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tan feareth; and though he uses every artifice to make others unbelievers, yet he himself believes and trembles. Remember the battles and victories of your Redeemer; consider the virtue of his blood, and the efficacy of his Spirit. Let faith behold biun in his present exaltation at the Father's right band, pleading your cause, and observing your conduct; covering your heads, and healing your wounds; while he prepares for you those crowns of glory that shall never fade away: and then cry out with the Apostle in holy triumph, “ If God be for us who shall be against us? Who shall separate us from the love of God? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword ? Nay, in all those things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Be bold, O Christians! in the cause of righteousness. Let the wicked blush; they have reason to do so; their work is base, and their wages dead. . ly: but surely the disciples of Jesus bave no cause to be ashamed, whether they consider the nature of their service, or the reward that attends it. And what a reproach is it, that the slaves of Satan should act more vigorously for their master than we do for ours? Their cause is not only bad in itself, but desperate too, as to any prospect of success: whereas the interest for which we contend, is so just and honourable, that the very attempting to support it is glorious; and unless we were to suppose, that Omnipotence may become weak, and the Creator be overmatched by the workmanship of his own hands, we are sure of victory. What theu should we fear? Be strong, 0 believers! and of good courage; you fight the battles of the Lord of hosts; and greater is he that is with you than all that can be against you. Say not that you are the sons of the Most High, and born from above, unless you can prove your descent, by dar.
come, and tell
ing to be holy in spite of devils and men. The battle may be bot, but it cannot last long. Death will soon
your warfare is accomplished ; and angels, who now minister to you with joy, will carry you bome in triumph to your Father's house; and the Redeemer, by whose blood and Spirit you overcome, will put the crown upon your heads, and “ grant unto you to sit with him in his throne, even as he also overcame, and is set down with the Father in bis throne.”
3dly. The stability of the gospel-church is a necessa. ry consequence of the doctrine in my text. Zio's King shall have a seed to serve him as long as sun and moon endure. The church he bath purchased with his blood, is built upon a rock against which the gates of hell shall never prevail. The heathen may rage, and the people imagine vain things; the kings of the earth may set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against bis anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their corils from us: But he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision; and at length he shall speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. The proudest of his enemies shall lick the dust, when he ariseth to plead the cause that is his own; and therefore bis people may well rejoice under the heaviest pressure of afliction, and look by faith through the darkest cloud, to the complete redemption of Israel from all his troubles. “For Jerusalem shall be a bur. densome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth should be gathered together against it.”
4thly. This important subject suggests a variety of useful instructions to all who bear office in the church of Christ; and more especially to those who labour in
word and doctrine. To us is committed the ministry of reconciliation, that by the manifestation of the truth as it is in Jesus, the eyes of sinners may be opened, and' they turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God. We are commanded to preach the word, to be instant in season and out of season, to reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.” “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repen. tance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the share of the devil, who are taken captive by him at bis will.”
This, my fathers and brethren, is the great aim of the sacred office we bear; to which, not our public ministrations only, but every part of our conduct, ought to be subservient. Let us keep this aim continually in our eye, as a lamp to our feet, and a light unto our path; and, in particular, let us place it full in our view when we are assembled together in the name of our Lord, to delibe. rate and judge in matters which belong to bis spiritual kingdom; remembering, that as all our authority is derived from him, so the exercise of that authority can be no further valid than as it is regulated by his will, and subordinated to the purpose for which the Son of God was manifested ; and consequently, that every act and decision of an opposite tendency, shall be finally disowned and reprobated by him who came to destroy the works of the devil. Amen.
PHILIPPIANS i. 27.
Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel
It will be to little purpose to inquire what kind of conversation becometh the gospel of Christ, till we be satisfied, in the first place, that this charge, which was originally addressed to the Philippians, may, with equal propriety, be addressed to us.
The qualifying particle only, with which the Apostle introduces the exhortation, plainly denotes, that, in his own judgment, the demand be made was no less moderate than it was just: Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. This is all I require; and you cannot with decency ask, nor in reason hope, that less should be accepted. To this conclusion he was naturally led by the character and circumstances of those to whom he wrote. His epistle was inscribed, not to unbelieving Jews or Gentiles, but to saints in Christ Jesus; to men who had been converted to the Christian faith, as we learn from the foregoing part of the chapter. And it is material to observe, that as Christianity had been treated with peculiar indignity at Philippi, where Paul and his companion Silas were, by order of the magistrales, publicly scourged and cast into prison, therefore the profession of the gospel, in such a place, was justly entitled to the most favourable construction: for nothing less than a deep conviction of its truth and excellence could be supposed to have induced any inhabitant of that city to profess a religion that inevitably exposed him to those contemptuous, as well as painful sufferings, which a generous and feeling mind would of all others most anxiously wish to avoid.
Surely, then, the Apostle could have no reason to sus. pect, that a demand so moderate would either offend or surprise them: Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ. You have embraced the faith of the gospel, and continue to make an open confession of it, without any allurements of a temporal nature, nay, in the face of the most obvious and alarming discouragements; and therefore, as there can be no room to call in question either your belief of its doctrines, or your regard to its laws, I may, without presumption, hope to obtain your consent, when I only exhort you to act a consistent and uniform part, by suiting your conversation to the religion you have chosen, and have the fortitude to avow.
It is true, and it ought to be gratefully acknowledged, that our present situation in these lands is very different from that of the ancient Philippians. Christianity, as reformed from the corruptions of Popery, is the established religion of our country: so that if a man believe the gospel of Christ, he may, with the most perfect sasety to his person and property, make as public a confession of his faith as he inclines. But it is equally true, that no man is compelled by the terrors of persecution to profess Christianity, if he do not believe it; nay, the prefession of incredulity itself, if it break not forth into blasphemy, aggravated by sedition, doth not always prove an unsurmouvtable bar in the way to any office, civil or military, which the person is otherwise qualified to fill, or hath interest to obtain: and therefore, though