Imatges de pÓgina


320 gospel now. They were creatures of a different world. They lived on earth, to be ready for heaven. Hence they trod thei path to glory, however thorny, and rejoiced in hastening to an early crown. Polycarp, when condemned to martyrdom, was so fearful lest the prayers of his friends should prevent the execution of the sentence, that he begged them to forbear: "I fear," said he, "lest your love should injure me.” Does one of all those martyred myriads now repent? Did one when landing on the heavenly shore ever think, I have borne too much for him who bore the cross for me? We need not go so far back to view the patience of the saints. Look behind you a hundred and fifty or two hundred years, and see ENGLISH Confessors, of whom the world was not worthy, encountering persecution in their native isle, or savages and famine in the midst of American wilds. See dungeons filled with their captives, and deserts peopled with their exiles. See persecutors hunting out their little haunts; denying them the enjoyment of religious worship, even in solitary fields, or lonely woods. Behold soldiers entering their assemblies; disturbing their meetings; silencing their ministers; and dragging hearers, and preachers, to fines, confiscations, and prisons. O be not slothful! though not called to encounter their sorrows, imitate their lives; cherish their fervent attachment to the absent Saviour; and their fond eagerness for a better world. When the world tempts you, and Satan suggests, Your hope is vain; then think of them who once had all these trials, and many more; but who overcame through the blood of the Lamb.

§ 20. When tempted to despond, or shrink in the day of conflict, then hear your Lord saying, Will you go away; you for whom I died; to whom I have been a shepherd and friend who have professed so much love to me; who have taken on your soul such solemn vows, and sealed them so often at the table of your Lord;-will you go away? You who never found me faithless-and never will-will you go away?-will you ?-shall Satan triumph?-have you considered the folly ?-have you weighed the sin ?-have you measured the ingratitude of hearkening to the tempter ?—and will you go away? O do you not reply, Holy Jesus, where should I go? If I left thee, where should I find a Saviour? where go for pardon, peace, salvation, and eternal life? Keep



me, and I will not go away. Though the tempter's suggestion were true, that my hope is vain, yet if I perish, at thy feet will I die!


If tempted to give religion up, hear your Lord saying, "Hold that fast which thou hast, that no one take thy crown.' All the enemies thou hast been instructed to watch against, will try to rob thee of that prize; but hold the beginning of thy confidence fast unto the end. Think of the worth of that crown of which they would rob thee. Think of the price which was paid, that that crown might adorn thy head, thou child of dust!-a price no less precious than the blood of the Lamb. Think of the love that would bestow it on thee! think of the raptures of receiving, and of the heaven of enjoying, that thornless crown! Whatever thou mayst lose, or suffer, or fear, or dread, still hold this fast! Though it does not yet beam around thy honoured head, yet follow Jesus, and it shortly will. Hear him speaking to thee: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."P No meaner hand than mine shall give the glorious boon. Thy Lord's own hand will bestow the prize.--Fear not lest thou shouldst not attain the blessing, for I will give it


Be faithful unto death. This is all, and come when death may, then this crown, not of merit but of grace, is thine. This promise was given to those who had to pass through persecution. You are not called to such trials; be faithful then when encountering far lighter opposition; and remember that the spirit of martyrs should animate every Christian. If you are afraid of being singularly pious; if you fear a sneer, or a laugh, or the words fanatic, enthusiast, or methodist; if you shrink from your duty for fear of offending a friend, or an employer, can you think that such faith and fortitude would stand a much severer trial? Can you think that you should be faithful unto death, amidst taunts, and torments; if this be the case, are you faithful now? Does not Jesus say, Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of man be ashamed? O watch against a cowardly spirit in religion!

It is true our difficulties are not like those of some who have preceded us. They are less formidable; and perhaps

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on that account more dangerous. When attacked by the enemies they encountered, there remained no opportunity for parleying with the trial. No alternative remained to them, but victory or death. But the evils we encounter in our spiritual warfare, seem to demand less decision, and so are often more destructive. The warm beams of the sun led the traveller, in the fable, to throw aside the cloak, which the rough tempest could not tear from him.

