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times people look so well when attending upon ordinances, we would almost think it was a pity they should ever go from them; but when they are away, and the communion-frame has wore off, they look so ill, that one would think it was a pity that ever they should come to them again. We would shew you how to prevent this ; and, that things may apply the more closely to your consciences, I shall,
1. SHEW who they are whom we may call to follow on.
II. I shall shew what it is to follow on, or how you must hold your hand to religion, that you may thrive in it, now that your hand is in it.
III. I shall confirm the doctrine, and shew you, that it is the true way to thrive, and the belief of .it would be a great spur to diligence. Then,
IV. Conclude with the improvement of the subject.
We are then,
1. To fhew who they are whom we may call to follow on.
There are some we cannot call to follow on, because they have not yet stirred a foot in religion. There are some who, for all that they have heard and feen, are quite stupid and uncoucerned, lying alleep in their chains; they have no good motions on their spirits, and feel no concern for the want of them. Our text calls us to leave you, but a word or two before we part.
1. What would you think, if you saw the fhowers of heaven, after a great drought, fall all around your land upon your neighbour's ground, but not one drop on yours? would you not think you were the mark at which God aims his arrows?
Now, what can you think of yourselves, wheir. God touches the hearts of others about you, but never touches yours? when he goes by you, and comes by you, speaks to those on your right hand and on your left, but not a word to you? Does not that look very like what is in Hof. iv. 17. “ Ephraim is joined to his idols, let him alone.” To see a tree in the winter without leaves, is no. thing; but in the spring, when all is flourishing about it, such a tree is fit for the axe, and is near to the fire.
2. Do you think the world will always last with you? will you always sleep in a sound íkin ? Nay, sooner or later you shall get an awakening, in mercy, or in wrath : Isa. xxxii. 9. 10. « Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters, give ear unto my speech. Many days and years
nall ye be troubled, ye careless women; for the vintage fhall fail, the gathering shall not come.” If you should sleep it out all your days, you shall at last awaken, Luke, xvi. God will one time or another take the filthy garments of your fins, wrap them up in brimstone, and set them on fire about your ears.
But there are several sorts of persons, whose hands we may say are now in their work; and their bufiness is to pursue.-Such as,
1. There may be fome whom the King has brought into his chambers, and affured'them of his love, and they have got the covenant sealed, not only with the public seal of the facrament, but the privy seal of the Spirit. Your business is to follow on, and improve the precious season for the church of God, and for yourselves : Exod. xxxiv. 8. 9. “ And Moses made haste, and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshipped. And he said, If now I have found grace in thy fight, O
Lord, let my Lord, I pray thee, go among us. Follow on to know. There is more in that God, . that Christ, that covenant manifested to you, than you have yet seen. – There are,
2. Others that have got but fome glimmerings of folid hope from the Lord. It may be that they come here in a dark night of desertion, faying, “ My hope is perithed from the Lord,” Lam. m. 18. But now the day begins to break, and they have some hope, that there may be yet room for a backslider. Follow on, his going forth shall be as the morning, which grows lighter and lighter to the perfect day. There may be,
3. Some who, it may be, Christ has treated, as Joshua did his captains, when he made them set their feet upon the necks of the captive kings, Josh. X. 24. Some luft that has long kept them under, they have now got fubdued, the bonds of wickedness are broken, and the gates of brass pulled down ; so that now they are conquerors over their spiritual foes. To fuch we would say, Bestir yourselves, and pursue. Wounded lufts, when they get time to recover, have made fad work at a second ontet; you are not yet there, where the gates shall not be shut at all by day. You are, however, strong for the present; follow on, and you will be yet stronger : Zech, xii. 8. « In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Je. rufalem ; and he that is feeble among you at that day, shall be as David ; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them.” - There may be,
4. Some who have not come so far forward yet, though they are come the length to be heartily content that they and their lusts were freely parted, though they cannot tell how it will be accomplished. Follow on, pursue, you have them at a fair
advantage. The throne of fin in the heart is thaken. Lufts fit looser than they did. Prcis hard upon the tottering fabric, and it may come to fall altogether ; so that you may soon be ready to say with Ephrain, so What have I any more to do with idols ?” Hof. xiv. 18.-There may be, 5.
Some who have not come so far, but yet they have some desires after Christ and religion. They have a hungering after him, and they are more squeamish as to their lusts than they were; though they cannot as yet see, if they forego the 'world and their lufts, how their loss will be made up.. Truly this is not rauch; but every thing must have a beginning. Follow on; that cloud, like a man's hand, may come to darken the heavens at length. The conversion of Zaccheus had as flender a beginning, Luke, xix. 3. You have feeni, you were touched, look on, take a better look of the Plant of Renown, and ye may come to be affected, allured, and captivated.---There may be,
6. Some who have not come even so far, but they have got some convictions of fin; and though they have no will to part with their lults, yet, they cannot see how to live with them, and as little can they see how to live without them. Their conscience is awakened, but their heart is just where it was. It is a small length this indeed; but follow on. If the conscience has got the first touch, the heart may get the next.
If fin is become uneasy to the confcience, it may become a burden to the heart next, and so the sweet morsel may be vomited up.--There may be,
Lastly, Some who have not come so far as to have any particular convidion, or quick touches of conscience, only they have a sort of uneasiness with refpect to the case of their fouls, a secret difsatisfaction with their state and cafe, which they VOL. II.
fee is not good. This is even as little as can reafonably be concluded to be any beginning of good; yet follow on, pursue this, think more attentively upon it. If the dry bones be but beginning to move, they at last may come together, and live.We now proceed,
II To fhew what it is to follow on, how you must hold your hand to religion, that ye may thrive in it, now that
hand is in it. The word imports a violence and eagerness, such as men have in pursuing an enemy, persecuting the people of God;'or in hunting for prey.-Wherefore, when following on,
1. You must make religion your great end. As every man who pursues has something in view, fo your great defign must be to know the Lord :
Not,” says Paul, “as though I had already attained, either were already perfect, but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus."
There was a prospect which misgave at first with Adam, because Satan laid the measures for it, Gen. iii. 5. But you must take it up again, as the Lord himself will have you : Matth. v. 48: : “ Be ye
therefore perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” When once grace touches the heart, it produces a certain restlessness there, till the foul be perfecly united with God. You will never make any good of religion, till you make it your grand object in the world. You must not be merely occasional customers to religion, of which see an instance, Judges, xviii. 5. but stated and constant.-When following on,
2. You must be persuaded of the weight and worth of religion ; for no wise man will pursue what he thinks not worth the pains. What is