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TO DO ALL
they can be none of his, because the IMPROPER love of the world is ENMITY with God; since Christ died to save us out of it, to make us sit loose to it, to point to us a better country, to warn us that we have here no continuing city, but are only as pilgrims and sojourners; that it was never meant we should here take up our rest, but strive, all the time of our journey through it, to enter into that rest where is peace and joy for evermore. Alas! what keeps us back from feeling all that strength the Apostle boasts in the text, through CHRIST WHO HELPS THINGS? Why, it is our wilful backwardness to close with the OFFER; our lack of faith. And what occasions this deficiency of faith ? Our pitiful, and pitiable fear of engaging too far with God. We are divided between God and the world. Like king Saul, we are for keeping back part of the spoils; but (UNLIKE him so far) we are not willing to sacrifice them to the Lord. What blindness is this! The more we love God, the more we must love his commandments, because they are all appointed for our greatest good. When we possess a good portion of this love, we shall be able to do ALL THINGS. It will comfort us, under the heaviest loss; sweeten the severest difficulties; cause us to see, as through a cloud, the afflictions God's mercy hath appointed for our rescue ; nay, we shall behold death itself approach with joy; viewing it (as it is, to the humble and righteous) as the gate of eternal life and glory, we shall then FEAR NOTHING. Is it possible to have too much of God ? how can we seriously desire to know him in eternity, if we now refuse him for our comforter and sure help? Is it wisdom to toil under the heavy burden of the world, and refuse to exchange it for the light yoke of Christ? What ruinous infatuation is this! We fear to be too happy; too much delivered from these destructive qualities of our fallen nature. Pride, passion, and the tyranny of a deceitful world, all combine to enslave us here, and disqualify us for ever from entering heaven.-Since, then, by trusting in the Apostle's assertion, that, through Christ STRENGTHENING HIM, HE COULD DO ALL THINGS, which is a truth in the power of every Christian to experience, let us strive (my dear brethren) from this moment to make full proof of it. Let us rest assured, that it will enable us to do all that I have delivered to you as necessary to be done to save your souls; the principal of which is a victory over the sins that do most easily beset us.
Let us imitate the wisdoin of the Apostle, and count all things but dung that we may win Christ : he is the pearl of great price, for which it is worth our while to part with all we have, if so we may but experience the riches of his grace in our hearts. This is the victory (saith Christ), THAT YE OVERCOME THE WORLD. Against this adversary we must steadfastly set our face, and call manfully on Christ for help, and he will hear us.--Finally, this strength will be needful for our perseverance in well-doing, as we pray in the concluding portion of the Catechism I have made my subject this day, "'that we
may continue in the same unto our life's end." Many, doubtless, have tasted the sweets of divine grace, which we are taught to believe is the free gift of God at our baptism; that principle, which, even in its lowest state, affords us, as fallen creatures, any capacity of perceiving or doing good. These may have unhappily fallen, through want of continuing in a course of cautious industry. It is perseverance, therefore, that we must pray for ; by this we become more and more inclined to the practice of all holy actions, and thus, by degrees, they become easy and natural to us. If, therefore, we would ever arrive to that perfection which the heavenly state requires, it must be first by abstaining from all wilful and positive evil, and then giving up ourselves to the practice of virtue, by continually training and exercising ourselves in such parts of the heavenly life, as can be imitated here on earth: this, by degrees, will wear off the difficulties of it, and accustom our nature to it now; so that, in God's
good time, we shall be ripe for a translation, or change to a more perfect, and eternal happiness; for, there cannot be a doubt with any Christian, that, while we remain in habits of known sin, we are wholly unqualified, and in no state of preparation for a blissful eternity. It must be equally clear to any one who has made the experiment, that, of ourselves alone, we are unequal to subdue the several lusts and passions that cleave to our fallen nature, damp our spiritual affections, and slacken our progress in pure religion. For our comfortable assurance then, whenever we shall find ourselves freed from those lets and hinderances to our Christian improvement, we may be certain it is by the help of God; for, where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty; a freedom from the enslaving principles that have so long kept us from walking in the safe way, and full liberty or power to act as the children of God; since the desire to combat our darling appetites, can proceed only from God's grace upon our minds. We have nothing, therefore, to do, when visited with any conviction of our own danger, but to pray constantly and earnestly, that the same good Spirit would afford us strength to improve these good desires, and empower us, by pious resolutions and a vigorous perseverance in well-doing, effectually to master our carnal appetites, and render them submissive to a more purified will: in short, to build wholly on the strength of CHRIST, THROUGH WHOM WE SHALL BE ABLE TO DO ALL THINGS ; and to whom, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, be ascribed all praise and glory