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to whom it was addressed; for such as had never been joined to the Lord could not, with any propriety, be exhorted to cleave or to adhere to him. And as this exhortation, when addressed to us, supposeth that we have already chosen the ways of God; fo it implies also, that our choice is the fruit of mature and solid consideration. “ This “ purpose of heart,” with which we are to “ cleave unto the Lord,” is not a blind and obstinate bigotry, which pusheth men headlong in a way which they know not. Perfons of this character may have a fair show in the time of prosperity : but when they are brought to the trial of adversity, they will relinquish against reason what they began without it; and will turn as violent in opposing religion, as ever they feemed Zealous in promoting.it. In the
2d place, The exhortation in my text requires the habitual exercite of all the graces of the Christian life; the constant performance of every commanded duty. It is not enough that we draw near to the Lord on some stated occasions, or have some tranfient flashes of devotion, like the liraelites
of old, concerning whom it is said (Hofea vi. 4.}, that their goodness, like “ the « morning cloud and early dew," appeared for a little, and then“ vanifhed” away. We must cleave to the Lord at all times ; devotion must be the prevailing temper of our minds; and our habitual practice must correspond to it. It must be our fixed design, and sincere resolution, to keep all God's commandments, at all times, and in all placés and circumstances.
Some there are who lay down refolutions for the performance of certain duties, with a designed exception of others : Or perhaps they purpose to perform all the branches of duty for a particular seafon, with a secret referve, that when that time shall be elapsed, they will then return to their former course of life. But all such resolucions are an abomination to God, as being hypocritical and insincere; and plainly fhow that the first step in religion is not yet taken. For at the least, it is essential to the character of a true Chriftian, that there be a fixed and peremptory design to adhere to all duty, at all times. Grievous failures
and fins there may be, even where there are
religion than corrupt minds will allow to be fincere, I am afraid we must give it up altogether, and preserve the opinion of our honesty, bý appearing to have no religion at all. Hypocrisy is a bad thing, not because it wears the form of religion, but because it wants the power of it; and the way to avoid hypocrisy, is '. not by doing less than the hypocrite, but by doing more, and better. Our Saviour, who spent whole nights in prayer, cannot be supposed to condemn the Pharisees for praying long; but for making their prayers a cloak to cover their covetousness and oppression.” He does not find fault with them for their outward beaúty, but for their inward pollution and deformity. If holiness be really within us, we have no occasion to dread any harm from its appearing outwardly... It will at length overcome the malice of the world, and prove its divine original, both by its pative luftre, and its powerful influence upon those who behold it.------Once more, in the ::41h place, The exhortation in the text requires, that we persevere in our adherence
to the Lord to the end of our lives. It is not sufficient that we begin well, and continue faithful for a while. We must hold on our way, and wax stronger and stronger as we proceed. We must not be wearied with the length of the way, but “ lifting “ up the hands that hang down, and “ strengthening the feeble knees," we must “ run without wearying, and walk without “ fainting, presfing towards the mark, for " the prize of the high calling of God in “ Christ Jesus.” We must not give up religious exercises, either because of the frequent repetition of self-denying duties, or of the bodily decay which old age' brings on, or of the increasing infirmities of the mind. We must not give over our work in despondency, because of the flowness of our progrefs, the finallness of our success, or the number and strength of our enemies.
-For all these discouragements will soon be over, “and in due time we shall reap, if we “ faint not, a glorious and everlasting ré" ward.”-Having thus explained the exhortation in my text, I proceed now, in the ''...