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dom which cannot be removed; wear a crown of an exceeding and eternal weight of glory; possess an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away; be associated with holy angels, and with the spirits of the just made perfect; have fullness of joy ; be admitted to the vision and fruition of God: and all this happiness will be without alloy, without intermission, and without end. By all these benefits of religion in this world, in death, and in the world to come, you are urged, my hearers, to make and execute the resolution of the text, “ As for meI will serve the Lord.” Would you have the bighest happiness of which you are capable in this world—would you die in peace—and would you be unspeakably and forever happy in heaven? Then heartily engage in the service of God.
4. I mention one other motive to urge personal religion, and that is. the necessity of the case. You must serve the Lord, or you must be forever miserable. God made all things and therefore man for him. self—for his own glory. And he will be glorified in his creature man. Those who will not actively glorify him by serving him, he will cause to glorify his justice and his power in their everlasting punishment. They who will not serve him must continue under the curse of his law while they live; death will be their enemy, when they come to die ; and when they leave this world, which may be very soon, they must lie down in sorrow, where the worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched; where are continual weeping and wailing; and where there is no rest, day nor night forever. By all the terrors of the Lord, then, and the dreadfulness of his wrath against his enemies, you are urged to engage in his service.
II. I proceed to offer some reasons to enforce the other branch of the resolution ; viz. in regard to family religion—"As for my house we will serve the Lord.” Having already occupied so much time in offering reasons to enforce personal religion, I must necessarily be brief on this part of the subject. And indeed if I could succeed in inducing my hearers heartily to embrace personal religion, family relig. ion would follow of course. True personal religion in heads of families will lead them conscientiously to perform their duties to their families.
Family religion is enforced by its reasonableness. We are dependent on God as families, as well as individuals. As families we should therefore acknowledge him. We need family blessings, and therefore as families, we should ask for them. And as families we are the subjects of many favors, and therefore as such we should express our thankfulness.
Family religion is also enforced by scripture precepts. Family prayer appears to be inculcated in several passages, as the following. Peter exhorting husbands and wives as to their relative duties, adds as a reason, " that your prayers be not hindered ;" which appears to teach that they are to pray together. Paul in his epistle to the Colossians, after having pointed out the relative duties of the different members of a family, adds the exhortation, which appears to be addressed to them collectively.—“Continue in prayer.” And in other epistles he exhorts, " that men should pray every where,” and “ with all prayer,” which general expressions naturally include family prayer.
As to the other branches of family religion, which were pointed out, -as the religious instruction of those under our care, restraining them from vicious associates and practices, setting a good example before them, and praying for them in our secret devotions—these are enforced by numerous passages of Scripture, which we have not time to quote.
Family religion in its several branches is also enforced hy the example of a host of worthies, whose history is recorded in the Scriptures. Besides the example of Joshua, we have that of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and Job, and David, and Daniel, and Cornelius; and we may add we have the example of Christ.
Again this duty is enforced by its advantages to ourselves, to our families, to the church of God, and to the civil community. That family religion is calculated to be thus advantageous must be evident from its very nature; and facts abundantly teach its advantages in all the relations which have been mentioned.
And once more I would say, family religion is most solemnly enforced by that awful imprecation which is recorded, Jer. x. 25, “ Pour out thy fury upon the families that call not upon thy name.”
Thus I have offered reasons to enforce the resolution in the text, as it regards both personal and family religion. As it regards the former or that we should each personally for himself serve the Lord--it is reasonable because God is infinitely excellent and worthy of our service, and because he sustains to us relations which lay us under indispensable obligations to serve him. He is our Creator, preserver, benefactor and Redeemer. His service is honorable. It is profitable in this world, in death, and in the world to come. And it is necessary. We must serve him, or be forever unspeakably miserable.
And as it regards the latter, that we should serve the Lord, in and with our families, it has been shown that it is reasonable, that it is en.
forced by Scripture precept and example, that it is peculiarly advantageous, and that we are in danger of the curse of God resting on us and our families, if we do not.
