Images de page
PDF
ePub

SERM. conduct, and act contrarie to former convicXVIII. tions, and their beft purposes and refolutions. He who fears always is one, who is never unmindful of what is the great defign of life, and what will be the confequences of it. He is defirous of obtaining eternal falvation, even a better happineffe, than this prefent world affords any profpect of. And he dreads the being finally rejected of God, and excluded from his prefence. And as the reason of things, and the express declarations of the word of God, affure us, that final happineffe, or miferie, depends upon mens behaviour here; he is defirous, that his behaviour may be fuch, as fhall be approved in the end by the impartial and equitable fovereign and judge of the world.

But he is aware, that there is no small difficulty in executing this defign. He therefore fears always. In every ftate and condition, whether profperity or adverfity, he knows there are (nares and temptations. For which reafon he is at no time fecure: but has continually a kind of distrust of himself, and is apprehenfive, least the ease and pleasure of the one should make him forget Godand another world: and leaft fome things in the

[ocr errors]

the other condition, of which the afflictions SERM.
are various, and very moving, fhould induce XVIII.
him to caft off the fear of God, and say, re-
ligion is vain.

He has his fears and apprehenfions, arifing from folitude, and from companie: when alone, and when in converfation. He is aware, that there are fome fnares peculiar to retirement, others to bufineffe. Nor is there any age, or time of life, but has it's temptations.

He is not without his fears, when he en gages in the worship of God, leaft his fervices fhould be defective and unacceptable: and leaft through neglect, inattention, or prejudices, the opportunity afforded him should be unprofitable. And indeed, Solomon has a direction and caution to this purpofe: Keep thy foot, when thou goest to the Eccl. v. boufe of God and be more ready to hear, than to give the facrifice of fools.

In undertakings for the honour of God, and the interefts of religion among men, he is fometimes in doubt and fufpenfe, whether this zeal, though well-meant, be right and juft. And he admits a re-examination of his defign, that he may act according to knowCc 2 ledge,

[ocr errors]

SERM. ledge, and upon the grounds of a well inXVIII. formed judgement: least what he does should in the iffue be rather prejudicial, than advantageous to the good caufe he would promote.

After worthiping God with fincerity and fervour, and partaking in those ordinances and privileges, which God has ordained for our emprovement, he does not trust to the ftrength, he has thereby gained: but still allows of apprehenfions, leaft he should act contrarie to what he has feen to be fit and right or fome way fail to execute the purposes and refolutions, which he has made, and renewed in the presence of God.

And as he was before-hand afraid, that he should not approve himself as he ought; fo likewife, when through care and attention, he has, as he hopes, performed agreeably to his aims and wifhes; he is upon his guard, leaft fome improper opinion and selffufficience should arife in his mind, inconfiftent with that humility, which he would ever maintain.

Nor does the man who fears always prefume after the greatest fucceffes. And though he has proceeded for fome time

[ocr errors]

in a courfe of obedience to God's command- SERM.
ments, and temptations have not hitherto XVIII.
greatly prevailed against him, he studiously
declines conceit and affurance. He is ftill ever
apprehensive of fome new and unlooked for
danger and doubts, whether fome time
leffer temptations may not prevail, after great-
er have been vanquished.

Like fome General, who, the more vic-
tories he has gained, is the more cautious of
engaging an enemie: leaft the honour of for-
mer fucceffes should be loft and forfeited by
some unhappy disaster.

This is the man, who, in a religious fenfe, ‡ feareth always.

Cc 3

And

"3. Walk circumfpectly at all times, and in all relations "and circumstances of life.... Let not fuccefs betray you "into fecurity. Perhaps you have not for fome time been

importuned by temptations, or you have overcome them,
"and made fome good progrefs in religion. But do not
"therefore lay aside your vigilance, fince there may happen
"fuch an alteration in your circumftances, or in your tem-
per, that you may have as much occafion for it, as ever
66 you had in your lives, if not more. Bleed is the
"man, that feareth always. Pr. xxviii. 14. who has ever

upon his mind fuch an apprehenfion of the great evil of
"fin, and his liableness to it, while he is in the body, as to
"be continually watchful against it.
" he will be able to rejoyce always,

By thus fearing always
both in the confsciousness

" of

[ocr errors]

66

SERM. XVIII.

And now we may juft obferve the connexion, which fome think there is between this and the preceding obfervation, though it is not very clear and certain. He that covereth bis fins, fhall not profper: but whofo confeffeth and forfaketh them shall find mercie. Happy is the man that feareth always : that is, if he would fecure the mercie he has found, the advantage he has gained; it will be of ufe, to preserve a fear of offending, and to be cautious and circumfpect in all his actions.

II. Which leads us to the fecond point, the happineffe of this temper and difpofition of mind. Happy is the man, that feareth always.

The happineffe of fuch an one is this: He will not fall into mifchief. He will exceed his own fears and apprehenfions. He will behave better, and wifer, than he imagined. It is very probable, that this fear of offending will prevent a great deal of grief

and

of his own integrity, and the hope of the heavenly reward." Mr. H. Grove's fecond volume of Additional Sermong. Serm. xvii. p. 450.

« PrécédentContinuer »