Page images

a person of this temper nothing can come amiss: He knows that his lot is ordered by that God “who is wise in heart, and mighty in strength ;” and who hath expressly promised, that “all things shall work together for good to them that love him, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Distress falls with a crush- . ing and deadly weight upon the man who steps aside from the road of duty; but he who keeps the straight and onward path, can take adversity by the cold hand, and welcome it as a friend, whose sober advice will guide him in his pilgrimage far better than the flattering lips of prosperity. He can say with the prophet Habakkuk, when every earthly comfort takes wing and fli. eth away, “ Although the fig-tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the olives shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.”— But there are other motives besides these which ought to have weight, and which will have weight with every ingenuous heart. Let me therefore remind you, in the

3d place, That our Lord hath in some measure entrusted us with his glory, and called the world to take notice of us, as the persons by whom he expects to be honoured. O how should this fire us with a generous ambition to excel in holiness, that we may exhibit a just representation of the Master we serve, and show that he is in truth what the Scriptures report him to be," altogether lovely," and is “fairer than the children of men!” Is it not, my brethren, matter of grief to you, that so many are to be found who “despise and reject the Saviour of mankind ?" Would you not wish that all the world should know his excellence, that they might ad.

mire, and love, and choose him for their Master?-If you do, for the Lord's sake, for your own sake, and for the sake of the many thousands to whom he still appears 6 without form and comeliness," do not withhold the aid you can give: Him they cannot see, but you are always in their eye; permit them to behold his image in you. Would you not reckon it a bigh crime to blaspheme him with your mouths? I know you would : 0 then do not blaspheme and reproach him by your actions ! Allow me to ask you, When you go with the multitude, and live as careless sinners do, trifling away your precious time in the giddy round of fashionable amusements; how would you have the world to judge? Would you have them to believe, that such behaviour is agreeable to the laws of your Master? that he approves of, or even that he is but slightly displeased with it? What would you think of a minister who should preach in that manner, and labour to persuade his hearers that a careless, trifling, dissipated life, is perfectly consistent with true piety, and that any thing beyond it is unnecessary preciseness, and being “righteous overmuch?” Sure I am, you would look upon such a minister with contempt, nay, with horror: and dare you practise what we dare not preach? We may, we ought to say every thing that is true. We dare not preach an uncommanded strictness; there is a curse denounced against those who “add unto the words of this book," as well as against those who “ take from them." And if your behaviour differ widely from what we are bound to recommend, I again ask the question, What judgment would you have the world to form ?— They must necessarily condemn either us or you; us for requiring too much, or you for performing too little:-They must either conclude that we misrepresent the religion of Jesus, or that you are not the disciples of Jesus. Will any of you be so candid as to take our part against yourselves, and honestly confess that you are wholly to blame? will you go to your carnal neighbours, and tell them, that what you do is utterly inconsistent with your holy profession; that the Lord, whose name you bear, acted in a different manner himself, and gave you laws of a quite different nature and tendency? I suspect you will hardly consent to this

proposal; and yet justice demands it; nay, unless you either do something of this kind, or alter your course of life, and follow the Lord fully, you are criminal in the highest degree; you slander your Master, you bear false witness against him, and are chargeable with dishonesty, with perjury, nay, with blasphemy itself. And this suggests

A 4th motive, which I beg you may attend to. I am now going to plead with you from love to your neighbours. This is a principle you prosess to honour; nay, if I mistake not, the desire of obliging others, and of rendering yourselves agreeable to them, is your common apology for conforming to their manners, and avoiding the offensive singularity of following the Lord fully. This, my brethren, is a false expression of love; nevertheless, it discovers such a regard to others, as furnishes me with a handle to take hold of the true principle, and to plead it in support of the duty I am recommending. Surely it is no office of love to deceive another to his hurt, or to suffer bim to continue in a pleasing mistake, which unavoidably must, and which may very speedily end in his ruin; such “iender mercies” would inded be

cruelty.” In the common affairs of life this maxim is universally acknowledged: And is it less cruel to de. ceive your neighbour in matters of infinitely higher im. portance? If, by the freedoms you take, others are em


[ocr errors]

boldened to sin against God, will the pretence of goodnature or courtesy be sustained as a defence against the charge of blood-guiltiness? No, my brethren. They who are thus misled by you “ shall die in their iniquity;" but “ their blood," at the same time, “shall be required at your hands.” “ Wo onto the world because of offences; but, wo chiefly to him by whom the offence cometh.” Hypocrites shall bave the wo of everlasting punishment, even the children of God sball have the wo of sharp rebuke and chastisement. It is dreadful to think that the souls of any should perish eternally, and we be the cause of it: surely “it were better for that man, that a mill-stone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Do you then love your neigbour in sincerity ? O teach him by your example to follow the Lord fully. Remember" that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way, shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins ;" and may hope to be crowned with distinguished honours in that day, “ when they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”

The 5th and last motive with which I shall press this important duty, is the reward that awaits those who follow the Lord fully. They shall possess that good land of promise, whereof the earthly Canaan was only an emblem or type. - To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seck for glory, honour, and immortality, Christ shall render eternal life.” Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city." There shall they see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, who shine with such lustre in the sacred records; there shall they see Moses, and Aaron, and Ca.

leb and Joshua, with all the holy prophets and apostles of our Lord. Nay, in heaven they shall behold, and delightfully converse with, “ Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant," who, with the price of his own blood, obtained for them a right to that undefiled inheritance, and sent forth his Spirit to prepare them for the enjoyment of it. And shall not the prospect of such exalted felicity animate us in our Christian course, and powerfully incite us to “be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises?” Can we suppose that any of the saints who surround the the throne of God, do now repent of their self-denial and mortification, or repine because they were despised and persecuted while on earth? No, my friends; they would not part with the feeblest ray of their present glory for the everlasting possession of all the honours and pleasures that this earth can afford. What shall I say more? I have urged the most weighty motives that occurred to me; and could I think of any thing still more persuasive, I should add it with pleasure. But without the di. vine blessing, no arguments will prevail. All therefore that remains is, to turn my pleadings with you into prayers to God, that he may bestow upon you another spirit, , and enable you by his grace so to follow him while here, that hereafter, in the heavenly world, you may fully enjoy him, through all the growing ages of a happy eternity. Amen.

« PreviousContinue »