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mentioned in my text would produce an portunity of showing my regard to my universal obedience to the laws of God, Lord, as by serving him now that I am because they are but various ways of com- brought to the test ? He is now saying passing the important end at which it aims. to me, as once he said to Peter, “Lovest
The man who is truly animated with it, thou me more than these ?” Awake then, will, like David, have a “respect to all O my soul, and answer with that apostle, God's commandments;" and instead of “Thou, Lord, who knowest all things, complaining that they are grievous, will knowest that I love thee;" and I adore rather rejoice at being furnished with such thy goodness in granting me this oppora variety of opportunities for promoting tunity of testifying the strength and sinthe glory of his heavenly Father. This cerity of my love, to thy glory and my divine principle will have influence upon unspeakable comfort. Such will be the him in the most secret retirement, as well sentiments of the man whose single aim as when he acts in the open view of the is to obtain the approbation of God. He world. The hypocrite, who courts the ap- will continue firm and unshaken amidst probation of men, may be very exact and the greatest sufferings; whilst the hypopunctual in the outward exercises of reli. crite, like the base multitude who followed gion; but he who seeks to please God will Christ only for the loaves, will be offended, not rest in these. He knows that his Fa- and fall off, when a day of trouble comes. ther seeth him in secret; he rejoiceth in I shall only add, in the the thought of it, and therefore omits no 5th and last place, That this divine duty that bears the stamp of his author- principle will make a man easy and satisity: Yea, his heart is as much engaged fied, whatever be his outward condition in in the severest acts of self-denial, as in the world. He knows that his lot is apthose instances of obedience which are ac- pointed by God, and his only anxiety is companied with the most immediate plea- to perform that part which hath been assure and advantage. And this leads me signed to him; being fully assured that to observe, in the
God, who is no respecter of persons, will 4th place, That a sincere desire of pleas- graciously accept his sincere endeavors to ing God would likewise lessen the difficul- please him, whether his station be high or ties of obedience, and support us under all low, whether his circumstances be rich or the sufferings to which our duty may at poor. His only concern is, that Christ any time expose us. Perhaps our duty may be magnified in his body. Like a may be accompanied with much pain and determined traveller, he takes the road as trouble in the world; perhaps, like Paul, he finds it, and makes no complaints, prowe may be shamefully entreated, and, like vided it lead him to the end of his journey. the rest of the apostles, looked upon as These are some of the advantages which the filth and offscouring of all things. But would flow from a sincere and steady destill the Christian reasons thus: “What sire of pleasing God, and him only. But are these things to me? Is it not better to set these advantages in a more striking to please God, than to indulge this corrupt light, let us a little examine the opposite flesh, or to seek the approbation of man, principle, and take a view of the man "whose breath is in his nostrils ? " Should whose great aim is to obtain the approbaplease men, I could not be the servant tion of his fellow-creatures.
Consider, of Christ. Those hardships and difficul- then, ties which I now suffer will soon be at an 1st. To what a drudgery he subjects end; and though my good things are not himself, and what a strange and inconin this life, yet hereafter I shall be com- sistent part he must act. He makes himforted in that state, “where the wicked self the servant of every man, whose cencease from troubling, and the weary are at sure he fears, or whose praise he covets.
