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And now to conclude: Would you continue in your love to Christ, frequently meditate on his love to you. Guard against every thing that may tend to cool or abate your love to him; and earnestly implore at the throne of grace, that God, who has been pleased to direct your hearts into the love of Christ, may keep them in his love, till you arrive at the city of the living God, where your love shall be made persect, and your joy shall be sull.
\ SERMON XX.
ON STEDFASTNESS IN THE WORK OP THt LORD.
I Cor. xv. 58. Therefore, my beloved brethren, he )t Jledfajl, immoveable, always abounding in the ivorl of the Lord; forasmuch as ye know, that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
IT is but too common with many prosessing Christians, who perhaps have been at some pains to prepare themselves for the holy sacrament of the Supper, when that solemn season is over, lo turn careless, indifserent, and slothful. In all similar cases, we would pronounce this conduct unreasonable and absurd. Should a dependent, for instance, who is to be engaged in the service of some great man, adorn himself, for appearing in the presence of his suture master; but, aster being engaged, neglect the work which he had undertaken: Would not such a breach of sidelity be deemed among men indesensible and unjust? And shall we be guilty of it, against the King of kings, the Sovereign Lord of heaven and earth? But since such unreasonable conduct is too prevalent among the prosessors of religion, what. more suitable to your present circumstances, than that lad ires* you in. the words of the text,—" Therefore, my beloved bre"thren, be ye stedfast and immoveable in the work "of the Lord."
Not to take up your time in explaining these words, and pointing out their connection with the preceding verses, we may just mention, by the way, that the apoitle here draws an inserence from the doctrine of the resurrection, which he had proved at large in this chapter. From the promised reward, he excites Christians, in the texr, to attend to their present work. Seeing we have reason to look for a glorious and happy resurrection by the Lord Jesus, we ought to bo stedsast and immoveable in the whole of that work; und duty which it has pleased him to prescribe.
In discoursing on this subject, I shall endeavour, by Divine assistance, hirjl, To show you, what it is to be stedsast and Immoveable in the work of the Lord. Secondly, Against what we are to be so. And, Third-* !y, Lay before you, the obligations under which you lie, to be stedsast and immoveable in the work of the Lord.
I. What is it then to be stedsast and immoveable in the woik of the Lord?
The original word, here rendered Jltdfnjl, is in allusion to a man who is seated in a sixt posture, in opposition to one who is moving about and unsettled. The other word, rendered immoveable, is indeed' nearly allied in its signisicatipn to the former; but yet it seems to import something more, viz. sirmness aud steadiness, the being unshaken in our saith and Christian obedience, by persecutions, and other external temptations; or, as the same apostle expresses it, "not being moved away from the hope of the gospel (i)." Both the words are borrowed from the wrestlers in the Olympic games, who took np their ground, and sixed themselves upon sure footing, that fo they might not be easily moved by their antagonists. Now, this temper of mind, which the apostle recommends to us, by being stedfast and immoveable in the work of the Lord, implies in it,
t. Courage or fortitude, in holding fast the prosession of our faith. He that is under the influence of flavish sear, never can be stedfast. If we are alarmed at the found of every reproach, or terrisied by the opposition of the world, we shall be in great danger of turning aside from the path of duty, and losing the heavenly prize. There is indeed a silial sear, a fear of reverence mixed with love, which is a noble disposition of foul, and greatly establishes the heart. Hence we are exhorted, " to persect holiness in the ** fear of the Lord (a)." But a flavish sear enseebles the mind, it magnisies real dangers, and creates to itself such as are merely imaginary. The coward often sears, where no sear is. There is a lion, fays he, in the way, I shall be flain in the streets. While he is thus silled with unreafonable terrors, the Christian cannot possibly be stedfast and immoveable. For courage is a virtue abfolutely requisite to the man who would adhere to the practice of his duty; and he who does not see, that he has daily occasion to exert it, has studied the world, and himself, to very little purpose. In the service of Christ, we must encounter with many difficulties and dangers. "Strait w is the gate, and narrow is the way, that leadeth ** unto lise." It is equally true in the present, as in the primitive age of the gospel, that all who would live godly, must suffer persecution. These dangers arise, partly, from the malice and activity of the powers of darkness, partly from the opposition we may meet with from the men of the world, and, partly, from
(*) % Cor. tii. z. .'
the deceitsulness and corruption of our own hearts. We have therefore the greatest reafon to be always on our guard, and to exert'the sirmest refolution and fortitude, in order that we may be enabled to withstand in the'evil day, and be stedfast in the work of the Lord. In a word, we must deliberately refolve to be for God and our duty; and, whatever be the consequences, apply ourselves with vigour to our Christian work. Of this, we have a remarkable instance in the conduct of the apostle Paul, an instance highly worthy of our imitation. When the Spirit of prophecy had foretold, that he should be bound at Jerufalem, and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles, his friends would have dissuaded him from going up to that city; but, with a generous and undaunted spirit, he replied, " What mean ye to break mine heart 2 "for I am ready, not to be bound only, but alfo to "die at Jerufalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus." This, indeed, was a Christian hero j he would not quit his post, nor make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience, notwithstanding the dangers to which he was exposed: "None of these things," fays he, " moves me; neither count I my lise dear to me, "fo I may sinish ray course with joy."
2. Being stedfast and immoveable in she work of the Lord, implies in it constancy, or an uniform steddiness in adhering to the faith of Christ.
This- constancy is opposed to sickleness and inequality in the discharge of religious duties. It is si virtue, of which no human being can in this lise be persectly possessed. Experience, and the word of God, unite in informing us, that obedience, without any mixture of sin, is impracticable: "Ther^ij not a jusfe"man upon the earth," fays Solomon, that doth "good, and sinneth not."—" If we J»y," fays the apostle John, "that we have no sin^^e deceive our"selves, and the truth is not in us." In many things we ali offend; and if any has the vanity to pretend to
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