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the church of Christ!-Go believer ! go, and endeavour to imitate them. As long as life and breath remain, let all be devoted to the service of your exalted Saviour. And while gratitude unites with faith and love, you will never judge you have done too much for him, who died for you.-In choice and in affections you have left all for Jesus, and have openly associated with the people of God : you delight in their company, and are not alhamed of Christ.—Perhaps some of us present have dedicated our whole lives to his immediate service in the Gospel, and given up all the flattering prospects of wealth and preferment in the world for his fake. But we have none of us suffered persecution, or yet resisted unto blood. We have none of us endured what many of his dear children have frequently sulained. “ As for us,” says Justin Martyr, speaking of the Christians of his day, “As for us that have entertained the religion of the holy lesus, yourselves know very well, that there is nothing throughout the world that is able to subdue or affright us out of our profession. Nothing is more evident, than though our heads be exposed to swords and axes, our bodies faftened to the cross ; though thrown to wild beasts, and harassed out with chains, fire, and all other inftruments of torment, yet do we not depart from our profeslion. Nay, the more these things happen to us, the faster do others flock over to the name of Jesus, and become pious and devout followers of Christ.” — “ Among us," says Cyprian, “ there flourishes strength of hope, firmness of faith, a mind erect amidst the ruins of a tottering age, an im. moveable virtue, a patience serene and chearful, and a soul always secure and certain of its God.” Instead of pro. ducing particular instances in which these declarations were abundantly verified, let me only repeat the noble answer which the celebrated old Polycarp made before the tribunal of the Proconful: “ These fourscore and fix
gears have I served Christ, and he never did me any harm; and how then can I blaspheme my Master and my Saviour !"-In this manner Christians formerly spoke and acted; and while the same Saviour, the same relation and grace remain, an obligation continues for the same sentiments, and a similar boldness and zeal.
Are any of you, while I am speaking, conscious of having proved false to your vows, and stand chargeable with backsliding instead of growing in grace ? Alas, my brethren! you have robbed your souls of many comforts ; you have brought reproach upon the holy religion you · profess; and it is an unspeakable mercy if you have been kept back from presumptuous fins, and not given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blafpheme. But hear with gratitude and altonishment, ye backsliders! The exhortation to grow in grace is addressed also to you. The unchangeable Jesus is waiting to restore you. He is Jeho vah Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee; and his language to you this day is, Return ye backsliding children, and I will beal your backslidings. O let it be the language of your souls, We come unto thee compassionate Saviour ! We come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God! Tore. turn is your first step towards growth in grace. Remember, therefore, from whence thou art fallen, ana repent, and do the first works. To yourselves take all the shame and guilt, and let none presume to make God the author of their fin. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempta ed of God. God forbid ! You have not so lerned Chrift. You are convinced, that every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lufts, and enticed, and then, when luft hath conceived, it bringeth forth fin. Be deeply humbled, and confess your fins to him, who has declared that he is faithful and just to forgive us our fins. Though a sense of guilt may prompt you to say, I am cast out of
tby hght; yet look, my brethren, look again to his holy temple. Look in faith to Jesus, and you will find be is the propitiation for our sins. May the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God!
But there are many of the children of God, whose fouls are calt down from a failure of those vigorous exer. cises which they once had; and who, notwithstanding they cannot charge themselves with any positive back. flidings, are yet often crying out, О that it was with me as in days past! Will the Lord cast off for ever, will be be favourable no more! Ye toffed as with a tempest, remember that this is your infirmity! The exercises of his people are not always of the same kind. Believers pass through various seasons. They are not forever on the mount rejoicing in the Lord, but often descend into the valley of aMiction and trouble. They fink sometimes in deep mire where there is no Atanding, and find themselves in a situation which may be compared to a borrible pit, and miry clay. Be not, therefore, my brethren, disheartened. These are the footsteps of the flock. Who then is among you that feareth the Lord; that obeyeth the voice of bis servant ; that walketh in darkness, and bath no light? Let bim trust in the name of the Lord, and stay upon bis God.
But darkness and want of former comforts, is not the only case must here be attended to. A humbling sense of indwelling fin, of smail progress in holiness, and continued barrenness, often discourage the saints. They see others, who perhaps began in the service of Christ much later than themselves, advancing far beyond them in knowledge, zeal and love. Upon the strictest examination, they appear to themselves, not only defective in
growth, growth, but even worse than they were at first. To these, and to fimilar complaints, we answer, the Lord is sove. reign in his dispensations. But after all, the judgment you form of yourselves may probably not be just. Is not the depravity which you discover in your ową heart; is not a view of your deficiency in love and zeal, over which you mourn, a proof of more light, and of enlarged experience? Do not these tend to humble you, and render the blessed Jesus, in all his offices, more precious ? And is not this a growth in grace ? Forget not, O believer ! that you must decrease, and Christ must increase ; and be persuaded, that by these very methods of which you complain, he is emptying you of pride and remaining confidence in your own righteousness, and thus making room for his becoming all and in all to your souls. It is thus he leads the blind by a way they know not, and in paths that they have not known. Fear not. Let faith and patience have their perfect work; and continue to wait upon the Lord, and you shall renew your strength.
Let those who are young disciples become animated with the exalted prospects which the service of the Redeemer opens to their view. Be assured, that faithfulness to God will bring its present reward, besides the glory which remains in reversion. Remember your relation is now changed, and you are no longer your own. You counted the cost when you gave yourselves away to Chrilt, and you are not to look back. Serve the Lord, then, with full purpose of heart. Flee youthful lufts, and affort with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart, In every trial, in all your temptations look unto Jesus. Be not discouraged, he is faithful, he will establish you, and keep you from evil. Little children, says the Apostle John, I write unto you, because your fins are forgiven you for his name's fake. And surely they, to whom much is
forgiven, will love much. Indulge this love, and prove it young Christians, by keeping all his commandments. Grow in grace.
And now, believers, while we excite you all to grow in grace, you cannot fail in proportion as you understand the exhortation, to mourn before God that this is so little attended to in our day. Cherish this generous sorrow, and let it deeply affect your hearts, that such faint traces of holiness are discernible in the visible church ; that so many deceive themselves and dishonour Chrift, by profelling his religion, while their lives and conduct anounce them to be baptised infidels. But let it most affect you, that many, even of the children of Zion, appear to have departed from that strictness in piety and conscientious holiness, which always ought to characterise real believers. Alas, how is the gold changed, and the fine gold become dim!" ****
Let all, who love the Lord Jesus in sincerity, often unite in prayer for a revival of religion, and plead ferę vently for the outpouring of his Spirit. We have been witnesses to the wonderful interpofitions of Providence in the progress and issue of the late war, and the national bleflings in which we are now established. The Lord bath done great things for us, whereof we are giad. We now wait for his salvation to Zion; for a day of power in his churches, when he shall bear witness to his own truths, and numerous converts submit to the Redeemer. Pray much for this. Your fervent intercessions will be a happy token, that the time to favour Zion, yea the set time is come. Pray for ministers and people, that they 'may seek the glory of God, and not their own honour ; and that all may unite, by holiness and growth in grace, to recommend the religion of Jesus. — But whatever cloud may be fill impending over Zion, and whatever