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Even an infidel, were he to speak honestly, would tell such, that they are no Christians. Yet, perhaps, they would be very angry with any one but an infidel for saying so, and in reality are by no means unbelievers. But why then will they not become consistent? If the Gospel of Christ deserves any regard at all, it deserves a thorough regard : either it is nothing, or it is the most important of all things. And they who profess it, yet seldom think of it, who are influenced by it, if at all, to scarce more than a little outward shew, and slight and scorn the frame of mind which it was intended to create in them, better had it been for them, unless, they amend, never to have known it*. All sorts of persons are concerned beyond expression to recollect this often: but two sorts beyond the rest. If you of the upper part of the world, who have most to be thankful and most to be answerable for, instead of being exemplary in serving God, are remarkable for neglecting his worship and his laws; not only the ingratitude, but the perniciousness of your behaviour, will greatly increase your punishment. And if we of the clergy, who teach others by our exhortations to set their affection on things above, not on things on the earth t, teach them the reverse by our practice: make it our study, to acquire applause, or wealth, or power, or rank, to partake of amusements and diversions in the poor, low degree that for shame we can, or enjoy ourselves in some graver kind of voluptuous indolence; to do any thing, in short, but labour diligently in God's vineyard from first to last for the good of souls; we shall receive a double condemnation. And they who patronize any such of us, will share deeply in our guilt. # 2 Pet. ii. 21.
+ Col. iii. 2.
It is not rigour that dictates any of these assertions to me.
It was not austerity, but the tenderest compassion, that moved St. Paul to say, For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, who mind earthly things* : not always designed enemies, but real ones however. Our Saviour hath told us, He that is not with me, is against met. And they that will be with him to effect, must be with him heartily, openly, and uniformly. We may have qualities very amiable, and do actions very laudable in the estimation of men, and yet our hearts be far from right in the sight of God I. He requires, as well he may, that we should consider ourselves principally as his creatures, as sinners, as favoured with offers of mercy and of grace, as bound to live soberly, righteously, and godly, looking for the blessed hope of his glorious appearances. However the preference, which the world gives to very different matters, may buoy us up now in overlooking these, it will be no protection to us, when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God l. And however insipid or insupportable a life may appear to some, which is to be humbly spent in regulating their desires, doing their duty and expecting their reward; they will find upon trial, that every other scheme produces miserable disappointments; and this, as much happiness as our present state is capable of. Length of days, easy circumstances, general esteem, domestic tranquillity, national good order and strength, are the smaller advantages that usually attend practising the rules of religion : but the constant ones, the calm peace and joyful prospects of all whose minds are duly affected Phil. ii. 18, 19.
+ Matth. xii. 30. Luke xi. 23. # Acts viii. 21. ý Tit, ii. 12, 13. | Rev. xx. 12.
by the genuine principles of it, these are blessings inexpressibly great.
You are not exhorted to begin a new course of life, and retain your old inclinations ; making yourselves uneasy, without making yourselves better : but to acquire such sentiments, that you may delight in all you do. The vigorous exercise of good sense will contribute not a little to this desirable end; for, indeed the ways of the world are often flat contradictions to it. But the fundamental rule is, learn a just value for the cross of Christ, for the pity he hath shewn, the pardon he hath purchased, the felicity he hath provided for you; and you will soon come to love the restraints and observances which he hath appointed, to look with indifference, or sometimes with disgust and abhorrence, on what you have hitherto admired, and find the degree of your satisfactions unspeakably increased, by changing the nature of them from trifling, disgraceful and noxious, to rational, noble and beneficent. Still difficulties there will be, and to some persons peculiar ones, in breaking settled habits, and dissolving the ties by which you have been long held. But God will give you both courage and prudence, to make it easier than you think. Though you will do what is right with steadiness, yet you will do it without ostentation, and with chearful good-humour: speak mildly of others, and keep on as good terms with all men as you safely can. But, if you are too solicitous to please them, you will gradually slide back, and forget, as thousands have done to their eternal ruin, your former convictions. Therefore, whenever you feel any, suffer them not to die away through inattention, or be choaked by cares and pleasures, or blasted by the breath of scoffers : but impress them
on your souls immediately and frequently, form resolutions corresponding to them, and confirm these by reading good books, by the conversation and countenance of good persons, by attendance on God's public ordinances; but especially by fervent private prayer, suited to your spiritual condition. With this, out of weakness you will be made strong*: and without this, the seemingly firmest human purposes, think as highly of them as you will, can never be effectual. For God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humblet.
+ Jam. iv. 6. 1 Pet. v. 5.
* Heb. xi, 34.
COL. III. 1, 2.
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things
which are above, wherë Christ sitteth on the
right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things
on the earth.
This day we are met to celebrate the yearly memorial of our blessed Lord's rising from the dead. Now the genuine method of paying honour to every article of our Creed is allowing it the proper influence on our hearts and lives. Christ's resurrection is vain with respect to us, unless we be raised by it to the faith of a better world; and the firmest faith of that is vain also, unless it excites us to love and seek the things which are above. This passage of St. Paul therefore is justly made one principal part of our Easter Day's service: and the degree of our practical regard to it will be the true measure of our improvement by the discipline of the past season, and of God's acceptance of our celebration of the present. That each of these then may be such, as we are concerned beyond expression that it should, I shall lay before you the chief motives to a due regulation of our desires and behaviour, in relation to earthly and heavenly objects, which motives arise from considering ourselves,
1. As rational beings: