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Whom should you serve, if not the God who made, preserves, governs, and blesses you, and obedience to whose laws constitutes the advancement and the perfection of all your powers, and the peace and felicity of your nature? Whom should you gratefully obey, if not that divine Redeemer, who, in effecting your deliverance from that bondage to sin and death to which our fallen race is subjected, and your exaltation to immortal glories, passed through those raging floods of trouble which finally overwhelmed him in the bitterness of death? To whom should you be devoted, if not to that divine Sanctifier, whose light illumines the darkness of human reason, and whose power induces on the depraved soul the celestial virtues of a new nature? To the Godhead, the three eternal and incomprehensible Persons that subsist in Jehovah, the one living and true God-thus your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier-you were consecrated in your baptism; and if you refuse to acknowledge the consecration, to renew the vows to which it pledged you, you cast off your allegiance to the Lord of all beings, the Author of all goodness and felicity; and forfeiting the everlasting blessings of his favour in that heaven of which he made you heirs, you incur, in that place to which his justice would doom you, that wrath which destroys for ever both soul and body.
Not, then, a formal compliance with decent custom-not the heedless imitation of the example of others--but a sense of the obligations of duty and of gratitude that bind you to God, the force of those motives of everlasting happiness and misery that are the awful sanctions of the covenant of your baptism, and a deep conviction that the sal
vation of your souls is the great business and the highest concern that can engage you-these, the result of serious consideration, and appealing most powerfully to your understandings and your hearts, have, we trust, excited and animated the resolution which you will now profess-" We will serve the Lord."
Let it be also a resolution animated by a determined intention to fulfil it.
The nature of the service which this resolution respects the obedience which you are to render to God, your Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, consisting in the renunciation of every sinful indulgence and practice that corrupts the heart and degrades the character, and in the attainment of every virtue that can purify and exalt the soul, and the discharge of every duty that can render holy the life; the momentous object also which is at stake, the salvation of the soul, its happiness or misery in an endless state of existence, and the numerous allurements and temptations which must be resisted and overcome in the great warfare in which you engage-all demand that you enter on it with the most serious resolution. It is essential that the vigorous determination be made to employ all the faculties of your minds and the affections of your hearts, and the efforts of your will, in that work which is alone worthy of this supreme engagedness-the service of the Lord, and the attainment of the bliss of eternity.
To make the vow of allegiance to God, and of obedience to him, without the firm intention of fulfilling it, would be worse than useless-useless it would be, for the resolve would pass away al
most with the unmeaning breath that uttered it, the divine and spiritual objects at which it aimed would be forgotten, and no efforts would be aroused in a service the performance of which was never designed but with superficial intentions, soon dissipated by the allurements of the world: and worse than useless would be the resolve of devotion to God, that is not animated by the firm and vigorous determination to fulfil it; for he is a God who, as he cannot be deceived, will not be mocked with any vows but those which, coming from the heart, engage all its intentions, its desires, and determinations in the holy performance of them.
Be it, then, your earnest intention, your firm determination to fulfil the vows of Christian duty which you now make. Why should you hesitate? Your reason, your conscience acknowledge the obligation of these engagements, their indispensable necessity to your real happiness in this life, and your escape from the awful wo threatened to the disobedient, and your possession of the unspeakable felicity promised to the righteous in the endless existence on which you must enter. Through God strengthening you, you can perform what is thus your highest duty and interest. Determine, resolutely determine to do so-" We will serve the Lord."
Let this be the resolution of unreserved devotion. Within the wide scope of this resolution are to be embraced all the engagements of the Christian covenant, in their largest extent and their most rigorous meaning-every doctrine which is to be believed, every sin which is to be renounced, every temptation which is to be resisted, every precept
which is to be obeyed. The infinitely perfect and almighty Being whom you promise to serve, would -be insulted by the offer of a heart whose affections are imperfectly devoted to him, or of a life divided in its homage and obedience between him and the world. His demand is-" Give me thy heart." Reasonable and just demand; for, the infinite source of perfection, he is worthy of our supreme, devotion; and, the Author of all our enjoyments, it is just in him to demand it. It is the declaration of the eternal Son of God, of him who is finally to decide our eternal doom-"No man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." It is his injunction, through an inspired apostle"Love not the world, nor the things of the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." Do not mistake him; we do not absurdly put that literal construction upon these precepts which would render them hostile to the indulgence of those relative and social affections which, the dictates of nature, and sanctioned and enjoined by reason and religion, are the ornament, the solace, and the happiness of man; or to forego those worldly pursuits which are not more necessary to the support of life, than to individual and social improvement and happiness; or to relinquish those worldly pleasures which, not corrupting in their nature, may be the source of innocent enjoyment, as they often are of salutary relaxation from the duties and the cares that burden and perplex us. But still we must not serve the world; it must not become our master; we must not become its slaves; we must not be engrossed by any of its pursuits, or absorbed in any of its pleasures. God must be supreme in his dominion over our hearts, VOL. II.
and in the obedience which he claims through the whole course of our lives. When, then, the resolution is made to serve him, let the affections of reverence, of gratitude, and of love be supremely directed to him, the greatest and the best of Beings, the source of all good, the Author of all your mercies in time, of all your hopes for eternity. Let every sin be renounced, as offensive to his holy nature every temptation resisted, which would seduce you from your allegiance to him-and every indulgence relinquished, which would draw your thoughts and affections from the love and the pursuit of the satisfying favour of your God. In the ways of his laws, whatever duties they may enjoin-in the works of his commandments, whatever sacrifices they may exact-unreservedly resolve to follow. All the truths of his Gospel, which constitute it the power of God unto salvation, glad tidings to the sinful and the guilty, embrace and cherish with the highest powers of your understanding and the liveliest feelings of your heart. "We will serve the Lord."
Let this be the resolution of sincere penitence. The solemn declaration exempts from its condemning denunciation no age, as it does no character or condition" There is no man that liveth and sinneth not." The fallen and corrupt nature which we inherit, becomes our fault, our crime, as well as our misfortune, when we cherish its sinful dictates, and yield to its unholy impulses. It is true, (for God is just as well as holy,) we shall be judged only for the deeds done in the body-for the things which we have done, whether they be good or evil. But, alas! we have all done the things which we