Was I not forewarned by my He renounceth his own will and reason blessed Saviour, that the way to his king and to whom? Not to God, who requires dom lay through many tribulations; and nothing but what is holy, just, and good; shall I now faint because I find it to be but to creatures like himself, ignorant,
Where can I enjoy so good an op- perverse, and capricious. He who is re
solved to please men, must follow them end; but if he attempts to manage so as through all their jarring inconsistent hu- to please them, he will be miserably dis
. He must undo to-morrow what appointed. For though the few that shared he does to-day; he must assume a dif. of his bounty may possibly be satisfied ferent appearance in every company; he with their proportion; yet the rest, who must be the servant of servants, con- got nothing, will revile, and perhaps curse temptible in the sight of God, and often him as penurious and unmerciful. Bedespised by those very men whose appro- sides, the different parties and interfering bation he courts. For it is to be observed, interests of men, make it impossible to that respect and esteem are sooner found please all. If, in any case, you join with by an honest indifference about them, one party, the other, of course, will be ofthan by an anxious pursuit of them. They fended; if you keep yourself disengaged who are satisfied with the approbation of from either side, you will probably incur their heavenly Father, who seeth them in the resentment of both; or, if you think to secret, are for the most part rewarded by keep the good-will of both by trimming, him openly, according to what the wise making each believe that you are on their man saith, “When a man's ways please side, besides the baseness of the practice, the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to which must set a man at irreconcilable be at peace with him.” Whereas it holds variance with himself, you must live in a almost universally true, that men lose re- perpetual fear of discovery; and when you spect in proportion as they are observed are detected, both will hate you worse to court it with anxiety, and sink thereby than they do each other. Nay, in the into greater contempt than otherwise they 4th place, Should you give up the idea would have done. But,
of obtaining universal favor, and content 2dly. Let us suppose that they obtain yourselves with pleasing a few; yet such what they covet so earnestly. How trivial is the mutability of men's tempers, that is the acquisition! “Verily,” saith our your success, even in this limited attempt, Lord concerning men-pleasers, "they have is very precarious. For how variable is their reward.” Ăh! poor reward! to obtain the mind of man? ever shifting about, and the favor and friendship of dying men, in- alternately pleased and displeased with the stead of the approbation of God, and the same thing. When you have spent the testimony of a good conscience; to remem- best of your days in building upon this ber, in hell, that they were well spoken of sand, one blast shall throw down the on earth, and that the sentence of their laborious fabric in a moment. For diffi. Judge was the first thing that undeceived cult as it is to gain the favor of men, it is their fellow-creatures as to their true still more difficult to preserve it, or to recharacter. This is the whole amount of gain it when it is lost. Serve them as their gain, even supposing that they suc-submissively as you can, yet some cross ceed in their pursuit. But I must now accident, some failure in gratifying their add, in the
unreasonable expectations, may suddenly 3d place, That this is only a supposi- turn all your honors into disgrace, and tion; for so great is the difficulty of pleas- leave you to complain, as cardinal Wolsey ing men, that, after all your pains, it is did, "Had I served God as faithfully as ten thousand to one but you shall fail in man, he would not thus have forsaken me the attempt. The very number of those in my old age.” Nay, the perverseness whom you would please, renders it almost of many is so great, that they require conimpossible to succeed in it.
tradictions ere they will be pleased. If We cannot at one time observe all who John come fasting, they say, “ he hath a observe us, and expect to be pleased by devil : " If Christ come eating and drink
We are like a person who has but a ing, they say, “Behold a man gluttonous few pieces of money in his pocket, and a and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans crowd of beggars about him. If, accord- and sinners.” If your judgment and pracing to his best judgment, he divides the tice be accommodated to your superiors, whole among the most needy, that he may some will call you supple and temporizplease God, he is sure of attaining his ing: if it be otherwise, you will perhaps be reproached as discontented and sedi- | Christ.” To him you owe all your homtious.
age; him only you are bound to please. Thus, you see, that it is impossible to And is not his favor a sufficient portion ? please all men, or even any considerable Did he suffer, and bleed, and die, that number of them at one time. Nor have your hearts might be his, and will you rewe cause to wonder at this, when we con- fuse him that which he hath so dearly sider, that our blessed Saviour himself, bought ? Where can you find a better notwithstanding his perfect innocence and Master, or one that you can be so certain wisdom, was more reviled than any man. of pleasing, if you apply yourselves to it? Can you do more to deserve the favor of He requires no contradictory or impracmen than Christ did? or can you expect ticable services. He hath left you in no to please those who are displeased with uncertainty about your duty. You need God himself? For is not God daily dis- not say, si Wherewith shall we come bepleasing men in the course of his Provi- fore the Lord ? He hath shewed thee, O dence ? and what is there that they quar- man, what is good, and what he requires of rel with more bitterly than with his word ? you,” even in his written word, which he In fine, how can we expect to please any hath given to be "a lamp to your feet number of our fellow-creatures when we and a light unto your paths.” He makes cannot even please ourselves constantly? also the most gracious allowances for your And for the truth of this, I appeal to infirmities. The willing mind is accepted your own experience. You must be sin- by him; and although through weakness gular indeed, if you never fall out with you fall short of your own good purposes, yourselves; I mean singularly inattentive yet he will say to you as he did to David, (to give it no harsher name), for with the when he purposed to build him an house, best I am sure there is too often just " It was well that it was in thine heart." cause for it. If then we are not able to Who then would not apply himself to gain preserve our own esteem at all times, how the approbation of such a master? This can we expect to preserve the approbation aim, well established, would be a constant of other men ?
