« הקודםהמשך »
And now, my dear friends, my design, even upon those who are really his chilupon the whole, is to excite you to a pro-dren. Look around you, and observe how per concern about the salvation of your active and violent wicked men are in the precious and immortal souls. It is not a service of Satan; their pace, like "the system of opinions that will carry any man driving of Jehu, the son of Nimshi, is to heaven: our knowledge of the truth swift and furious.” With what zeal, with shall only serve to condemn us, if we do what carefulness, with what self-denial-I not receive the truth into our hearts, and had almost said, with what fear and tremsuffer it to influence both our temper and bling--do many of them work out their practice. I am far from thinking that men own damnation ! " drawing iniquity with may be saved in any religion, however cords of vanity, and sinning as with a cart false, provided only they be sincere in the rope!” And will you be cold and neglibelief, and obedient to the dictates, of that gent, nay, timorous and shamefaced, in the religion they profess; but of this I am service of the true and living God? Oh! fully persuaded, on the other hand, that how unseemly, how scandalous, how burtno religion can save a man who is not ful were this! hurtful to yourselves, hurtserious in it, and who doth not yield him- ful to your fellow Christians, hurtful even self entirely to its government. Can it to the wicked with whom you converse; they avail us any thing, that we profess the true know that heaven and hell are in direct opreligion, if we ourselves are false to that position, and consequently that the roads religion ? No, surely: The religion in which lead to them must be widely distant deed is good, but it is not our religion ; it from each other; and therefore they will is our book that contains the true religion, never be persuaded that they shall be thrust but not our heart; and therefore it can down into utter darkness, if such as you, no more save us than the best food can who in appearance are treading the same nourish us, and preserve our life, which paths that they do, shall get to heaven at only standeth upon the table, or which last. Ungrateful servants ! how hath your never goeth farther than our mouth. Redeemer deserved this at your hands ?
Let me therefore entreat you to comply Is this the way to gain men's hearts to the with the apostle's exhortation in my text. love of holiness ? Would you wish the I speak to you who are Christians indeed; world to write after so imperfect and blotbecause you alone are in a capacity of ser- ted a copy as you set before them ? I ving the Lord; for “they that are in the beseech, I obtest you, by all the regard flesh,” who were never cut off from the you have for the glory of God, your own natural stock, and ingrafted into Christ comfort, and the good of others, that the true vine, such persons, the apostle henceforth you would distinguish yourtells us (Rom viii. 8.), “cannot please selves more visibly from“ the men of the God.” They may perform the outward world who have their portion in this life.” acts of duty, they may even do them with “ Have no fellowship with the unfruitful a considerable degree of natural fervor ; works of darkness, but rather reprove but all the while their most specious ser- them." Let Christianity be so deeply envices are only dead works, offered up with graved on every part of your conduct, that "strange fire," which cannot ascend to be who runs may read whose servants you God with acceptance. I speak therefore are, and thus God may be glorified in his to the living members of Christ, to those saints. It is a mean, inglorious aim, who are regenerated by the Spirit of God; merely to keep within the limits which and my request to you is, that, from this divide the lawful from the forbidden time forward, you should “stir up the gift ground. Show that you are men of of God that is in you,” and be fervent in another spirit,” by “ following the Lord spirit, serving the Lord.
fully," and straining every nerve, as it The declining interest of religion re- were, to attain the highest perfection of quires all the support you can give it. which our nature is capable in its present Men are wearing out of acquaintance with imperfect state. Let faith realize to you God; nor is it greatly to be wondered at, the life of Jesus; and beg of God, for seeing his image is so faintly to be discerned, I Christ's sake, that he, by his Spirit, may
FOLLOWING GOD FULLY.
kindle that holy fire in your hearts, which finitely possessed of all those perfections shall gradually consume all your dross, and which qualify him to govern the creatures carry you swiftly forward to the Zion above, he hath made. Two things we must be that imperial city of the great King, where thoroughly persuaded of; first, That the like those flaming ministers who surround laws of our Sovereign are righteous and his throne, you shall serve God day and good; and, next, That he is both able night in his temple, without interruption, and willing to protect, us in his service. without imperfection, and without weari. And indeed, my brethren, had we never
To which exalted felicity, may offended God, these views alone would God, of his infinite mercy, bring us all in have been sufficient inducements to follow due time, through Jesus Christ our Lord. him fully; but as we are guilty creatures, Amen.
