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inidst of an ensnaring world, beset with many and subtle adversaries, and ready to be beguiled by a treacherous and deceitful heart. Hence, like St. Paul himself, we are necessitated to use the utmost circumspection, diligence, and self-denial, lest, after all our exertions, our labour prove in vain.)

To shew the importance of this exhortation, we shall II. Point out the reasons of it

Many reasons might be assigned: but we shall content ourselves with noticing three: 1. We have no stability in ourselves

[As all our ability and inclination to what is good, are derived from God at first, so must we receive continual Supplies from him, even as of light from the sun. Without his constant superintendence, both the visible world, and the new creation in the soul of man, would soon revert to their original chaos. This the Apostle elsewhere urges as a motive to diligence, and, in the words before us, to humility and care. Nor can we well have a more powerful argument; for if “ we stand by faith” only, and not by any wisdom or strength of our own, it becomes us to maintain a spirit suited to our weak and dependent state.) 2. Others, apparently as safe as we, have been rejected

[Many have long made a profession of religion, and departed from it at last.5 Demas stands as an awful monument of human weakness. Lot's wife is pointed out to us in the same view. The Jews, who were brought out of Egypt, and yet were destroyed in the wilderness, are expressly set forth as examples to us. And, above all, the rejection of the Jewish nation for their iniquities, after they had been so long the peculiar people of God, speaks loudly to us. This in particular is urged by the Apostle in the words following the text;' and it teaches us, never so to value ourselves either on our relation to God, or our experience of his goodness, as to forget that we also may be rejected, if we do not rely upon him, and unreservedly devote ourselves to him.]

3. That which was the ground of the rejection of the Jews, is very prevalent in us

[God had given to the Jews a revelation respecting the Messiah: but they disbelieved his record, and rejected his Son:

and for this their unbelief they were “broken off from the 'olive” which God's right hand had planted. A still clearer

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· I Cor. ix. 27. f Phil. ii. 12, 13. * I Tim. i. 19.

2 Tim. iv, 10. i Lirke xvii. 22. Sude's. i hor. X. 11. See also dor, vii. 13. 'Ver. 21, 22.


revelation God has given unto us: and is there not much unbelief in our hearts with respect to it? Are even the most advanced Christians so much affected with the declarations of God's word, as they would be, if faith were in constant and perfect exercise? Alas! the faith that realizes things invisible, and gives a present existence to things future,m is found in but few, and operates but weakly in the best: and, if it should wholly fail, Satan would sift us as wheat, and we should be found chaff at last." When therefore we consider how weak our faith is, and that it is “by faith we stand,” we have reason to fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into God's rest, any of us should seem to come short of it.']

We shall conclude the subject with some suitable AD,


1. Bear in mind what you once were

[To “ look to the rock whence we were hewn, and to the hole of the pit, whence we were digged,” will be a good antidote to pride. While we remember what we were, we shall see no reason but for humiliation and thankfulness before him, who has made us to differ both from others, and from our former selves.P] 2. Consider what you still are

[You are, we trust,“ brands plucked out of the fire:” true; but


still bear the marks of the fire upon you; and have a disposition to catch fire again, the very instant you are exposed to temptation. Let every one view himself in this light; and he will see need enough of attending to the exhortation in the text.] 3. Be aware of the deceitfulness of your own hearts

[In ten thousand instances we must have seen how liable we are to erp even in things wherein we are most confident. So blinded are we at times by pride, passion, or interest, that we think ourselves right, when others evidently perceive, that we know not what spirit we are of. Let us be aware of this tendency to deceive ourselves; and beg of God both to search our hearts, and to guide our feet.] 4. Guard against temptations to sin

[Many are the temptations that assault us from without. From these we should fee, shunning both the occasions and the very appearance of evil. Many also are our temptations from within. These we should resist in their very first rise. We may easily extinguish a fire at its commencement, when all our efforts may be baffled, if we suffer it to proceed. For all is that direction necessary, “ Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation.")

m Heb. xi. 1.
. Heb. iv. !.

n Luke xxii. 31.
p.Tit. üi, 3-6, 1 Cor. iv. 7.

5. Liye wholly in dependence on the power and


grace of Christ

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[Without this, all our other efforts will be fruitless. All Hour fresh springs are in Christ,” “ without whom we can do nothing.” Except he keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain." Let us then be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” Then, though weak, " we shall be able to do all things; and, though fiercely assaulted, we shall be more than conquerors.”]

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CCCCIX. THE DANGER OF FALSE CONFIDENCE, Hos. viii. 2, 3. Israel shall cry unto me, My God, we know

thee. Israel hath cast of the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.

