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So, as to reproof of sinners, we are not to neglect this duty, where we have a call to discharge it, though we know, that it would even cost us our life. -So, with respect to exercising the duty of faithfulness to brethren, many as to various matters, shun the cross. Many are afraid to exercise civil privileges for fear of the wrath of man. Some will spend frequent visits, and say not a word a. bout religion, lest it shouid' be thought unpolite : They will hear the truth reproached, and the name of God tnken in vain ; but dare not exercise reproof. This is shunning the cross, and practically denying Christ.
3. I enquire what it is to follow Christ! It is one of the peculiar advantages of christianity, that its duties are not only doctrinally, but practically taught in the example of Christ. He taught in so familiar a manner, that it is easy to see what he believed. He believed and taught, that God is supreme, and that he ought to be loved and submitted to, as such ; that the law, in all its extent, is perfectly just ; that religion is of a benevolent, disinterested nature; that men are naturally in a state of enmity with God; that an interest in his atonement is the only way of acceptance ; that alt true life is to be enjoyed through him that he is the supreme head of his kingdom, and that the subjects of it are to be governed by his laws. To follow Christ, is to believe as he did :· And not only so, but to have the same mind as was in him ; that zeal for God's honor; that longing desire for the salvation of sinners ; that love to bitter ene. mies; that meek, humble temper which he manifested.
desire to make some noise arid show in the world; but he was wholly desti. tute of worldly ambition. He was perfectly benevolent to all ; to the godly he had a peculiar te. gard, and styled them his friends. To follow
Christ then, is to have the same mind and temper
I come now to consider,
It is a most reasonable demand, and it is most unreasonable and highly provoking to God not to comply with it. Indeed, one who will not deny self, for the honor of God, has no claim to reli. gion, or the love of God. To dishonor God by the gratification of appetite; to make the honor of God and his cause give way to sordid appetite ; to hold our peace and be afraid to appear for the name of God; because we must suffer by appearing openly for Christ, is not this being ashamed of him? Of him who endured the cross and despised the shame, to redeem his people?
The faithful discharge of the duties enjoined in our text, would reflect great honor on religion : It would be treating it as important. It would tend to convince others, that there is a reality in it.
Many professors contradict the very nature of their profession. They own that God is the Supreme Good, and yet manifest a very strong attachment to the world. It is also connected with peace of conscience and the Divine approbation. In this way, may christians expect the Divine presence. Finally, it is connected with eternal lira. Unless we deny ourselves, take, up our cross and follow Christ, he will disown us. give up his cause, through fear of losing our natural life, we shall be sure to lose the life of the soul.
Improvement. 1. We must aclmit, if we have had a just view of our subject, that there is a great want of relia gion in the professors of it. Many evidently live too much conformed to the world : They do not deny fleshly appetites : They shun the cross. Let this be a solemn question, my brethren, whether dread of the cross is not a reason of the want of brotherly faithfulness, and that so little is said on the subject of religion ? Does it not look, as to many things, as if you were ashamed of Christ and his gospel ?
2. It is a greater thing to be truly religious, than many imagine. It is a great thing to live above the influence of the shame and reproach that may attend religion.
3. If men, living after the flesh must dié, a great part are in the road to destruction.
4. We see what religion is : It consists in a likeness to Christ. Be exhorted then, O christians, to follow Christ, the captain of your salvation,
And Nathaniel said unto him, can there any good thing come
out of Nazareth ? Philip said unto him, come and see.
THERE are doubtless some things in which, all good men essentially agree; or at least, do not oppose each other in their sentiments and belief. Our glorious Lord had at this time, entered on his public ministry. There were various opinions respecting him. Most persons rejected him, as an impostor : But some, impressed with a strong conviction of his Divinity, did not hesitate to venture life on the truth of his Divine Mission. Of this number was Philip of Bethsaida ; who finds his own brother Nathaniel, and tells him of whom Moses in the law and prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth. Nathaniel had imbibed a prejudice wholly unsupported by scripture ; that Nazareth was too mean a place for the residence of the Mes. siah. He had imbibed the Jewish opinion, that the Messiah would be born in Jerusalem, amidst regal pomp, and would there have been educated. But Galilee was the lowest Tetrarch, and Nazareth the most despised place. These things were so different from the views in which Nathaniel had been educated, that an objection immediately arose in his mind. Nathaniel appears to have been a pious, good man, though somewhat blinded by prejudice. Though Scripture pointed out the coming of Christ, exactly as he did come ; yet he had been taught to believe, that he would appear in great earthly power and splendor.--There appear
ed however, a wide difference between the pious Israelite and an impenitent sinner. When Philip says, come and see, Nathaniel readily complies: But impenitent sinners are so blinded by preju. dice, that they will not examine, or listen at all.
The doctrinal observations to which I would attend, are these two :
I. That even good men may be under the dominion of great prejudices, but still,
II. They will possess some degree of candor.
I. Good men may be under the dominion of great prejudices. I will not say that they can be under such prejudices, as to shut their eyes to the **great doctrines of
the lost state of the sinrer, and the way of recovery, but as to certain modes and forms ; as for instance, with regard to the proper posture of the body in prayer ; the mode of baptism; the time of beginning the Sabbath, and many other things that respect the government of the church. Yet after all, that prejus dices exist with respect to these matters, argues imperfection.
It may be useful to attend, (1.) to the sources of prejudices; then (2.) to the fact, that good men are subject to them.
(1.) One source of the prejudices of impenitent sinners, is their dislike to the character of God. • But this does not influence the good man. Though the old man in the christian is opposed, yet his heart is under the prevailing influence of love to God, in a just view of his character.
Good men are often biassed in their judge meng in favor of one side, and aften against truth, by being in a situation to look wholly on one side. We may be connected with those who hold up considerations in support of one side, and the mind may thus decide wrongly. When this is the case, the mind is prepossessed.
There are very few