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THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED*.
Hos. vi. 3. Then shall ye know, if ye follow on to
know the Lord.
the two first heads of the method we laid down, we now proceed,
III. To confirm the doctrine, or shew you, that the way to follow religion is, to follow on, to pursue, to hold your hands to it, when once your hand is in it. -- And the belief of this would be a great fpur to diligence. If a person, digging with great labour in the earth, was almost ready to give it over, but another comes to him, and persuades him, that if he will hold on, he would assuredly find a treasure, he would unquestionably renew his resolution, and vigorously follow it out. This I would persuade you of, in regard to religion ; however small your beginnings or hopes may now
bes * Delivered, Monday, Sept. 1. 1714.
be, yet persevere : “ Be not weary in well-doing, for in due time
faint not." To convince you as to this, consider,
1. You have God's word of promise for it : Matth. xxv. 29.
“ For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance.” A man hath no more in God's account, than what he keeps and improves for God's glory and his own salvation. Now, God does not set down all his children with equal stocks. There are fathers, youths, and babes in Christ. Some get more, fome less ; but there is a promise of more given to them all, on their holding their hands to what they have got. It is God's goodness to most of us, that we are held short by the head, and that any thing we get, we know well how we come by it. This is necessary that our light hearts may not grow vain, and that our careless fpirits may be aroused the more. But a little thing, with a promise, will be like the five loaves that multiplied in the distribution.-Conader,
2. That it is the Lord's ordinary way in his works, to bring great things by degrees out of small beginnings. He could have made the world in a moment, but he took six days to it; at first there was but the rude máss, which day by day was brought to perfection. See an instance, i Kings, xviii. 43. and downwards. See how another great work began, Esther, vi. 1. Both which places confult. So also in the text: “His going forth is prepared as the morning.” In his works of grace, as in the works of nature, he ordinarily keeps that way of advancing by degrees. Consider,
3. That the works of grace in the soul ordinarily arise from very smail beginnings. The grain of mustard seed, called the imallest of feeds,
is used as an emblem of this, Matth. xiii. 31. 32. It is a seed springing so leisurely, that the springing of it cannot sometimes be discerned in the time, Mark, iv. 27. It springeth and groweth up, we know not how. See how low the beginning of good may be, which the Lord will cherish, and bring to perfection : Ifa. xlii. 3. “ A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench; he shall bring forth judgement unto truth."--Consider,
4. The bountiful nature of God, who surely will not always flee from those who follow him, but will at length be found of them. If at any time he seem to flee from them, it is that they may follow him the more vigorously; if he hold meat from them a while, it is that their appetite may be the more sharpened, Luke, xxiv, 28. 29. But resolute following on cannot miss to find him. See an eminent instance of this in the Syrophenician woman, who besought Jesus to caft the devil out of her daughter, and persevered till she obtained her request, Mark, vii. 25.--29. For good being in its nature communicative of itself, goodness itself cannot fail to be fo. The fpoufe had experience of this, Song, iii. 1.-4. --Confider,
5. That no person gets a refusal from heaven, but those who court it by their own indifference : and indeed a faint way of seeking is to beg a denial. God is more ready to give, than we are to seek : Psal. lxxxi. 10. “Open thy mouth wide," says he, “ and I will fill it.” He loves importunity, and cannot deny an importunate suitor, and though some such have stood long at his door, there was never a single individual who fell down dead at it; their long waiting was always made up by the greater incomes of favour which they
experienced, Matth. xv. 21. and downwards. The richest treasure is that which lies deepest. --Consider,
6. That as importunity is usually in all cases the way to come fpeed, so it has special advantages in this case which promise success. The Lord gives much to importunity: Luke, xi. 9. “ And I say unto you, Alk, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye
shall find ; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” The word in the eighth verse rendered importunity, is in the Greek Shamelessness. Pinching need makes people shameless. It is not here as with men, that a shameless seeker muft get a shameless refusal; they who will not, cannot take a denial, shall not be troubled with it : And when there is enough and to spare to the needy, this and their condition makes them shamelefs; both concur to make them importunate.
7. But further consider, that such followers the Lord does not bid them go back; and is not this very encouraging ? If a beggar be following a man for an alms, and he knows it, there is always hope while he does not command him away. Now, you will follow long ere the Lord bid you go away; but if there were no hope, you would foon get your answer. Thus the foolish virgins were soon answered with a "
Verily I say unto you, I know you not,” Matth. xxv. 12.–Consider also,
8. That the Lord commands you to follow on : Luke, xi. 19, “ And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you ; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” And is not that encouraging? I know unbelief will be ready to shape an answer to the soul, taking God's delay for a denial, that the soul
follow no further : Jer. ii. 25. “ With-hold thy foot from being un.
shod, shod, and thy throat from thirst; but thou faidst, There is no hope; no.” It is, however, better to hang on about God's door, than go back to fill our belly with the husks which fwine devour. He commands you to follow on, and he would not do it, if there was no hope.- Consider farther,
9. That it is the Lord who has given you the foot to follow him: James, i. 17. “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” If you have any defire after him, or the least good motion, it is from himself; and though he fhould have no regard for you, he will regard his own work in
you do not put it away from you. God opens not his children's mouth to put an empty spoon in it;. but he who forms the desire will fatisfy it.--consider,
Lastly, That the very nature of the thing confirms it, that the more we apply ourselves to the business of religion, we shall bring it to the better account. It is true, we own that religion in the principle of it is infused into the heart; but the Christian having both to will and to do wrought in him by God, must work out his own salvation with fear and trembling, Phil. ii. 12. 13. Grace, by its exercise, increases. Whatever good motions the Lord has put into the heart, it is like a spring; the more opening which it gets, and the more it runs, the more water comes into it'; whereas, if it be stopped, the water turns away, and seeks another opening.
IV. We are now to make some practical improvement,
I. In an use of information.