Imatges de pÓgina

ought not to have done, and left undone the things which we ought to have done. Even you, my young friends, who, through the good providence of God, and his grace blessing your own resolutions and endeavours, may have escaped, in a good degree, the pollution which is in the world, and may not have been seduced into its corrupting pursuits and pleasures, nor led to any habitual and flagrant violations of the laws of your God-even you, inquiring of that honest witness, conscience, and holding the faithful mirror of truth to the course of your past lives, will perceive, will feel, and will acknowledge that some things you have done which you ought not to have done-alas! that many, many things you have left undone which you ought to have done. Unhallowed thoughts have been sometimes indulged, unlawful desires sometimes cherished, words sometimes uttered, and actions sometimes committed contrary to God's laws: and O how far have the most inno-.. cent and virtuous among you fallen short of that supreme love, homage, gratitude, and holy obedience by which we are bound to the Lord of all things, the God who made, the Saviour who redeemed, the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us for heaven! Comparing what you owe to your Alınighty Maker, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, with what you have rendered to him, you must be deeply penetrated with the conviction of how greatly, in reference to these sins of omission alone, you have offended, and how much you have to be forgiven. Let, then, the deep exercises of penitence for the violations of that Christian covenant, whose duties, the original law of your nature, were imposed on you in baptism, mark now the renewed and per


sonal assumption of them; let the sober, but the lively sorrow that penetrates your hearts, urge to the humble confession to your heavenly Father of the sins which you lament, and to earnest supplications for pardon, through the merits of him in whom your offended God is well pleased; and let the sorrow of the heart, the confession and supplication of the lips, be accompanied by the only and the infallible evidence of their sincerity, and the only pledge that the confession will be accepted, and the supplication answered and blessed, earnest desires and endeavours hereafter to avoid the things that are contrary to the Christian profession which you assume, and to follow after those things that are agreeable to its holy requisitions, and pleasing to that almighty Being to whom you devote yourselves. Under the strong and lively impression of these exercises of penitence, let the resolution be now offered-" We will serve the Lord."

But let this be the resolution also of deep humility.

Not a humility which represses the exertion of your own powers, and rests inactive, in the presumptuous opinion that we are to be sanctified and saved by the overpowering energy of almighty grace, independently of our own most zealous and persevering endeavours. This opinion, the refuge of careless indolence, of sinful supineness, or of presumptuous error, would utterly subvert the character of man as a moral agent, and render him no longer a fit subject of rewards or punishments; it is not more contrary to the constitution of human nature, to all its principles and all its

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feelings, than it is to the whole tenour of those sacred writings, which, in almost every page, utter ́or enforce the injunction-" Work out your salvation." But the humility with which we should engage in this momentous concern, recognises also most entirely the force of the declaration-" It is God who worketh in you." It feels the value of this animating promise in the conviction, that "without God we can do nothing." As creatures, we can do nothing without his sustaining and cooperating power; as sinners, we can do nothing without his quickening and sanctifying grace. The conviction is the result not only of those numerous declarations of Scripture which avouch the truth, not only of the view of our relation as creatures to that Creator whose power alone upholds their intellectual and moral faculties, but of the consciousness of our own hearts, and the experience of our own lives-alas! these force on us the humiliating and lamentable fact. Our own hearts testify the strength of the passions that have hurried us to sin, or proved invincible by our own resolves, and the waywardness of our own thoughts and desires, which no efforts of our own minds could restrain. The course of our lives affords mortifying proof how little human sagacity can guard against temptation, and how weak the barriers which human strength can oppose to its assaults. It is not in man to direct his ways; it is not in a blind and erring creature to guide his footsteps; it is not in the captive to sin to break his chains; it is not in the slave of corrupt passions to say to the tempests that sweep over his soul, Be still.' Thou alone, Almighty God, canst direct our goings and lead our footsteps: thou alone, by the power of thy

Spirit, canst release the spiritual captive, and by the word of thy grace calm the tumults of the guilty soul.

It is this humbling conviction, my young friends, that your sufficiency is not of yourselves, which should at all times impress your hearts, and which should most deeply influence them, when you solemnly and publicly profess the resolution to "serve the Lord."

With this deep feeling of humility let there be united that of entire dependence.

Let the sense of your own weakness and inability lead you to a cordial reliance on the all-sufficient grace of the Spirit of God. Invisible and incomprehensible, but most powerful are its operations, enlightening the understanding, rectifying the will, purifying the affections; exciting penitence, establishing faith, animating hope, kindling divine charity; quickening the supine, confirming the doubtful, cheering the sorrowful, strengthening the weak, sanctifying the unholy, adorning the faithful people of God with every grace, and making them fruitful in every good word and work, and conquerors over every temptation; shedding abroad in their hearts, through the testimony of a good conscience, the love of God, a sense of the divine favour, and thus affording an antepast of the celestial joys to which he is conducting them. What can erring, and sinful, and tempted creatures need, which they will not find in the abundant, all-sufficient, and effectual grace of the Spirit of God! Let its sacred influences be sought in humble prayer to him who gives to those who ask him, in the ministrations and ordinances of that

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mystical body of Christ for which this Spirit was especially purchased, and which it most powerfully animates. Let this Spirit be thus implored with humility, with earnestness, with perseverance, with an honest determination, à faithful endeavour to cherish and improve its hallowed suggestions, impulses, and aids; and in the victories over sin and temptation which it will achieve, in the graces which it will establish in the soul, in the sanctity with which it will invest the whole man, in the: uniform and elevated piety and virtue which it will abundantly produce, in the new creation from sin to righteousness which it will effect, there will be. full evidence, evidence which the incredulous cannot doubt, nor the gainsaying resist, that "God's grace is indeed all-sufficient," and that his strength can be made perfect in the weakness of nature.

Impressed, then, with the conviction of the utter inability of unassisted reason and unaided human strength in the great work of your salvation, in making you new creatures in Christ Jesus, let your entire dependence be placed on that Holy Spirit by which you are to be renewed and sanctified, and enabled to fulfil the obligations of your Christian covenant. In earnest invocations for his holy influences, let the resolution be offered which he has excited, and which he only can give the strength to perform-"We will serve the Lord."

Let this be the resolution of lively faith

Of faith in all the articles of Christian doctrine to which you are pledged, but especially of that which is the great foundation of your hopes as sinners, that "God the Son hath redeemed you;" that he has made that great atonement whereby

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