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people, they are as yet entire strangers to the religion of the Gospel. Can it be supposed, that our Lord would give a false character of his yoke? If not, how can any dream that they are his followeru, while they account a life of communion with God, and entire devotedness to his service, to be dull and burdensome? Those, however, who have made the happy trial, find it to be such a burden as wings are to a bird. Far from complaining of it, they are convinced that there is no real pleasure attainable in any other way.
. What the yoke of Christ is, we have already considered. It includes the profession of his Gospel, obedience to his precepts, and submission to his will, under every dispensation. But since it is confessed, that a sinful nature, and a sinful world, will bring many difficulties, trials, and temptations, upon all who walk in this way, it may be worth our while to inquire more particularly, what there is in the yoke of Christ that overpowers all these hardships, and makes such amends for every suffering, that, upon the whole, every believer will subscribe to this as à sure and experienced truth, that the “ yoke is easy, and the burden light.”
I. Those who bear the yoke of Christ, act from a principle which makes all things easy. This is love. It is said of Jacob, that when he served a hard master seven years for Rachel, they seemed to him but a few days, for the love which he bare her*. And many
of you find it easy to do much for your parents, children, and friends, because you love them. But there is no love like that which a redeemed sinner bears to him who “has loved him, and washed him from his sins ( in his own blood.' Farther, love produces the
* Gen. xxix, 20,
greatest effects, when it is mutual. We are willing to do and suffer much to gain the affection of a person we regard, though we are not sure of success; but when the affection is reciprocal, it adds strength to every motive. Now the believer does not love at uncertainties.: he knows that Jesus loved him first, loved him when he was in a state of enmity*; and that nothing but the manifestation and power of this love could have taught his hard unfeeling heart to love him whom he never saw f. This love, therefore, affords two sweet and powerful encouragements in service.
1. A cordial desire to please. Love does what it can, and is only sorry that it can do no more. We seldom think much, as I have hinted already, either of time, pains, or expense, when the heart is warmly engaged. The world, who understand not this heart-felt spring of true religion, think it strange that the believer will not run into the same excess of riot with them I. They wonder what pleasure he can find in secret prayer, in reading and hearing the word of God; they pity the poor man who has such a melancholy turn, and gravely advise him, not to carry things too far. But the believer can give them a short answer in the apostle's words: “ The love of Christ constrains me g.” His ruling passion is the same with theirs, which makes his pursuit no less uniform and abiding; but the objects are as different as light from darkness. They love the perishing pleasures of sin, the mammon of unrighteousness, and the praise of men; but he loves Jesus.
%. A pleasing assurance of acceptance.
7.1 Pet. i. 8.
# 1 Pet. iv. 4.
1 John; iv. 19. § 2 Cor. v. 14.
know not whether what we do will be favourably received or not, it inakes us remiss and indifferent. But this animates the Lord's people; they are assured that he will not overlook the smallest services or sufferings they are engaged in for his sake. He has told them in his word, “ that if they give but a cup of cold “ water in his name, and on his account, he will ac
cept and acknowledge it, as if it were done imme“diately to himself *.
II. It makes a service still more easy and pleasant, if, besides acting from a principle of love, the service itself is agreeable to our inclination. Esau would probably have done any thing to please his father, in hopes of obtaining the blessing; but no command could please him more than to be sent for venison, because he was a cunning hunter, and his pleasure lay that way t. Now the believer has received a new nature; so that the Lord's commandments are not grievous to him; but he delights in them with his whole heart. It is true, he groans under remaining corruptions; and this is properly his burden, not the service of Christ, which he approves and delights in, but because he can serve him no better. So far as faith is in exercise, he rejoices in every part of the yoke of Christ. He glories in the profession of his name. He has made Moses's choice; he prefers even the reproach of Christ, to all the honours of the world f; and has a measure of that spirit by which the apostles were enabled to rejoice that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name . He heartily consents to the precepts; he esteems them as a light to his feet; he makes them
* Mark, ix. 41. 1 Heb, xi. 26.
+ Gen. xxv. 27, and xxvii. 3. $ Acts, v. 41.
his meditation all the day. Nothing pleases him more than to find an increasing vịctory over the hindrances to his obedience; and the time of his greatest grief is, when, through infirmity, or the prevalence of temptation, he is seduced to neglect or transgress them, though in the smallest instance, and in what does not pass under human observation. Even afflictions, though not joyous in themselves, but grievous, are cheerfully submitted to, because the Lord has appointed them, and is pleased to account them a filling up of his sufferings*
III. In other cases, even when there is a principle of love, and the service not disagreeable in itself, yet weakness may render it wearisome or impracticable. Though, perhaps, you would willingly take a long journey to serve a friend; yet if you are sick or lame, what could you do? But the yoke of Christ is light and
easy in this respect, that there is a sufficiency of strength provided for the performance. This consideration makes every difficulty vanish; for though these should be increased tenfold, yet if strength be increased in an equal proportion, it amounts to the same thing. What is hard or impossible to a child, is easy to a man; what is hard to flesh and blood, is easy to faith and grace. The believer, though weak in himself, is strong in the Lord: the power on which he depends is not in his own keeping, but it is treasured up in the covenant of grace, or in the Lord Jesus, in whom all fulness dwells, and is always to be obtained by prayer. Every child of God is interested in the blessing of Asher: Thy shoes shall be iron and brass;
Col. i. 24.
“ and as thy day is, so shall thy strength be*.” By the day may be understood,
1. A day of service. Whatever the Lord appoints for us to do, if we depend upon him in the use of appointed means, he will certainly qualify, furnish, and strengthen us, for the accomplishment of it. If David is called out to meet Goliath, though he is but a stripling t, and the other a practised warrior from his youth, he shall not be disheartened or overcome, but be made a conqueror, though all appearances are against him. If we are in the path of duty, and if our help and hope is in the name of the Lord, we may confidently expect that he will uphold us, however faint and enfeebled we may seem to be to ourselves or others.
2. A day of suffering. If, like Daniel and his companions, we should be threatened with lions and fames, we may confidently commit our way to God; he can control the fire, and stop the lions' mouths I. While all things are in his hands, whose we are, and whom we serve, why should we fear that they will act beyond the bounds of his permission, or that he will permit them to do any thing which it is not his purpose to overrule to our advantage? Such considerations in the hour of need, seasonably impressed by his good Spirit, together with a trust in his promises, shall inspire us with new strength to meet the greatest danger undismayed; and, with regard to trials immediately from his own gracious hand, he will so adjust them, in number, season, weight, and measure, to the ability he communi
* Deut. xxxiii. 25.
t i Sam. xvii. 37. I Dan. ii. 16. and vi, 22.; Psalm, xci. 13.; 2 Tim. iv. 17.