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SERM. promote its increase. While the para
VI. ble is understood to represent the rise w and progress of religion among the na
tions of the earth, it may also be accepted to denote its rise and progress in the inner man. For as the Seed of Religion has had an external and visible growth in the field of the world, so it also still continues to have an internal and invisible growth in the human heart. Thus when the Pharisees demanded of our Lord when the Kingdom of God should come, his answer was, The Kingdom of God cometh not by observation, neither shall they say, Lo here or lo there; for the Kingdom of God is within you".
And indeed it is a great, commendation of this divine kingdom, that it does not like other kingdoms operate merely on the outward and visible conduct of men; but it arrests the heart in the in'tention, it checks every propensity to vice, and it cherishes every disposition to virtue. The power of all temporal kingdoms is evinced no other way but by notice of overt acts, and is exerted more in the punishment of evil than in the recompence of good. It extends
Luke xvii. 20, 21.
no farther than to discountenance by SERM. penal laws what is positively and directly vi. detrimental to society. But the power w of our Saviour's spiritual kingdom controls and guides, the movements of the mind. It tries and examines our thoughts. And while by the terrors of the Lord it strongly discourages every vicious act and every corrupt affection, so by his imparted mercies and his proinised blessings it forcibly encourages every branch and every degree of Christian virtue. On the one hand it forbids us to be angry with our brother without a cause; it forbids us to entertain any lustful thought; it forbids us to covet what belongs to another: on the other hand it enjoins us to love our neighbour as ourselves; to consider our bodies as the temples of the Holy Ghost; and to be content with the station in which
Providence has placed us. Thus does - it dispose us to be holy in a state of • trial; and thus also does it qualify us to be happy in a state of recompence.
To dispose the ground of our hearts for the reception of this heavenly seed, we should divest ourselves of all immoderate affection for the things of this world; we should wean our hearts from
SERM. every desire or design, which is at all VI. inconsistent with the love of God, or
might by any means obstruct us in a full compliance with his will; and we should pay a diligent attention to the divine word: for faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God'..
To promote the growth of this divine seed, we should use those instrumental aids, which God has graciously supplied to his Church; we should frequent the assemblies of public worship and unite in every act of devotion, as conducive to the growth of good dispositions and virtuous affections; we should often resort with reverence to the holy communion to celebrate the memorial of him, who has planted his religion in the world. Nor should we limit our devotion to the place and hour of public worship, but should make it the subject of our private meditations and exercises; never omitting this petition in our daily prayers to God, that as he has been pleased to give the seed of true religion root in our hearts, so he will continue to nurture it with the dew of heavenly grace, that it may grow up
v Rom. x. 17.
in our habits, and shoot forth in our serm. lives.
VI. And lastly, To prevent every obstacle to its growth in the inner man, we should invariably keep it impressed on our regard in our secular concerns and in our dealings with the world. It is not indeed to be expected of us in our present state of frailty, and while we abide in the world, to have God and religion always in our thoughts; for temporal things demand a portion of our care, and as our temporal, so our spiritual concerns require some degree of relaxation and amusement. But this is indispensably incumbent on us, that we live under a general sense of the divine will, that we engage in nothing repugnant to the law of God, that we endeavour in all our conversation and demeanour to, promote these two great objects of religious precept, the glory of God and the benefit of men, and that we strive to maintain an unvarying habit of religion in our hearts, our dispositions, and our lives.
If we thus diligently cultivate the seeds of divine grace within us, we may depend upon the promise, which God has made by his Prophet; Verily
SERM. as the rain cometh down, and the snow vi. from heaven, and returneth not thither,
but watereth the earth, and maketh it'
2 Isaiah lv. 10, 11. • 2 Pet. iii. 18.