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which so many sacrifice themselves, and their sons, and their daughters? Yes, there is help, thanks be to God, but it is no where to be found but in the cross of Christ; on that he overcame the world, and the God of its idolatry ; and under this banner only can we obtain the victory, and gain the crown of eternal life. Ile lived, he died, he conquered for us, my brethren-he despised its glory, he overcame its temptation, he endured its scoff, he meekly submitted to its rage, for the joy that was set before him; he submitted to it all, and from the throne of his glory he calls to all his faithful followers, in the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. O let it strengthen us my brethren to overcome every sinful conformity to its vain and vicious pursuits. We are called to an incorruptible inheritance, we are offered a crown of glory, where I am there shall my servants be also. For the joy set before us, then, let us press towards the mark, for the prize of our high calling, and show that this is the victory which overcometh the world, even our faith. But what shall those do who have not faith? I answer, why have you not faith? Shines not the light which is the life of men to you even as to others? Have you made one effort to obtain it ? Have you reflected upon the revelation of God's will ? Have you opened your ears and your heart to his message of mercy ? Have you broken off your sins by repentance? Have you sought a throne of grace through a Redeemer's merits, or are you yet bowing down before this great Moloch of eternal death ? How is it with you in this respect? O let God's Holy Word be your warrant to come to him-your want, your slavery, your sin, be your passports to his presence : be not faithless, but believing ; and, like wrestling Jacob, hold fast the word of promise till he bless you. Cast off the badges of your slavery, take up a new course, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, till the day star arise in your heart, and you realize, with every faithful disciple of the LORD Jesus, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
The third and last cause which I shall mention of hesitation and reluctance to embrace the Christian religion is, the fear of shame.
That numbers are deterred from embracing religion by a false shame, that it will expose them to notice and remark, to ridicule and sneering observation, that it will separate them from their usual companions, and render them irksome to their associates, with many other such false reasonings, is unhappily too common to require proof; and as it is generally the young and the timid, who are thus involved in difficulty, there is the greater need to point out the fallacy of this excuse, and to guard and strengthen them against the influence of this false principle.
To such, therefore, I would say, in the first place, be not ashamed when it concerneth thy soul, for there is a shame which bringeth sin, and there is a shame which is glory and grace.* Jesus Christ was not ashamed to bear contempt and reproach for you; be not ashamed to endure it for him. This is a sacrifice which he requires of all who would be his disciples ; and he warns us, that if we are ashamed to confess him before men, he will be ashamed of, and disown us, before his Father.
Next, as this fear can only respect two things, the persons from whom mockery and derision will come, and the thing scoffed at, consider my young friends, whether there is any just ground on which either to be ashamed or afraid.
For, first, what kind of persons are they from whom mockery and derision of that fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, will come. Is their weight and influence in society such, that their contempt, even were it real, which it is not, would deprive you of any rational enjoyment, defeat any real advantage, or bring upon you any actual loss? Can your peace of mind or worldly comfort be in any shape dependant on the dissolute and ungodly ? for none other would treat your good resolutions and endeavours with lightness and ridicule. On the other hand, will not every good and pious person be on your side, and rejoice to support and countenance you ? will not God be with you, and an approving conscience be a shield and defence against every weapon that fools, who make a mock at sin, can wield against you ?
Next, what is there in the thing itself, in religion, to be
* Ecclus. iv. 21.
ashamed of? Is it a disgraceful thing, to show openly, that you reverence and love your Almighty Maker and bountiful Benefactor? to profess your desire and intention to serve and please Him? Can it be a subject of reproach to own and confess that merciful Saviour who bought you with his blood and redeemed you from eternal death? Is it shameful to love goodness, to desire happiness, to hope for glory? Is it a dishonourable thing to bend the knee in prayer, to lift up the voice in praise, to learn the will of our heavenly Father, and to strive to do it? Is it a ridiculous thing to worship God, and unite with saints and angels, and with the spirits of just men made perfect, in adoring the Giver of every good and perfect gift to us every way undeserving creatures? Or is the shame altogether on the other side, and justly to be imputed to those who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? who, dog-like, snap at the hand that feeds them, blaspheme the mercy that spares them, and trample on the blood that bought them and would save them? Is sin a shameful thing? Is ingratitude a base thing? Is glorying in our shame a detestable thing ? Then have these mockers at religion wherewithal to be deeply ashamed. Fear them not, therefore, my dear young friends, but rather fear Him, who invites and commands you to remember your Creator in the days of your youth. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear Him which is ahle to destroy both soul and body in hell! who, in a coming day, will mock at these scoffers, and laugh when their fear cometh. Fear not to confess before the world your merciful Saviour, but rather fear lest he be ashamed of and deny you, in that great and dreadful day, when all the proud and all who have done wickedly shall be stubble, when the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.
