search and see! You may have gone far in a profession of Christ, in a visible enrolment among his people; and yet were the King to enter the banqueting room where you sit partaking the symbols of his death, to see the guests, it is possible that in view of his solemn, searching inspection, you may be found not having on the righteousness of Christ.

But if you have renounced your own merits, and have fled entirely from yourself to Jesus, then to this sweet note of the joyful sound, your heart responds, exclaiming, "In the Lord have I righteousness;" "My soul shall make her boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear thereof and be glad." Standing in this perfect, spotless robe, you will aim after a life corresponding with a privilege so exalted; and whether living or dying, you will be openly and manifestly the Lord's.

A FREE GRACE voice will possess a charm to the spiritual ear which no word of man can fully express- and this is the true idea of the gospel. But for this, what charm to a convinced sinner would the gospel of Jesus possess? How could the rest, the privileges, and the blessings of this great charter of divine mercy raise a solitary emotion of gladness in the heart, were they not the gratuities of the God of grace? What music, do you think, to the ear of a condemned felon would be the pardon of his sovereign, were it upon terms which the very circumstances of his case rendered unavailable? What a cruel mockery would it be of his helplessness, and what a bitter taunting of his woe! But stand upon the threshold of his gloomy cell, and read to him in tones worthy of the announcement, a free, unconditional pardon; throw wide open his door, knock off his chains, and "say to the prisoner, Go forth," with no obligations imposed, but such as boundless goodness would dictate, and such as deathless gratitude would recognize- loyalty to a sovereign so gracious and benignant- and you do indeed bear to him glad tidings. You irradiate his dark dungeon with brightness, and you fill his desolate heart with joy. Such are the tidings which the Gospel proclaims.

Listen to it- eloquent are its accents: "By grace are you saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." "It is by faith that it might be by grace." "Without money, and without price." "And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both." "Come and take of the water of life freely." Are you a self-destroyed, self-condemned, bankrupt sinner, with, nothing to pay? Then may you exclaim, "Never was music so sweet to me as this! Salvation free! Redemption without money! Heaven without creature merit! All springing from the heart of God, and flowing down through the channel of the Savior's merits."

As a system of Divine and unfailing CONSOLATION, there is a charm in the gospel of Jesus of indescribable sweetness. Originating with that God, not only whose name and whose perfection, but whose very essence is love, and who Himself is the "God of all comfort," it must be a gospel of "strong consolation," commensurate with every conceivable sorrow of his people. Let those testify who, amid the trials and the conflicts of their pilgrimage, have thus experienced it. Indeed it is only by this test that its real character can be estimated. As we can convey no adequate idea of sound to the deaf, of color to the blind, or of life to the dead, neither can we by the most elaborate reasoning or eloquent description, impart to a mind estranged from sorrow- if such there be- any proper conception of the magic power of the gospel, as a consummate system of the richest consolation and support.

But let a Christian be placed in circumstances of the deepest grief and sorest trial- the bread and the water of affliction his food- the iron entering his soul- the heart bereaved- the mind perplexed- the spirit dark- all human hopes blighted, and creature cisterns failing him like a spring in the summer's drought; then let the Spirit of God, the Divine Paraclete, open this box of perfume, breathing into his soul the rich consolations, the precious promises, the strong assurances, the divine counsels, and the glowing hopes which it contains, and in a moment the light of love appears in his dark cloud, his fainting spirit revives, and all is peace!

Oh! that must be a charming gospel which can meet the necessities of man at every point; whose wisdom no human perplexity can baffle, and whose resources of sympathy and comfort, no case of suffering or of sorrow can exhaust. Tried soul! repair to this unfailing spring of comfort. God speaks to you in it- it is the unsealing of the heart of Jesus- it is the still small voice of the Spirit. It speaks to you- it bids you "cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;" "Call upon him in the day of trouble, and he will answer you." It assures you that amid, all your perplexing cares, "He cares for you." It promises you that for your flint-paved path, your "shoes shall be iron and brass;" and that "as your days are, so shall your strength be." It tells you that a "woman may forget her nursing child, yet God will not forget you;" that in all your assaults, you shall dwell on high, your place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks;" and that though hemmed in on every side by a besieging foe, and all other supplies cut off, yet "your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure." It invites you to lay your griefs and weep out your sorrows upon the bosom of Jesus, and so "leaning upon your Beloved, ascend from the wilderness." O to be led into the heart-felt experience of these truths, even while passing through billows of sorrow to a martyr's flames!

