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'persection, he has much more reafon to fay with Job, ** Behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will ** lay mine hand upon my mouth." Such an evenness and constancy, however, is attainable in the work of the Lord, as, in the gracious acceptation of the gospel, is styled persection. To this our ambition ought to be directed. The temper of fome men, is chiefly concerned in their devotion. Awakened by fome circumstances of providence, they are active and zealous in the service of Christ for a seafon: they are like seeds 'which fall on stony places, where they have not much earth, and forthwith they spring up because they have no deepness of earth: but when the sun rises they are scorched, and, because they have no root, they wither away (a). Be not deceived. This i£ net to be stedfast in the work of the Lord, nor are these the marks of his children. btedfastness, believe it, is a very disserent thing. It is what the.sincere Chriltian has habitually in his intention, and his customary practice corresponds with it: " Herein," Lys the -apostle, " do I exercise myself, to have always a con"science void of ossence toward God and toward men.'1 lAnd if at any time he should step aside from the path of duty, his foul is grieved within him; he returns to God with an unseigned repentance, and endeavours to walk with greater circumspection for the future.

Lttjlly, Being stedfast and immoveable in the work of the Lord, implies in it perseverance in the Christian faith and practice to the very end of lise. For it is not enough that we begin well, and continue, for a while, to serve our Master with apparent sincerity. Many have done fo, who, like our Saviour's pretended disciples, have at last gone back, and walked no . 'imore with him j and the Spirit of truth assures us, that . they who do fo, draw back to their own perdition. Birt, if we would obtain the promised reward, we must

hold

{•) Mat. xiii. 3, 6.

hold on our way, and refolutely persevere in the work of the Lord. For it is only he who endures to the end, that shall be faved. It is to him who, by a patient continuance in well-doing, seeks for glory, honour, and immortality, that God will give eternal lise. Let us not, then, be weary of well-doing; for, indue seafon, we shall reap, if we faint not. Let nothing divert us from the path of duty. Let us'be humbled before God, for our former deviations from it; and. endeavour, in the strength of divine grace, that, for the suture, we shall be stedfast and immoveable in the work of the Lord. And this brings me,

II. To show you against what we are to be so: or to point out seme of the many temptations we may meet with, to render us neglectsul of our duty, ot unstedfait in the practice of it.

1. The influence of bad example is a fource of seduction, against which, in a special manner, we ought to be upon our guard. The power of example is great. The world is governed by it, more than by precept. We have daily opportunities of seeing its prevalence on every rank of men. It is, however, much, to be lamented, that the influence of bad example is a great deal more strong and general than the influence of good: "Evil communication," fays the apostle, "corrupts good manners." To resemble those with whom we have occasion to mingle in lise, is a propensity in our nature, to which we frequently give too> much indulgence: It should never extend beyond things that are lawsul, or indisferent. Singularity in religious matters, when conducted with benevolence and humility, is the characteristic of a pious mind, and is abfolutely necesfary, if we would be stedfast: and immoveable in the work of the Lord. Let u8 not then be conformed to this world; but let us hold fait the prosession of our faith without wavering, and and make it apparent to all around us, that, whatever Y 2 others others may do, we for our parts are refolved to serve trie Lord.

2. We must be stedfast and immoveable against the opinion, esteem and friendship of the world. We are apt to be influenced by what others think or fay of u$. Mankind are naturally fond of approbation, efpecially the approbation of such as they esteem, and of those upon whom they depend, or with whom they have occasion to converse. And this, if it can be obtained, consistently with the preservation of a good conscience, is certainly much to be desired. "A good "name," fays Solomon, " is better than precious oint".ment; and loving favour rather to be chosen than sil"ver and gold (o)." In too many cases, however, it cannot be procured unless upon sinsul terms. If we resuse to comply with the corrupt customs of the world, <yi to connive at the vices of men, instead of their friendship and good opinion, we arc in danger of incurring their hatred and reproach. We must notwithstanding beware of yielding to the temptation. It surely becomes us, to offend man rather than God. We must not, for the faVe of pleasing men, or to avoid their displeasure, dissemble our religious sentiments, or gratify their sinsul humours, by a base and servile compliance. No; we must study, above all things, to approve ourselves to God: for he alone is our Supreme Lord and Lawgiver; it is by his judgment we must stand or fall; and his favour and friendship are insinitely preserable to the esteem and.friendship of the world.