THERE is not a more intimate connexion between any two things than between sin and misery. However specious an appearance any hypocrite may make in the world, God, who sees his heart, will sooner or later de. țect and punish his hypocrisy. The Israelites on different occasions professed to repent, and to return to God: but they were as a deceitful bow,” that effected not the purpose for which they seemed to be bent: on which account God commanded the Prophet to set the trumpet to his mouth,” and to proclaim their speedy destruction. The Prophet's testimony is then confirmed by God himself in the words before us: in which we may see 1. What confidence is often possessed by hypocrites

[Those who are far from being upright before God, have often a strong confidence respecting their acceptance with him: they will claim God as their God: they will say to him, “We know thee;" exactly as if they were living in the most intimate habits of communion with him. Such were the Jews in the wilderness, and such the Pharisees in our Lord's time:b and such perhaps are some amongst ourselves,

But their confidence differs widely from that of the sincere: theirs for the most part is a bold, presumptuous persuasion, that

? Ps. lxxviii. 35-37.

• John viii. 33, 39, 41, 42.

will admit no doubt at all: while that of the godly is accompa: nied with a holy fear and jealousy, lest they should deceive themselves: theirs is founded on God's decrees, together with their own past experience; while that of the godly rather rests on the general promises which are made to sinners, and on the present conformity of their state to the mind and will of God,

Generally speaking too, the confidence of hypocrites is less subject to fluctuation than that of the sincere, because Satan will do all he can to cherish the one, while he exerts himself to the utmost to weaken and destroy the other.]

But however strong men's professions may be, we see in the text II. What notice God takes of their hypocrisy

[Those who are “ hypocrites in heart” may yet under certain circumstances make a fair profession of religion: they may far outstrip the sincere, so as to become objects of envy and admiration to them. The very confidence which they possess is calculated to bear them up, and to make them "ride, as it were, on the high places of the earth;” while the more timid are slowly walking in the valley of humility. But that which is the cause of their progress, is also the occasion of their decline; just as our Lord hịmself describes it in the case of the stony-ground hearers.

After the first impulse of novelty has ceased to operate, they begin to decline: like a bowl cast out of the hand with forte, they proceed in a right direction for a little time, but soon yielding to the inward bias of their nature, they depart from the line of duty, till they finally rest at a distance from God. Sometimes their declension is only secret; they retain the form of godliness without its power: sometimes it is open, and they cast off” with contempt the principles and conduct which they once professed to venerate.

But whether their departure be open or secret, God infallibly discerns it, and marks their hypocrisy under its most specious guise.]

Amidst their security, the text informs us III. What awful danger awaits them

(God forewarned the hypocritical Israelites that the Assyrians should“ pursue them,” and “ avenge the quarrel of his covenant.” And wherever men deal deceitfully with him, they shall assuredly be pursued and overtaken by the wrath of God. This is repeatedly and strongly, affirmed in the holy

€“ The seed sprang up forthwith, because it had no deepness of earth;" and it was soon scorched and destroyed from the very saine reason.

Matt. xii. 5, 6, 20, 21,

scriptures:' and it will be verified to the eternal disgrace of
those who have belied their profession, and to the utter aston-
ishment of those who had given them credit for their sincerity.
The pleas which may then be urged by the hypocrites them,
selves, will be of no avail: the secrets of their hearts will be
made manifest:& and the most signal judgments will be execu-
ted upon them.")

1. Let us examine well the grounds of our confidence

'[It is a great mercy to have confidence towards God, provided it be founded on the word of God, and accompanied with a consistent conduct. But it is inexpressibly awful to deceive ourselves. Let us then bring our experience to the touchstone of God's word;k and beg of God to search and try us to the uttermost.']

2. Let us endeavour to maintain a close walk with God

[How solemnly did our Lord warn his own disciples to “ beware of hypocrisy,” that cursed leaven that is so apt to defile our souls! Let us then look well, not to our actions only, but to our motives and principles of action ; lest, while we “profess to know God, we in works, or in spirit, deny him.”n]

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d Job xxxvi. 13, & xxvii. 8, 9: e Job xx. 447.
f Matt. vii. 22, 23.

& 1 Cor. iv. 5.
Their judgments are represented as the most severe of any:
Matt. xxiv. 51.

i Heb. iii. 6. 1 John üi. 20, 21. k Isaiah viji. 20.

IPs. cxxxix, 23, 24. m Luke xii. I.

n Tit. i. 16.


1 Cor. x. 12. Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest

he fall.

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THE things which are recorded in the holy scrip: tures are written, not for the entertainment, but for the real improvement, of our minds. Doubtless, as gratifying our curiosity, there is no book under heaven so interesting as the Bible: but as exhibiting what must be realized in our own experience, as shewing us our duties and our difficulties, our helps and our remedies,

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