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cence will be known. You will cheerfully fulfil your duty to God and man. You will be kept in the hour of temptation--and in the hour of death. You will make glad your fellow-men, and the city of God. But if you waver in religion, it will be a sure source of vexation. Prosperity will be the snare of your fouls. You will forfeit the only support of affliction. Your duty, if attended at all, will be by constraint. You will lie open to the tempter. Man will despise you. God will abhor you. How will you meet the last enemy? How will you stand before the Son of man, when he shall come in his kingdom?
I can think of nothing so important to those who are beginning life, nothing so estimable, as stability of character-nothing more ignominious, or of a more baneful aspect on the whole business, intercourse and enjoyment of life, than instability, or having no opinion of your own, or none to which you will be constant. He that walketh uprightly walketh surely. His opinions and his hope have a fure foundation. His steps are ordered by the Lord. God will guard where he leadeth. The path of the just shines more and
To him there ariseth light in the darkness. His end is peace. But the diffembler, he who halteth between variant opinions, “ leaves the paths of up“ rightness, to walk in the ways of darkness. His
ways are always crooked and froward. He hateth “ the light. His way is as darkness, he knoweth not " at what he stumbleth.” Dissemblers, prevaricators, double-minded men, grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. They are as the troubled sea. They are driven away in their own wickedness.
Is not a character for unblemished, inflexible integrity to be preferred to oftentation, formality, artifice, inconstancy and circumvention? If it is, then halt not between two opinions. Think not that you can have made choice of religion, if you are not fixed in your choice-if winds and floods will overthrow your foun
dation. The arts of deceit and fraud may procure the diffembler such things as his foul lusts after-wealth, fame, power. But his triumph is short. What is his hope, when God taketh away his soul? He has an inward consciousness of the baseness of his own views; or would not take so much pains to conceal them. Frequently, when he thinks himself safe, and therefore is unguarded, his dark designs are brought to light. His fubterfuges cost him much trouble. After all, he does not think himself safe.
Make a decided choice in religion. Commit the keeping of
your souls to Christ, to be faved on his terms. Do not indulge a single with that these terms may be lowered and accommodated to your appetites. Stand fast in the Lord. Let your unreserved respect to the doctrines and duties of religion, your stedfastness and abounding in the fruits of it, shew that you assume the profession from deep conviction and strong affection, as to God, and not to men. You believe that it has God for its author, and will train you up for fulness of joy in his presence. Why should you waver? why be ashamed? why be weary, faint and decline ?. In due season ye shall reap, if ye faint not.
For yet a little while, and he that Mall come will come, and his reward is with him. Now the just shall live by faith ; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
THE TRUE PRINCIPLE OF VIRTUE.
COLOSSIANS iii. 23,
AND WHATSOEVER YE DO, DO IT HEARTILY, AS TO THE LORD, AND NOT TO MEN.
HE design of the present discourse is to explain and establish the true principle of virtue. The text now read recommends an unfeigned, fupreme regard to the approbation of God as this principle.
We will, first, explain the subject before us. Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men.
This is a principle of universal extent, and invariable influence. It alike respects great and small duties: It is a principle of fidelity to God, and men, and our own souls--fidelity to one talent, two or five. Whofoever allowedly commits any fin, or omits any duty, under an apprehension that it is small, is not governed by the fear of God in other and greater matters; and is, moreover, in much danger of proceeding from small to great fins.
Further, the precept before us inculcates acting from Christian principles. *“ Whatsoever ye do in word or “ deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus"-as his fervants, in obedience to him, with a view to the divine acceptance through him, in an humble dependence on his strength, in imitation of his pattern. For ye serve the Lord Christ. Actuated by the principles of his religion, all ranks of men consider themselves as under law to him, indebted to him as Mediator for their privileges and hopes, and under the strongest en
gagements, in all things, to seek the glory of God by him. A cup of cold water may be given in the name of a disciple. Our Lord knoweth what is in man. For he searcheth the reins and hearts. He observes what, soever we do, whether we do it heartily, and in his
Our attention to, or neglect of his disciples, as such, he particularly considers as fhewn to himself.
A supreme regard to the approbation of God, thro? the Mediator of his appointment, our Prince as well as Saviour, is the principle of Christian virtue. By him we believe in God, whose messenger of grace he was, “ whom he raised from the dead, that our faith and "hope might be in God”-whom all men are commanded to “honor even as they honor the Father.” To live by the faith of the Son of God is to do whatsoever we do, in word or deed, in the name of the Lord Jesus—or, in other words, to do it heartily, as to the Lord.
With the heart man believeth unto righteousness. If we believe in Jesus as the Son of the Blessed, and reverence him accordingly—if we cultivate toward the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the reverence, love and gratitude which he claims, the principles and hopes of the gospel will have commanding influence in all relations and circumstances of life-far other principles and hopes than earth and time suggest as much fuperior as are the immortal interests of the soul to those of a mortal body
Our inward principles, motives and affections are of utmost moment. Religion regulates these as well as the visible conversation : It supposes that we are accountable to a Being glorious in holiness, to whom all things are naked and open, even the thoughts and intents of all hearts; whose glory should be our great end, whatever we do. In the view of his tribunal, it is indeed a small thing to be judged of man's judg
Doing whatever we do as to the Lord, does not imply an indifference to the opinion and esteem of our
fellow men. The latter may extend the influence of our example-our opportunity to do good. But to human considerations we can allow no other than subgrdinate and subfervient influence. The servant of God, the disciple of Jesus, whatsoever he does, pays a fuperior, unreserved and fixed regard to his Maker and Redeemer. In all his relations and intercourse with mankind, the divine approbation has commanding influence. Whatsoever he does, enjoys or suffers, God is glorified. Worldly hopes or fears cannot seduce or dismay him.
This is not a fictitious, but a real character. We mean not that any are exempt from imperfection and without fin. The blemishes which have been found in some of the best characters afford this caution, “Let “ him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he “ fall.” This notwithftanding, they could appeal to the searcher of hearts as a witness of their general integrity. “Conscience testified, that in fimplicity and “ godly sincerity, by the grace of God, they had their 6 conversation in the world.”
II. We proceed to establish the proposition, that an unfeigned, fupreme respect to the approbation of God is the true principle of virtue.
The existence of a superior power, supposed to be perfectly acquainted with the springs and principles of our actions, and to whom we must give account, is a point in which all nations consent. With this is necessarily connected a sense of moral obligation. To fulfil such obligation is to act from principles, and pursue ends, which the Being with whom we have to do will approve. Being moral agents and probationers, it is a clear and indispensible duty, that we act from such principles, and pursue such ends.
If reverence of a Deity and moral Governor be taken away, where is public faith? On this supposition, an oath for confirmation is altogether unmeaning, or in the highest degree impious. “Where is the security