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know little of the way to heaven, nor shall we walk in it, if we satisfy ourselves, as the many do, with hearing, it may be, a sermon on a Sunday. We must have these great truths in our mouths on other days, delight to speak of our eternal concerns, and count the blessings of the communion of saints, in all the branches of it, among our chief enjoyments upon earth. It is impossible for any minister in the world to take the full and particular care of each individual of his flock: his work is rather to preach the word.' It is every man's business 'to exhort his brother daily.' [Heb. iii. 13.] And wherever there is any spiritual life among us, there will necessarily arise a desire to converse together about the things of God; to watch over one another with a godly jealousy;' [2 Cor. xi. 2.] to open our hearts freely; to speak our suspicions; to rebuke with freedom and tenderness, and to 'build up each other in our most holy faith.' The practice of true holiness is never so conspicuous as where this genuine simplicity of heart, and enlarged charity to thebrethren, shew themselves by a free and heart searching conversation together. Self-deceit is then more detected, the principles more sifted, mistakes discovered, backslidings reproved, and if a man sin, he is restored in the spirit of meekness.' If I was to ascribe the lukewarm and unornamental walk of those who make a profession of religion to any one cause, perhaps it is as much owing to this as any, that they want the true simplicity of heart which would lead them to more experimental conversation; instead of that trifling, general, unedifying discourse which usually prevails amongst them: A religious kind of gossipping, and justly censured by those who are without, as a prying into other's faults, in
stead of discovering and amending their own. Sixthly, I would conclude with recommending a serious and devout attendance at the Lord's table. Nothing can have a more direct tendency to quicken us in the good ways of the Lord, than that ordinance in which our Saviour makes all his love to pass before us. What can kindle in our hearts such a flame of love, so greatly confirm our faith, enliven our zeal, increase our hatred of sin, or urge us to copy his example, as when we are remembering the Lord's death, when we are commemorating his blood-shedding. for us, reflect upon the evil of sin, and see that holy Lamb of God leading the way before us in the path of righteousness? Hither therefore should we often repair, to renew our solemn surrender of ourselves to him, and to receive the pledges of his everlasting love to us. Whenever we have opportunity with delight approaching his table, and eating and drinking his body and blood, with true discernment, to the strengthning and refreshing our souls. This will continually serve to bind our hearts in bonds of nearer union to our holy Head, and oblige us to walk worthy these solemn engagements in all holy conversation and godliness; adorning the doctrine of God our Saviour;' and convincing the world, that the religion of Jesus hath a power and efficacy to cast the whole man into its mould :: not merely to distinguish us from others by a christian name, but by a divine nature: so that we become one with him, and he with us.'
Happy are they who in these things seek daily to abide and abound. They cannot fail of sucHoliness thus will become more our habit and disposition; 'continually exercising ourselves unto godliness,' we shall strengthen ourselves day by day mightily; until all our ene
mies being put under our feet, our warfare will be finally ended, and we shall go where there is no more corruption, no more sin, no more enemies, no more danger, no more need of wrestling, watching, praying, labouring; but that which is perfect, being come, our work of holines will be accomplished, and an eternity of happiness shall receive us. There we shall see God; shall be with him, and be like him, and ' enter into that rest,' which no tongue can describe nor heart conceive, nobly called in our liturgy, "our final consummation in bliss, both in body and soul, in his eternal glory.'
I have only to add my ardent prayers and wishes, that every one of you may be using these means, that you may come to this happy end. And if but one soul only be influenced thereby, I shall think all my pains amply repaid, when I shall meet you in the great day of our Redeemer, and this labour of love, among others be laid at his feet, to your joy, as well as my own. May his grace bless what his grace hath helped me to speak, and to Him shall all the praise and glory be ascribed for ever and ever.
THE BLESSEDNESS OF THE RIGHTEOUS.
PROVERBS XII. 28.
IN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS IS LIFE, AND IN THE PATH-WAY THEREOF THERE IS NO DEATH.
T is a common and dangerous prejudice which is entertained. against the ways of true reli-gion, that they are dull, forbidding and melancholy and hence young people especially are discouraged by the gloomy prospect; and regard a life of holiness as obliging them to part with. every present enjoyment for austerities and mortifications, little less than a cell and sackcloth. And perhaps the mistakes of some professors of godliness, have not a little contributed to confirm these prejudices: who, whilst they have substi tuted moroseness for gravity, and reckoned a downcast look and darkened brow the proper index of a serious mind, have put fresh stumbling-blocks in the way of those who judge chiefly by appearances. But there is no real cause for this in the nature of the religion of Jesus. Just the contrary. As none enjoy so much inward-peaceand serenity, none can have so much cause for chearfulness as they who, walking humbly with God, (Micah vi. 8.) seek in the first place his kingdom and righteousness. (Matt. vi. 33.) The sons of God, like Isaac, are truly sons of laughter;' not the boisterous mirth of fools, or the intemperate sallies. of wantonness, but an habitual R 2
composure and delightful calm, are the privileges of the souls of those who have an interest in everlasting promises, and are the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.' (2 Cor. vi. 18.) It is the interest indeed of the grand enemy of souls to misrepresent the paths of duty, to frighten us from pursuing them by lying suggestions; and, like the spies who went up to view the promised Canaan, to bring an evil report on the good land:' (Numb. xiii. 32.) thus he discourages the hearts of those who are willing to enter. But 'let no man's heart fail :' (1 Sam. xvii. 32.) can it be imagined that God ever intended religion should lessen our happiness below? and that he should leave to a world lying in wickedness,' enjoyments greater than his own children possess? that be far from him.' He hath provided for them upon earth the chief portion, and intends. the comforts of their faithful service in this life shall be the foretastes of their eternal blessedness in a better. For in the way of righteousness,' and in this alone, is life,' the truly hap py life; and in the path way thereof,' to all who abide in it, there is no death;' but glory, honour and immortality, await them in the mansions of bliss above.
To enter more explicitly into the proof of this, I would observe, that happiness is to be obtained either from the gratifications of sense, and the enjoyments of the world, or from the denial of these in a life of faith and holiness : which two are contrary the one to the other and as far as the soul is engaged in the pursuit of the one, it will despise or disrelish the other. Now if it can be proved that the world, and the things of it cannot afford us the happiness we want, and that the service of the Lord, and the consciousness of his favour, can give us ex-,