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ligion inculcates, and his kindness demands. They want that zeal and fervour, that earnestness and activity in his service, that absolute resignation to his will, that perfect confidence in his infinite wisdom and goodness, that freedom from all immoderate anxiety and solicitude, hope or fear, exultation or disappointment respecting the various events of the present life, which are the surest and most unequivocal proofs, that this world has little or no share in our affections, but that our treasure is in Heaven, and there is our heart also.
Thus it is, that too many in almost every denomination of professed Christians do, in one way or another, in a greater or a less degree, “ halt between two opposite rules of “ life;" divide their attention between the commands of Christ, and the criminal, or the trifling enjoyments of the present scene; endeavour to accommodate matters as commodiously as possible, between things temporal and things eternal; and to take as much as they can of this world, without losing their hold on the rewards of the next. But let no man impose on himself with these delusive imaginations. Such dupli
city of conduct is as evidently contrary both to the letter and the spirit of Christ's Religion, and as justly obnoxious to the reproof conveyed in the text, as the fault already touched upon of “ halting between two opi6 nions." Whoever looks into the Gospel, with the least degree of attention, must see, that is requires us to give up our whole soul to God, and pay an unreserved and undivided obedience to all his commands. The language of Christianity to its disciples is like that of Solomon in his Proverbs, “ My “ son, give me thine heart.” * We are commanded “ to.set our affections on things “ above, and not on things on the earth : to “ have our conversation in Heaven ; to love “ God with all our heart, and soul, and 66 mind, and strength; to take up our cross, 66 and follow Christ; to leave father, mo" ther, brethren, sisters, houses and lands, 6 for his name's sake, and the Gospel's.” to These, and such like expressions, are, it is well known, perpetually occurring in the sacred writings. And although we are not
* Prov. xxii. 26.
+ Col. iii. 2. Phil. üi. 20. Mark xü. 30. xix. 29.
Matt. xvi. 24.
to understand them so literally, and so rigorously, as to conceive ourselves obliged to renounce the world absolutely, and all its rational and innocent enjoyments, to retire into deserts and caves, and think of nothing but the concerns of eternity; yet, if we allow these phrases any meaning, they cannot imply less than this; that our chief and principal concern, beyond all comparison, must be to please and obey our Maker in all things ; that we must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; that we must look up to his law as the great guide and governing principle of our lives ; that we must not vibrate perpetually between two masters, between two opposite modes of conduct, between vice and virtue, between piety and pleasure, between inclination and duty, between this life and the next; but devote ourselves heartily and sincerely to the service of our heavenly Father, and suffer no one earthly object to estrange or draw away our affections from him.
The only way, then, for a wise and a good man to take, is to preserve that uniformity and consistence, and dignity of character, both in opinion and in practice, which is in
all cases respectable; in the Christian religion essential and indispensable. You must, in short, as Joshua said to the Jewish people, “ you must chuse, this day, whom you 66 will serve.” You must take your part, and adhere to it steadily and invariably throughout.
If, in the first place, with respect to doctrines and matters of belief, you think that ' you are innocent and perfect creatures, that you stand in need of no Redeemer, no Mediator, no expiation for your past, no assistance for your future conduct; that revelation is needless, and reason alone sufficient for all the good purposes of this life and the next, then follow reason, and be consistent with yourselves. Do not repose the least part of your hopes on Christ. You have nothing to do with him or his Gospel. You can claim nothing under his name; by your own merits you must stand or fall ; must go boldly and with confidence up to the throne of God, and demand from his justice as a matter of right, that pardon and those rewards which you disdain to receive from his mercy as a matter of grace. But
if your minds revolt against such presumption as this; if you feel yourselves corrupt and sinful, the children of vanity and the sport of passions, continually transgressing the dictates even of your own reason, and of course continually deserving punishment from the Giver of that reason ; if you find that something more than mere modern philosophy is necessary to heal the depravity of your nature, to reconcile you to an offended God, to assist you in the performance of your duty, to support you under the severest afflictions, and to satisfy the cravings of your soul with that fulness of joy which the world, and all the world's wisdom, can never give; if, in fine, you. perceive that the Gospel of Christ contains every thing you want, and that the truth of its pretensions is founded on such sort of evidence as no man upon earth was ever yet deceived by trusting to in any other case, then follow Christ; take him for your only guide in religious knowledge, and repose an entire and absolute confidence in his holy word. When once you are persuaded that he is an inspired teacher, and that he and his Religion came from God, no doctrines,