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fome importunity, and all the arts, moft SERM. fuited to gain the confent against the con- XIII. victions of confcience: or to filence it's dictates and remonftrances. To be fixed and immovable in the way of virtue upon fuch occafions is very honorable. Yea not only for men thus to exert themselves in fome fpecial and extraordinarie occafions, as the Olympic combatants did in the time of their folemnity, and the preparatorie exercises, poffibly, of fome few months, or years continuance but to maintain and carry on this exercise of faith, a fteady regard to the principles and rules of the gofpel, throughout the whole life, in the various and trying occurrences of it, amidst allurements and difcouragements. This is truly honorable, and commendable!

4. The exercife of faith is a good exercife, with regard to it's event, as it has a good reward annexed to it.

That reward is now diftant, and out of fight. It is not beftowed here. But it is very fure. And it is great and tranfcendent. In allufion to the cuftom of the Grecian games, the Apostle fometimes calls the reward of virtue a crown: but he gives it the pre

SERM. preference, greatly, above the crowns or XIII. garlands of the Olympic victors. And we ought to do the fame: though we should take in other advantages, annexed to it; fome diftinguished honours and privileges in I Cor. ix. the cities, where they dwelt. Now they do it, fays he, to obtain a corruptible crown: we, an incorruptible. And St. Peter affures the elders, who behave well, that, when the chief Shepherd fhall appear, they shall receive a crown of glorie that fadeth not away.

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That is justly stiled a good exercise, which has a good reward annexed to it.

I Pet. v.

1 Cor.

ix. 24.

5. It is a good exercife, as all who perform it, are entitled to the reward of eternal life.

This is a fingular advantage, peculiar to the exercife, which has been instituted by the Lord of all: Men, however willing and large-hearted, being obliged to limit the recompenfes, which they propofe to fuch as they would encourage, according to the proportion of their small abilities. This circumftance is particularly taken notice of in a text before cited. Know ye not, that they which run in a race, run all: but one receiveth the prize. So run, that ye may obtain; that is, that ye may all obtain.

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In thofe Olympic exercifes, whether of SERM. race, or combat, one only in each received XIII. a prize, even the victor. But in the Chrif tian race and combat every one is victor, who performs well. Every one that denyes himself, and, notwithstanding the temptations of this world, is fteady in the profeffion of truth, and the practise of virtue, is a conquerour, and shall receive a crown of righteoufneffe from the righteous judge.

6. Once more, the exercife of faith is a good exercife, on account of the fupports and encouragements afforded to those who undertake it.

They are encouraged by the greatneffe of the reward propofed to them, by him, who is able to do more than we think or conceive. They are alfo animated by the example of many, who have overcome in this combat: and, especially by the victorie of the Lord Jefus Chrift, who has been tried, as we now are: and who has power to grant to them Rev. iii. who overcome, to fit with bim in his throne, 21. even as he alfo overcame, and is fet down with bis Father in his throne.

Moreover, all fucceffe in this exercise, every act of felf-denial, every inftance of

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XIII.

16.18.

SERM. fteadineffe amidst temptations, and in oppofition to the adverfaries of our virtue, when reflected on, cafts light and joy on the mind, chears and refreshes, and infpires with renewed ardour, and ftrengthens for farther 2 Cor. iv. difficulties. As the Apoftle fays: For which cause we faint not: but though the outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day:... whilft we look not at the things which are feen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things feen are temporal: but the things not feen are eternal.

III. It remains only, that I conclude, as at first proposed, with fome inferences, by the way of a practical application. They will be these two.

i. We are here reminded, that a life of religion and virtue has, in this world, it's 'difficulties.

It is no very eafie thing, to be fteady in the profeffion of truth, and the practise of virtue. They who expect to find every thing fmooth and eafie in this way, and look for no oppofition or discouragement, will be difappointed. For the life of a Chriftian, as we have feen, is compared in Scripture to a

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warfare, a race, a combat. It is a conten- SERM.

tion, an exercise, that requires a good deal of XIII.

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refolution, and will try all our ftrength and

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2. Nevertheless, there is encouragement to hold on therein.

For it is a good exercife. It is innocent, and honorable, and will have a great reward hereafter, and has at prefent it's joys and fupports: which are not small, but very exhilerating and strengthening.

It is not a little pleasing, to hear it called a good exercife by those who have made trial of it. St. Paul, who was fo great a mafter therein, who knew all it's difficulties, who had met with good report, and ill report, who had been in perils of every kind, who had been as laborious and diligent, as any in the fervice of the gospel: in a word, he who knew by experience, how much it might coft men, calls it a good exercife. He recommends it to others as fuch. And near the period of his life he fays with exultation and triumph I have exercised a good exercife: I 2 Tim. iv. have finished my race: I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of

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