Immagini della pagina

II. Christians, you are required to entertain a just esteem for the office and character which we bear. I am aware how delicate a subject it is to talk of that estimation which we claim from you on this account. I am sensible that our highest glory consists in our humility, and our best dignity in stooping to be useful: “ For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." We claim no obsequious homage, we arrogate no dominion over your faith, but we expect that no man should despise us; we account our office venerable enough to entitle those to respect, who do the duties of it with propriety. Indeed we have not diffidence enough to apprehend, in the least degree, that such respect will be denied, where the proper virtues of our station



our conduct ; and we I now it to be both vain and absurd to expect it on any other terms.

Leaving therefore a theme, which cannot be pursued long to advantage, we are still more desirous,

III. That you would make a proper improvement of the truths which we deliver. Take heed then, brethren, how ye hear. The time is coming, when we must all meet before the judgment-seat of God, to give an account of the advantages which we have enjoyed, and of the manner in which we have improved them. In what way this decisive trial shall be conducted, cannot be certainly known in the present time. We are told in general, that the great Shepherd, who shall then sit in judgment, will separate the sheep from the goats, placing the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. But besides this grand division, it seems probable, from the analogy both of reason and Scripture, that those who were members of the same Christian society, and enjoyed the same ordinances and ineans of grace, shall then be brought together and confronted, that the evidence upon which the different sentences shall proceed, may be the more unexceptionable amd convincing to all. The impenitent sinner shall then have nothing to plead in his own defence, when it shall appear that many of those with whom he lived, have been converted and saved by those very means which he neglected and abused. It will be impossible for him to plead any singularity in his own case, when he shall behold some of those persons crowned with glory, whom he remembers to have seen in the same church he frequented, receiving the same ordinances of religion which he did, and who, perhaps, in many outward respects, had fewer advantages for salvation than himself. This, my brethren, is a very solemn consideration, and, if duly attended to, can hardly fail to have a powerful influence on our minds. We who are entrusted with the care of your souls, shall then be called to give an account of our stewardship. But you too, my dear friends, must then appear with us, and as we must declare the message we have delivered, so you must answer for the reception you gave it. Woe will be unto us if we did not preach the gospel ; and if we did, woe will be to you if you did not receive it. In these views, it is no slight or transient relation which was solemnized so lately in this place ; and happy indeed will it be, if the same sentence of the Judge shall acquit us both at the great day.

In the mean time, remember, and lay it to heart, that my task is not to please or to amuse you, but to dispense to you the word of life, which is able to save your souls.

Many, I doubt not, will come to this, as to other churches, merely to sit in judgınent as critics of the speaker's abilities. But I hope God will save us from an undue respect to any of you in this capacity.

I hope he will save you from that disdainful nicety which scorns to be instructed witli plain exhortations. A professed declaimer may justly be censured if he fails to entertain bis audience. For this purpose, it is his part to make what excursions le pleaseth into the regions of imagination. But we have a dispensation committed to us, a form of sound words, from which we must not de

[ocr errors][merged small]

part ; a doctrine which we must deliver with uncorruptness, with gravity, with sincerity. Permit us, therefore, to aim only at the praise of faithfulness, wishing indeed to please you, but at the same time to please you only to edification.

Brethren, pray for us that we may be found faithful. Pray for yourselves, that ye may be able to suffer the word of exhortation, and to profit thereby. And may the great Master of the vineyard watch over us with a propitious care, to direct our labours, and in you to give the increase of fruit unto holiness, and in the end ever. lasting life. Amen.

Vol. II,



ROMANS vi. 12, 13.

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should

obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God,


he Apostle had, in the preceding part of the Epistle, opened at great length that fundamental doctrine of our holy religion, the justification of a sinner through faith in Jesus Christ. In the chapter from which the text is taken, he proceeds to guard the Christians to whom he wrote against those false conclusions which they might be in danger of inferring from this doctrine. And, that none might pretend to turn the grace of God into lasciviousness, he shews, with great strength of evidence, that the truths which lie had been stating, so far from giving encouragement to a licentious life, on the contrary, laid peculiar obligations on all who embraced them to a strict and universal holiness. This he argues from the nature of Christian baptism, the initiating seal of the covenant of grace, showing, that, by this rite, we are solemnly engaged to die unto sin and live unto righteousness, in conformity to Christ's death and resurrection, signified in that ordinance. Afterwards he goes on to dissuade them from giving indulgence to sin in any kind or degree, and to enforce the obligations to universal purity by a variety of weighty arguments. “ Let not sin therefore reign in your mor


tal body.” Sin is said to reign, when it bears chief sway in the soul, and the person is wholly subject to its influence. The best and most sanctified Christian on earth hath still some remainder of corruption abiding in him: For perfection doth not belong to the present state ; and he that saith he hath no sin, deceiveth himself, and the truth is not in him. The Apostle therefore expresseth himself in this qualified manner. Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Beware of giving way to your sensual appetites, otherwise you forfeit all the comfort of the doctrine which I have been teaching, and must be concluded strangers to that grace of God, which effectually teacheth those who are parta. kers of it, to “ deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in the world.”

Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof: neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin ; ” But yield yourselves unto God.” It is this last exhortation which I propose to make the subject of the present discourse ; and I intend, in the

First place, To explain what is implied in yielding ourselves unto God;

Secondly, To offer some directions as to the right manner of performing this duty; and

Thirdly, To enforce the exhortation by some arguments.

I begin with explaining the duty itself. And, in general, it implies, that whatever we possess, all that we are, or have, or can do, should be consecrated to God, and devoted to his service and honour. The being which we have is derived from him; every blessing which we enjoy is the fruit of his bounty, every talent with which we are distinguished was freely bestowed by him. To him therefore, they ought to be entirely surrendered, and in the advancement of his glory at all times employed. When we serve God with the best of our faculties, and with the

« IndietroContinua »