Oh ! how beautiful is early piety-how sweet it is to see that good foundation laid in youth, which shall keep them innocent of the great transgression, and enable them to escape the pollutions that are in the world through lust, which doubles every enjoyment God gives, which brightens the day of prosperity
cheers the hour of adversity-makes life joyful, and death happy, in the sure and certain hope of a resurrection to glory.
These, my young friends, are some of the many blessings which religion confers on those who seek her pleasant and peaceful ways. Be no longer, then, afraid of the scoff of fools ; be no longer ashamed of the gospel of Christ; halt no longer between two opinions, but cast in your lot with the children of God here—they will do you good and not evil all the days of your life; they will counsel you with their experience, and help you with their prayers ; they will share in your reproach, and rejoice in your victory. Above all, the blessed angels will glory over a returning brother or sister; your Almighty Saviour will see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied ; and God's reconciled countenance lifted up upon you, shall guide and sustain you on your way, and bring you triumphant over death, hell, and the grave, to the everlasting joy of his presence, where trial will be ended, and all tears wiped from your eyes for ever. But thither the scoffers at God and religion, the mockers and despisers of his people, shall never come; their place is elsewhere; they shall, however, see the triumph of the Christian, and, groaning in anguish of spirit, shall cry out, this is he or she whom we had sometime in derision, and a proverb of reproach-We fools counted his life madness, and his end to be without honour; but now, how is he numbered with the children of God, and his lot is among the saints.*
In all our concerns, we know by experience, my friends, that if the heart is not with the work it never prospers. This God knows better than we; and, therefore, requires an unqualified preference of his service over all other pursuits, as the condition on which his blessing will make it both pleasant and profitable to us. -My son give me thy heart. How, then, is it with us in this respect ? hath God no competitor in our affections? Do none of the many Baals of the world and the flesh contest his righteous supremacy over us as our God and Saviour ? O enter deep into your hearts my Christian brethren, and let this searching question hunt out every lurking deceit. Bring your religion to this test, and try it by its fruits.
* Wisdom v, 5, 6.
Are the fruits of the Spirit, in all goodness, and righteousness, and truth, abundant in your life? is the world crucified to you, , and you to the world, and your hope full of immortality ? then may you have confidence towards God. If not, then may you be equally sure, that in something your heart is divided, for the fruit of righteousness is peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.
Or is your religion tainted with the spirit of the world, with the vain attempt to serve two masters ? Try this also by the same rule. Is your duty to God made to bend to your worldly interests and fleshly pleasures, on some deceitful plea of necessary care for your family, or regard for your health, or indifference in the thing, whatever it may be, or are all these made to bow and bend to the word of God's holy requirements, and chained down to simplicity and godly sincerity by the solemn thought—Thou, God, seest me, and spiest out my thoughts afar off? O be faithful to your souls, and let not the enemy deceive you with a form of godliness, without the power—with crying LORD, without doing the things which he commands. Remember, dear brethren, that as the light of the body is the eye, so does the motive determine the quality of an action in the sight of God. Let your eye, then, be single, your motive and intention right in the service of God, as well knowing that ye cannot serve two masters, and that his servants ye are to whom ye obey, whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness.
To you, my poor friends, who place yourselves above the claims of revealed religion, and the instituted means of grace, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, let what has been said be so applied, as to awaken you to a serious consideration of the question put in my text. It cannot be said, indeed, that you are halting between two opinions; but evident it is, that you have never given the subject the serious consideration it deserves. Take, then, this most fair proposal of God's merciful warning home to your earnest meditations. Begin from this moment to act the part of rational beings, by ascertaining what master you serve, and what wages you are to expect. Bring your reason to act upon it-bring the hopes and fears of an accountable being to act