Page images
PDF
EPUB

aside to other gods, yet would not he. If it seem evil for you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom will serve; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. In like manner, the traveller towards Zion is ready to say, It would give me the greatest pleasure to see the road that leads to glory and immortality crowded with travellers ; but if I cannot have this pleasure, I shall not cease my journey, much less shall I walk in the counsel of the ungodly. If they turn their backs upon Zion, and pursue the path that leads down to the chambers of death, O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united.

But, blessed be God, the way of religion is not a solitary, unfrequented path. All the excellent of the earth are our fellow-travellers; and, though unknown to each other, they are all equally known to God, and under his eye. In this respect they are one body, having the same hope of their calling, the same end in view in their journey, the same pursuits and desires; or, as the apostle expresses it, they have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in them all. And to every one of them is given grace, according to the measure of the grace of Christ. Feeding upon the same bread, drinking of the same fountain, waiting at the same mercy-seat, and aiming at the same ends, they have fellowship one with another, though at a distance. And yet a little while, and they shall be gathered together a

glorious company, out of every kindred, and people, and tongue, and nation.

Finally.--This exhortation implies, that it is our duty to persevere in a religious course.

It is not merely our entering without delay upon this good way, nor our proceeding in it for a while, but our resolute continuance in it to the end of life, that will bring us with safety and honour to the termination of it. It will not answer a traveller's purpose, who has a necessary journey before him, to proceed a little way in it, and then give over, or take a different path that leads a contrary way. So, in the ways of religion, he, and he only, who holds out to the end shall be saved. Many on a sick bed, under strong convictions of guilt, and the alarming apprehension of an approaching judgment, have formed resolutions of amendment, which have proved like the morning cloud, or the early dew. They have run with eagerness to their former excesses, and become more daring and hardened offenders than before. As long as they were impressed with a dread of everlasting misery, they recoiled at the idea of abandoning themselves again to their former sinful practices : but by and bye they ventured into the way of temptation; associated with their former companions; renewed their intimacy with them; heard their solicitations to sin, at first, perhaps, with abhorrence--presently with some degree of indulgence; then approached as 'near as possible, without the actual perpetration of it: at last they consent to its commission. From that hour, the duties of secret religion are ne

glected; temptation meets with little or no resistance; and they are led captives by the great adversary of human happiness at his will. Let us take warning from their fate. Let us be sensible of the difficulties which obstruct our way to heaven, and carefully guard against the first temptations to sin; avoiding, as far as possible, every connexion or intercourse with the world which has proved, or is likely to prove, a temptation to it. And let us diligently practise all those instrumental duties of religion, which divine wisdom has appointed for carrying us forward in the way to heaven. Let us read, hear, and meditate on the word of God; and continue instant in prayer, watching thereto with all perseverance. Faithful is he who hath promised; be ye also faithful unto death, and he will give you a crown of life.

I should now proceed to consider the gracious and animating promise annexed to the faithful discharge of the duties which I have endeavoured to explain ; but this, together with the application of the whole, will furnish abundant matter for another discourse. I shall only briefly remark at present, that the idea of being fellow-travellers towar heaven, will remind those who truly deserve this honourable character, of their obligations to be helpful to one another by the way. Are they cast down? Let us comfort them by the consolation wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. Are they doubtful and hesitating about the right path ? Let us give them our best advice, and shew them, both by precept and example, the way in which they should walk. Let us avoid every thing in our conduct which would give others an unfavourable impression of the good way in which we walk. While we profess to be travelling towards a better country, let us not affect a forbidding singularity, nor refuse to comply with the innocent customs and manners of the country through which we are passing. On the other hand, let us avoid a servile compliance with whatever is corrupt and hurtfulwith every thing that would represent our religion as variable, timid, and accommodating to the company we happen to be in. Betwixt these two extremes lies the middle plan of conduct which expresses the true spirit of Christianity--that of an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile. In a word, let us ever act as those whose conversation is in heaven, and whose affections are set on the things which are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.

SERMON V.

RELIGION A GOOD WAY.

JEREMIAH, VI. 16.

Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the

good way, and walk therein ; and ye shall find rest for your i souls.

I

NOW proceed to the consideration of the third and last thing proposed, namely,

III. To shew the import of the gracious promise, by which the duty here enjoined is recommended and enforced--and ye shall find rest for

your souls.

“ What is the chief good?” was the great enquiry of the sages of antiquity; and the different answers to this question formed the principal distinctions among the various sects of philosophy. The Author and Finisher of our faith has fully resolved this important question, and laid the foundation of our happiness upon principles so plain as not to be easily perverted, and so firm as not to be affected by the vicissitudes of human life. Come unto me, says our blessed Lord, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest; take my yoke

« PreviousContinue »