« PreviousContinue »
against, the same temptations to resist, the fame enemies to overcome. Their advantages for performing their duty were not greater than ours : on the contrary, besides all that they possessed; we have the benefit of their example and experience. God's hand is not shortened, the blood of Christ hath lost none of its virtue, his intercession is no less prevalent, nor is the power of his Spirit in the least impaired by length of time or constant exercise. “ He is the same IC
yesterday, to-day, and for ever :" So that we are entirely withouc excuse, if we do not both aim at, and actually attain the same de grees of holiness and purity with any of those that have gone before us.
Let us then consider all those persons ce lebrated in Scripture-history, as examples which we not only ought to copy after, but máy, through God's grace, hope to equal : and, instead of being dazzled with the lustre of their virtues, let us search into the principles which influenced their conduct, that, by cherishing these, we may be animated to go and do as they did. The Apostle mentions, in the text, one of Vol. III.
distinguished efficacy, which I propose to
encouraged him to perlift in preaching that gospel which he had received in trust from God. I was this which rendered the first Christians superior to adversity in all its frightful forms: and it is the same divine principle, which, if once it got the entire possession of our hearts, would be a constant spring of holy obedience, and enable us, by the blessing of God, to follow the cloud of witnefses who have gone before us, through the most rugged paths of virtue, untainted with that meannefs and inconstancy of behaviour, which are the reproach of fo many professing Christians in our days.
I propose, therefore, through divine affistance, it, To open the nature and extent of the divine principle mentioned in
iny text; 2dly, To represent the happy efa fects which would flow from our being animated with this steady and prevailing desire. After which I shall conclude with a practical improvement of the subject.
I begin with opening the nature and ex. tent of the divine principle mentioned in the text.
And to prevent any mistakes on this head, it may be needful to observe; that our making the approbation of God our principal aim does not exclude all regard to the opinion or judgement of our fellow-creatures. We are certainly bound by that great law of our religion, “ Thou shalt love thy
neighbour as thyself,” to make the pleasing of our brethren, by every lawful means, an object of attention, and a subordinate end of our conduct. And as our neighbuor is commanded to love us as himself, both reafon and religion teach us to render ourselves as amiable to him we as can, that so we may
facilitate his performance of that important duty.
Neither, on the other hand, are we wholly to disregard the censures of men, or be al
together unconcerned, when our reputation is blackened by injurious calumnies.
good name is better than precious oint« ment.
It is a special blessing which we are to receive with thankfulness from the hand of God: and it is our duty to preserve it as carefully as we can. Without a good name, no man can be useful in the world, To neglect it therefore, where it does not proceed from a consciousnefs of guilt, is certainly, in most cases, a very culpable indifference. Thus far, then, the judgement of men is to be regarded: but then we must please our brethren, only fo far as it is pleasing to God. In every cafe we must ftate the matter thüs: Whether is it wiser to obey God or man? to fear thofe who, after they have killed the body, have no more that they can do; or to fear him who, after he hath killed, can destroy both fout and body in hell? We must not only contemn the favour of men when compared with the approbation of God, but learn to value it among those transitory things, which are only delirable as means for attaining a higlier end,
In like manner, the displeasure of men, if unjust, must be reckoned among our light afflictions, which are but for a moment. In such circumstances, it must appear a small matter to us to be judged of man's judgement: 6 We have one that judgeth us, even * God.” That prophecy of our Saviour must be constantly remembered, that the world will hate us; and his example must be ever before our eyes, who condescended to be scorned, and buffeted, and flandered as an impostor and blasphemer; who made himfelf of no reputation, but endured the cross, and despised the shame, leaving us an example that we fhould follow his steps. In a word, God must be pleased by all
his approbation is the one thing needful: he is now our Witness, and will, ere long, be our Judge; and in these cwo characters we ought constantly to set hiin before us.
This is the temper which the Apostle expresseth in the text. - I proceed now, in the
Second place, To represent the happy effects which would flow from our being ani.