« السابقةمتابعة »
his people. Our Lord is in a peculiar sense the Son of God; but his people are, through him, taken into the same relation: For they Have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, though perhaps they were once subjected to it, but they have received the spirit of adoption*; and Because they are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into their hearts, crying, Abba, Fathert. By this spirit a filial temper is wrought in their souls, by which their obedience to their heavenly Father, is so animated, as to be most honourable and grateful to him, as well as most easy and delightful to themselves. Under the influences of this spirit, the christian desires, it may be his character now, as he trusts it will be his happiness at last, to Follow the Lamb whithersoever he goethị; to follow that Jesus, who was Holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinnerss. He is indeed deeply sensible, that it is impossible for him, as his Lord did, to Fulfil all righteousness|l; and therefore, When he hath done all, he calls himself an unprofitable servant : Yet he seeth so much of the internal beauties of holiness, so much lustre and glory in the image of God, as drawn on the soul of man, that it is the great concern of his heart, and labour of his life, to pursue it. Nor would he only abstain from grosser enormities, and practise those virtues which are most honourable amongst men, and attended with the greatest secular advantage ; but he would, in every respect, maintain a Conscience void of offence**, and Perfect holiness in the fear of Godtt. He hath so affectionate a sense of the riches of the divine grace, displayed through a Redeemer, in adopting so unworthy a creature as himself to the dignity and privilege of a Son of God, that he often cries out, in raptures of holy gratitude and joy, What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits towards mef1? Inspired with this noble principle, he searches his Father's will impar. tially ; and when he hath discovered it, he obeyeth it cheerfully, and it is his Meat and his drink to perform itşş. He loves the Lord his God above all, and loves his fellow-creatures for his sake as well as his own, and entertains the highest veneration and affection for those who most heartily resemble his Father and their Father, his God and their God. It is his prayer, and his endeavour, that he may go About doing good||||, and be useful To all as he hath opportunity Ti that he may
Rom. vii. 15.
Mat. iii. xv. 11 Peal.cxvi. 12
+ Gal. iv, 6.
Luke xvii. 10.
Rev. xiv. 4,
$ Heb. vii. 26. ++ 2 Cor. vii. 1. S4 Gal. vi, 10.
pass through the world with a holy moderation and superiority of soul, to The things which are seen, and are temporal*; thankfully owning every mercy as proceeding from God's paternal love and care, and serenely submitting to every affliction, as The cup which his Father puts into his handt. In a word, he desires, that in all the varieties of life he may still be intent on the views of an everlasting inheritance; humbly looking and longing for that blessed hopef, yet willing patiently to wait his Father's time; having this constant expectation, and reviving assurance, that whether he liveth, he shall live unto the Lord, or whether he dieth, he shall die unto the Lord; so that whether he live or die, he shall be the Lord's.
This is the christian ?-this is the man in whom Christ is formed; or, rather, these are some faint lineaments of his character. And I will venture to say, that he who cannot discern something in it, even as thus imperfectly described, which is vastly superior to that morality and decency of behaviour, which arises merely from prudential views, or from the sweetness and gentleness of a man's natural temper, is sunk below the boasted religion of nature, and must take refuge in the wretched principles of atheism, if he would pretend to form any thing of a consistent scheme. But now,
III. I must conclude with hinting at some reflections and inferences, which my time will not allow me to handle at large. 1. How important is it, that ministers should lead young per
sons into such views as these !
Our great and important business in life is to promote the eternal happiness of our hearers, and to lay a solid foundation of hope and joy in their souls. We have seen now, what it is and Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christil. Here then let all our labours centre. It is the good old way, in which our fathers in the ministry went, and in which they prospered. Let us follow their steps, and exert our most vigorous efforts here. Modern refinements may amuse us in our closets, but they will never feed the souls of our hearers, nor spread the triumphs of a gospel, which was the power of God to the salvation of thousands, before they were ever dreamt of. I hope, God is my witness that I am
* 2 Cor. iv. 18.
Tit. ii. 13.
+ John xvïi. 11.
heartily concerned for the interest of virtue, if by that be meant the advancement of practical religion ; but I never expected to see it promoted by the most philosophical speculations concerning its nature, or the finest harangues of its innate beauties, when the name and peculiar doctrines of Christ are thrown off, as unfashionable incumbrances of a discourse. Experienced christians, who have tasted the Bread of life, will not contentedly be put off with such chaff: And if we imagine that the younger part of our auditors
be trained up to a relish for it, we may, perhaps, succeed in the attempt; but I much fear, that success will be the calamity of the church, and the destruction of souls*.