and liable to punishment, some farther discoveries are now become necessary. We need something to vanquish those fears
of wrath, which would rather prompt us SERMON XVI.
to fly from the presence of our Judge, than to make an uncertain attempt to
pacify him by submission; some scheme NUMB. XIV. 24.—“But my servant Caleb, because of grace must be opened to our view, by
he had another spirit with him, and hath fol- which pardon may be dispensed to the LOWED ME Fully; him will I bring into the guilty, and strength imparted to the land whereunto he went; and his seed shall
weak, in a way that appears consistent
with the honor of the divine government. I PROPOSE to recommend to your imita- Nay, we must not only know that such a tion this illustrious servant of the most scheme exists, but we on our part must high God, whose name is recorded with cordially approve of it; and, by our persuch distinguished honor in the passage Isonal consent, ascertain our claiın to that have just now read in your hearing. Caleb mercy and grace which it offers to sinfollowed the Lord fully, and obtained a ners; that, being at peace with God, we glorious reward; and if we hope or wish may no longer dread him as an enemy, to be rewarded as he was, reason teacheth but love him as a Father, and serve him us, that we should walk in his steps, and with joy, being assured that
our labor do as he did.
shall not be in vain." But what are we to understand by fol- This being premised, as a necessary lowing the Lord fully? This question preparative for following the Lord fully, is first in order; and after I have endea- the duty itself may be considered as invored to give a satisfying answer to it, I cluding the following particulars : shall then proceed to press the duty by 1st. That we acknowledge no other some motives and arguments.
Lord beside him. One Lord we must Let us begin with inquiring what we are have; for it is folly to imagine we can be to understand by following the Lord fully. independent and free. Man was made
And here I must observe in the en- to serve; and nothing is left to him but the trance, that no man can follow the Lord choice of his master. But more than one at all till once he be acquainted with him; Lord we cannot have, unless by a derived « For he that cometh to God must believe or delegated authority. He who is suthat he is, and that he is a rewarder of preme may appoint another to rule under them that diligently seek him.” A slavish, him, and to enforce the observance of his reluctant subjection there may be; but laws; and when both concur in the same there cannot be a voluntary, far less an com
command, then both may be served by unreserved obedience, without affectionate one act of obedience : but "no man can trust and filial confidence. Before we serve two opposite masters; for either he can follow God, we must not only know will hate the one and love the other, or that he is supreme, and hath a right to else he will hold to the one and despise command; but we must likewise believe the other. We cannot serve God and that he is worthy to command, and in- | Mammon. And therefore to follow
the Lord fully is to follow him only; it in the parable, " when our Master returns, is to make his will the sole and absolute he may receive his own with usury.' I rule of our conduct, in opposition to our further added, that we should behave after own humor, the temptations of Satan, and this manner at all times; that our conduct
maxims of a world that lieth on every occasion may be consistent and in wickedness.
uniform. The true servant of the Lord 2dly. To follow the Lord fully is to must always be one man, speaking the obey him without any reserve or limita- same language, and observing the same tion: it is to serve him with an affection conduct in every place and in every comate and liberal heart; and to do this at pany.
Which leads me to a all times. Each of these might be con
3d Remark of considerable importance; sidered apart; but I have chosen to join namely, That to follow the Lord fully, is them together under one head, as they to follow him openly, and in the face of serve to illustrate and support one another. the world. We must not think of steal.
