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dispute every inch of ground, and fight his way through surrounding enemies. It is no easy matter “to pluck out a right eye, and to cut off a right hand;" that is, to renounce those sins to which we have been so long habi. tuated, that they are in a manner become parts of ourselves, and no less dear to us than the most useful and necessary members of our body; yet to this we must consent before we can enter into the kingdom of heaven. -It appears a hard command that God gave to Abraham, “ Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains tbat I shall tell thee of.” But is not that other command at least equally severe, Take now thy lust, thy beloved last, from which thou hast promised thyself the greatest returns of profit or pleasure, bring it hither immediately, and slay it before me, without the ceremony of one parting embrace? This, my brethren, is difficult work indeed. Isaac lay meekly and patiently on the altar; but so will not our lusts; no, they will struggle, and cry, and plead for mercy, and use every insinuating method of address, to prevent, or at least to retard the stroke. But neither is this all; those inward corruptions, formidable as they are, yet are they not the only enemies we have to grapple with: The devil is an adversary both cunning and strong, very formidable by his power as “the roaring lion;" but still more formidable by his craft, as that “old serpent,” who can vary his shape, and put on the appearance of an angel of light, that, in a form so specious, he may get access to our hearts with greater ease, and fill them with his poison before we are aware. This earth too upon which we tread is full of

. snares; and every state or condition of life hath some temptation or other peculiar to itself, as we learn from

that well-conceived prayer of Agur, (Prov. xxx. 8, 9.) “Remove far from me vanity and lies; give me neither poverty nor riches, feed me with food convenient for me: lest l be full and deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or, lest I be poor and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” Besides, in the ordinary course of events, á all that will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution” in one kind or other. The Christian is bound not only to avoid conformity to the world, but, on all proper occasions, to testify his dislike of its corrupt maxims and practices; which cannot fail to draw upon him a considerable share of hatred and resentment, Singularity is enough to beget ill will: but if a person shall not only use different manners, but likewise condemn the manners of those among whom he lives, which the most prudent and modest disciple of Jesus may sometimes find himself obliged to do; this will not easily be forgiven; such a one can expect no better treatment than Lot had from the Sodomites, who could not bear that a fellow, as they called him, “ who came in to sojourn," should pretend to be their judge. -Such are the difficul. ties that attend religion; and do not these make zeal or fervour necessary!-I shall only add, in the

4th place, That we should be fervent in spirit, serv. ing the Lord; because, as I have already observed, it is absolutely impossible that we can do too much. Were we in any danger of exceeding, there would no doubt be cause to moderate our zeal: but this is not the case; for after “we have done all those things which are commanded us," we shall still have reason to say, are unprofitable servants; we have done that which was our daty to do.”—True it is, that in particular exercises of religion there may be an overdoing; for one duty may jastly be said to exceed, when it thrusts out another of


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greater, or even of equal importance, or which is more the duty of the season than itself; but so long as we regulate our services by the word of God, in wbich case alone they are proper acts of obedience, we need not be afraid of becoming “righteous overmuch.” 'One thing is certain, that the most serious Christians, when they came to die, have always lamented their former negligence: and the time is at hand, when all the world shall confess, that holy diligence was the truest wisdom; and that they, and they only made choice of the better part, who minded the "one thing needful,” and were fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

And now, my dear friends, my design, upon the whole, is to excite you to a proper concern about the salvation of your precious and immortal souls. It is not a system of opinions that will carry any man to heaven: our knowledge of the truth shall only serve to condemn us, if we do not receive the truth into our hearts, and suffer it to influence both our temper and practice. I am far from thinking that men may be saved in any religion, however false, provided only they be sincere in the belief, and obedient to the dictates, of that religion they profess; but of this I am fully persuaded, on the other hand, that no religion can save a man wbo is not serious in it, and who doth not yield himself entirely to its government. Can it avail us any thing, that we profess the true religion, if we ourselves are false to that religion ? No, surely: The religion indeed is good, but it is not our religion; it is our book that contains the true religion, but not our heart; and therefore it can no more save us than the best food can nourish us, and preserve our life, which only standeth upon the table, or which never goeth farther than our mouth.

Let me therefore entreat you to comply with the

Apostle's exhortation in my text. I speak to you who are Christians indeed ; because you alone are in a capacity of serving the Lord; for “ they that are in the flesh," who were never cut off from the natural stock, and ingrafted into Christ the true vine, such persons, the Apostle tells us, (Rom. viii. 8.) “ cannot please God." They may perform the outward acts of duty, they may even do them with a considerable degree of natural fervour ; but all the while their most specious services are only dead works, offered up with a strange fire,” which cannot ascend to God with acceptance. I speak therefore to the living members of Christ, to those who are regenerated by the Spirit of God; and my request to you is, that, from this time forward, you should 6 stir up the gift of God that is in you," and be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.

The declining interest of religion requires all the support you can give it. Men are wearing out of acquaintance with God; nor is it greatly to be wondered at, seeing his image is so faintly to be discerned, even upon those who are really his children. Look around you, and observe how active and violent wicked men are in the service of Satan : their pace, like “the driving of Jehu, the son of Nimshi, is swift and furious." With what zeal, with what carefulness, with what self-denial-1 had almost said, with what fear and tremblingdo many of them work out their own damnation ! “ drawing iniquity with cords of vanity, and sinning as with a cart-rope !" And will you be cold and negligent, nay, timorous and shamefaced, in the service of the true and living God? Oh! how upseemly, how scandalous, how burtful were this! hurtful to yourselves, hurtful to your fellow Christians, hurtful even to the wicked with whom you converse; they know that heaven and hell are in direct opposition, and consequently that the roads which lead to them must be widely distant from each other; and therefore they will never be persuaded that they shall be thrust down into utter darkness, if such as you, who in appearance are treading the same paths that they do, shall get to heaven at last. Ungrateful servants! how hath your Redeemer deserved this at your bands? Is this the way to gain men's hearts to the love of holiness? Would you wish the world to write after so imperfect and blotted a copy as you set before them? I beseech, I obtest you, by all the regard you have for the glory of God, your own comfort, and the good of others, that henceforth you would distinguish yourselves more visibly from the men of the world who have their portion in this life.” “ Have no fellow. ship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Let Christianity be so deeply engraved on every part of your conduct, that he who runs may read whose servants you are, and thus God may be glorified in his saints. It is a mean, inglorious aim, merely to keep within the limits which divide the lawful from the forbidden ground.—Show that you are men of 66 another spirit," by “ following the Lord fully," and

" straining every nerve, as it were, to attaiu the highest perfection of which our nature is capable in its present imperfect state. Let faith realize to you the life of Jesus; .

; and beg of God, for Christ's sake, that he, by his Spirit, may kindle that holy fire in your hearts, which shall gradually consume all your dross, and carry you swiftly forward to the Zion above, that imperial city of the great King, where, like those flaming ministers who surround his throne, you shall serve God day and night in his temple, without interruption, without imperfection, and without weariness. To which exalted felicity, may God, of his infinite mercy, bring us all in due time, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


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