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searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might, he increaseth strength.” (Isai. xl. 27, 28, 29.)—God loves to reward his servants in their own way : they who are sincere and diligent in religion, shall find a double sweetness in it; his presence will animate and invigorate them : “ Be strong, therefore, and let not your hands be weak; for your work shall be rewarded.” (2 Chron. xv. 7.) Let the race be never so long and painful, they cannot be weary, because they are sure of an inexhaustible supply of divine influences, to help them on, and help them out: “ My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.” (Ps. Ixiii. 3.)
I need not trouble myself to look for any other reason: God, who cannot lie, hath promised that you shall not be weary---and that is enough. However,
2. There is a boundless excellency in religion, calculated to afford continual refreshment.
It is justly remarked of all the delights of sense, that they perish in the using: they are but " as the crackling of thorns under a pot:”
66 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world : and the world passeth away, and the lust thereof.” (1 John ii. 16.) But spiritual entertainments
permanent. What hath been so often observed of the sacred Scriptures, the rule of our religion,—that, read them never
so often, they continually present us with new discoveries, and new delights,-is éminently true of religion itself: its pleasures can never be exhausted. It is, as our Saviour calls
it, “ a well of water, springing up unto everlasting life.” (John iv. 14.) There are secret conveyances which continually feed it, so that it can never be drawn dry: the satisfactions to be met with in the service of God are maintained by a divine hand, and therefore can never fail. The toils and labours of religion have one advantage above all other pursuits,—there is no climbing to the top; there is no sounding the bottom; there is no finding out the breadth or length of its excellency and sweetness. Whatever else men apply their minds and hearts to, they are soon tired of: they find an emptiness in it, which makes them throw it aside with disgust. Ask the men of pleasure, or the men of business, whether, in their most successful pursuits, they have not found a scantiness and insufficiency, and something to disappoint or cloy ; and they will answer, Yes; all is vanity and vexation of spirit. But ask one who lives in communion with God, and runs the way of God's commands with an enlarged heart, whether he is weary of it, and had rather be excused from it: whether prayers, and sermons, and sacraments, are burthensome and distasteful: "No, no,' he cries with vehemency and indignation : my meat and drink is to do the will of my Father which is in heaven. It is good for me to draw near to God. I had rather be a door-keeper in the house of my God, than dwell in the tents of wickedness. The more I am with God in his ordinances, the more I see that I do not know him, nor love him, nor serve him, nor enjoy him, so well as I ought and might. There is more beyond than I can yet attain to : “ for now
we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Cor. xiii. 12.)
And this suggests another reason why we shall not be weary-viz.
3. Because the faster we run, the nearer we approach to heaven.
True grace is allowed to be glory begun; the same in kind, though different in degree. All lively duties, therefore, are so many approaches to heaven; not only as they bring us nearer to the celestial world, but as bringing more of present enjoyment. Therefore improvement in grace is called being “ changed from glory to glory.” (2 Cor. iii. 18.)– We all know, that they who are running in a race feel new vigour when they come within sight of the goal; and especially the first of the competitors. With what a spring doth he advance, in his last steps, to lay hold on the prize! it is the same in the Christian race; the near approach of salvation drives off lazy slumbers, and sets all the powers of the soul in animated motion. Travellers tell us of some countries, which are so full of aromatic plants and flowers that they perceive the fragrance at some distance, and are highly refreshed by the pleasing gales. Do you not think it is the same with the Christian traveller, as he bears up towards the heavenly country, of which “ the land flowing with milk and honey” was a figure, a shadow, a very inadequate resemblance ?-But I
you not think that the nearer we draw to heaven, the clearer anticipation we shall have of the joys above? I appeal to you, my aged and venerable
friends who have been long in the wilderness, and are now almost upon the banks of Jordan, whether the prospects from Pisgah be not reviving; whether you do not feel your spirits invigorated with the breezes from Canaan.-Oh! if dying saints could tell us what they feel, we should have proofs enough. Their countenances tell us, that, while they are walking through the valley of the shadow of death, they are rejoicing with joy unspeakable and full of glory ; that when their heart and flesh is failing, God is the strength of their heart, and their portion for ever. This is what the Apostle Peter alludes to, when he says, “ Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye . shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Pet. i. 10.)
By way of improvement, it is obvious,
I. That the true doctrine of perseverance is no doctrine of licentiousness.
They who are appointed to a state of happiness hereafter, must not turn into the broad road, nor loiter in the narrow one. The Scriptures link together all the saving blessings of the covenant: one gracious purpose comprehends them all: and what God hath joined together let no man attempt to put asunder. If we would have the comfort of grace, we must “give diligence to make our calling and election sure:” and if we would secure a title to glory, we must, “by a patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, honour, and immortality.”
2. Let those who have left their first love, remember from whence they are fallen, and repent.
You who have slackened your former diligence in religion, either as to secret duties or public ordinances, look to it that ye be not wearied, and faint in
your minds. The dreadful sin of apostacy seldom comes to its full growth at once, but creeps on by slow degrees. The unhappy back-slider begins with a spirit of indifference, not regarding whether a duty be performed or not: his relish and affection to religious exercises wear off: then come on frequent omissions, without any uneasiness, or checks of conscience: from running he comes to walking; and from walking, to standing still; and from standing still, to going back : and sometimes backsliders run as fast in the paths of the destroyer, as ever they had designed to do in the paths of life. Let those, therefore, who feel any abatement in their zeal, and whose Christian course is not so lively as heretofore, presently correct these ominous beginnings, and endeavour to recover their former activity.
Running is the best expedient to keep us from declension. You know, that in bodily disorders, if a lethargy be apprehended, the most stimulating medicines are administered, and
ed, and every method taken to rouze the patient and keep him awake : so in spirituals, if you perceive a lassitude coming on, and a languor beginning to seize your faculties, employ them immediately and diligently, änd' as tlie Apostle advises : “ Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees: and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be