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and the righteousness thereof, and other things in subordination to, and only in fo far as they are consistent with it.
2. and /a/fly; To abound always in the work of the Lord, implies, alfo, that we should be employed, at every time, and in every part of our lives, in those particular duties that are molt proper andqfjeasonablc: "Every thir;;," fays Solomon, " is beautiful in its "seafon." In discerning what is present duty, and abounding in the practice os it, the wisdom and dexterity of the Christian consists. This has often occasioned perplexity to the servants of Chriit; and indeed, a great deal of the beauty, peace, and comfort of a Chriitian's lise, depends upon his performing every part of religion i:i its proper seafon. It is true, the scriptures- point out our duty with abundant clearness and perspicuity; but from the weakness of our minds and impersection of grace, even in the belt, it frequently happens, that the Christian is at a loss to know on which side his duty lies, and fo cannot order his steps by reafon of darkness. Now, in such perplexing circumstances, the following rules may be of use: ifl, See that your minds be free of all bias from self-love or worldly considerations: idly, Depend upon the aid of the Divine Spirrt r ^dly, Applyto him by prayer for direction: and, lastly, Let the glory of God, the good of his church, and your own falvation, be chiefly in your eye.
You see, then, what it is to abound always in the work of the Lord. It is to abound in it at all times, and in every period of lise, in all the conditions and. circumstances we can be in; and it is to be always employed at the Providence of God directs, in those particular duties that are most proper and seafonable.
And now, I address myself to you, who have this day been at the Lord's table, and whom, therefore, I £ 3' anv am bound, in the judgment of charity, to address as real Christians. Be concerned, I beseech you, to abound always in the work of the Lord. And, sure, the very designation that is here given to your duty, is sufsicient to recommend it to you. It iscal
- led the work of the Lord. And, O, what powersul and endearing motives are included in this!
Consider, i. It is the woik which the Lord commands and requires of you. He who hath an undoubted authority over you; he whose subjects you are, by all the ties of duty, interest, and gratitude, and whom you have this day avouched, in the most folemn manner, to be your Lord and Master, expressly enjoins you to abound in this work. Consider, that God is your Creator, who has brought you into the •w orld, and raised you to a rank of being superior lo the beasts that perish; that he has preserved you amidst innumerable dangers, and bestowed upon you many temporal blessings. And, as if all this «K not enough, has he not provided ijpr your recovery, -when you were lost and perishing, and sent his only begotten Son to accomplish your salvation? No\r, does not the receipt of so many, and such unmerited mercies, challenge your best and most gratesul returns? And what return can be so worthy of him, as obedience to his sovereign command, by abounding in his work? When servants among men neglect their master's work, especially (he work of a kind and bountiful master, they are justly charged with indolence and ingratitude: But, here is a Master, who has an insinitely greater right to command, and who is insinitely more indulgent and bountisul than any earthly master can possibly be. Is if not, then, molt just and reasonable; does not both gratitude and du
• ^require, that you should abound in his work? 2. The work you are called to abound in, is a wws with winch the Lord is well pleased, and in the performance of which you are sure of acceptance, for the
ijle fake os the persect righteousness of Christ. Nor will you meet with acceptance only; he will even admit you into his favour and friendship. To be the servants of God, is the true honour and dignity of the highest created beings j it is that in which the angels themselves glory. But, if you abound in the work of the Lord, he will raise you to a still more distinguished honour, even to that of being his friends, and admit you to communion and fellowship with himself. "Ye are my friends," fays Christ, "if ye "do whatfoever I command you: Henceforth, I call "you not servants, but friends." Now, what an animating motive is this? Is the favour and friendship of piinces fo much courted upon earth? are men fo diligent and assiduous in serving them, that they may obtain their friendship, a friendship that is fo very uncertain, and extends but to a sew of their concerns? And shall not the friendship of the insinitely great God; a friendship that is everlasting and unchangeable; a friendship that reaches to all your wants and wishes; nay, insinitely above what you can either alk or think: Shall not his friendship allure you to his service, and induce you to abound in it? Would men but allow themselves to think, it is impossible they could relist the force of this endearing consideration. ,
3. It is a work in which the Lord will assist and direct you; and therefore you ought to abound - in it. Perhaps you are faying, "I am ignorant of this good "work; it is spiritual and heavenly, and far, far tran*.* scends my darkened understanding." But, be of good comfort; the Lord himself engages to become your conductor: " I will instruct thee," fays he, ** and "teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will "guide thee with mine eye (c)." He gives you his holy word to be a light to your seet, and a Limp to your path, and his Spirit to guide you into all truth. Are you afraid of your own weakness; afraid that
(?) Psal. xxxii. S.
you will not be able to abound in the work of the Lord? Hear his gracious promise, in which he expostulates the matter with the slothsul Christian, and essectually answers the objection of want of strength: "Why sayst thou," says he, " O Jacob, and speak** est, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, and "my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast "thou not known, hast thou not heard, that the "Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends "of the earth, sainteth not, neither is weary? "There is no searching of his understanding. He "giveth power to the saint; and to them that have "no might, he increaseth strength.—They that wait "upon the Lord shall renew their strength: they "shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall "run, and not be weary, and walk, and not saint (a)." Fear not, then: his grace will be made sufficient for you; for his strength is made persect in weakness.
Lastly, It is the work of the Lord: You should therefore abound in it, because it is a work which he will graciously reward.
And this brings me to the second argument or motive in the text, viz. the blessed recompence of reward, fhat is here promised; " Forasmuch as ye "know, that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
Labour, without a suitable recompence, is not easily enduJed. He, who is compelled to undergo such labour, will always sind it depressing and ungratesul. But he who devotes himself to the service of God, will sind that his labours have not been in vain. During the time in which he was engaged in them, he enjoyed a peace which the wicked .do not know, and which the world cannot give. Nor is this the only advantage which he reaps from his work. By that work, he is gradually prepared for immortality and heaven; and his foul is silled with transport, from the well-grounded hope, that he sliall one day be
(,) Ma. xl.tj,.ate.
made a partaker of the inheritance with the saints in lise. And it is this reward in the lise to come, this glorious recompence of reward, which God has promised, and will assuredly bestow, upon all who love him, and abound in his work, that the apostle seems chiefly to have had in his eye.
Consider, then, The greatness of this reward. Of this reward we can form no adequate conception in the present state. It is represented in scripture by the most magnisicent and delightsul images. It is called a crown ; a crown of lise and glory; a kingdom prepared from the foundation of the world, that can never be moved; an inheritance incorruptible, undesiled, and that sadeth not away. It is designed by the New Jerusalem, the City, nay, the Paradise o£ the Living God: and, hence, the possessors of this selicity are said to sit on thrones, with sceptres and palms' of victory in their hands, and as kings and priests, to reign with Christ for ever. But these metaphors come insinitely short of its dignity: They are used by the sacred writers, by way of accommodation to our modes of thinking; but the object which they are intended to describe, is, in sact, "a sar "more exceeding, and eternal weight of glory," than we can comprehend.
And, as this reward is inconceivably great, consider, likewise, that it is insallibly certain. If you love the Lord, and abound in his work, you may depend upon it, with the sullest assurance, that it will, in due time, be bestowed upon you; for God himself has promised it. "To them," says he, " that, "by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for "glory, honour, and immortality, I will render e"ternal lise. Be ye, therefore, saithsul unto death, "and I will give you a crown of lise." Nay, as we are told by the apostle to the Hebrews, " God will"ing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of "promise the immutability of his council, consirm