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happy that no justo view of the religion we profess gives any countenance or support to this error.
This is evidenced by the whole tenour of the gospel. As Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, so separation from the world, dedication to the service of God, and obedience unto life are the conditions on which the promises of God are made to us. Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and I will be a father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the LORD God Almighty.
As this is evidenced by the whole tenour of the gospel, so is it confirmed by the entire structure of our faith and form of professing it. Of this a more striking illustration cannot be given than is afforded in that solemn sacrament, which is the commencement of the Christian life, and whereby alone we are taken out of the world and adopted into the family of God. As this divine institution is the seal of our regeneration or renewal of the Holy Ghost, all religious instruction, exhortation, and endeavour is grafted upon it, nor is it possible to present a Scriptural hope to a fallen creature, which is not founded on the promises then made, and the obligations then undertaken. Would to God that all those who have received its seal would but consider more seriously the high responsibilities they have come under, the grace they are slighting, and the judgment they are in hourly danger of encountering!
Now I take upon me to say, that the most prominent obligation undertaken at our baptism, is, non-conformity with the world. “Dost thou renounce the devil and all his works, the vain pomp and glory of the world, with all covetous desires of the same, and the sinful desires of the flesh, so that thou wilt not follow nor be led by them ?” “I renounce them all,” says the applicant for baptism, whether adult or infant. “I renounce the devil” as the god of this world. “I renounce the world” itself, in the lust of the eyes and the pride of life; and “I renounce the sinful desires of the flesh,” in those gratifications which are earthly, sensual, and devilish. What shall we say, then, to these things, my brethren? How shall baptized
persons make void their own solemn contract with Almighty God? How shall professing Christians escape from their repeatedly ratified renunciation of the world over the broken body and shed blood of their Redeemer and Saviour ? My baptized hearers, there is no escape from this obligation. My professing brethren, there is no escape from this duty but at the peril of your immortal souls. You have put your hand to the plough, and must not look back. Holiness to the Lord is stamped upon every baptized forehead with the seal of the Spirit. Wash not out the sacred mark with the pollutions of the world! Rather, O rather renew and refresh the fading impression in that atoning blood which cleanseth from all sin ; and be entreated by the mercies of God that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service ; and be not conformed to this world.
In a very particular manner is this subject and the duties which grow out of it pressed upon the most serious attention of those who have this day publicly taken upon themselves and renewed with God their baptismal engagements in the rite of confirmation. Having solemnly, with their own mouth and consent, and openly before the Church renounced the world, the flesh, and the devil, they can no longer be seen in the idol's temple without a surrender of every thing that marks either the sacredness or the consistency of a Christian profession, and without incurring the far more fearful risk of grieving the Holy Spirit, and quenching his good motions in their hearts, to the decay and downfall of the religious principle, to the destruction of that good hope which the gospel imparts to the sincere and faithful, and to the substitution of that miserable delusion, of a form of godliness without the power thereof, under which so many, who will be the friends of the world, are deceiving their own souls. But my brethren who have this day witnessed a good confession, keep in mind to what you are now pledged, that you may adorn your Christian profession; for only by enduring to the end can you reap the reward laid up for you in the heavenly kingdom of your Saviour, who warns you—If any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. You must, indeed, go back to your respective callings in the world ; you must meet the temptations incident to your state of trial. But you go back armed against their power, and furnished to resist their seductions, with the promises of God renewed, and the help of the Holy Spirit pledged, and the aid and countenance, and the counsel and the prayers of the people of God, engaged for your encouragement and support. Above all, your Redeemer takes you by the hand and bids you look to his example, and thence learn how to overcome the world; and to strengthen you against its most powerful snares, he tells you to be faithful unto death, and he will give you a crown of life.
THE WEDDING GARMENT.
Matthew xxii. 11, 12.
"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not
on a wedding garment; and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment ? And he was speechless."
Had the parable of which my text forms a part been spoken yesterday, and framed purposely to meet the manner in which the gospel has been received in the world, a more exact representation of the event could hardly have been delineated. To the invitations of heavenly mercy—to the glories of an incorruptible and unfading inheritance—to the wisdom of preparing for the inevitable events of death and judgment, the farms and the merchandize of the world, the cares and the pleasures of this life, have exercised, and yet exercise and maintain their ascendancy and opposition. With one consent, as it were, men yet begin to make excuse ; though even this slight sense of the unjustifiable nature of their conduct, is fast failing among us, and not a few are so presumptuous and hardened as to think neglect and contempt of religion an accomplishment.
To the voice of reason and conscience, those two honest witnesses for the truth of revelation which all have it in their power and are, in some degree, obliged to hear, men yet turn a deaf ear, and, in the hurry and bustle of the world, or in the chase of its vain and vicious delights, put off, till a more convenient season, the one thing needful--the care of their immortal souls.
To the sentence of death pronounced against all, and daily executed upon some in their very sight-to the terrors of that great and dreadful day, when we shall all stand at the bar of God to be judged by the word spoken to us in the gospel of CHRist, and be consigned to everlasting happiness or misery, according to the effect that word has had upon our lives, whereof assurance is given unto all men by the resurrection of Christ from the dead--to these things unbelief yet opposes its cold, heartless, and benumbing influence; rejecting the testimony of beaven and consciousness; reducing the great and glorious God to a cipher, and the creature he hath made in his own image, and redeemed with the precious blood of his only begotten Son, to a level with the beasts that perish. For such is the certain consequence of those miscalled arguments with which infidelity tries to support that dark and dreary system which it opposes to the light of the glorious gospel of the ever blessed God.
But surely there is a better hope for man, would he but seek for it. Surely the opponents of the gospel, in an endeavour of nineteen hundred years, might have been able to detect its fallacy and to triumph over its hope, were it less than heavenborn, and everlasting as its Author. And surely, as this has not been done, as the gates of hell, the power and cunning of men and devils, have not prevailed against it in so long a conflict, we may reasonably conclude that they never will, and with one consent cast away the weapons wherewith we have arrayed ourselves against it, and flee for shelter to this impregnable citadel of truth and holiness, of faith and hope, of unshaken peace and eternal life!
O that those who have been seduced into infidelity, either by their own carelessness, or by the evil example of others, would but take a serious view of what we are with and without Jesus Christ, as God over all blessed for ever; and let the judgment of truth and right, of reason and conscience, prevail against the ruinous sophistry which is leading them blindfold to destruction. O that they would consider carefully this parable, and learn thence what an awful condition those are in who are favoured with the invitation of the gospel, and make light of it. That they would count the cost at which they trifle with the waiting mercy of God, and risk the approach of death and judgment without preparation made for either; and ask themselves the solemn question, What will it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul ?
But it is not to unbelievers only that this passage of Scripture is calculated to be of use. To professors of religion, and