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who forces this awful but immensely profitable subject out of his mind; and who is satisfied to go to perdition, if he may only have a smooth and quiet passage !
3. Let me urge this great duty, also, upon the Christians in this assembly.
You, my brethren, are no less bound to advance in holiness, than sinners are to become holy: for both these duties are enjoined by the same authority. At the same time, there is a law in your members, warring continually against the law in your minds, and bringing you under captivity to the law of sin, which is in your members. You, like all other Christians, are perpetually prone to forget God, your duty, and your salvation. All these, let me exhort you to remember, are forgotten together. The world takes their place. Sin resumes its power. Temptations crowd upon the soul ; transgression succeeds; our duty is feebly done, or left undone; and the door is opened wide for repentance and
Purity of life is maintained, and improvement in holiness acquired, only by a constant and lively sense of the presence of God. He is the sovereign, who demands this character of us. No other being is lord of the conscience : no other being can direct the. faith, or enjoin the duty, of Intelligent creatures.
He is always present to see whether we obey, or refuse to obey, this solemn requisition. What he sees, he records ; whether it be good, or whether it be evil.
By what solemn obligations, then, by what amazing interests, are you bound to realize his presence; and to remember that his all-searching eye is open, day and night, with an awful survey upon your hearts, and upon your lives. A clear apprehension of this truth cannot fail deeply to affect your minds; to take strong hold on your hearts; to prevent, or drive away, temptation; to rouse you from sloth, and sleep; and to awaken you to the dangers of this seducing world. When God is before your eyes, can you fail to remember the riches of his grace? the wonders of redeeming, forgiving, and sanctifying love ? the solemnity of the Covenant, in which you have consecrated yourselves to his ser
vice? and your mighty, as well as endearing, obligations to purify yourselves, even as he is pure? When God is before your eyes, can you fail to remember how delightful it is to please him; how odious to dishonour him; how mischievous, how painful, to wound Religion, and pierce the hearts of your fellow Christians ? In the presence of this awful Being how can your sins fail to appear in their black and proper colours ? How can they fail of being detested, renounced, and, in a good degree, forsaken? A constant dread of sinning will, therefore, seize upon your hearts, and become a governing principle of your moral conduct.
To forget, or to be insensible of, the presence of God, is to lose sight of your best good; to weaken your sense of duty; and to expose yourselves to every temptation. Had David remembered this glorious and awful Being; had he called to mind the just and sublime thoughts, which he has uttered in the cxxxix Psalm ; when he commenced the career of his iniquity with Bathsheba ; what a long train of dreadful crimes, what a long course of bitter repentance, what a melancholy series of excruciating distresses, would have been prevented! Had Peter remembered the inspection of the all-seeing eye, he would not have denied his Lord; the pages of the Gospel would not have been stained by the record of his fall; and his own soul would have been saved from the anguish of many sorrows. The nature of these is the nature of all good men. In themselves weak, frail, and back-sliding, they have no safety but in God. But where shall we find a promise, that this Divine Protector will extend his guardianship to any man, at seasons, in which He is forgotten. Were it possible for the inhabitants of heaven to cease from a consciousness of the presence of God, there is reason to fear that they would cease, also, from their unspotted virtue.
To prompt and to aid mankind to the performance of the duty, enjoined in this discourse, is one of the great benefits, intended by the worship instituted in the Gospel. The sanctuary derives its importance, its solemnity, its sacred character, not from the splendour with which it may be built, nor from the rites with which it may be consecrated, but from its Divine Inhabitant. On the door-posts, on the altar, of every temple, every Christian should read the name of the city, seen in vision by Ezekiel, “Jehovah is here.” “Surely,” said Jacob, * Jehovah is in this place; and I knew it not. How awful is this place! It is none other than the house of God, and the gate of heaven." Hither we come to see his face, and seek his favour; to confess our sins, and supplicate his mercy. Here he meets us to pity, to forgive, to bless, and to save. All our transactions, here, are with God; and irresistibly bring this glorious Being immediately before our eyes. Every good man, every man in whom piety is alive, will feel, therefore, as a pious Israelite felt when he stood before the cloud in the Temple, from the bosom of which the awful voice of Jehovah answered the prayers of his people, and uttered the oracles of life.
From the house of God these solemn apprehensions are carried with us to our own habitations. They revive, they are invig. orated, in the morning and evening sacrifice. But they are especially quickened in the closet. From this sacred retreat the world is shut out. No earthly eye looks on: no earthly object intrudes. Here we bow before our Maker, and converse with him face to face. Our souls are naked before him. Our lives pass in review ; our sins are set in the light of his countenance; our penitence, our faith, our love, our comforts, and our hopes. God, thus intimately seen in this private temple, is seen through the day, till we revisit the same solemn recess, and again converse with our maker. Thus, a sense of the divine presence becomes the habitual and controlling state of our minds.
Thus aided, thus cultivated, the good man learns to find God in all places, and in all things. This great Being becomes present to him in every enjoyment, which he shares; in every affliction, which he suffers; in every hope, which he indulges; and in every advancement, which he makes in the Christian life. To the eye of such a man Jehovah is present, lives, and acts, in all the works of his hands. His smile is the beauty of the spring; his breath its fragrance. His hand pours out the riches of the summer, and the bounty of autumn. The thunder is his voice :
lightnings are his arrows. He makes the clouds his chariot; he rides upon the whirlwind. The earth is his footstool : the heavens are his throne. In the sun, the brightest material image of his exaltation, immutability, and glory, he gives light, and life, and comfort, to the unnumbered millions of animated creatures; and holds out to the eye of the mind a magnificent symbol of heaven's everlasting day. Thus, every where, he lives, controls, and smiles in all the works of his hand.
In his Word he is seen in diviner forms. There his goodness and mercy, beam with a mild and soft, but immeasurable glory, in the face of the Redeemer. There his voice is heard in the awful threatenings of his law, and the delightful promises of his Gospel. There he shines, a moral sun, into the soul; and awakens in it the life, which shall never die. Animated, comforted, invigorated with hope and joy, the Christian draws nearer and nearer to God, and beholds him in clearer and brighter view, until his soul, entering the regions of eternal rest, opens its eyes upon the glories of heaven, and is admitted to behold his face in righteousness forever and ever.--Amen.
THE YOUNG EXHORTED TO SOBRIETY OF MIND.
Titus i. 6.
Young men, likewise, exhort to be sober-minded.
In the first verse of this chapter, Titus is directed by St. Paul to speak, while performing the duties of his ministry, the things, which become sound doctrine. Of such things there is given in the following verses a catalogue ; distributed into several divisions, and directed to several classes of mankind. The duties of the aged, and of the young, are summarily pointed out; as are also the obligations of Titus to enforce them by his own authoritative injunctions.
The particular character, which he is required to urge upon young men, is Sobriety of mind.
The original word, owợpoveiv, denotes, in its primitive sense, soundness of mind, in opposition to madness, or distraction. In this manner it is extensively used by Greek classical writers, as the proper contrast to waiveolat, which signifies to be mad, or delirious ; and to this sense we are directed by the original words, of which the term is compounded.
But, as soundness of mind, thus understood, and madness, are not at all dependent on our moral efforts, they cannot be the subjects of commands, or exhortations. The word, owppoveiv, therefore, is, here, undoubtedly used figuratively: the only manner, in which, so far as I have observed, it is ever used in the Scriptures.
In selecting this passage of Scripture as the theme of discourse, it is my design,
I. To enquire what is meant by being Sober-minded;