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Does my heart consent to all this? Can I really deny myself, and take up my cross, and follow him through all the rugged paths of duty and suffering, in which he may think fit to lead me? Can I drink of the cup of which he drank, and be baptized with the baptism with which he was baptized? Can I bear to be pointed at, persecuted, and treated with contempt ? Can I cut off my right hand, and pluck out my right eye, or part with that iniquity which, by long indulgence, is become dearer to me than either? These are questions of no small consequence at our entrance upon religion. If we cannot answer them with satisfaction, by pretending to religion, we shall only expose ourselves to the ridicule of the foolish builder, who began to build before he had counted the cost. But if, upon the maturest deliberation, we approve and consent to the proposals of the gospel, we may be pillars in God's house below, and stars in his kingdom above.
Thirdly, we must give ourselves to him cheerfully; not by constraint, but willingly. Consider yourselves as going to receive, not confer, a favour; and let gratitude and joy be visible in your countenances, and mingle with all that
you be only driven to it by the rod of affliction, or the terrors of conscience, or the fear of death, it cannot be said to be your own act and deed; it is only the involuntary effects of consternation, and what, when the danger is over, you will probably wish to be undone. God loves a cheerful giver, and disdains the heart that is not freely offered. Blessed Jesus ! art thou willing to receive me, and shall I be backward to come? If I had all the excellencies of ten thousand angels, I could not deserve
you do. If
thy notice: but since thou hast encouraged me to hope for acceptance as I am, I most thankfully embrace thy proposal. I am under obligations to thee, for which a life of obedience, and an eternity of praise, were but a poor acknowledgment. But I am impatient to give my soul to thee; though, by showingmy gratitude, I betray my poverty. “O Lord, truly I am thy servant, and the son of thy handmaid; thou hast loosed my bonds. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows unto the Lord, now in the presence of all his people; in the courts of the Lord's house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.”
Fourthly, we should give ourselves to the Lord immediately. How long will ye halt between two opinions? How long will ye be undetermined, whe, ther to serve God or Mammon; and suffer pardon, peace, and salvation, to solicit your attention in vain?
, Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation, Behold, says Christ, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Open to him, O sirs, open to him immediately, and wait not for the infinitely precarious "peradventure" that he will apply to you again. Perhaps he may never knock more. Lift
ye gates, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of Glory. Selah. What a solemn, joyful hour is this ! The doors of our hearts fly open before him, as the gates of the
prison before the angel when he brought out Peter. Hosannah to the son of David! Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. We bid thee welcome into our empty, unadorned souls; in humble hope that Thou, who causest those that love thee to inherit substance, wilt graciously fill our treasures. Thou art rich in mercy, and givest to all liberally; and hast thou not a blessing for us; even for us, ,
0 our Father? We would not let thee go until thou bless us; nor leave thy house till we have signed the solemn contract, and thou hast given us some pledge of thine acceptance. I proceed to inquire,
III. Why this should be our first and principal concern?
Among the various reasons that occur for the early dedication of ourselves to the Lord, I shall only mention the following:
God has the first and indisputable claim to us. He made us out of nothing, and therefore we have nothing but what is his property. His agency and care are necessary to our continuance in life, as they were to our formation at first. He not only made us out of nothing, but redeemed us also when we were ruined; and had not Christ ransomed us by becoming a sacrifice for our sins, we had been left to hopeless and everlasting perdition. These are your obligations to God; and are you under any such obligations
; to Satan and the world, or to any creature whatever? Are there no returns due for all this? Is it not reasonable that our life should be devoted to him in whose hands our breath is, and whose are all our
ways ? Should we not readily yield our bodies and spirits to him, upon whom we every moment depend for support?
But I exhort you to give yourselves to God without delay, because it may otherwise never be done. How common is it for men, when their consciences urge. them to this self-dedication, to put it off to a more convenient season! “ At present,” says one, “ I am otherwise engaged; I have so much business upon my hands, that I have not time for so serious and solemn an affair; but when I shall be at leisure, I hope to consider about it." “ I have,” says another, “ so many disorders upon me, that I cannot be composed enough for so weighty a concern; but when my health and spirits return, I hope to be more disposed to give
I myself to the Lord.” Foolish people, and unwise! Is it thus that you trifle with God, and your souls, and salvation? Shall your happiness in eternity be postponed and hazarded for the momentary gratifications of life? When the world and sin do but beckon, you immediately run ; but when God or religion calls, you indolently say, “ It is time enough yet.” But remember, that however confident you may be of futurity, the grave may soon be your house ; where
2 all your work, and devices, and knowledge, and wisdom, will cease. Is giving yourselves to the Lord an interruption to your business? Then your business is unlawful, and ought to be interrupted. Do you intend that it shall be the work of a death-bed only? It is an awful uncertainty whether God will then accept you or not. Do you expect to be better prepared if you leave it till to-morrow? Alas! to-morrow
too will have its hurries and temptations. For thy soul's sake, man, leave it not till to-morrow. Thou knowest not what a day may bring forth, or what awful events the next hour may produce. For aught thou knowest the angel that standeth upon the earth and sea, may be now lifting up his hand, and swearing by him that liveth for ever and ever, that thy time shall be no longer. For aught thou knowest, , the axe may be laid to the root of the tree, and the sentence half pronounced, “ Cut it down, why cumbers it the ground?” For aught thou knowest, this may be thy last day on earth, and to-morrow thy first day in
—“O my soul, if I should die to night, where should I be to-morrow ?” Lose not an hour of a life so precarious; risk not a moment in a matter so important; but to-day, while it is called to-day, harden not your hearts, lest he swear in his wrath, that you should never enter into his rest.
Give yourselves to God without delay, because all other things will then succeed better. It is the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich. We may rise early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of carefulness ; but if God smile not on our endeavours, we shall continue to toil and labour in vain. We appoint a guard to watch about our habitations,and prevent any accident during the silent and defenceless hours of sleep ; but except the Lord keep the city, these precautions are useless. But, by giving ourselves to the Lord, we become the inmediate charge of the Deity : we cast all our cares, and fears, and burdens, upon God; and he kindly engages for our security and support.
We become entitled to his patronage, and have an interest