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And surely the Gospel suggests the most irresistible motives to exertion. The highest reward obtained by the victors in the Olympic Games was a perishable wreath of olive or parsley. But the Christian conqueror obtains “ an incorruptible erown, that fadeth not away;" an imperishable laurel, which will survive the grave, and flourish throughout eternal
ages. The exploits of victors, in human conflicts, are sung by Poets, and handed down to posterity by public records : but the triumphs of the faithful disciples of Jesus are chaunted by angels, and recorded in the everlasting annals of heaven "u!
The foregoing exhibition of the nature of the Christian life will convince us that the requirements of Christ, from his obedient servants, are just and reasonable: “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
4. The Christian must "deny himself.” The soldier, who fights with a hope of gaining a victory over the enemies of his country; the traveller, who is anxious to accomplish his journey ; and the racer, who strives to outrun his competitor; deem it pru: dent to submit to discipline, privation, and toil, as means which conduce to the ends which they respectively propose to themselves.
And shall those who engage in an heavenly calling be unwilling to exercise self-denial, to curb irregular appetites ; and to forego those guilty and forbidden pleasures, which hinder them from "running the race which is set before them?” We affix but little value to the joys of heaven, if we do not deem it worth our while to make those sacrifices which the Gospel requires, to secure them.
uu Psalm cxii. 6.
Let us, then, be ready, at the request of our Lord and Saviour, to abandon every pernicious way, however pleasurable and profitable it may have been, and to cultivate those habits of holiness and temperance which " bring a man peace at the last.”
Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrimns, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul .”
5. The Christianis required to take up his cross." If we range ourselves under the banners of Christ, we shall most assuredly have a cross to bear, a conflict to maintain with the powers of darkness, who will not suffer us to take possession of the promised land, without harassing us every step of the way thither. “It is through much tribulation we must enter the kingdom.” We can hardly trace the Church of Christ, at any period of its existence, but through scenes of suffering and trial. From the time of Abel to this day, the world has treated true piety either with cold indifference, or profane contempt, or open persecution. As in the earliest ages of religion, "he that was born after the flesh, persecuted him that was born after the Spirit,” even so it is now". Christians must, therefore, take up
tread in the steps of their suffering Lord, “and go forth unto him, without the camp, bearing his reproach'." When any trial, loss, contempt, or persecution arises for Christ's sake, let us neither shun nor dread it, acting as cowards, who désert their post in the hour of danger ;
“ but let us rather fight manfully under the standard of Christ, and continue his faithful soldiers and servants unto the end of our lives."
To make us patient anú subtnissive under the cross, whatever it may be, only let us think of the intense
1 Pet, ii. 11. ** Gal. iv, 29. » Heb, xüi, 13
agony of Christ, and how cheerfully “he bare our sins, in his own body, on the tree;" who,“ when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but cominitted himself to Hirn who judgeth righteously.” And, if we compare vur sufferings with those of the primitive Christians, and Martyrs and Confessors, how trifling and disproportionate will they appear! “Some of them were tortured ; others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings ; yea, moreover, of bonds, and imprisonment.; they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (of whom the world was not worthy :) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and caves of the earth."
6. Christians inust follow Christ, their Lord, in the regeneration. Jesus has marked out the path in which he invites his professed servants to walk. Whithersoever he goeth, they should be willing to attend him, accounting it honourable to tread in his steps **. If he call them to pass through the furnace of affliction, or the fire of persecution, they must not turn aside, but resolutely follow him, even unto the greatest suffering, or to death itself. In all their trials, his courageous and faithful followers may fully calculate upon the support of their Lord and Master; who is aware of the succour they need, whilst defending his righteous cause. He promises, therefore to comfort his Church under her sufferings, for his sake. “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the : 1 Pet. ii. 23. * Heb. xi. 33-40.
na John X. 27,
flame kindle upon thee.
thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour."
Again; we must imitate Christ's holy example. What love to God and man, even to his most avowed foes-what devotion of soul, what self-denial, what patience, meekness, temperance, and forgiveness-in a word, what a bright constellation of heavenly virtues shone forth in the conduct of Jesus ! It is the duty of his disciples frequently to meditate on the life of Christ, and the rich assemblage of excellencies which he displayed, that they may see in him what they should endeavour to become themselves. And, although they can never expect to arrive at such a measure of perfection as Christ did, who was without spot or blemish, still, they should study to resemble him as much as possible ; because their happiness will increase or diminish, in proportion to the degree in which they are conformed to hiin. And, lastly, an obedience to his commands will be requisite, to constitute us followers of the lowly Jesus. It will be of no use “to call him Lord, Lord,” or to make ever such loud professions of respect for his name, "if we do not the things which he commands us.'
Let us, as devoted servants, be always ready to obey our Divine Master, even in things which oppose our self-love, pride, and vain-glory; as well as in those particulars of our duty, where compliance is more easy. We are not to single out one command in preference to another; but to do, in sincerity, all things, whatsoever he enjoins us d.
7. By thus acting, we shall certainly approve ourselves to Christ, who will amply recompense the love, the zeal, and fidelity of his people. Nothing we have done, to promote his glory or to comply Isa. xliii, 2, 3. Dan. iii. 19-30. •Luke vi. 46. «i Tim. v. 21.
with his will, shall be forgotten, or remain unrewarded, “in the day when he cometh to make up his jewels." Then he will acknowledge us as friends, in the presence of God and his holy angels ; and say unto us, “Well done, good and faithful servants ! enter ye into the joy of
ON THE DESIGN AND IMPORTANCE OF THE CHRISTIAN
Luke xix. 10. For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save
that which was lost.
CHRISTIANITY only requires to be better known, in order to its being more fully appreciated. If men either despise or neglect it, it is because they do not understand its excellence. “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of thein which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto thema."
But whether men can discern the value of Christ's religion, or its lustre be concealed from their view, still it is intended, by its Divine Founder, as a remedy for the miseries which sin has occasioned. That it is well calculated to answer this merciful purpose, will be manifest from the slightest examination of its doctrines, precepts, provisions, consolations, and promises.
As soon as our Saviour commenced his ministry, he announced, in his public and private discourses, the great object of his mission: “I am come to seek
* 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.