Imágenes de páginas

It consists then in such a change of the heart, as that a man desires and strives to please God, out of a sense of love and duty to Him. So saith St. John: Whoso keepeth His 1 John 2.5. word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.

And though, through the weakness of our nature, our obedience may not be perfect, yet it may be sincere; and so it must be, or it will never be accepted: that is, we must hate all sin, strive against it, avoid all temptations to it; we must live in the fear of God, beg His pardon when we have done amiss, pray earnestly for the assistance of His Holy Spirit, and be always striving to get the mastery over our corruptions; and God, who sees our sincerity, will pardon our imperfections, and increase our graces daily.

To conclude: by this action of yours, you secure to yourselves the protection of God, under which you may be secure from fear of evil.

But then, take this along with you, that it will require care, and pains, and self-denial, and prayers, to secure the favour of God, and the continuance of His grace. But then, you will not think these so very hard conditions, if you consider the joys that are set before you, even an eternal happiness.

And if the difficulties of an holy life affright you,-if the commands of Jesus Christ seem hard to flesh and blood,do but consider, who can dwell with everlasting burnings ? (Is. 33. 14.] And it is to be hoped, you will change your mind, and be at any pains to escape so frightful a judgment.

It concerns you to know it, and it is our duty to tell you, that it is much easier now to begin to lead a Christian life, than it will be hereafter, when evil habits are become a second nature, when evil company shall have corrupted your manners, when evil discourse shall have corrupted your principles.

It was for this reason the Spirit of God has left this advice upon record, REMEMBER THE CREATOR IN THE DAYS (Eccl. 12. OF THY YOUTH ; that is, before sin and hell get the domi- 1.)

nion over you.

It will therefore be your interest, as it is your duty, from this day forward, to be very careful of your ways, to take all opportunities of learning your duty, to pray daily to God for


SERM. the continuance of His grace, and to give Him thanks for

the favours you enjoy.

But if, instead of doing this, you presently forget the vows you have taken upon you, and fall into any scandalous sins, or into a careless way of living, then this whole congregation will be witnesses against you, that you lied unto God, when you promised to lead a sober and a Christian life.

But we will hope better things of you, and that you will from this time become a comfort to your friends, and to those that have taken pains to instruct you ; a credit to the religion you profess, and an honour to God.

And now, take notice, that you have been faithfully instructed in the nature of the covenant of baptism, which you have now renewed, and you can never be too thankful to those that have taken pains to fit you for this holy ordinance. You have been plainly told of the danger you are liable to, of the enemies you have to deal with, of the difficulties of an holy life, of the necessity of God's grace, and of using the means to attain it. All that we can do farther for you is, to offer up our prayers to God for you, that you may for the remainder of your lives live worthy of your Christian profession; and that knowing that you are the servants of the living God, you may walk as in His sight, avoid all such things as are contrary to your profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same.

And may God, Who has made you His children by adoption, bring you in His good time to His everlasting kingdom, for Jesus Christ's sake, the Son of His love! To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, thanksgiving, and praise, now and for ever.





1 Cor. xiii. 11.

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child,

I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

The Apostle's design in these words is to shew the great difference there will be betwixt our knowledge in this life and in the life to come,-even as great as betwixt the weak and foolish thoughts of children, and the sober reasonings of men.

He supposeth, that if men are not very much wanting to themselves, they will think, and live, and reason, and speak, at another rate than they did when they were children.

And so they certainly will, if they have made use of that reason, and those opportunities of improving their understanding, which God has afforded them in His holy Word. But they do not always do so.

Hence it comes to pass, that the greatest part of men spend their thoughts and time about things as little to the purpose as the merest children. People will hardly believe this. It is necessary, therefore, that they should be convinced of it, and see the danger of living like children, at all adventures, without thought, or reason, or fear, or sense.

If children have no foresight ; if they have no serious aim, or design, in any thing they do; if they fear no evil; if they SERM. are apt to be tossed to and fro, and know not what to believe LXXXII.

or do; why, this is their character, we look for no better from them.

And if we blame them for being ignorant, foolish in their choices, careless of their ways, it is to cure them of their faults, lest these vices should grow up with them, and when for the time they should be men in understanding, they should continue to have the folly, the weakness, the ignorance of children.

Now, whatever we think of ourselves, this is the case of an infinite number of people, who grow older without being

wiser to any good purposes. And who, when they leave the Wisd. 5. 13. world, have “no sign of virtue to shew.”

We should be convinced of this, if we had but the patience to compare our thoughts, and words, and actions, with the designs and manners of children, whom we despise for their weaknesses, and correct for their follies.

Now, though such a comparison may be very uneasy, yet, since it may put us upon considering whether we are as wise as men should be, I will choose this very plain way of instruction.

I. And first, this is the character of children, to be very Jonah 4. 11. ignorant; or, as God is pleased to express it, not to know

their right hand from their left: We hope that time and age will cure this; and we are often at a great deal of pains and expense to improve their understandings; and we are well satisfied when we see that they know the world, and are like to live in it. But neither we, nor they, consider what a sad thing it is to know the world, without knowing its snares, and temptations, and dangers, and how to avoid them. And yet this is what men seldom teach their children,-seldom learn themselves. And what is the consequence of this? Why, generally speaking, both old and young live in a dark ignorance of what concerns another world. And though they are well acquainted with the names of religion, of Christianity, of God that made them, of heaven the portion of His faithful servants, and of hell the just reward of the wicked; yet they consider no more how people ought to live, who have heard of these things, than their very children, who only know them by rote.

Now, this is a truth which can never be sufficiently lamented, -that when people come to years, they do not seriously endeavour to possess their hearts and minds with saving knowledge, and a just concern for their souls. For what will all other knowledge profit a man who does not know how to escape the temptations of a wicked world, how to please God, and how he may save his soul from eternal death?

There may be some excuse, if, while they are children, they do not know these things. But to let this ignorance grow up with us, and when we are men, and capable of understanding the things we have been taught, and that our everlasting interest lies at stake, we are plainly without excuse, not to consider things of so great concern to us.

II. Another character of children is, that they have no apprehensions of future evils. The present is what most affects them, and it is often to no purpose that you speak to them of spiritual enemies, of the anger of God, and of the terrors of the world to come. And the misery is, this fearless temper grows up with them, and they learn to live in a careless security all their days.

And what can we say to awaken them ? Shall we often repeat what the Holy Scriptures tell us of such as live without God in the world ? Shall we assure them, that all the judgments mentioned in the Bible, and executed upon ungodly men, are but faint representations of the worm that never dies, and the fire that never shall be quenched ?

Alas! this is what they have often heard, and what they profess to know, and believe; but indeed they do neither. For who can be fearless and unconcerned at the thoughts of eternal death, though at some distance ? None but children, who cannot consider ; and fools, who make a mock of sin.

III. Another character of children is, to live without any aim, or end of their actions. We blame them for this, we ask them what they propose to themselves? We assure them, that if they once get an evil habit of living at random, and without design, they will be unsettled all their life long, and miserable at the last. We desire they would consider, that they did not come into the world only to eat, and drink, and sleep, and take their pleasure; that this is merely the life of

« AnteriorContinuar »