Our obedience, I say, must be without ing to heaven by some clandestine, unfrereserve or limitation; for unless we follow quented path, as if we were ashamed of the Lord in all things, we cannot truly be being seen, or afraid lest it should be said to follow him in any thing. We give known to what family we belonged: this cause to suspect, that when, in other in. is a sneaking, cowardly artifice; so base stances, we perform the duties he enjoins, in itself, and so ungrateful to the kindest, yet even in those we are governed by as well as to the greatest and most honor. something else than a regard to his author- able Master, that, were it not too commonity; and that, though we seem to follow ly practised, one should scarcely think it him, yet, in reality, we are prosecuting needful to be mentioned. some interested scheme of our own, and There are two extremes into which peoare seeking ourselves instead of serving ple are apt to run, and both ought to be our God. The universality of our obe guarded against with equal care. Some dience, then, is the only proof of our sin-proclaim their religion as on the house cerityfor whosoever shall keep the tops; they love to talk of their high atwhole law, and yet offend in one point, is tainments, and discover an anxiety to make guilty of all." We do not follow the themselves observable, and to gain the adLord fully, unless we follow him whither miration and applause of their neighbors. soever he leadeth us, through the most This our Saviour expressly condemns. rugged paths of self-denial and mortifica- Matth. vi. from the 1st to the 19th verse, tion, as well as in those smooth, delightful where he tells his disciples, that they who ways in which we find the most immediate fast, or pray, or give alms, to be seen of advantage and pleasure. Again, we must men, only serve themselves; and what is serve him with an affectionate and liberal the consequence? It is but just they heart; continually asking such questions should be left to reward themselves as as these : “ Lord, what wilt thou have me they can; for duties done with such an to do?" and, “What shall I render unto aim can never be accepted by God as any the Lord for all his benefits ? » The part of that religious homage he requires. term following plainly implies this. A Others again, from a false modesty and person may be dragged or driven against bashfulness, or perhaps a pretended dishis will, but to follow is an act of choice ; like of ostentation and hypocrisy, run into it denotes a voluntary and cheerful obedi- the opposite extreme; they hide their ence; a service of love, which is not spar- light (if any light they have), they hide it, ing or niggardly, but always deviseth 'lib- I say, " under a bushel," as the Scriptures eral things. Would we then follow the express it. They go as great lengths as Lord fully, we must be “ready to every they dare, in a servile compliance with good work; and not only embrace op- the humors and customs of the world; portunities of service when they present and even keep at an affected distance from themselves, but even seek out opportuni- every thing that might betray any serious ties of improving those talents with which impression of God upon their minds. we are intrusted, that, as it is expressed! Now, the duty I am recommending lies
at an equal distance from both these ex- singular, but his singularity drew upon tremes. It is a profession that is neither him the resentment of his brethren. Or. ostentatious nor shame.faced; it neither ders were given “ to stone him to death; courts observation nor avoids it. The and they were on the point of doing it, true follower of the Lord, keeping the when “the glory of God appearing in the laws of his Master continually in his eye, tabernacle," checked their fury, and properforms every duty in its place and sea- tected the life of this illustrious saint.
It appears a small matter to him to Thus it was that Caleb followed the Lord be "judged of man's judgment;" he fully; and thus must we also do if we endeavors so to speak,” and so to act, aspire to his reward. Instead of shrink
not as pleasing men, but God, which tri- ing at persecution, if that should be our eth the heart." He doth not shun the lot, we must rather “rejoice that we are view of his fellow-creatures, but is willing counted worthy to suffer shame" in the to give all who choose it an opportunity cause of our Lord; and even esteem it a of learning, from his conduct, the nature privilege, “that to us it is given, in the and spirit of that religion he hath embrac- behalf of Christ, not only to believe in ed. He feels, and practically acknowledg. his name, but likewise to suffer for his eth, the divine authority of such precepts sake.” as these : “Let your moderation be known The amount of all I have said is this : to all men;" " "Provide things honest in If we would follow the Lord fully, after the sight of all men;
and, “ Let
your the pattern in my text, we must acknowl. light so shine before men, that they may edge no other master besides him ; we see your good works, and glorify your must obey him in all things; we must do Father which is in Heaven.”' His soul is this at all times; and serve
66 him with an alarmed with that awful declaration of our affectionate and liberal heart; not grudgSaviour (Luke ix. 26.) “Whosoever shall ingly, or as of necessity ;” for “the Lord be ashamed of me, and of my words, of loveth a cheerful giver.” We must follow him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, him openly, and in the face of the sun; when he shall come in his own glory, and and then we must persevere in our attendin his Father's glory, and of the holy an- ance upon him, though no man should join gels.' Would we then follow the Lord with us; nay, though earth and hell fully, we must confess him openly, and should unite their force, and both rise up dare to be holy in spite of devils and men. in arms to oppose us. We must “ be blameless and harmless, the You have now seen the aim of my dig. sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst course; and may I not hope to succeed in of a crooked and perverse generation,-- it? I am asking nothing that is unholding forth the word of life.” Once reasonable, nothing that you yourselves