Not the least important and endearing element of the Gospel to a believer's heart, is its HOLINESS. All its truths to him are precious, because the tendency of all is to sanctify. What to him were its soothing consolations dissevered from its holy precepts? What were its comfort, if that comfort were secured at the expense of holiness? What though it dried his tears, but did not subdue his corruptions? What though it assuaged the fountain of his grief, while it left that of his sins unchecked? Its greatest charm were gone! No; he would desire guidance, instruction, and consolation, only so far as they advanced his divine conformity.

He longs, he pants, he prays, to be a holy child of God. That he so often and so far misses his mark- that he is so frequently foiled, disappointed, and forced back, in his strivings after sanctification, is to him the bitterest of bitter sorrows. But when at any time, and in any degree, he is enabled through grace to "do the will of God from the heart," and when in the great conflict of faith he advances to the foe, and covers that advance with glory, or retreats only to eclipse the glory of his advance, a shout more full of music never rose to heaven, than that which breaks from his adoring lips, "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ."

The "charmers," from whose lips this divine melody proceeds, are the true ministers of Christ, whom he has chosen, called, and furnished with grace and gifts, and to whom he has committed a dispensation of the gospel. Their appointment is from God; their succession is from Christ; their anointing for, and designation to, the work are from the Holy Spirit. He himself, though a minister of the Lord Jesus, is but an "earthen vessel," encompassed with, and often well near crushed by, the infirmity of which he is, in common with others, the subject. "For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men, in things pertaining to God, . . . who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on those who are out of the way; for in that he himself is compassed with infirmity."

He is often alarmed by the thought, that truth so divine and so pure should flow through a channel so earthly and so defiled; and that to an office so spiritual, and to a work so great, he should bring grace so shallow, and attainments so limited. Yet God has placed him in the office; and although tempted at times to relinquish his high trust, yet he is as often deterred by the solemn voice of conscience, "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!" But we would be far from conveying a gloomy representation of the office and functions of the Christian ministry. It is true, many, influenced by sordid and unworthy motives, seek admittance to the holy office; and that these should find its sacred labors distasteful and wearisome, is no marvel. But there are others who can humbly adopt the language of their Master, "My food and my drink are to do the will of Him who sent me, and to finish his work."

They delight in their employment; they find their rest in their toil; and they often reap their highest joy from that which is the cause of their deepest sorrow. To proclaim that gospel which has often charmed his own soul- to preach that Jesus, at times so precious to his own heart- to comfort others with the comforts with which he himself has been comforted by God- to wipe a solitary tear from the eye- to chase a single grief from the heart- to smooth a dying pillow- to save a soul from death- to guide a saint to glory- O to him it were worth a million lives, were they even lives of tenfold toil and trial!

With all its solemn responsibilities, its wearisome labors, its painful anxieties, its lonely sorrows, who would not be a gospel charmer? Who would not, like Jesus, be anointed to preach good tidings unto the meek- to bind up the broken-hearted- to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound? With such a commission, and beneath such anointing, is it any marvel that such a minister should, like the apostle, look down from his lofty eminence with contempt upon the wisdom of man and the learning of the schools, the moment they clashed with the wisdom of God and the glory of the cross- that he should go forth, and to the lettered and the ignorant, to the polished and the rude, make known nothing but Christ crucified? These, then, are the "charmers." And of them the sweet poet sings,
"How beauteous are their feet
Who stand on Zion's hill!
Who bring salvation on their tongues,
And words of peace reveal!
How charming is their voice!
How sweet the tidings are!
Zion, behold your Savior King!
He reigns and triumphs here."

But what is it to "charm wisely?" True wisdom has been defined that power which accomplishes the greatest results by the simplest means. Then, here is wisdom! To save souls from eternal death, by the "foolishness of preaching," must be regarded as the highest point to which wisdom can soar. It is recorded concerning the apostles, that they "so spoke, that a great multitude, both of the Jews, and also of the Greeks, believed." They presented Christ so prominently- they divided truth so skillfully- and they preached with such power, point, and simplicity, that "multitudes were added to the Lord."

