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• A clear escape from tyrannizing lust,
The service of sin, Satan, and the world, is perfect thraldom. Continual fears of loss or disappointment haunt the wretched slaves of these hard task-masters. Though various are the employments in which the servants of sin't are engaged, yet, wretched is the drudgery of all. One man is instigated to destroy his constitution, and ruin his soul by the beastly practice of drunken
Another brings his own body to the gallows, and his soul to hell by acts of fraud, rapine, or violence, committed either on the person or property of his neighbor. A third is impelled to defy the Lord of heaven and earth by blaspheming His name, or breaking His sabbath. These are the lowest menials of the unhappy family. There are others who have higher rank, but are equally in a state of bondage with the former : Such are the covetous, the ambitious, and the man of fashion, who live without God in the world ; such also is the formalist and self-justiciary. For the Lord of this family is as much obeyed, and his service as faithfully attended to, by the decent moralist, if his heart be kept back from God, as by the drunkard and debauchee. * Cruel is the treatment which the slaves of sin receive. Their
* Cowper's Task, p. 209, 210.
+ Rom. vi. 20.
* How pathetically is this described in our Lord's beautiful parable of the prodigal son! In which we are told that the unhappy spendthrift, when he began to be in want, went and joined • himself to a citizen of that country, who sent him into his fields
to feed swine.' How degrading an employ, and yet how descriptive an image of that, in which all the dupes of sensuality are engaged, who serve divers lusts and pleasures! · And he would fain · have filled his belly with the busks that the swine did eat.' Wretched state ! to be seeking happiness for the soul from the trough of sensual gratification !
eyes are first put out, lest they should discover the turpitude and danger of the service ; and then they are hurried on in the way that leadeth to everlasting destruction : for the God of this world • blindeth the minds of them that believe not, lest
the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is « the image of God, should shine unto them.' How happy are those, who are delivered from this captivity, and are become servants to God; who have their fruit unto holiness, and the end ever• lasting life!' To angels and saints made perfect, God's service is perfect freedom ;' freedom from those uneasy sensations, which all the ungodly experience in the performance of religious acts, the torments of fear and the loathings of disgust. Therein part of their happiness consists ; so that whatever be the service, in which God employs them, in that they find their heaven. To believing sinners on earth, so soon as they believe in Jesus, and enjoy communion with God in the path of duty, His service is perfect freedom.' If any fears remain, if any weariness oppress them, it arises not from the nature of the service but the imperfection of their present state. This they happily know, and are looking forward with longing desire to the arrival of that period, when the service of God shall be as much the source of delight to them, as it now is to their elder brethren ; who, being freed from the burden of the flesh, are safely landed on the blissful shore, where the servants of God rest not day nor night in their Master's work. But do the generality of our worshippers prove the service of God to be freedom in any respect ? Rather is it not perfect bondage to them? Is not the sabbath to them the least pleasurable day of the seven, and the work of it less gratifying than any worldly engagement? Must they not own that the more spiritual the service is, the more disgusting it proves to them? Do they not long for the termination of it, that they may return to that, which is more congenial to their inclinations ? How can such persons join in our liturgy, and call, • God's service * perfect freedom ?' Out of their own mouths they are condemned, as declaring with their lips what their hearts deny.
* Rom. vi, 16. •His servants ye are, to whom ye obey.'
+ The prodigal son is represented by our Lord as deprived of reason, till he formed the resolution of returning to his Father; and then he is said to come to himself.' Luke xv. 27.
The persons, who in this excellent collect address the author of peace and lover of concord, profess themselves to be His • humble servants.' If they speak the language of truth, they have given up their hearts to God, and devoted themselves to Him. While they confess themselves unworthy the meanest office in the service of such a Master, they feel in their hearts, that it is bet* ter to be a door-keeper in the house of God, than
to dwell in the tents of ungodliness. As God has declared Himself willing to receive them into His service, they willingly take his yoke upon them, and prove that. His yoke is easy, and His
burden light.' How awful it is to consider that any, who daily prove themselves to be the slaves of sin, should come and avow themselves God's « humble servants. O that such could be brought to attend to the awakening questions suggested by the Psalmist, He that planted the ear, shall He o not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not
The servants of God, while in the present world are in an enemy's country. They are exposed to a thousand evils in mind, body, and estate. Their tenements of clay are liable to various calamitous accidents, and diseases almost without number. Their property, if they possess any, may at any moment make to itself wings, and fly
Psalm xciv. 9.
away. But these are not the objects which principally employ a believer's concern. To him the most important interest is that of the immortal soul. And to what tremendous perils is that ev. ery day, hour, and moment, exposed! When he considers the enemies, which are in league against him, the devil, the world and the flesh, each of whom is stronger than Goliah ; his heart is ready to fail through fear. When he reflects that Adam fell from a state of innocence; that David, the man after God's own heart, was seduced from the state of obedience; and that Peter, in a moment of temptation, denied his beloved Lord; he trembles for himself, Such an one sees the excellence of the petition, which our church has here taught us to adopt ; Defend us thy humble i servants in all assaults of our enemies. What could Jonah do for himself in the belly of the fish, when, to use his own emphatic expressions, the • waters compassed him about even to the soul, • the depth closed him round about, the weeds • were wrapt about his head; when he went down • to the bottoms of the mountains, when the earth 6 with her bars was about him, when his soul • fainted within him ;' what could he do in such circumstances, but remember the Lord and look • again towards his Holy temple ? Equally hopeless and helpless is the situation of every child of God, with respect to aid from any re