can find any pretence to refuse. All I 4th place. To follow the Lord fully, ask is, in the is to cleave to him steadfastly when others 1st place, That you should be honest forsake him; and to persevere in his ser- men. vice, even when it exposeth us to the You call yourselves Christians: and world's hatred, and the persecution of what is my request, but that you be wicked and unreasonable men. It was on Christians indeed ? So that in reality it account of this brave and honorable sin is the cause of your own honor I am gularity that Caleb obtained the title of a pleading with you. A man of spirit and man of another spirit. He was one of integrity is a character that universally four, among some hundred thousands, who commands esteem; but it is impossible to retained his loyalty to the King of hea support that honorable character by any ven; for besides Moses and Aaron, and other means than by following the Lord his own companion Joshua, it doth not ap- fully. Enemies you may have; I ought pear that there was one dissenting voice rather to have said enemieş you shall in all the tribes of Israel; the revolt was have, some, perhaps, perversely and maliuniversal, the whole congregation rebelled ciously, who may slander you as hypoagainst their God. Nay, he was not only crites: but a steadfast and uniform
more, in the
perseverance in holiness, if it disarm not rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” their malice, will at length confute their Which way soever he turns his eyes, the reproach. Whereas your swerving from prospect, on all hands, is dark and gloomy. duty, either to gain the favor of men, or Above, is the throne of an offended God: to avoid their displeasure, cannot fail to beneath, is the fire that shall never be expose you to their contempt and scorn. quenched; and within, he feels the gnawReward you they may; but Oh! how low ings of the worm that dieth not: so that must you sink in their esteem! And the creatures around him are his only rethen what a triumph will it give to the source; and these at best are " deceitful wicked, who only wait for your halting ? brooks ;-broken cisterns that can hold no How will it whet their tongues, and give water; « miserable comforters," which them an edge that shall pierce you to the delude him for a moment, and forsake quick? For this you may lay your ac- him at the time when he stands most in count with, that their censures of you need of them. " There is no peace, saith shall be far more severe and unmerciful my God, to the wicked; ” but “light is than those they employ against others, sown for the righteous, and gladness for who make no profession of religion; nay, the upright in heart."--" Great peace," their censures shall be more severely felt said one who knew it by experience, by yourselves, because you will find some "great peace have they that love thy law, thing within you that tells you they are and nothing shall offend them; just. The hardened sinner can assume “the peace of God, which passeth all unan air of confidence and intrepidity; con- derstanding, shall keep their hearts and science being seared gives him no distur- minds, through Jesus Christ.” bance within; so that his external appear- My brethren, we shall never taste the ance is all he hath to attend unto; but comforts of religion till we become the sense of having acted wrong will draw thoroughly religious, and follow the Lord your attention inward, and leave your with all our heart. A half-religion must countenance to express every outward always be a joyless thing. Persons of symptom of timidity and self-reproach. this mixt character must in great measure Whereas, by following the Lord fully, be strangers to pleasure in any kind. you shall by degrees acquire a firmness They have just as much religion as maketh and independency of spirit, that will en- sin bitter, and as much sin as renders reable you at all times to behave with a ligion unpleasant: and what an insipid, genuine and well-supported dignity. This disagreeable situation must this be! In shall give you an irresistible superiority respect of present enjoyinent, the disover the hearts of wicked men, which shall solute and unreserved slaves of the devil overawe them in secret, and constrain have manifestly the advantage of those their homage, in the same proportion that half-converted people. They get a full it excites their hatred and envy. Thus taste, at least, of such dreggy pleasure as we read, that “Herod feared John,” even sin can afford; but the others cannot even when he threw him into prison; and he get at that much, and at the same time feared him, as St. Mark informs us, purely their dry constrained formality supplies upon this account, “because he knew that them with nothing to make up for the he was a just and holy man.”
want of it. Whereas he who followeth 2dly. The duty I am recommending is the Lord fully, possesses a joy infinitely equally necessary to secure the inward superior to what the creatures can yield; peace and tranquillity of your minds : it nay, a joy that is altogether independent contributes to your interest no less than on the creatures. to your honor. How miserable is the
Moreover, religion, when it is genuine man who hath war and discord within his and cordial, heightens the relish of every own breast! This is worse than death, lawful comfort. Besides that natural for that only tears the soul from the body, sweetness which God hath put into many whereas this tears the health, the life, of the outward benefits he bestows, the from the soul itself. Such a person re- true Christian can look upon them as the sembles “the troubled sea when it cannot gifts of a reconciled Father, and pledges