principle of holy obedience, and make us And now what is your judgment upon to abound in all those fruits of righteousthe whole? Is not man-pleasing both a ness, which are through Christ to the mean and fruitless attempt ? Is it wise praise and glory of God. Let this henceto have for your aim a thing so disquiet- forth then be our sole ambition, to aping, and so very precarious ? Is it not prove ourselves to him, by whose senby far the wiser course to seek the appro- tence our final condition must be deterbation of God, who trieth your hearts, mined. And let it be our constant rewhom you please most effectually when quest at the throne of grace, that God by you pursue your own best interest? He his almighty Spirit may exalt our souls is not variable in his affections, like men. above every mean and sordid view, and Whom he loves, he loves unto the end. enable us always so to speak and act, "Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor "not as pleasing men, but God who trieth principalities, nor powers, nor things pre- our hearts.”—Then the peace of God, sent, nor things to come, nor height, nor which passeth all understanding, shall depth, nor any other creature, shall be keep our hearts and minds through Christ able to separate us from his love, which Jesus; and amidst all the changing scenes is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
of life, we shall have this for our rejoicing, Let me then address you in the words even the testimony of a good conscience, of this same apostle on another occasion, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not “Ye are bought with a price, be not ye with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of the servants of men.' Remember what God, we have had our conversation in the our Lord said to his disciples while he world. Amen. was on earth; "One is your Master, even
- This purpose
to us, supposeth that we have already SERMON XXXVII.
chosen the ways of God; so it implies also, that our choice is the fruit of mature
and solid consideration. THE APOSTLE'S EXHORTATION.
of heart," with which we are to cleave Acts XI. 23.—“And exhorted them all, that unto the Lord,” is not a blind and obsti
with purpose of heart they would cleave unto nate bigotry, which pusheth men headthe LORD."
long in a way which they know not. Per
sons of this character may have a fair It is not easy to conceive a more com- show in the time of prosperity ; but when plete or amiable character than that which they are brought to the trial of adversity, is given of Barnabas in the following verse: they will relinquish against reason what “He was a good man, and full of the Holy they began without it; and will turn as Ghost, and of faith.” And as a good man, violent in opposing religion, as ever they out of the good treasure of his heart, seemed zealous in promoting it. In the bringeth forth good things; so this faith- 2d place, The exhortation in my text reful minister of Christ, who had been sent quires the habitual exercise of all the graces by the church in Jerusalem to visit the of the Christian life; the constant performnew converts at Antioch, having seen ance of every commanded duty. It is not those real effects of the grace of God enough that we draw near to the Lord on among them, of which he had formerly some stated occasions, or have some tranheard the agreeable report, was filled with sient flashes of devotion, like the Israelites joy; and, like a true "son of consolation," of old, concerning whom it is said (Hosea which his name signifies, he “exhorted vi. 4.) that their goodness, like them all, that with purpose of heart they morning cloud and early dew," appeared would cleave unto the Lord.”—My design for a little, and then "vanished" away. in discoursing from these words is, We must cleave to the Lord at all times ;
1st. To explain the exhortation con- devotion must be the prevailing temper tained in them; 2dly. To enforce it by of our minds; and our habitual practice some motives and arguments; and, 3dly. must correspond to it. It must be our To offer some directions which, through the fixed design, and sincere resolution, to blessing of God, may be useful to those keep all God's commandments, at all who are desirous of complying with it. times, and in all places and circumstances.
