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this fearful devotion and offering of themselves, and this profession of a religious faith in him on whom alone their hope of pardon and salvation could be founded, have been made, we trust, in simplicity and godly sincerity. And most earnestly do I pray that all who have here professed a good profession, may so keep it in steadfastness of purpose, and faithfulness of endeavours, and so walk worthy of their high vocation, that being built upon the only true foundation, Jesus Christ the sacrifice for sinners, they may, at the last day, be found blameless before him, and being approved as worthy members of the spiritual Church, living stones of the spiritual temple, may abide the fiery scrutiny of judgment, and be entitled to the commendation of their Lord, and admitted to the enjoyment of his heavenly kingdom.
These various benefits, temporal and spiritual, which I have now considered, my brethren, present such views of God's dealings with us, as should lift up our hearts in thankfulness towards him, and cause us, with grateful emotions, to say, “ Hitherto hath the Lord helped us." And the review and consideration of his spiritual blessings, especially, while they assure us of his presence among us, and are an earnest of his favourable purposes in our behalf, should prompt the supplication and the
that his grace, which is offered freely and alike to all, may be so universally embraced and improved, that the time · may come when we shall not need to teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord, for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest.
What a delightful picture would it be, to see á whole congregation of Christians animated by one common desire to please and obey God; intent upon knowing his will; diligent in performing it; honouring him in all his ordinances and appointments; vying with each other in acts of mutual kindness, forbearance, and Christian love ; and steadily pressing forward to the attainment of the Christian's hope and the Christian's reward! How delightful and how happy to see such a congregation evincing, in all their intercourse with the world, that they are living above it, that they have superior interests, and loftier views, causing their light to shine conspicuously before men, and universally in their actions, as in their affections, glorifying their Father who is in heaven!
How delightful, my brethren, were this that congregation! How glorious for all, how happy for each! O that every bosom were an altar for God, from which a bright and holy flame should continually ascend, purifying the heart from the grossness of earthly affections and earthly passions; and enkindling an ardent desire for the transcendant glories of the heavenly courts! And why, my brethren, may it not, why should it not, be so?
I put it to each individual, whether it is not as much his duty as that of any other, to yield a ready compliance with the commands of God. I put it whether it is not as much his interest as that of any other person, to be assured of the high rewards which are promised to a religious life. I ask every individual whether it can avail him any thing to be surrounded by numbers who are engaged in serving God, and working out their own salvation, while he himself is doing absolutely nothing in this important work; or, on the other hand, if it will be of any advantage to him who is neglecting his everlasting welfare, that he is upheld and countenanced by many among those with whom he converses.
I put these questivns in order to enforce the truth that religion is an individual concern; that what is desirable for any is desirable for all; 'and in the hope that every one who is connected with us may be admonished to regard his own individual safety, and give diligence to make his calling and election sure. This is all that by God's grace is needed, to realize the picture which I have imagined of a whole congregation exemplifying the influence of religion, and in earnest in securing the great end and object of their creation. These suggestions are made upon the supposition, that they whom it has been my privi
lege to address, are sensible of the importance, the truth, and the excellence, of the Christian religion; and also, that they are not unmindful that on their part something is to be done, if they would attain its promises—a supposition which I am bound to infer, not only from their presence here, but from the serious and patient attention with which they have uniformly listened, during the time I have ministered among them in this place; and which it is now as much my duty, as it affords me pleasure, to acknowledge.
What better return can I make, my brethren, for the kindness and indulgence which have been extended to those services, (of the feebleness and imperfection of which no one can be more sensible than myself,) than now again affectionately to entreat you to consider and lay to heart the great realities which we meet to contemplate; to solicit and beseech you, so to profit by these opportunities which God is continually affording to know his will, that in the end our meeting together may appear to have been for the better, and not for the worse! And how can I better close my labours in this place, than by offering to him who hitherto hath helped us, the unfeigned and earnest prayer, that in like manner, as we now depart from hence, to meet in a better and more permanent sanctuary, so when our work on earth is finished, and we are called from thence, we may all be again assembled in that higher and more glorious temple