See with what contempt they looked down upon the unsanctified wisdom and lore of this world! Addressing the Corinthians, their great leader could say, "my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." He charmed wisely; and by the influence of his preaching, pagan altars were destroyed, senseless idols were abandoned, the Pantheon and the Lyceum were forsaken, and "a great 'company of the priests were obedient to the faith;" but it was not with the "wisdom of this world," in order that their "faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.

And why may not the same results in the employment of the same means be ours? Do we not preach the same gospel? Don't we deal with the same intelligent and deathless mind? Don't we draw our motives and our appeals from the same eternity? True, we possess neither the spirit of prophecy nor the gift of miracles. We need them not. Nor did the apostles in their grand work of converting men to God. They never in a single instance quickened a soul by the power of a miracle. The extraordinary gifts with which they were endowed were bestowed for another and a different purpose. The cases of our Lord and of his Forerunner are strikingly in point. The ministry of Jesus, although attended by a succession of miracles the most brilliant and convincing, resulted in fewer conversions than the ministry of John, who did no miracle.

To what divine agency, then, did the apostles themselves trace the extraordinary result of their preaching? To what, but the demonstration of the Spirit? O for tongues of fire to proclaim the glad tidings of the gospel! With such a Savior to make known- with such revelations to disclose- with such souls to save- with such results to expect- is it of a wonder that we should speak with any other? To charm wisely, then, is so rightly to divide God's word, as not to confound truth with error- so discriminatingly to preach it, as to separate the precious from the vile- and so distinctly and prominently to hold up the cross of Christ, as to save immortal souls. The cross, the cross must be the central object exhibited in our ministry, to which every eye must be directed, and before which all the glory of man must fade.

The Holy Spirit, too, must be more honored- his anointing more especially sought- and his influence more earnestly insisted upon. Apart from this, no ministry, be its character in other respects what it may, has any real power. How poor a thing it is, distinguished only by its learning, its genius, and its eloquence, and destitute of the vital warmth, and impassioned earnestness, and soul-subduing, and heart-awakening energy of the Holy Spirit! Weighed in the balance of the sanctuary, it is as light as air; estimated in view of the judgment, it is an awful mockery.

But a most solemn part of this subject remains to be considered. We allude to the reception which this heaven-sent message of reconciliation meets from multitudes on whose external ear only its accents of melody fall. The charge which God brings against such resolves itself into the indictment of a wilful neglect and rejection of this immense privilege. "Who will not heed the voice of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be." The character here alluded to has its classifications, to which, lest any should be self-deceived in so momentous a matter, we will briefly advert.

There are, in the first place, those who may be said to receive, and yet who do actually reject the gospel of Jesus. Supposing ourselves addressing such, we would present a line of argument somewhat like this: You are not, in the skeptical sense of the term, an unbeliever. In other words, you shudder at the idea, and would resent the suspicion of being an infidel. You believe the Holy Scriptures to be a divine record, Christ "a teacher come from God," and the Christianity which he taught a heaven-authenticated record of the doctrines to be believed and the precepts to be followed, essential to that "holiness without which no one can see the Lord." And yet, strange to say, notwithstanding all this, you are an unbeliever! Your unbelief is of a most alarming and fatal character; more ensnaring than that which saps the foundation of Christianity; because, while it professes to credit its truth, it practically makes it a lie, and thus fosters one of the most fatal delusions that ever imperilled the immortal soul!

Do you live as if you believed the gospel to be true? What moral influence does your professed belief exert over you? What shape and coloring does it impart to your habits of reflection and of feeling? You affirm that you believe in the gospel; but upon what part of your conduct is the influence of that belief felt and seen? You declare that you have faith; but where are its fruits? Alas! the moonbeams fall not more coldly and powerlessly upon the sterile earth, than does the light which your intellectual faith sheds upon your whole path to eternity. You live as if there were no God- no Savior- no heaven- no hell- no death- no judgment- no eternity. Immersed in business or intent upon wealth, panting for fame or eager in chase of pleasure, the dread future, whose bleak, rock-bound coast you are each moment nearing, is all, all forgotten.

