Изображения страниц

fophifter indeed, who could persuade a man that honey was bitter, whilst he tasted the sweetness of it in his mouth. It is an experimental conviction of the truth of the gospel, which fortifies the true Christian against all the arts of seducers. He hath

He hath a witness within himself, and can bring a proof from his own heart, both of the truth and excellence of the religion which he professeth. It was a stubborn question which Athana fius put to the heathens of his time, who denied the resurrection of Christ. If Christ ' be not alive,' said he, how doth he yet ? destroy your idols, and cast out devils, and

convert and subdue the world to himself? ? Are theft the works of a dead man?' In like manner can the sanctified - soul say, Have I felt Christ opening my blind

eyes, binding the strong man, and casting him ! out? Have I felt him ftamping his image

- upon my soul, and bringing me with i boldness into the presence of that God { whom I had offended? And after this, < fhall I doubt whether there be a Christ,

or whether this Christ be able to save me? Thus can the true believer, who hath felt


[ocr errors]

the power of Christianity, bring unanfwerable arguments for its truth from his own experience: Arguments which neither the temptations of Satan, nor the cavils of wicked men, will be able to overthrow.

3dly, If you would cleave with stedfastness unto the Lord, attend constantly to the inward frame and temper of your hearts. Make conscience of watching over your most fecret thoughts. Suffer them not to wan. der without controul, or to fpend their strength upon things which cannot profit you ; otherwise you will open a wide door to the enemy, and even furnish him with weapons which he will not fail to improve against you. I am afraid the importance of this direction is too little considered by the generality of Christians.

We commonly think ourselves secure when out of the way of external temptations, and suffer our minds to roam at large wherever fancy presents an amusing object. Whereas we ought to conGider, that whatever inflames our passions, or gives them an improper direction, is equally burtful to the foul, whether the cause be real or imaginary. Nay, I am per



fuaded, that the tempter doth often make greater havock in our hearts, by mingling his poison with the fuggestions of our own minds, than by all his other methods of temptation. If we would keep our hearts indeed, we must watch their motions as carefully when we are alone, as when we are abroad, and in the midst of danger. The presence of God should constantly overawe our most secret thoughts, and have equal influence on us in our retirement, as when we act in the open view of the world.


4th direction I shall give you in the words of the Apostle Paul, (Rom. xi. 20.) “ Be

not high-minded, but fear.” Remember what our blessed Lord said to his disciples, “ Without me ye can do nothing." Nothing is more offensive to God than pride. When our hearts begin to swell with a high opinion of our own strength, he is provoked to with-hold his grace from us ; because all that is poured into the proud soul runs over in felf-applause, and fo is like water spilt on a rock, with respect to any good that it doth to a man himself, or any glory which

If we


it brings to God. The proud heart, like the towering cliff, is never fruitful. would in due time be exalted, we must first humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, This is the way to obtain fresh supplies of his supporting grace. “ Happy is “ the man,” saith Solomon, “ who feareth ” always.” A holy diffidence of ourselves is the true temper of a Christian, and will both serve to keep us out of the way of temptation, and teach us to act with the caution of men who perceive their danger, and are careful to shun it,

sthly, Avoid, as much as poslible, the fellowship of wicked men, This is an advice which I am inclined to repeat as often as I can find occasion for it; and indeed it is scarcely possible to insist upon it as much as its importance deserves. A man who is careless of his company, disregards his own soul. If therefore you would cleave unto the Lord, imitate the holy Psalmist, and give charge to evil-doers to depart from you. Let the faints, the excellent ones of the earth, be the men of your counsel. We stand much in need of all the assistance, which



we can derive from our fellow Christians : " Wo to him that is alone when he falleth, faith the wise man,

“ for he hath not another to help him up.” Whereas, when Christians join together in holy communion, like trees planted in a thicket, they shelter and defend one another. They have boldness to face their advertaries, as well as str ngth to baffle their attempts to seduce them. « Let us then exhort one another

daily, lest any of us be hardened through “ the deceitfulness of fin.” Like brethiren, let us dwell together in love and unity, ha, ving all our spiritual goods in common, being ready to distribute, willing to commu“ nicate,” according to the measure of gifts and graces which it hath pleased our hea. venly Father to bestow on us. In the

6th and last place, If we would obey the exhortation in the text, we must beware of neglecting the instrumental duties of religion. Let us carefully read the Holy Scriptures, which God, in mercy, hath given us to be a " lamp to our feet, and a light unto $ our path "__" The law of the Lord is

“ perçc fect, converting the foul: the testimony

" of

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »