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Having thus laid before you some of the obligations which we are under to receive the yoke of Christ, arising from our nature and constitution, from the regard due to the authority of God, and from our own explicit or implied engagements, let me endeavour to confirm the sense of these obligations by several motives ; and this may be considered as a continuation, in some measure, of my former subject : for, to a reasonable creature, a just motive is a proper ground for action, and lays him under an obligation to act accordingly.
In the first place, my brethren, the service to which you are bound, by submitting to this yoke, is both reasonable and easy. As Christians, we are not loaded with the yoke of rites, ceremonies, and external observances, which was so heavy upon the Jews, that neither those in the days of our Saviour, nor their fathers, were able to bear it! The dominion of Christ, tends to free us from the Navery of sin, from the power of Satan, from the tyrannic sway of our own lusts, and to make us obey the best principles of our nature, and yield to their dictates. The religion of the Lord Jesus is, therefore, called the perfećt law of liberty m. By engaging in his service, we are said to be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the fons of Goda: and Christians are exhorted to stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free. Our Saviour also declares immediately after the text, that his yoke is easy, and his burden light. The objection which arises to this from the weakness and depravity of our natures, I shall take occasion to obviate afterwards.
1 Acts xy, 10.
At present, I proceed to persuade you to comply with the advice in the text, from a review of the character of that Master, into whose service you are here called. I shall chiefly confine myself to the consideration of those circumstances in his character, which are marked in the text. We are there told, that he is meek and lowly in heart; and how perfectly his actions correspond to this character, let his whole life testify. Can my soul ever forget his condescension to his disciples, his forbearance to his enemies, his patience un
* James i. 25.
Rom, viii. 21.
Gal. v. s.
der his afflictions, and the numberless good offices, by which he alleviated or removed the miseries of men ? To display him fully in this character, need I bring to your remembrance, that night in which he rose from supper, and, having laid afide his garments, girded himself with a towel, and washed his difciples feet p? Need I recall to your minds the compassionate manner in which he spoke to the daughters of Jerusalem, and desired them to reserve their tears for their own miseries, when they were pouring them out for his? What finner did this meek and merciful Master ever reject, if he came with a penitent heart? It was foretold to be his character, and he still retains it, that he will n10t break the bruised reed, nor quench the fmoaking flax”. How striking and how beautiful is the prediction concerning him, and how fully did he accomplish it! He shall feed bis flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bofom, and gently lead those that are with young'. When you consider your weaknesses, your irresolution, your follies, and your vices, are
p John xiii. 4, s.
9 Isa. xlii, 3. Matt. xii. 20.
"Ifa. xl. 2..
you not sensible that it would be impossible for you ever to please an austere master? or could any other be a fit Lord for you, but he who has a fellow-feeling of your infirmitiess? Your meek and lowly Master imposes upon you no tasks which he himself did not submit to. He is not like the pharifaical doctors who said, and did not, who bound heavy bur. dens, and grievous to be borne, and laid them 011 other men's shoulders, but would not touch them with one of their fingers. In the severest instances of our duty, he left us an example, that we should follow his steps. In what school can we learn, where the instructor would be so ready to bear our frowardness, to pardon our neglects, and forgive our faults? If you refuse this Saviour, where will you find one like him? For there is no encouragement that he refuses, no assistance that he denies.
This leads me to consider, as another motive to induce you to take his yoke upon you, which will likewise obviate every objection from the depravity of our nature, the gracious aids of his holy Spirit, which he will vouch
* Heb. iv, 15.
Matt. xxiii. 3, 4.
safe to all who sincerely ask them, and rely upon them. Our Saviour did not leave this world, till he had promised that the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, should come to teach and assist his followers. Whatever difficulties, therefore, we may meet with in our Christian course, by the aid of the divine Spirit we may be rendered superior to them. If the combat in which we engage, in order to subdue our irregular appetites, be severe, from the Spirit we may derive that strength which shall render us victorious. Do we labour under any disease whatever of the mind ? By the help of that Physician who formed the heart, and knows its maladies, surely it may be cured. And, Christians, though we wrestle not against fejh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high placesu, yet, by his Spirit who conquered the powers of darkness, and who overcame the world, all these may be resisted by us; and with such divine assistance, his yoke may be termed an easy one, and his burden light.,
Eph, vi. 12.