« IndietroContinua »
name; that at the name of Jesus every “ knee should bow, of things in heaven, “ and things in earth, and things under the and that
every tongue should “ confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to “ the glory of God the Father.” This doctrine we all profess to believe; nay, the designation we bear imports an acknowledgement that Christ is our Master. But something more than the appellation of Christians is necessary to prove that we are in truth his fervants. The proper, the only decisive test, is that which lies before us in the words of my text; where one who knew well what Christianity was, thus speaks in the name of all sincere believers : Whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore or die, we are the Lord's.
It is the comprehensive description of the Christian's life expressed in these few, but emphatical words, We live unto the Lord, which I have chosen for the subject of the following discourse. And my design is,
I. To inquire into the import of living unto the Lord; and,
II. To apply the character as a measure, or standard, for helping us to judge of our fpiritual condition.
I. Living unto the Lord may be considered as including the following particulars :
If, That we make his will the rule, the only rule, of our conduct.
Our Lord hath intrusted us with various talents, and requires that we should improve them to the best advantage, for the important purposes for which they were bestowed. We are his servants, and have a talk assigned us, for which we must be accountable to him at last. It is not left to our own choice what pieces of service we shall perform; but we must at all times wait upon him for direction; saying, as Paul did when struck to the ground, “ Lord, what wilt thou have " me to do?”. Neither is it enough that we do the things he requires, unless we do them because he requires them. The laws of our Lord are so wisely calculated to promote the priyate interests of individuals,
and the public welfare of human fociety, that they who are most disaffected to his government, will choose, for their own fake, to comply with many of his sacred injunctions : but they, and they only, live unto the Lord, who realise his authority, and do every thing he enjoins, as an act of willing and cheerful obedience, as a part of that homage they owe to their Mafter.
2dly, To live unto the Lord, is to make his approbation our governing aim, and to study to please him in all that we do.
I need not tell you that we early contract a love for many things which are hurtful to our souls, and stand condemned by the laws of our Sovereign. This renders some parts of duty fo painful to the flesh, that they åre compared in Scripture to the “ cutting és off a right-hand, and the plucking out 6 a right eye;" operations which no man would submit to, far less perform them himself, unless the preservation of the rest of his body rendered thein absolutely necessary. Other parts of duty are attended with inconveniences of a different kind : They may draw upon us the scorn, the
hatred, and persecution of a partial, blind, malignant world; so that if we listen either to the corrupt part of our own nature, or to the voice of the multitude, we shall unavoidably be persuaded to leave them undone, or rather to do the contrary. Nothing else than a prevailing habitual desire to please the Lord, can reconcile us to the practice of these self-denying duties. But if this principle be deeply rooted in our hearts, the roughest paths of obedience will foon become smooth : with resolution, nay, with cheerfulness, we shall address ourselves to our work; declining no service, how painful or difficult foever, that we know will be crowned with the approbation of our Judge. Thus did the primitive Christians live unto the Lord. It appeared a small matter to them to be judged of man's judgement: this was their labour, that whether present or absent, they might be accepted of their Master. They fo fpake, and so acted, not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth the hearts of his creatures, and will render unto every one according to his works.
3dly, To live unto the Lord, is to make his glory our end in every thing we do.
Paul expressed the genuine spirit of Christianity, when, with a dignity becoming the character of an apostle, he thus wrote to the Philippians: “ I would ye should un“ derstand, brethren, that the things which “ happened unto me, have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel : fo
my bonds in Christ are manifeft in “ all the palace, and in all other places ; and many
of the brethren in the Lord waxing “ confident by my bonds, are much more « bold to speak the word without fear. “ Some indeed preach Christ even of envy " and strife; and some also of good will. «. The one preach Christ of contention, nor “ fincerely, fuppofing to add affliction to
my bonds ; but the other of love, know« ing that I am set for the defence of the
What then? notwithstanding every way, whether in pretence, or in “ truth, Christ is preached ; and I therein “ do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. For I “ know that this shall turn to my salvation,
through your prayer, and the supply of