Imágenes de páginas

ought to resolve beforehand, whether shame, the censure of a foolish world, or any other consideration, shall hinder you from doing that, without which your pardon, in all probability, will never be sealed in heaven.

To conclude this particular. If you can resolve in all these cases to do what you believe will be most pleasing to God, in hopes of being beloved and rewarded by Him, then may you with safety and good hopes renew your baptismal vow, now and at all times. And the grace of God will most surely be with you, to assist and bless your good endeavours, without which your best purposes and most sober resolutions would all be in vain.

III. Which brings us to the third particular to be explained; namely, what assistances you may depend on, to enable you to do what you piously resolve upon. And this is very necessary to be considered; for the Word of God assures us, and by experience we find, that all our good purposes and designs will come to nothing, unless the Spirit of God be with us, to encourage, to support, and to strengthen us.

And for this very reason, the apostles of Christ (no doubt by His appointment) began this usage in the Church of God, that after persons had by baptism been received into the Church and household of faith, and had been made partakers of the covenant of grace, the apostles, and their successors, should lay their hands upon them, assuring them, by that sign of God's favour and good-will towards them, that such a measure of His Holy Spirit shall accompany them, as shall be sufficient to guide, to support, and to defend them, from themselves and their own deceitful hearts, from the world and all its vain, deceitful charms, from the devil, and all the powers of darkness, till they come to that everlasting kingdom of which they are heirs.

Now, if this be the way by which God will bestow a greater measure of His Holy Spirit, what sober person will neglect such means of grace? Who will dare to despise this ordinauce ?

But, as beneficial as this ordinance may be to all those that make use of it, it will secure no man in the ways holiness, but such as purpose to use their best endeavours to


SER M. retain that Holy Spirit which is conferred upon them by imLXXXIII.

position of hands. We pray, that God may defend you with His heavenly grace. We shew you that God is ever ready to bless His own holy appointments. We may convince you that this is one of His ordinances, and as such you may earnestly desire to be partakers of it; and yet, after all, reap no benefit by it.

For you may neglect the gift bestowed upon you, forget your promises and holy purposes, and grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by which you are sealed unto the day of redemption.

God forbid it should be so with any of you on whom I am now going to lay my hands. But since it may be so, it is fit you should have warning to be careful of your ways, and know how to value the grace of God so as not to forfeit it.

And value it surely you will, if you consider the blessing of being under the government of the Spirit of God : for then no temptation can overcome you ; the devil cannot hurt you; for greater is He that is with you, than he that is against you. You will, by His assistance, learn to despise this world, and set your affections upon a much better. You will be enabled, by that same Spirit, to mortify the deeds of the flesh, that you may live-live as free from sin as may be here, and for ever in heaven. For this good Spirit will enlighten your mind with saving truths; when you go astray, will pull you back ; when you grow careless, will awaken you; when you want help, will assist you ; when you want comfort, will rejoice your heart; when you do well, will encourage you; and when you do amiss, will correct and chasten you; until He brings you to heaven, when all your trouble and your danger will be over, and, for the short trials you have undergone in this life, you will be made happy for ever and ever.

IV. And now you will desire to know, by what means this good Spirit is to be secured, how you may attain the end of your faith and Christian profession ; namely, the salvation of your souls ; which was the last particular we proposed to

speak to. [Ps. 16. 8; The holy Psalmist set himself (as he tells us) this rule : 119, 60.]

“I set God always before me, therefore I shall not fall." That is, he endeavoured to have these thoughts ever in his mind : that God saw all his actions, heard all his words, and knew the very thoughts of his heart; that therefore he might not offend God, he took care of his thoughts, words, and actions. But if at any time he had the misfortune to fall, his way was not to continue in rebellion: “I made haste,” saith he, “and delayed not to keep Thy commandments."

And thus must you do, if you hope for the continuance of

God's grace.

You must strive to live in the fear of God, remembering His judgments upon wilful sinners, frequently calling to mind the vows that are upon you, calling upon Him in all your wants, and giving Him thanks for every blessing you receive.

By this means, the knowledge of God will be ever present with you, and the Spirit of God will delight in you, and lead you in the way wherein you should go. And if at any time you go astray, He will by the methods of His providence bring you back, that you may in the end be saved.

In the second place, be sure not to neglect any opportunities of improving yourselves in Christian knowledge and the grace of God; remembering, that to profane the Lord's day, to neglect the holy Sacrament, to despise the advice and admonitions of your spiritual guides, is to despise the Lord ; and I need not tell you what they are to expect that do so.

Be sure to let no day pass without begging God's pardon and blessing; for to neglect this duty, is a sure way to lead you into an indifference for God and goodness. What is the reason that you respect your parents ? Is it not because you frequently receive good from them? And do you hope to keep a love for God in your hearts, unless you constantly pray to Him, and constantly give Him thanks for His favours ; ever remembering, that it is as impossible to live a good life without God's grace and assistance, as it is to live without food ?

And pray believe me, in a matter which very nearly concerns you, when I do assure you, it is much easier now to begin to live a Christian life, than it will be hereafter. Re- [Eccles. 12.

i.] member thy Creator in the days of thy youth, before evil company have corrupted you, before evil habits have got domi


SERM. nion over you, before the love of the world has got possession LXXXIII.

your hearts; for then it will be hard indeed to turn to the Lord with all your heart, when sin and hell have got the dominion over you.

In one word; as you hope to be saved, (and who is there that does not ?) consider what you are doing: that you are going to dedicate yourselves to God, with the full consent of your own wills; and that you have only this choice for the future, either you must be God's servants, doing His will, and serving Him faithfully all the days of your lives; or the devil will take you into his service, and you are undone for ever.

But may God bless, protect, and govern you all your days; may He possess your hearts with such a lively sense of His great mercy in bringing you from the power of Satan unto God, in giving you an early right to His holy covenant, and an early knowledge of your duty, that you may honestly devote yourselves to His service, that you may receive the fulness of His grace, and be able to withstand the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

And as He has made you His children by adoption, may He bring you in His good time to His everlasting kingdom, for Jesus Christ's sake.

To Whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, glory, thanksgiving, and praise, now and for ever. Amen.





22. 6.

DEUT. vi. 6, 7. These words which I command thee this day shall be in thine heart ; See Prov.

and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children. That is, as ever you value your own or your children's happiness, you must endeavour to fix and preserve in their hearts, the knowledge, the fear, and the love of God, what He has commanded, and what He hath forbidden; for, without this, they will be unhappy in this world, and in the next undone for ever.

To fear God, and to keep His commands, is the whole Eccl. 12. 13. duty and happiness of man. Forasmuch as God has declared, and determined, that He will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil. And they that have done good, who have led good lives, shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, who have led idle and wicked lives, and have not repented, and brought forth fruits meet for repentance, shall go into everlasting fire.

Certainly, parents do not consider this so well as they should do, or they would not suffer their children to grow wild, and wicked, and ignorant of God, and of their duty, as too many

of them do. Parents are obliged, both by nature and grace, to take care of their own children; to instruct, to restrain, and to correct them. And they that do not do so, do, by a just



« AnteriorContinuar »