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of religion; if, indeed, he would overcome the world, or obtain “ the crown of glory that fadeth not away.” Fixed, as we confessedly are, in a state of trial; where, from the prevalence of vice, we can never hope to escape the attacks of the world, the flesh, and the devil ; let us ask for Divine aid, to enable us manfully to resist every assault, and to persevere in righteousness, until we receive the end of our faith, even the salvation of our souls f."
3. The faculties and talents we possess are so many vouchers, to assure us that we are answerable to God for our behaviour. Man is the glory of the creation ; principally, because he most strongly resembles the Deity". Besides, he only, amongst a great number of beings possessed of life, is blessed with the inestimable gifts of speech and reason. The rest of the works of Jehovah, both animate and inanimate, silently speak his praise; but man only can rationally proclaim his wonders, contemplate his inimitable works and perfections, and render him the adoration which he deserves.
Can even the most cold-hearted seepticism suppose thạt endowments so precious were given in vain ? or that they were bestowed merely for the limited span of this frail life, and then are to be consigned, with the corruptible part of man, to the ' grave ? Is man, who is so well qualified to be a subject of praise or blame, of honour or disgrace, to go down to the chambers of death, like the brutes which perish, without rising again to give an account of himself, whether he has done good or evil? We answer, No;, for the very endowments of his mind, the various opportunities which he has of moral improvement, the consciousness which he possesses of right and wrong, and the expectation 1 Pet. i.9.
ff Gen, i. 26, 27.
which he forms of immortality'; these, when taken collectively, are almost sufficient to demonstrate a future existence, where the bad will meet with punishment; and the good, reward.
Surely, then, no reflecting person will be indifferent about his conduct here, upon which so much depends hereafter. With heaven and hell before us, will it not be the most pitiable act of insanity to waste our talents ; or to hide them, as the unprofitable servant did, in a napkins ? What! shall we wantonly fling away the only opportunity of gaining endless glory? If we thus trifle away the day of grace, the exclamation will soon be extorted from us, “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and
we are not saved :" but if we diligently apply our1 selves to the great concern“ of working out our sal
vation with fear and trembling,” our Judge will applaud us, saying, “Well done, good and faithful servants ! enter ye into the joy of your
Lord." 4. The fact of God's having given a law to man for the due regulation of his life and conduct, supposes him to be a moral agent, responsible for his actions. Laws impose an obligation to obedience on those who live under them: and they are enacted for the purpose of punishing vice, encouraging virtue, and securing to all their particular rights. They commend and protect the good ; but visit the man who breaks them, with fines, imprisonment, and death.
As a subject is under the government of his sovereign, so all men are subject to the authority of God; who will shew favour to the obedient, but pursue transgressors with signal destruction":
This view of the matter entirely destroys the
& Luke xix. 20—28.
"1 Tim. i.9, 10.
atheistical conceit of man's being at liberty to do what he chooses, without fear of consequences; and convicts, of actual rebellion against God, those who arrogantly say, “What is the Almighty, that we should serve him ? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him "b?"
As ever we tender the favour of God, let us cast away all proud thoughts of setting up our own independence; and submit ourselves to Him, “ in whose hand our breath is, and whose are all our ways'.' A life devoted to His glory will secure lasting peace and satisfaction ; but shame and anguish will, in the end, overtake them that do evil; “for, with God, who will judge every man according to his works, there is no respect of persons."
5. The word of God often reminds us of His intention to reckon with us 'hereafter, when he will demand a strict account of our whole lives. The Parable of the Talents" is highly instructive in this respect, and teaches us what will be the final result of negligence'or industry, in our spiritual calling. They, who improve, to the best of their ability, the advantages which they have enjoyed, for glorifying their Maker, will receive a gracious recompence, through the merits of our Redeemer ; but they who mis-spend their time and opportunities, will be visited with tribulation and wrath, when Christ shall come to judge mankind.
The Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard establishes the same truth. It suggests that every one has his work allotted him, in the present state of existence; upon the right performance of which, happiness inconceivable will be awarded him; but that
bhi Job xxi. 15.
· Dan. v. 23.
certain misery, without cessation, will ensue the neglect of it.
Other passages of Scripture confirm the doctrine of man's responsibility to God; of which, a few of the most pertinent will be quoted. “But the Lord shall endure for ever; He hath prepared His throne for judgment, and He shall judge the world in righteous
The wise man inculcates the expediency of reverence and affection towards our Creator, from the consideration of a day of future retribution:-“ Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter : Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil!." The solemn representation given by our Lord concerning his august appearance to judge the world, is calculated to impress us with the deepest awe :
When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations : and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep froin the goats : and he shall set the sheep on his right-hand, but the goats on the left"."
And, now, let us seriously ask ourselves the question; Is it at all probable that we were formed in the image of God, brought on this stage of action, gifted with faculties which qualify us to do him acceptable service, if no end worthy of God is to be answered by our existence? Is it at all likely that he should give us a law for the direction of our conduct, and then suffer us to break it with impunity? Has he given us a capacity for enjoying that immortal bliss Ak Ps.ix. 7,8. Eccles. xii. 13, 14.
! Mat. xxv. 31–46.
which he has promised, if we obey him ; 'and shall he be thought capable of not fulfilling his word to his people-a supposition which is impious in the extreme; for, whilst it imputes the crime of unfaithfulness to God, it represents him as a Being who is similarly affected by good and evil : and it is directly hostile to the best interests of man, by countenancing vice, and by taking away the most effectual motives for the cultivation of a pious life.
6. It is incumbent on us all, to think frequently on the subject of our responsibility to God.' And whenever any thoughts of an opposite kind intrude upon us, inclining us to shake off his just authority over us, they should be instantly repelled, as the wicked suggestions of “ the father of lies,” whose object is, to draw us aside from our duty to God, and to involve us with himself in the guilt and consequences of actual rebellion against Heaven.
It equally behoves us, if we are at all desirous of "giving up our account with joy, and not with grief,” to live agreeably to the will
, of God. But where must we repair, to obtain information respecting our duty to him ?. Certainly our opinions on this subject are not to be grounded on human judgment; nor is our regard to the Lord to be measured by the low practices of others : we must appeal to his word, which should be closely studied, and exactly conformed to, if we would know what we ought to do to please him. Therein, every truth which pertains to salvation may be found written, in language brought down to the capacity of the feeblest understanding ; at the same time that it is equally suited to instruct the more learned, in those things which conduce to their everlasting peace.
m Numb, xxiii. 19.