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1.) Endeavour to get them pardon'd while you are young. For this you must fly to Christ, and lay hold on his righteousness by faith, to justify your guilty souls: you must accept of him and consent to him, who is your only propitiation and peace-maker with an offended God.
2.) Endeavour also to get your lufts subdued and mortify'd, and your souls really fanctify’d. You must be regenerate, and born again, and become new creatures, and holy creatures; or it will be altogether imporfible, either that God should love you, while you are in this world, or receive you to his presence hereafter : for without holiness no man : can see the Lord. For this you must earnestly beg and implore the assistance of divine grace, to cleanse you from all your filthiness both of flesh and spirit, and to inable you to perfet boliness in the fear of God.
3.) Habituate yourselves to acts of religion and piety while you are young. Use, we commonly say, is a second nature, and old customs are hardly broke, whether they are good or bad. Thus the early practice of religion will make it become easy, and in a manner natural to you, in your riper and advanced years. Those duties of self-denial, which at first you may find somewhat difficult, will. by use and practice become not only very tolerable, but very comfortable; the resisting of tempta
tions will be easier work every day than other ; prayer will become in a short time the natural language and breath of your souls, and you will find your hearts more and more ready to every good work. Thus religion and piety will grow up in you, as you advance in years; you will not have the iniquities of youth to imbitter your future days; then every new year that comes can bring you nothing but good, and every one will bring you nearer to heaven, and the full enjoyment of the consummate happiness of
SE R M O N III.
The happy change; or, the profit of piety.
PHILEMON, verses 10, 11. I beseech thee for my fon Onesimus, whom
I have begotten in my bonds: which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me.
HESE words are part of a short letter, written by the Apostle Paul to Phileinon,
on a particular occasion. It is not very certain who this Philemon was, any farther than that he was a christian, probably a man of fome note: fome have judged him to be a minister in the church at Coloss, because the Apostle salutes him with the title of his fellow labourer (ouverne's) verse 1. but this will not prove that he was a minister, since in other places, it is certain that private christians, and even women, who some way or other served and promoted the cause of christianity, are stiled by the Apostle his fellow labourers, or helpers; thus Rom. xvi. 3. Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my helpers (oovisgus) in Christ Je
fus. The occasion of Paul's writing this letter to Philemon was this. Onefimus à servanc to Philemon had robb'd his master, and run away from him ; in his rambles he came to Rome, were Paul was at that time a prisoner for the gospel, and where providentially coming under this Apostle's preaching, he was, by the blessing of God, converted by it; upon which Paul fends him back to his inafter, with this letter, to testify the truth of his conversion, and to intreat his master Philemon to pardon him, and receive him again into his family.
This epistle, though short, and though writ on such a particular occasion, is well worthy of a place in the facred canon; for it contains many profitable instructions, which are of
general use: as, That no true christian though of the meanest rank and worldly condition, is to be despised. Here we have a whole epiItle in the book of God, writ in favour of poor Onefimus, a fugitive slave, but now a gospel penitent. Grace enobles the meanest servant, and renders him worthy to be loved and respected by christians of the highest honour : with what affection and respect does the great Apostle Paul now speak of Onefimus! he calls himn his fon and his bowels. - We have likewise, in this epiftle, a memorable instance of the richness and freeness of the grace of God, for the encouragement of the nicanest and vilest finners to fly to him for
mercy. Some have interpreted this epistle in an allusive way, applying it to the mediation and intercession of Christ for poor finners: we were like Onefiinus, revolters from God's fervice, and had injur'd him in his rights ; Jesus Chrift finds us, and by his grace makes à change in us, and then intercedes for us with the Father, that we may be received in: to his favour and family again. We may farther learn from this epistle, with what affection and joy: true penitents should be embraced by the friends of Christ; there should be joy on earth, as well as there is in heaven, over a sinner that repenteth ; and we should be ready to ferve the interest of such persons all that we can. Paul concerns himself even for the temporal, as well as for the spiritual interest of Onefimus; and writes to his master. to intreat for his pardon, and kind reception. These and other useful instructions are to be learned from this epistle. In that part of it which I have chose for my text, we have an account of the conversion of Onefimus, and the happy change that was hereby made in him, from a worthless and unprofitable wretch, to be a very useful and profitable person ; in which Onefimus may be consider'd as an einblem of every true convert:
In this account, you may take particular notice of four things,
First, Onefimus's former state and character before his conversion, which in time past was