'3. Against the temptation of worldly interest and advantage. This is an allurement to a great part of mankind; a temptation that is apt to work very powersully on the necessities of fome, and on the covetousness and ambition of others. Riches, honours and-pleasufes, are the objects of many of our desires, and the springs by which they are actuated. They are instruments of destruction, with which we decline

(«) Prov. sxii- 1.

cline not to be wounded. Instead of resisting, or retreating from the blow, we rush with eagerness oA their fatal points. The poifon is fo sweet, that we •drink it in greedily, and will not believe that there is death in the cup. How many have been ruined in their best interests by the love of money, by the eager desire of worldly preferment, and by the infatiable thirst for pleasures which endure not! How many, who once made a fair prosession of religion, have, by such inducements, made shipwreck of their faith arid a good conscience !" They that will be rich," fays the apostle, " fall into temptation and a snare,' "and into many foolish and hurtsul lusts, which"drown men in destruction and perdition: For," adds he, " the love of money is the root of all evil, "which, while fome coveted aster, they have erred,! "or been seduced from the faith, and pierced them-' "selves through with many forrows (in)." Of this Demas was a melancholy instance, even in the pri-; mitive age of Christianity y which made the apostlefay of him, "Demas hath forfaken me, having loved "this present world." Even sincere Christians themselves are in great danger of being shaken in theirstedfastnessby the charms of the world. And, hence, they are fo frequently cautioned and exhorted to beupon their guard against temptations of this kind,' particularly by the apostle John: '** Love not the "world," fays he, " neither the things that are in1 "the world. If any man love the world, the love "of the Father is not in him (0)." Let us beware,' then, lest through the cares of this world, and the deceitsuiness. of riches, we lose our sirst love> and even the things that remain be ready to die. .

4. We' must also be stedTast and immoveable against the persecutions of the world.. We-live in an age !i> which the .religion of Christ is exposed to contempt and opposition... Our Saviour has forewarned -his' Y 3 - disciples, (m) I Tim. vi. 9, 10. . (5) I John :L 15.

disciples, to expect persecution; and they are fometitnes called, in providence, to take joysully the spoiling of their goods; nay, to resist even unto blood in the desence of their facred prosession. This, indeed,blessed be God, is not our case at present. We enjoy the liberty of our consciences under the mild protection of a happy government. But, in the uncertainty of human affairs, who of us can be sure, that 'we shall escape the siery trial? And, should this happen, we would sind it no eafy matter to be stedfast and immoveable in the work of the Lord. But, although we should never be subjected to persecution os this kind, a corrupt and blinded world has other means of detaching men from their religious profession. There are many who seem to be weary of. Christ and his religion, many''who endeavour to sind blemishes in his facred gospel, and even treat the prosessors of it with scorn and reproach. Now, it is not eafy to bear mockery and contemptto be accounted, as the apostles were formerly, enthusiasts and madmen.. This, it must be consessed, is a severetrial to an ingenuous mind. We must not, however, be deterred from our stedfastness by the approach of sufferings, or the ridicule of the world. No; whatever it may cost us, we must adhere with refolution to God and a good conscience. How encouraging to this purpose, but at the fame time how awsul, are these words of our blessed Saviour!" Whofoever ** shall consess me before men, him will I alfo con** sess before my Father which is in heaven; but ** whofoever shall deny me before men, him will I ** alfo deny before my Father which is in hea"ven (a)."

Lastly, Against the cunning arts and insinuations of bufy seducers. "My fon," fays Solomon, " if "sinners entice thee, consent thou not."—" Take ** heed/' fays our Saviour, " that no man deceive

"you.'^

{«) Matt. x. 32, 33.

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