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reason for persevering in watchfulness. To what quarter can we turn our attention, from whence a temptation may not arise? The world attacks our eyes, our ears, and our appetites, with baits adapted to allure them; yea, it addresses our hopes and fears, our joys and sorrows, in order to draw us away from our stedfastness. Now, how can these repeated assaults be withstood, if we do not endeavour to maintain that sobriety of mind which will at once induce us to watch against the evils which surround us, and enable us to assume such a posture of defence as, with the help of God, will carry us gloriously through every attack ?
3. The native wickedness of our own hearts will require the utmost vigilance. There are two principles in the best of men--nature and grace. The former always inclines us to evil; the latter strongly biasses us to good. The one is called the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts of the flesh;" the other, " the new man, which, after God, is created in righteousness and true holiness." The Apostle tells us, “These are contrary one to the other, so that we cannot do the things that we would "." Indeed, the struggle for victory betwixt the carnal and the spiritual principle is often so determined, that it extorts the bitter exclamation, “ O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death!”
But the state of unrenewed men is still more af-. fecting: in their souls the corrupt principle is predominant : “they are led captive by sin, and the depraved affections which controul them, so that they readily yield to the temptations of the Devil"." Eph. iv. 22–25.
Gal. v. 17. 8 Rom. vii. 24.
b 2 Tim. ii. 26.
Now, if the strictest watchfulness is requisite in the case of good men, lest they should fall away and make shipwreck of faith and of a good conscience', how indispensably needful is it for those who, having no grace in their hearts, are easily led astray from the path of righteousness ! Jesus says unto all, “Watch, and pray, that ye enter not into temptation."
4. The disadvantages under which an unwatchful person labours are, indeed, numerous. First; he is compared, by St. Paul, to one who is asleep During the hours of repose, how ignorant and unconscious is a man of all the events that are passing around him! How defenceless is his condition! If the midnight assassin should attack him, or the robber should invade his property, he may easily fall by the violence of the former, or be plundered by the craft of the latter.-Secondly; a person who does not "watch and pray,” but lives in the allowance of sin, resembles a dead man, who is as insensible of any injury offered to him as he is destitute of means to resist it.
A drowsy, lifeless, sinner is therefore in a very pitiful condition. Insensible of the danger which he incurs from the devices which Satan employs against him, and lost in total ignorance of his own character and state, he goes on hourly in a course of impiety, unconcerned about the unisery which must soon overtake him, unless he is raised " from the death of sin to the life of righteousness” by the quickening energy of the Holy Ghost.
The folly of such totalwant of vigilance was apparent in the sad catastrophe which befel the ungodly world in the days of Noah: “ They did eat, they drank, 1 Tim. i. 19.
i Eph. v. 14.
they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all k.” How little did these unthinking people expect such a fatal overthrow! And how greatly surprised will ungodly men be," when sudden destruction shall come upon them, and they shall not escape'!” Is it, then, without just reason that the Apostle exhorts sinners in these words : “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light " !"
5. Christian vigilance is attended with every advantage. Whilst we are sober, and given unto prayer,” though we shall not be exempted from the
temptations which are common to men,” yet we shall be, comparatively, secure from evil. Satan will not prevail over those who oppose him with “the whole armour of God.”. Success is promised to every Child of God who contends with Satan in a Christian spirit and with the weapons of the Gospel:-“Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you,” as a foiled and vanquished enemy. Myriads in heaven have overcome the Wicked-one and every danger; and are now enjoying, in the glorified state, the fruits of their victory. St. John saw in vision this triumphant host, and celebrates their victory :- "I beheld, and lo! a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb !" Are you vigilant ? “Do
walk circumspectly, k Luke xvii. 26, 27.
1 Thess. v.3. Eph. v. 14.
* Rev. vii. 9, 10.
not as fools, but as wise men, redeeming the time, because the days are evilo ?” Do
you, conscious of your feebleness, distrust even your own hearts, as well as your best resolutions ? Are you ever“ standing on the watch, and setting upon the towero," that you may descry your enemies, and be prepared to give them a formidable reception? Unless you take such precautions, the sudden assaults of Satan may cause you to “ fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.”
6. But are you desirous to know the manner in which
you may acquit yourselves, in this holy warfare, with success? Then you must narrowly watch, and studiously observe, the inward springs of action.
Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life 9.
Be particularly on your guard against constitutional sins ; for though they may slumber for a time, when not excited by temptation, yet, in the moment of trial, they are easily kindled into a flame, and made to rage with uncontrouled violence. “Let not sin have dominion over you;' “ but watch, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong 99!"
Do not parley with the temptations of the “ Father of Lies,” lest he should gain an advantage over you. When he infuses evil thoughts, reject them with abhorrence ; saying, “ The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan' !"
Be not enticed into unlawful indulgences, by the specious excuses with which he will furnish you, in order to diminish their guilt, or to make them more attractive. Reject the delusion, in the words of Jo
Eph. v. 15, 16. 00 Hab. ii. 1. P 1 Tim, vi. 9. 9 Prov. iv, 23. 49 1 Cor. xvi. 13. r Zech. iii, 2.
seph; “How, then, can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving!.” Even Satan, formidable as he is, may be vanquished by the efficacy of earnest prayer: this is that shield which, when joined with faith in the promises of God, renders our souls invincible. Our Lord's caution is never unnecessary :
lest ye enter into temptation.” To place a full reliance on watchfulness without the use of fervent prayer, argues a presumptuous confidence in our own strength, which will expose us to certain failure; but when they are combined, we shall, without doubt, triumph over the hosts of darkness, “and make our calling and election sure". .” “Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord, when he cometh, shall find watching! Verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them wu." . Gen. xxxix. 9.
“ Watch and
Col. iv. 2. u 2 Pet. i. 10.
uu Luke xii. 37.
ON RESISTING AND MORTIFYING SIN.
Romans viii. 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die :
but if ye, through the Spirit, do mortify the deeds of the body, ye
shall live. When a man engages in a contest, it is of great consequence for him to know the character and resources of his opponent, and the injury which he is capable of doing ; that he may understand the best method of attack and defence, and by what means he can most effectually annoy his enemy. In the