2. We may learn from hence, what are the most valuable proofs
of paternal affection.
Certainly there is no reason to esteem as such, that fond indulgence, which suffers ill habits to grow up in the young mind, and fears its present disturbance more than its future Tuin: No, nor yet the more prudent care of providing plentiful and agreeable accommodations, for the subsistence and delight of your infant-offspring, as they advance to maturity and settlement in life. These things indeed are not to be neglected ; but wretched are the children, and I will add the parents too, where this is the principal labour. Would you express a wise and religious tenderness, for which your children shall have reason to thank you in their dying moments, and to meet you, with joy in the interviews of the eternal world, do your utmost that Christ be formed in their souls; and let them plainly see, that you even travail in birth again, till this happy work be accomplished. But this leads me to add, 3. What need is there of the work of the divine Spirit on the
heart, in or der to the laying this great foundation ?
The language of the text, which speaks of Christ formed. in us, naturally leads our thoughts to some agent, by whom the work is done; and when you consider what kind of a work it is, I appeal to your own consciences, whether it is to be thought merely a human production. Were it only a naine, a ceremony, a speculation, or a passion, it would not be worth
• The author has taken a greater freedom on this head, as the discourse was delivered before several candidates for the ministry, for whom he had some pecuhar concern. VOL. II.
a moment's dispute, whether you or we should have the glory of it. But as it is nothing less than the transformation of a corrupt and degenerate creature, into the holy image of the Son of God, it were impiety for either to arrogate it to ourselves.
Let us therefore, on the whole, learn our duty and our wisdom. Let the matter be brought to a serious and immediate review, and let us judge ourselves by the character described, as those that expect very shortly to be judged of the Lord.—If, on the examination, any of you have reason to conclude that you are strangers to it, remember that the invincible battery of the word of God demolishes all the towering hopes you may have raised on any other foundation. Let conscience then
whether any amusement, or any business in life, be so important, as to be attended to, even for one single day, in neglect of this great concern, on which all the happiness of an immortal soul is suspended. If nothing be indeed fonnd of greater moment, apply yourselves seriously to this, and omit no proper and rational methods of securing it. Consider the ways by which Christ usually enters into a soul, and wait upon him in those ways. Reflect seriously on your present condition ; constantly attend the instructions of his word, and the other solemnities of his worship; and chuse to converse intimately with those, in whom you have reason to think he is already formed. But in all remember, that the success depends upon a divine co-operation, and therefore go frequently into the presence of God by prayer, go into it this day, or if possible this hour, and importunately intreat the regenerating and sanctifying influences of his Spirit, which, when you earnestly desire them, the gospel gives you such ample encouragement to expect.—But if you have reason to hope, that you have already received them, learn to what the praise should be ascribed ; and let it animate you to pray, that through farther communications from the throne of grace, you may be made continually more and more like to your Redeemer, till you are prepared for that world, where you shall shine forth in his complete resemblance, and shall find it your complete and eternal felicity. Amen.
TO YOUNG PERSONS.
A Dissuasive from keeping bad Company.
Pror. iv. 14, 15.--Enter not into the Path of the Wicked, and go not in the Way
of coil Men: Avoid it, pass not by it, rn from it, and pass away. If we have any regard to the judgment of the wisest of men, illuminated and directed by the influences of his divine Spirit, we must certainly own, that ill company is a very dangerous snare, and that young persons should be frequently and earnestly cautioned against it. The excellent collection of moral and religious precepts contained in this book of Proverbs, was especially intended To give subtility, or prudence, to the simple, and to the young man knowledge and discretion*. And as the sacred author well knew, that he should plead the cause of wisdom and piety in vain, while the voice of dissolute companions was heard, and their conversation pursued, he begins his addresses to youth with repeated cautions on this head : My Son, says he, if sinners entice thee, consent thou nott. As he proceeds in his discourse, the address grows more lively and earnest ; and I am sure every attentive hearer will soon discover a peculiar energy in the words of the text. This faithful and compassionate counsellor doth not content himself with dissuading his young reader from joining with notorious offenders in their crimes, but even from going in the way with them, or with any other evil men; nay, from entering upon it, or even approaching it, so much as to pass by it, if there were not a necessity of doing it. Enter not into the paths of sinners, and go not in the way of evil men : Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.
As if he should have said, “ Shun the very place where such wretches assemble, ils you would if it were infected with the most malignant and dangerous disease : And if you have unwarily taken any steps towards it, sto , short, and direct your course another way."
* Prov. i. t,
+ Prov. i.