Графични страници
PDF файл

burden; which he sustained, when God laid on him the iniquities of us all. View him in all the trying scenes of his life ; especially view him bleeding and dying on the accursed tree. Recollect, that our fins were the cause, and deliverance from thein was the end of all his sufferings ; and then say, whether every sin ought not to be your abhorrence? Will you choose that which he abhorred? Will you indulge that which caused his death ? Will you retain that, from which he died to deliver you? Is there in man such perverseness of soul, such ingratitude to a benefactor, and such disregard to himself ? One would abhor the sight of an enemy, who had flain a child, a brother or a friend. He would never choose for his companion the truculent ruffian, who had thus wounded and distressed him. Much rather should we abhor our own sins. These have shed the Redeemer's blood-These, if embraced in our bosom, will destroy our souls.

Remember farther, 5. All evil is opposite to the holy Spirit. God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He calls them to turn and live. To the calls of his word he adds the secret motions of his own Spirit. The Spirit of God is holy in his nature and in his operations. His nature is opposite to evil, , and his operations are to recover us from it.

His awakening and convincing influences on the minds of finners, are called striving with them.

Their continuance in fin, is called refifting him. And will you not abhor that which is contrary to the Spirit of God—that which opposes his friendly operations—that which is fo hateful to him, and fatal to you, that he is striving to deliver you from it ? Will you resist such kindly motions and grieve this heavenly visitant? Vol. V.

M m

Contemplate evil in any point of view, as contrary to the nature of God to the design of revelation to the end of your creation to the pur. pose of Christ's death, and to the influence of the holy Spirit, and you will see, that it ought to be your abhorrence. And when you find that these views of sin bring you to a real, habitual, uni. verfal abhorrence of it ; and that this abhorrence, while it extends to all fin, is more immediately pointed at your own, you may then conclude, that religion has place in your hearts.

We proceed now to illustrate, Secondly, The other branch of our subject. Cleave to that which is good.

Religion begins in the renovation of the inward man ; but it ends not there : it discovers itself in the works of righteousness. The pure in heart will be holy in all manner of conversation. It is not now and then a good action, or a temporary appearance of goodness, which will prove the heart to be fincere : there must be an adherence to that which is good.

1. We must cleave to all that is good, without exception.

In the new man," old things are paft away , and all things are become new." He glorifies God in body and spirit. He yields himself a servant to God, and his members inftruments of righteoufness to him.

We must be ready to every good work. If, in our refolutions of obedience, we make exceptions and reservations, it is not the will of God, but our own will, which governs us. The question with us must be, not fo much what will serve our worldly designs, as what will be acceptable in the fight of God.

[ocr errors]


2. We must cleave to that which is good with constancy.

A variable goodness will not meet the divine approbation, Religion is “ a patient continuance in well-doing.” Of Judah and Ephraim God complains, “ What fall I do unto you? Your goodness is a morning cloud ; as the early dew it goeth away.” Transient resolutions and temporary reformations are not cleaving to, but tri. Aing with, that which is good. There is a peculiar guilt attending the case of these fhort-lived converfions. The man, who forms a resolution in favour of religion, is convinced of its truth and importance ; otherwise there would be no ground for the resolution. Now if, after this, he abandon the ferious purpose which he had made, and return to his finful course, he discovers greater strength of luft, greater opposition of heart to goodness, greater contempt of God, than if he never had been the subject of these convictions. Hence the apostle to the Hebrews reprefents it as peculiarly difficult “ to renew those again to repentance, who fall away, after they have been once enlightened, and have tasted the good word of God." The apostle Peter also says, “ If after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning."

There are some doubleminded men, who are unstable in all their ways. They have so much fense of the obligations of religion, that they dare not wholly disregard them. They form good refolutions, but never pursue them to effect. They feel inward convictions of fin, but never carry them to a real repentance. Their lusts prevail, and smother their half-conceived purposes of vira

tue. Their purposes again revive, and are again suppressed. Let not such a man think, that he shall receive any thing of God. For though he should never run to the same excess in vice as many others have done, being at times under stronger restraints from his own conviction, yet he goes more abreast against light, does greater vioJence to his conscience, and more direěly opposes the Spirit of grace, and consequently may be more criminal in the fight of God, than some who seem to fin with a higher hand.

This thought deserves the attention of those, who have had frequent convictions and awakenings from the providence and Spirit of God, and yet never have really cleaved to that which is good. They ought to remember, that “ for all these things God will bring them into judgment;" for in proportion as they have been favoured with more powerful excitements to religion, they are, while they neglect it, involving themselves in more awful guilt, and filling up the measure of their fins with more awful rapidity. If opposition to an awakened conscience, and resistance of a striving Spirit, are aggravations of guilt, then we muit conclude, that as finners have experien. ced these more frequently, and more powerfully, their guilt is on this account more dreadfully in. creasing, as long as they continue impenitent and unreformed. Nor can they know how soon these favourable motions will cease, and be succeeded by unfeeling hardness of heart.

3. We must cleave to that which is good, even when it is attended with difficulty and danger.

Though wisdom's paths are paths of peace, yet we shall find many rough places, in which we must tread with caution, and walk with circumfpection, left we stumble, or be turned out of the

way. Our Saviour has warned us, that narrow is the way which leads to life, and strait the gate by which we enter ; and he directs us to strive with earnestnefs—to press on with resolution.

Difficulties and oppositions will arise from the corruptions of the heart, the examples of the ungodly, the temptations of evil spirits, and the objects of the world. But we must go on our way, and, “ laying aside every weight, run with patience the race fet before us."

4. We must choose that which is good, though we be singular in our choice.

The man, who cleaves to God with purpose of heart, rises superior to the examples and enticements of the world. He walks, not as pleasing men, but God who searcheth the heart. He defires, indeed, the concurrence and assistance of others; he wishes that all around him were zeal. ously engaged in religion : thus his hands would be strengthened, his resolution animated, and his temptations weakened.

But still he resolves, whatever choice others make, and whatever course they pursue, he will walk with God. Though he does not affect fingularity, he had rather be singular, than wicked. He had rath. er stand alone in virtue, than join a multitude in vice. Though others think it strange that he runs not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of him, yet he knows how to justify his own conduct. He will not be ridiculed out of his virtue, nor bring on himself the wrath of God, to efcape the scoffs of men. He is gentle toward all men, but a servant to none in matters of religion. He is easy to be intreated in a reasonable case, but he will not be persuaded to violate his conscience. “ He will have no fellow

« ПредишнаНапред »