Imatges de pÓgina

this powerful enemy, our virtue will be vanquished. Alas! we must watch against an enemy within; against our own hearts; against their treacherous purpose to betray us to the world; against their fondness for its vanities, its corrupt pomps and pleasures; against their flattery, which would lull us into security because we are free from gross vices, while we are strangers to the transforming power of divine grace, and destitute of holy affections, and of the heavenly hope which triumphs over both the sorrows and the pleasures of the world. We must guard against that delusion of our hearts which mistakes the fires of animal passion for the pure and steady flame of piety, and substitutes the extravagances of enthusiasm, which despises ordinances and depreciates moral virtue, for that pious fervour which walks blameless in all the ordinances of God, and which cherishes all the fruits of the Spirit-love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; and which seeks to continue in these things, and to abound, that so an entrance may be obtained into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Christians! the renewing power of the Holy Ghost exerts his agency in your exercise of all those powers which make you moral and accountable creatures. You must be diligent in the Christian work of dying unto sin and living unto righteousness, and by his power the old man, your corrupt nature, will be buried, and the new man will be raised up in you. You must be watchful to resist the enemies, to a constant warfare with which baptism pledged you, and by the mighty power of the Holy Ghost you shall triumph against

the devil, the world, and the flesh. You must devote supreme diligence and constant watchfulness to the great business of your salvation, and through the mercy of God and the agency of his Spirit you shall be endued with heavenly virtues, and everlastingly rewarded. Imitate, Christians, children of the light, imitate the wisdom of the children of this world apply to your spiritual concerns that constant diligence and watchfulness with which they prosecute their temporal schemes, and guard against every occurrence which may endanger their temporal interests. We shall then behold you, Christians, no longer cold, formal, indevout, worldly, but displaying a lively, a vigorous, an heavenly piety, such as your holy profession enjoins, such as in her first days constituted the glory of the Christian church, and such only as can secure for you the favour of your God, and make you meet for his presence.

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"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” This is an inspired declaration, supported by the whole tenour of the Gospel, and set forth, with the utmost strength and perspicuity, in all the formularies of our church, and particularly in that baptismal office by which we were regenerated, brought into a state of salvation, and made God's children by adoption and grace.

How erroneous, then, is the opinion, which, it is to be feared, proves ruinous to the piety of many, that religion consists in the mere regulation of the exterior, and not in the transformation of the heart! and how vain indeed is the attempt to regulate that exterior by the standard of moral duty, unless the principles and springs of action, which are seated in the heart, are corrected and purified! Brand VOL. II. 66

not as fanatical, the doctrine of the transformation of the soul, of the new birth unto righteousness, until you have consulted, I will not say Scripture, but a guide acknowledged by all-human reason. Surely it will tell you, that the morality of actions depends upon the principle from which they spring; that virtue consists in correct dispositions, as well as moral habits; that, in fact, the connexion between a pure heart and a holy life is intimate and indissoluble. Human reason will advance further; it will lay before you the frailty of your nature, and the evil propensities which find so many temptations in the world that surrounds you; it will tell you that your folly can only be exceeded by your guilt, if you reject that divine power which in the grace of God's Holy Spirit is offered to you, to strengthen your weakness, to subdue your evil propensities, and to vanquish your temptations.

The means of obtaining this renewing power of the Divine Spirit have been laid before you. It is not to be concealed, they are difficult and arduous; but the means are only proportioned to the end, and both infinitely exceeded by the reward. The object at which the baptismal covenant calls the Christian to aim, is to crucify the old man, and utterly to abolish the whole body of sin, so that he may be finally rewarded in inheriting the everlasting kingdom of God. Where the object is so difficult, and the reward so glorious, is it not folly to expect that ardour, exertion, and diligence will not be necessary? Would you obtain the prize without striving for the mastery? Would you reach the goal without struggling in the race? Would you seize the crown of victory without ardour and courage in the fight? Christians! the

mastery at which you strive is greater than that which emblazons the conquerors of nations-mastery over sin; the goal towards which you press is fixed in heaven; the crown which is the object of your ambition, is unfading and immortal. And shall not these command your diligence, engage your exertions, excite your ardour? Rouse, Christians! devote to these glorious objects all your powers, all your exertions, all your ardour. For oh! when a few years have revolved, of how little consequence will those things be which now excite your desires, and to which you are now devoted! When you are entering on an eternal state, how will you deplore that folly which, infatuated with the things of time, prevented you from preparing for your unchanging abode! O God, there will be guilt as well as folly-guilt that will consign us to the mansions of despair!


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