And now brethren, what is your conclusion in view of the duty which has been explained, and the reasons by which it has been enforced? Will you not heartily and practically, make the resolution, “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord ?" Will not each of you make the resolution for yourself, that you will personally serve the Lord ? And if you heartily make this resolution, those of you who are heads of families will easily be induced to make the other. I am satisfied brethren, that your judgment and conscience are on the Lord's side, whose cause I have been endeavoring to plead with you. Oh that he would incline your hearts to make the resolution, that, let others do as they may,
6. As for me I will serve the Lord !" And dear brethren, let me urge upon you that you heartily make the resolution now. Most and probably all of you intend to make it at some future time, and why not now? All the arguments which have been used to enforce the duty of practically resolving to serve the Lord, apply to the present time, and enforce an immediate decision. Is it reasonable ? it is reasonable now. For God is now infinitely excellent, and for this reason as worthy of our service now, as he ever will be. And he is now our Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor; and Christ has already died to open a way of salvation for us. The service is honorable now. The same reasons that will ever make it
you inake it so now. It will be profitable now ; for you will be strangers to the highest happiness of which you are capable until you truly engage in this service. And it is necessary now.
God will be angry with you till you do, for he is “angry with the wicked every day.” And while you are delaying you may grieve away the Spirit of God; and he left to hardness, and blindness, and final impenitence; or you may die, and thus the door be forever shut.-Besides, Joshua, when he told the Israelites what his resolution was, urged them to an immediate decision. “Choose ye,” said he "this day whom ye will serve,” andi elsewhere we read, "What thy hand findeth to do, do with thy might.” “ Boast not thyself of tomorrow.” “Behold, now is the accepted time." “ To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” May God add his blessing to his truth, and incline the hearts of all of you without delay, heartily to adopt the resolution of the text, “ As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Amen.
Rom. viii. 9. If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It is a question of infinite moment-How may professing Christians exhibit the spirit of Christ, and thus evince that they are really His ? A summary answer to this inquiry is, By cordially imitating his example in efforts to save men and glorify God. “ He that saith, I know him;" that is, he who makes profession of the knowledge of Christ, “ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” Indeed, his spirit cannot reign within us, without so assimilating our whole character and life to his, that it shall be clearly manifest whose children we are, and under whose authority we act. Let us then solemnly and faithfully examine ourselves in the light of Christ's example---remembering that " if our own hearts condemn us, God is greater, and knoweth all things;" and remembering, too, that if we are deceived, it is infinitely better to know it now, and repent, than to wake hereafter “to shame and everlasting contempt." Have you, then, the spirit of Christ? If you have,
I. Your whole mind will,like his, be absorbed in doing the will of your heavenly Father. "Wist ye not (said he) that I must be about my Father's business ?” “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.” “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." Of course he had nothing to do with merely consulting his own ease, pleasure, comfort, or honor.
Vol. XI. No. 9.
“ Christ pleased not himself;" but submitted to the heaviest self-denial and untiring effort, that the Father might be glorified and his law honored. To obey him and finish his work, he made every thing, even his life, bow. He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." But suppose he had, like multitudes of his professed disciples, made his Father's will a secondary, and his own pleasure and temporal interest a primary object; when, 0, when could he have said, “I have glorified thee on the earth, I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do ?"
This work he well knew would cost him continued labor, deep humiliation, and even the sacrifice of life. But to all this he submitted voluntarily. Yea, it was his "delight" thus to do “the will of him that sent him."
Now, how seldom is it imagined, that to be a follower of Christ involves the same spirit of self-denial and devotedness to the interests of another? Yet thus it is written — Whosoever he be, that forsaketh not all that he hath, cannot be my disciple.” The moment one becomes a true disciple of Christ, he rezigns his selfish spirit, and the will and work of God are first and habitually in his thoughts and aims. His anxious inquiry now is, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" and he daily and hourly consults the honor of his divine Master.
True, he will often find his present interest and comfort identified with his work; but very often his faithful discharge of duty will involve great sacrifice, and much self-denying labor. All of which, however, can be endured even "joyfully," through that faith which sustained prophets, apostles, martyrs, and millions now in glory, of whom the world was not worthy.
It is a most fatal mistake in multitudes professing piety,--that they think so much of present ease and mere worldly enjoyment-forgetting that, with respect to these," he that taketh not up his cross, daily, and followeth me, (a condescending, self-denying Savior,) he cannot be my disciple."
4 To him that overcometh, will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my
Father in his throne.” The joys of conquest, then, are the joys of Christians. And they are not to look for present ease, but for conflict, and victory, and triumphant joy. So it was with Christ: “He took upon him the form of a servant;" and, not for worldly gratification, but " for the joy that was set before him, (in honoring God and saving souls,) he endured the cross, despising the shame”-till he could say, with respect