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SERM. ing good from a principle of love to God, a XIV. defire of his favour, and hopes of rewards from him, without views to worldly honours and advantages: refignation to the disposals of Providence: maintaining the truth in all circumstances: of which virtues the Lord Jefus himself was a confpicuous and perfect example: who alfo, after he had died in teftimonie to the truths taught by him, was raised from the dead, and exalted to glorie, And all who follow him fincerely are to be made perfect and happy, like him, and to be for ever with him.
They who attend to this must be difpofed to do fomewhat confiderable. And, if they fhould meet with temptations, they will be able to furmount them.
Accordingly, the Apoftles of Jefus, who did abide in him, and retained his words, did bear much, and good fruit. Their conduct was excellent and exemplarie. And they could endure fhame and all manner of sufferings for his name fake, and in hope of partaking in the recompenfes of his heavenly kingdom.
Under what difcouragements Peter with the eleven first preached the gospel at Jeru
falem, and under what difcouragements it SERM. was profeffed by their first converts, and by XIV. many others afterwards, the hiftorie in the Acts, and other things in the epiftles of the Apoftles, plainly fhew.
And the power and efficacie of the divine word are attefted to by every part of fcrip
Says holy David: Wherewith fhall a young Pf. cxix. man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto, 9. according to thy word. And, Thy word have Ver. 11: I bid in my heart, that I might not fin against thee.
The word of God is reprefented as the great mean of forming, and of cherishing and emproving good difpofitions. The Chriftians, to whom St. Peter writes, had pu- 1 Pet. i. rified themselves in obeying the truth. And 22.23. had been born again, not of corruptible feed, but of incorruptible, even by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. And he exhorts them, as new born babes, to defire the ii, z. fincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby. And St. James: Receive with meek- Jam. i. neffe the engraffed word, which is able to fave your fouls.
What St. Paul fays at Miletus to the elders XIV. of Ephefus, is very obfervable: Wherefore I
take you to record this day, that I am free from the blood of all men. For I have not shuned to declare unto you the whole counsel of God. ... And now, brethren, I recommend to you God, and to the word of his grace: which is able to build you up, and to give you an inberitance among all them that are fanctified. How earnest, and how frequent that Apoftle is in exhorting Chriftians to retain the pure gofpel of Chrift, in order to their establishment and encrease in virtue, is well known to all men. He and Barnabas vifited Afts xiv. the churches, which they had planted, confirming the difciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith. And to the Coloffians he writes: You that were fome time alienated, 21...23. bath be reconciled, in the body of his flesh, through death, to present you holy and unblamable, and unreprovable in his fight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and fettled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard.
Acts xx. 26.27.
II. I fhall now mention two or three remarks, briefly, by way of application. 1. We may hence infer, that, generally fpeaking, fad will be the condition of those, who having once known the doctrine of the gofpel, afterwards forfake and difown it, and wilfully act contrarie to it's holy laws and commandments.
The Apoftles of Chrift in their epiftles make the fuppofition of fuch inftances, and speak of them with much concern, as past hope. It would be exceeding difficult to renew them again to repentance: and it had 2 been better for them, not to have known the 21. way of righteoufnelle, than to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
2. This difcourfe of our Lord with his disciples should induce us to a strict regard to his genuine doctrine.
This is the best way to be fteady and eminent in things excellent and commendable. We have not feen Christ, But we have good reafon to believe in him, and love him. His words, and his works, and all his tranfactions on this earth for our welfare, have been carefully tranfmitted to us. We should abide in him. X 3
SERM. And endeavor to know more the power of XIV. his death, and refurrection, and all the forcible confiderations, which his doctrine contains to the practife of virtue and perfeverance therein.
Ecc. vii. 29.
3. We here fee caufe to lament the degeneracie of Chriftians, and the abfurdities that have been introduced into the Chriftian profeffion.
Says God with regard to the Jewish people: I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right feed. How then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me! The statutes delivered to the people of Ifrael were good and right. The laws of moral righteoufneffe had the preference. And the others were wifely ordained at that time, and fuited to answer valuable ends. Neverthelefs they diverted to idolatrie, or made additions of human obfervances, to the great detriment of true piety. The doctrine of Jefus is excellent and important. And yet numberlefs fuperftitions and abfurdities have been graffed in. Whence comes this? It is, because men do not attend to their true interest: because they do not love truth and fimplicity. And fo it has been from the begining. God