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THE DAY OF GRACE.
In the first place we teach, what Jesus, the teacher from heaven, the Oracle and Word of the Most High God himself taught, John 3:2, that now is the time of grace, a time to awaken from the sleep of our abominable sins, Rom. 13:11, and obtain an upright, converted, renewed, contrite and penitent heart, and sincerely lament before God, our past profligate and dissolute course of life, and in the fear of God, to crucify and mortify our depraved, sinful flesh; temper and nature, and arise with Christ into a new, righteous, and penitent life and conduct, Eph. 4:22; Gal. 5:24. Even as Christ says, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye and believe the Gospel," Mark. 1:15.
The time is fulfilled, that is, the promised day of grace approaches; the time for the appearing of the promised seed; the time of redemption, the time of that offering by which all things were to be reconciled in heaven and upon earth, Gen. 3:15; Col. 1:19; the time for the consummation of all the literal and figurative transactions into a new, spiritual life and an abiding truth; the time for which the fathers, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, David, Daniel, &c., with all the patriarchs and prophets hoped, and which they desired with many tears, and through faith saw from afar, and drew comfort and hope therefrom, Heb. 11:23; yea, it was to them such a great and pleasing consolation, that good old Simeon desired to live no longer, when he beheld the time and saw the Redeemer. He said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people," Luke 2:29‑31.
The time is fulfilled, the predictions of the prophets and promises of the fathers appear in their full power; the sworn oath is accomplished; Israel has received its King David, its Prince and Chief who has arisen as a mighty one to prepare his way, Ps. 2:7; Is. 9:5; Jer. 30:9; his going forth is from the heavens; the Anointed, who was the desire of all nations, has come, girded about his loins with the sword of the Spirit and valiant for battle, Mic. 5; Hag. 2; Is. 24.
He has declared the gospel of the kingdom, the word of his Father; he taught and left unto his followers, an example of pure love, and an unblemished life, Matt. 4:17; Jn. 7:14, 15; conquered the mighty, destroyed the power of the devil, bore our sins, abolished death, reconciled the Father, acquired for all the chosen children of God, grace, favor, mercy, eternal life, dominion and peace, Heb. 2; 1. Pet. 2; 1. Cor. 15, and has been ordained by his Eternal and Almighty Father as an omnipotent King over the holy Mount Zion, as the head of the Church, a Provider and Dispenser of heavenly blessings; yea, an Almighty Ruler over all in heaven and on earth, Is. 2; Eph. 2; and this is what Christ here declares, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand," Mark. 1:15.
Out of compassion and a sincere heart, I exhort you with the apostle Paul, that you take heed to this day of grace, and be obedient to the word of God, which says, "I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee; behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation," and with Paul let us "give no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed; but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults (understand this in relation to things which befall us), in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long‑suffering, by kindness, by the 15Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor, and dishonor; by evil report, and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things," 2 Cor. 6:2‑10. Oh, my beloved Sirs, Friends and Brethren, my mouth is open unto you, and my heart is enlarged towards you; for your sakes I am much grieved that you are so careless, and do not observe the people by whom these plain and intelligible scriptures were written; that you so entirely despise the word of the Lord, and suffer this precious time of grace, which God gives us all for improvement, to pass away so shamefully, and regard nothing more than to live with the whole heart, according to the impure and wicked lusts of your flesh, bowing the knees before dumb idols. Alas! it is time to awake! Remember that the angel has sworn, Rev. 10:6, by the eternal and living God, who created heaven and earth, that after this time, there shall be time no longer. From the scriptures we cannot otherwise conclude, but that this is the last watch of the year, the last proclamation of the holy gospel, the last invitation to the marriage of the Lamb, which is to be celebrated, promulgated and sanctified before the great and terrible day of the Lord. Hereby we may learn and determine that the summer will pass away and the winter approach. Those, who, like the foolish virgins, neglect to prepare their lamps, will come too late, knock in vain and be excluded, Matt. 25:11. Therefore comfort not one another with idle comfort and vain hope, as some do who think that the word should be taught and observed whilst they reject the cross. I mean those who know the word of the Lord, but do not live according to it. Oh, no! it is the word of the cross and will, in my opinion, remain so to the last, for it must be sustained with much suffering, and sealed with blood. The Lamb is slain from the foundation of the world, Rev. 13:8; yea, he did not only suffer in his body, but also through the cross and death entered into that glory, which he, for a time, had left for our sakes, Luke 24; Jn. 11:25. If Christ then had to suffer such torture, anguish, misery and pain, how shall his servants, children and members expect peace and freedom from suffering while in the flesh? "If they have called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household?" Matt. 10:25. "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus," says Paul, " shall suffer persecution," 2 Tim. 3:12.
Christ also says, "Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake," Matt. 10:22.
Therefore banish the pernicious thought, that you may hope for another time, from your hearts, and be not deceived by your vain hopes, for I have known some who waited for a more convenient season, but did not live to realize their hopes. Had the apostles and fathers thus waited, the gospel of the kingdom would not at this day have been preached, and the word of the Lord would have remained unknown.
Alas! were you christians and the people of God as you boast yourselves to be, you should be able to say with Paul, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" Rom. 8:35. For then the flesh, the devil, sin, hell and death would all be subdued; there would then be no desire to remain long in this depraved, wicked, sanguinary world; neither would ye then boast of anything save the cross of Christ, Gal. 6:16, and like Paul, with the whole heart desire to be delivered from this body and dwell with Christ, Phil. 1:23.
I sincerely desire that you may awake, and not hope nor wait for a more acceptable time. If however the merciful Father will give us liberty and peace, we will gladly receive them with all thankfulness, from his gracious hands; but if he will not, his great name shall, notwithstanding, be praised forever.
We have all enjoyed the acceptable time of grace, for now is the day of salvation, Is. 49:8. Let us therefore not be like ungrateful, disobedient, blood‑thirsty Jerusalem, who with such perverted minds rejected the divine peace, the heavenly grace and merciful calling; but let us awake, with sober hearts, and give ear to the inviting 16voice, and in this accepted time arise from the deep slumber of our abominable and offensive sins, for the Lord is at hand. The night is far spent, the day is at hand; let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light, let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof," Rom. 13:12‑14. Let every one be vigilent, and improve the time which God has graciously given for repentance. Ecce nunc tempus acceptum, ecce nunc dies salutis. `Behold, now is the accepted time, behold, now is the day of salvation," 2 Cor. 6:2.
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