I BEGIN with explaining the exhorta- Some there are who lay down resolution contained in the text. And,
tions for the performance of certain duties, ist. It is obvious, that it supposeth with a designed exception of others: Or those to whom it is directed to be already perhaps they purpose to perform all the entered upon a religious course of life. I branches of duty for a particular seaBarnabas addressed his discourse to person, with a secret reserve, that when that sons who were real converts to Chris- time shall be elapsed, they will then retianity. It appears from the 21st and 22d turn to their former course of life. But verses, that the tidings which had come all such resolutions are an abomination to Jerusalem concerning them, expressly to God, as being hypocritical and insinaffirmed, that“ a great number had believed cere; and plainly show that the first step and turned unto the Lord:” and Barnabas, in religion is not yet taken. For at the soon after his arrival at Antioch, received least, it is essential to the character of a full conviction that this report was true; true Christian, that there be a fixed and for " he saw the grace of God, and was peremptory design to adhere to all duty glad.” The form of his exhortation in- at all times. Grievous failures and sins deed sufficiently distinguisheth the char- there may be, even where there are such acter of those to whom it was addressed; honest and upright purposes; but if these for such as had never been joined to the are wanting, our profession of religion must Lord could not, with any propriety, be be altogether vain. In the exhorted to cleave or to adhere to him. 2d place, The exhortation in my text And as this exhortation, when addressed requires that we make an open and honest
profession of our adherence to the Lord. without wearying, and walk without faintAnd I mention this, not only because of ing, " pressing toward the mark, for the the importance of the thing itself, but prize of the high calling of God in Christ also on account of the shameful and per- Jesus." We must not give up religious nicious failure even of some good people exercises, either because of the frequent in this matter. Instead of confessing repetition of self-denying duties, or of the Christ boldly before men, they take as bodily decay which old age brings on, or wide steps as their consciences will allow of the increasing infirmities of the mind. them, to speak the language, and to act We must not give over our work in desthe manners, of a corrupt generation, from pondency, because of the slowness of our the dread of appearing singular, or of in- progress, the smallness of our success, or curring the charge of ostentation or hypo- the number and strength of our enemies. crisy. But this method of concealing, or For all these discouragements will soon rather indeed of giving away, a part of be over,
" and in due time we shall reap, our religion, to secure the reputation if we faint not, a glorious and everlasting of the rest, is neither honest nor wise. reward.” Having thus explained the exHonest it cannot be; for it is just as hortation in my text, I proceed now, in the fraudulent to impose upon men, by seem- Second place, To enforce it by some ing worse than we are, as by seeming motives and arguments. Consider then, better : and surely it is not wise; for if
That the same reasons which at we resolve to have the appearance of no first determined you to choose the
of more religion than corrupt minds will God, are equally forcible for inciting you allow to be sincere, I am afraid we must to persevere in them to the end. Upon give it up altogether, and preserve the what grounds did ye embrace your religopinion of our honesty, by appearing to ion at first ? Why was it that ye ratified, have no religion at all. Hypocrisy is a when ye came to years, that profession inbad thing, not because it wears the form to which ye were baptized ? Was it beof religion, but because it wants the cause of the divine authority upon which power of it; and the way to avoid hypo- your religion rests? This reason surely crisy, is not by doing less than the hypo- still holds to make you adhere to it amidst crite, but by doing more and better. Our the strongest temptations; for divine auSaviour, who spent whole vights in prayer, thority is always to be obeyed, whatever cannot be supposed to condemn the Pha difficulties lie in the way; nay, though the risees for praying long; but for making commands of the highest powers on earth their prayers a cloak to cover their covet- should interfere with it. Was it concern ousness and oppression. He does not for your eternal salvation, and a convicfind fault with them for their outward tion that “there is no other name under beauty, but for their inward pollution and heaven, given among men, whereby you can deformity. If holiness be really within us, be saved, but the name of Christ ?" and we have no occasion to dread any harm from does not this reason bind you as much to its appearing outwardly. It will at length cleave to the Lord as to come to him at overcome the malice of the world, and prove first ? « The Lord is with you while ye its divine original, both by its native lus- be with him; and if you seek him he will tre, and its powerful influence, upon those be found of you ; but if ye forsake him, he who behold it. Once more, in the will forsake you.” He that endureth to
4th place, The exhortation in my text re- the end,” saith Christ, “shall be saved.” quires, that we persevere in our adherence “But if any man draw back, my soul to the Lord to the end of our lives. It shall have no pleasure in him.” Nay, is not sufficient that we begin well, and the case of apostates is represented continue faithful for a while; we must hold every where in Scripture as inconceivably on our way, and wax stronger and stronger more dreadful than that of any other sinas we proceed. We must not be wearied ners. Once more, did you enter upon a with the length of the way, but, “lifting religious course of life, because your
the hands that hang down, and strength- consciences would not suffer you to be ening the feeble knees," we must run at peace till you had done so ? This rea