You consider yourself as a rational, reasonable, and sane being. But is it rational, reasonable, or sane, to merge the momentous interests of an ever-enduring future in the fleeting shadows of a present moment? What a mere fragment of your being is your present earthly life! Compared with the eternal future, it is as the particle of sand which the wind lifts and wafts from the shore, or like a drop of the spray which it scatters from the ocean's wave. And yet see how you live! And oh, how imperfectly you measure the great work to be done with the brief moment allotted to its accomplishment! You vainly imagine that it can all be crowded into, and accomplished within the space of a dying hour- that a business the most momentous that ever engaged the thought or enlisted the feelings of man, may be safely deferred until the period when the wasting away of sickness, and the fever of delirium, the madness of convulsions, the writhings of pain, and the throbs and throes of dissolving nature, shall task to the utmost all the powers of the mind- oh, what sheer madness is this!

See, then, to what your professed faith in the gospel of Christ brings you! The devils believe, and tremble at what they believe. You believe, and yet tremble not! O what a lie does your whole life give to your faith! The decided irreligion, worldliness, and thoughtlessness, which make up its history, prove your faith in the gospel to be a most woeful deception. It may be a sound faith, as far as reason and philosophy go; but a mere assent of the understanding to the truth is not the faith which the truth itself requires.

There are others, who profess no belief whatever in the gospel of Christ. Theirs is an entire, open, undisguised rejection of this divine system of truth. The atheist rejects it, in his avowed disbelief of God's being- the infidel, when he pronounces the Bible a fiction, and Christianity a lie- the Jew, when he exclaims, "not Jesus, but Barabbas"- the Socinian, in his denial of the Deity of the Son of God- the neologist and the transcendentalist, when they betray the Savior with a kiss. This class is a large one. It embraces in its melancholy catalogue the careless, the indifferent, the scorner, the scoffer, the worldling, the impenitent, the moralist, the pharisee- in a word, all- be they the learned, the philosophical, the intellectual, the refined, or the religious, according to the world's notion- all who are not born again of the Spirit, and who are not exemplifying the power of the truth which is according to godliness.

But there is a feature in this sin which imparts to it a still darker and more fearful complexion. We allude to its wilfulness. There is in it the exhibition of a will not only totally unrenewed and unholy, but assuming an attitude of positive and determined hostility to this wondrous message of God's grace. Ponder the terms of this indictment: "Their poison is like the poison of a serpent: they are like the deaf adder that has stopped its ears, that will not heed the voice of the charmer, however skillful the enchanter may be."

With this corresponds our Lord's description of the same character- "For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear and they have closed their eyes— so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me, and I should heal them." O it is this wilful rejection of the gospel of Jesus which more than all demonstrates your deep degeneracy, and constitutes the most alarming feature of your sin.

We can but briefly, in conclusion, advert to the appalling consequences of this wilful shutting of the ear against the sound of the gospel. They are most effectively told in the words of God himself. Thus he describes the sin and its punishment: "But they refused to listen to this message. They turned stubbornly away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the law or the messages that the Lord Almighty had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord Almighty was so angry with them. Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord Almighty." Zech. 7:11-13. O ponder, I beseech you, reader, these awful words, and no longer "pull away your shoulder" from Christ's yoke, nor "stop your ears" against his voice.

n the New Testament, the record of mercy and of love, it is fearfully written, "the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power 2 Thes. 1:7-9 Are you prepared for this?

But not with a note of terror would we close this chapter. The last vibration that lingers on your ear shall be the "voice of the charmer." How rich the melody!
"In strains as sweet as angels use,
The gospel whispers peace."

And sweeter too, "Ho! every one that thirsts, come to the waters, and he that has no money, come, buy and eat; yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." O let your ear drink in this heavenly sound! It is God himself who speaks. Every word is from his heart. "Look unto Me, all you ends of the earth, and be saved, for I am God, and there is none else." Look unto Jesus, and not to yourselves. You stagger at your great unworthiness. What were this but to suppose that you would never be otherwise? No! Your worthiness is in Christ- your merit is in Christ- your righteousness is in Christ- your beauty is in Christ- your salvation is in Christ- all, all is in Jesus Christ. Out of him you are lost, and lost forever. Through him, though you were the vilest sinner whom the Spirit of God ever drew to the feet of Jesus, you may be saved, and saved forever!