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you, that the more alive you are to your dangers, the more gladly are you likely to cling to that anchor of your hope, which is sure and stedfast. Blindness to danger, though real, may produce a false and presumptuous confidence in yourself. But it is a quick and lively sense of it, that must produce humble reliance on the faithfulness and sufficiency of the saviour. It was, when they suspected no evil, that the holy men, whose examples have been more than once referred to, fell into awful transgression. But, when their detected offences brought them to a knowledge of their own guilt and weakness, then it was, that they returned, with compunction indeed and sorrow, but yet with lively hope and faith, to the rock of their salvation. In the midst of life we are in death. But in the midst of a shipwreck we are more sensible of it. The consequence is, that in those fearful circumstances, when danger is imminent, and eternity in view, the fear of man vanishes, the charm of the world is dissolved, self-flattery disappears, and, however the ungodly and impenitent may at such a crisis be sometimes hardened in despair, the true children of God shine forth in brighter colours, their faith is more elevated, their prayers more ardent, and, though fear may prevail to an indefinite extent, the hope, in which they have lived, becomes dearer to them, and is cherished with greater fervour, in proportion to the very fears, with which it has to contend.
Be not then induced by any reasonings to shut your eyes to the dangers, which environ you, and which are never so likely to prove fatal, as when they find you regardless and secure! The life of a christian is no light matter, to be undertaken or pursued without much caution, vigilance, or prayer. In the evening I hope by God's blessing to address you on the means, which are provided for us, to resist these dangers with effect, to obtain the advantage of an almighty auxiliary, and to advance under the security of the divine promise to ultimate victory over all our enemies, and everlasting salvation. May God, even the father of our lord, Jesus Christ, have you all in his holy keeping, and preserve you by his efficacious grace from falling !
Galatians ii. 20.
I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.
THE christian life has been shewn to begin in justification, or the remission of sins, to be continued in sanctification, or the renewal of the mind in holiness, and to be compleated in glorification, or the full attainment of the righteousness and the reward of Heaven. Nevertheless it has been shewn at large, that this sanctifying process is not carried on within us without much resistance. It is encountered by natural corruption, that enemy within us, by the temptations of the devil, who assails us from without, and by the delusions of the world, which beset us on every side: and some of the particular dangers, to which the life of a christian is exposed, were set before you in the morning. It was shewn, that we are continually coming short of duty, and too often transgressing it, and that thus God is provoked every day even by those, who habitually serve him; and, should he be provoked to abandon them for a time to their own resources, the best of them is sure to fall into sin, and dishonor the holy faith, which he professes. Such are the dangers, which surround him. Such reason has he to pass all the time of his sojourning in fear.
I come now, brethren, to consider on the other hand the means, by which under the lord's blessing a christian is carried safe through these trying dangers, delivered eventually from every evil work, and preserved unto his heavenly kingdom. May his grace be with you all, and his holy spirit lead you on to glory!
First the true way to avoid the dangers, to which a christian is hourly exposed, is to maintain a close communion with God. It is only by neglecting this privilege, that à renewed christian is betrayed into wilful sin. Smaller errors must and will be committed every hour, so long as we carry about with us this body of sin and death : and yet even these would be in great measure obviated, if we lived habitually nearer to God. . But could Abraham, or Job, or David, or Solomon, or Hezekiah, or Peter have been betrayed into their several offences, while they were exercising holy affections towards their covenant God? No. He, that is for us, is greater than he, that is against us; and the holy spirit in the heart of a christian is more powerful than the world, the flesh, or the devil, or than all their forces united. Of this we may have some evidence, when we come to observe the conduct of martyrs in circumstances of severe persecution. What I wish now to remark is, that, if we would obtain the whole value of this almighty auxiliary, we must seek to be led by him at all times, and without reserve. We must be able to say with saint Paul - I live,