Look to that crown! and to him who gives it! Look to those promises that they are inheriting, who in his strength have overcome. They felt all your trials; they knew all your sorrows; they encountered all your dangers; and struggled with all your enemies; had hearts as cold and grovelling; enemies as many, and as mighty; fears as painful; doubts as perplexing; and temptations as harassing; but they overcame through the blood of the Lamb. Now they are inheriting the promises; and opposition, and danger, and death, and temptation, and sin, are things unknown where they repose. A few years ago many of them were in the field of warfare; but now in the land of victory. Their pilgrimage is ended; their warfare done; their voyage of life is finished; they have reached the harbour; and landed on "the peaceful shore of blest eternity." The crown of life, the rivers of pleasure, the fulness of joy, the house not made with hands, the mansions in Jehovah's dwelling, the heaven we desire, the eternity that fills our souls with conflicting hopes and fears-all, all are theirs. Happy conquerors! happy end of the struggles of a few fleeting_years! And may you ere long enjoy the same? You may. Eternal love has opened to your soul the gate of heaven. Eternal love would place upon your head the crown of life. Your journey is no longer than theirs; your enemies no mightier. Your helps are no less. Jesus was their strength; and he would be yours. Your encouragements are no smaller. To them he promised immortality, and the crown of life; and he would give the same precious gift to you. O blessed immortality! is this the gift of Jesus to a pardoned penitent, that once deserved the depths of hell? O crown of life, of glory! is it this, that his kind hand will place on every humble believer's unworthy head? Blessed gifts! blessed recompence for a life of fourscore years, wholly devoted to his love and service! Of fourscore years!



whose years are those? more than probable not yours, not mine. But if they were, fourscore years or fourscore moments are the same, when compared with those boundless, endless oceans of ages that eternity contains. O the heights, and depths, and lengths of that love, which gives as a free gift to an unworthy sinner that eternal life! Precious encouragement for following the Lamb, through light or darkness, life or death! Look to him, and look to heaven, then onwards go, till life concludes, and Jesus gives the crown.



§ 1. MANY are the painful spectacles presented in this world to the Christian's view; but none more painful than to see those, who once promised fair for heaven, turning back into perdition. In all ages this sad sight has been too frequently beheld. Among the twelve apostles was a Judas, who betrayed his Lord. Among the companions of the blessed Paul was a Demas, who forsook him, "having loved this present world." Among those to whom he preached the gospel were foolish Galatians, who, as if bewitched, obeyed not Jesus crucified; and fallen Corinthians, of whom he said, "I fear lest my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned, and have not repented of the uncleanness, and fornication, and lasciviousness, which they have committed."

No new thing then happens to the flock of Jesus, when some of whom they once hoped well, forsake the Lord. Nor, though it pain, need this discourage his sincere disciples. He knows his own, and says of them, "Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, that have not defiled their garments, and they shall walk with me in white, for they are worthy."



§ 2. The causes of backsliding are many, and various. Ì is to be apprehended that a cause, which operates in many cases, is the want of real grace. Many profess religion, who never possessed it. When they fall away the church of Christ sustains no real loss; the number travelling to heaven is not diminished; for they were hypocrites or self-deceivers. The word of God represents this, as a principal cause of backsliding. "They went out from us, but they were not of us."* "He that receiveth the seed into stony places, is he that heareth the word, and with joy receiveth it: yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while."b Persons of this description never were the children of God. They might seem pleased and profited, but the root was always wanting. The foolish virgins were always different from the wise. They had the lamp; but they never had the oil: no one is truly a disciple of Christ who does not at heart forsake all things for him. Many profess religion that are never brought to this. They leave some sins, they make some sacrifices, while their feelings are roused, and perhaps they stand for a time; but when the world bids high enough for their services, they renounce religion, and return to the ways they professed to forsake. A celebrated statesman used to say, that every man has his price. However we may disbelieve this assertion, we may assert, that every one who professes religion without being truly converted to God, has, as to this world, his price. For some the world must bid higher than for others. The offer of an ungodly, but pleasing, wife or husband, is a price sufficiently high for multitudes; for this they will forsake their profession, and renounce their Lord and Christian friends. Others want a higher price; but all who have not the root of religion within, will only stand their ground, till the world tempts them with something sufficiently valuable, in their esteem, to draw them aside. Love to the world is a common cause of backsliding. "Demas hath forsaken me," said the apostle Paul, "having loved this present world." Anxious cares respecting the things of time, and inordinate attachment to them, occasion others to fall away. "The cares of this world," among the lower and middling classes of society, and "the deceitfulness of riches," among the wealthy," and the lusts of other things entering in," in all stations and ranks and (b) Matt. xiii. 20, 21.

(a) 1 John ii. 19.

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